Pirelli is convinced its wider 2017 tyres will help achieve the five-second drop in lap times promised with Formula One's new regulations.
F1's sole tyre manufacturer was tasked last year with creating a more durable tyre to fit with the sport's new regulations, which are due to create wider, more aggressive cars aimed at dramatically increasing cornering speeds. The Italian company conducted an extensive testing programme last year with Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull 'mule' cars -- which were modified to replicate the higher levels of downforce expected this year.
Those tests were conducted on unmarked tyres to the three teams would not know which compound they were using, with the data shared equally among all the teams on the grid. All 10 teams will get the chance to sample the tyres for the first time when testing begins in Barcelona, Spain on February 27.
Doubts were raised at the tail-end of last season that the new regulations would cut lap times by the promised five seconds a lap, but Pirelli's motorsport chief Paul Hembery is confident the target will be achieved in 2017.
Speaking at the launch of Pirelli's 2017 season, which came at an event in Turin, Italy marking its 110th year in motorsport, Hembery said: "I'm curious to see the designs of the cars because the look and feel will be different, more aggressive that's for sure. The simulations suggest five seconds [quicker] compared to Barcelona two years ago, so it really is a big thing.
Hembery thinks the real performance of the tyres is unlikely to be seen until the start of the season, which kicks off in Australia on March 26.
"Melbourne will really start showing the changes, the improvements. We too are not really sure where we are with the tyres [until testing], which is the same for the teams."
Pirelli's new tyres have increased significantly from last year -- an increase of 25 percent. Front tyres have increased from 245mm in width to 305mm, while rears have gone up from 325mm to 405mm, though wheel rim size remains unaltered at 13 inches.