Italian tyres to shake up F1 battle

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MARUSSIA Virgin Racing’s president Graeme Lowdon is convinced the Pirelli tyres will add to the spectacle in Formula One.

Italian manufacturer Pirelli will provide all teams with rubber for the next three years following Bridgestone’s decision to withdraw at the end of last season.

Several drivers have criticised the tyres in the winter testing sessions in Valencia and Jerez, including seven-time champion Michael Schumacher. The German legend said he felt his Mercedes car was too jumpy when the tyres were not up to the race optimal temperature whilst Fernando Alonso has also waded into the debate, questioning the durability of the Pirelli tyres during the race.

But Lowdon, recently given the presidency role at the Dinnington-based team, insists the tyres are “absolutely safe”.

He told The Star: “Pirelli want to shake the entertainment up and I think it will only benefit the sport. We are comfortable that the tyres are completely safe.

“The tyres will degrade in performance not in structure so we will find out that lap times will drop rapidly and so teams will have to think about when they change tyres.

“There will be more emphasis on tactics than ever before which I’m sure will make for great viewing.”

In the second running of the new MRV-02 car, lead driver Timo Glock completed 57 laps of the Jerez circuit. The team also deployed its new moveable rear wing for the first time. New boy Jerome d’Ambrosio is set to get behind the wheel for his two-day programme this weekend.