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McLaren: Pirelli right to be cautious at Spa 21 Aug 2013

Jonathan Neale (GBR) McLaren Managing Director.
Formula One World Championship, Rd8, British Grand Prix, Qualifying, Silverstone, England, Saturday, 29 June 2013 Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren MP4-27.
Formula One World Championship, Rd12, Belgian Grand Prix, Practice, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Friday, 31 August 2012 McLaren mecahnics with Pirelli tyres.
Formula One World Championship, Rd9, German Grand Prix, Preparations, Nurburgring, Germany, Thursday, 4 July 2013 Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren MP4-27.
Formula One World Championship, Rd12, Belgian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Saturday, 1 September 2012 Pirelli tyres,
Formula One Young Drivers Test, Silverstone, England, Day Two, Thursday, 18 July 2013

The revised tyres introduced at the last round in Hungary will face a much stiffer test in this weekend’s 2013 Formula 1 Shell Belgian Grand Prix and McLaren’s managing director Jonathan Neale believes Pirelli are right to take a conservative approach to the Spa race.

Following the failures seen earlier in the season, notably at Silverstone, Pirelli reverted to their 2012 Kevlar-belted construction twinned with their 2013 compounds in Budapest. The tyres proved trouble free at the Hungaroring, but Spa-Francorchamps is far more demanding on rubber.

“I think for this weekend all the teams will be reasonably alert that we are high load at Spa,” said Neale in a Vodafone McLaren Mercedes phone-in. “Pirelli are being rightly cautious about making sure that the teams operate within certain restrictive windows on tyre pressures and cambers etc and we’re supportive of that process.”

Neale welcomed the introduction of the revised tyres, but while the updated specifications seemed to aid the form of some rivals in Hungary, he insisted they hadn’t handed McLaren any gains in terms of the overall performance of their MP4-28 package.

“I think we were all pleased to see that changes had been made - obviously after earlier in the season with the delamination issues - and that Pirelli have responded to that and worked to see that the sport remains safe. In terms of aerodynamics and the overall characteristics of the car it hasn’t been a material performance change.”

Predictably Pirelli are bringing the two hardest compounds in their range - hard and medium - to Belgium, which poses one of the biggest tyre challenges of the year. This is mostly because of the very high-energy loads that go all the way through the tyres, both vertically - due to the big compressions such as Eau Rouge - and laterally, at fast corners like Blanchimont.

Neale also confirmed that McLaren are developing their 2014 car with Pirelli tyres in mind, even though there has been no official confirmation yet of who will be Formula One racing’s sole tyre supplier next season. Any change would be accommodated, he added, although it could upset the formbook.

“I think at this stage we are assuming - I don’t know whether there’s any foundation for that - that somehow the process will continue with Pirelli,” he said. “And if it does then I think that we have wind tunnel tyres and tyres for next year that will support our car development process.

“If we were to get a late change from somebody else coming into the sport at short notice, of course we would work around that and work with whoever the FIA chose that to be. But certainly I think for all of the teams, not just McLaren, making sure that we understood exactly what the tyre shape, weight, was going to be, does affect some of the vehicle layout decisions.

“But it would be the same for everybody, so if somebody throws in a curveball at the last minute we’ll all have to recover but there’ll be some winners and losers in that.”

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