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McLaren not expecting radical shift from Pirelli in 2012 23 Nov 2011

Pirelli tyres.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 16, Korean Grand Prix, Preparations, Korea International Circuit, Yeongam, South Korea, Thursday, 13 October 2011 Jonathan Neale (GBR) Mclaren Director.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Sepang, Malaysia, Friday, 8 April 2011 Oliver Turvey (GBR) McLaren MP4/26.
Formula One Testing, Day Three, Abu Dhabi Young Driver Test, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Thursday, 17 November 2011 McLaren mechanic with Pirelli tyres.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 16, Korean Grand Prix, Preparations, Korea International Circuit, Yeongam, South Korea, Wednesday, 12 October 2011 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren MP4/26.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 13, Italian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Monza, Italy, Friday, 9 September 2011

Official tyre supplier Pirelli have made no secret of their plans to push forward the development of their rubber ahead of the 2012 season. But McLaren are confident there won't be sweeping compound changes and instead expect the Italian firm to build on their excellent debut season with solid progress.

“We have all really enjoyed the racing this year where we had tyres that the drivers had to be quite cautious with or at least occasionally trade outright pace for longevity,” explained McLaren managing director Jonathan Neale in a Vodafone McLaren Mercedes phone-in. “That has added a dynamic to the challenge for the drivers.

“Pirelli are an innovative organisation and want high performance. Their engineers, just like all the team engineers, will be pushing hard to improve the product. In terms of their goals for next year then I don’t think there’s a radical shift in either compound or construction which is looking to move dramatically away from where we are. I think it’s more of a trend and evolution in that respect.”

Pirelli took advantage of last week’s Yas Marina young driver test to try out some of their 2012-spec tyres. New front and rear profiles were assessed, together with a potentially softer soft compound. Designed to wear more evenly and reduce the possibility of blistering, the aim is to boost strategic flexibility for the teams, bring about even closer racing and boost overtaking.

More often than not McLaren driver Jenson Button has been better at making the soft tyres last for a longer time than team mate Lewis Hamilton, but Neale is hopeful that the duo will be on a more even keel next season, despite the possibility of an even softer soft tyre.

“On one or two of the circuits this year the soft tyre has been perhaps a little bit on the edge of where we would ideally like it,” he concluded. “In terms of Lewis and Jenson, I think broadly the nature of the racing will be the same in that we’ll still see drivers pushing to get the tyre warmed up and make sure they can get a hot lap out of it in qualifying.

“So depending on the nature of the car, some will be able to do it in one lap and some are going to take three or four laps to do it. And yes, if you’re really aggressive and flashing all over somebody’s rear view mirrors as you swing around behind them, trying to overtake them, you are definitely going to damage the tyre.

“And I’m sure if (team principal) Martin (Whitmarsh) was here the answer to that would be ‘make the car faster, get out in front’. And I’m sure he’d be right. But I think it’s pretty much the same for both drivers.”

Hamilton and Button - and the rest of the grid - will get the chance to race a new soft compound during this weekend’s Brazilian Grand Prix and will also be given experimental hard tyres to sample during Friday practice.

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