Pirelli have denied suggestions that Sebastian Vettel’s strong form for Ferrari this season is directly connected to the German having carried out more 2017 development testing with the official F1 tyre suppliers than his rivals last year.
Vettel racked up over 2,000 kilometres in the hybrid cars Pirelli used to simulate 2017-spec F1 machinery, while Mercedes’ race drivers did barely 250 – something team boss Toto Wolff recently admitted might have been a mistake.
But Pirelli chief Paul Hembery does not believe the issues Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas have experienced this season – at times struggling to get their rubber into the optimal operating window – are down to any lack of running last year.
“Yes, Sebastian did a lot of testing,” Hembery told Formula1.com. “It was very intense and he gave us a lot of feedback. We thank him for that. That is what we wanted: the top drivers giving us good feedback.
“But because he didn’t really know what he was testing - he was blind-testing - it might have helped him psychologically, but I doubt it helped practically.”
Ferrari’s renaissance this year has been aided by team’s apparent ability to manage their tyres better than Mercedes. Hembery, however, is convinced that the reigning world champions will get on top of things.
“Actually Mercedes’ issue is linked a bit to certain circuits: in Barcelona they were fine - and in Silverstone and Spa they will be as well. It’s the lower-grip circuits where they’ve had a few more problems, but I am sure they will resolve any issues as we go through the season."
Last weekend's Canadian race suggested they already have - after failing to reach the podium at the previous round in Monaco, Mercedes recorded their first one-two finish of the year in Montreal.
Look out for an exclusive, in-depth interview with Paul Hembery in the coming days.