Simulation data acquired from teams by Pirelli suggests that the 2017 F1 field will eventually spread out during the season as development works sets in.
While everyone starts the year from a clean slate, concepts will emerge and development will ensue, leading also most probably to higher levels of downforce which will impact tyres, according to Pirelli racing manager Mario Isola.
The Italian manufacturer's mandate this year is to produce less degrading compounds in order to enable drivers to be more aggressive.
But with testing limited to lower-downforce mule cars, Pirelli has relied on team simulation data to extrapolate how the rubber will cope with in-season development and a downforce ramp-up.
"That's why we asked the teams for their simulations not only for the beginning of the year, but the end of the year," Isola told Autosport.
"If I look at the simulations for the start of the year, the values coming from different teams are quite close [to each other].
"Looking at the values for the end of the year that take into account the rate of development, it's a bit wider. But we keep this communication [with the teams], we have an idea."
Pirelli F1 boss Paul Hembery also agrees with the notion of an increasingly spread-out field as the season unfolds.
"There are groups of people that are very close, but there is a spread - the top 10 is going to be very crowded."