Competition Tyres & More – In Formula 1, tires are the only major component supplied and used in all competing cars. Tires are an important part as they form the basis on which a team’s strategy is developed for any Grand Prix race. The compound used in the tires and the longevity of the tire determine the number of pit stops the driver makes. The type and composition of tires chosen by a team during a race is determined by the type of track it is driving on. The importance of tires to team strategy was highlighted when Lewis Hamilton lost the world championship in the recently concluded 2021 Formula 1 season after missing a pit stop… for a tire change in the last race of the season!
Pirelli has been the sole supplier of Formula 1 tires since 2011. The FIA recently extended its contract with Pirelli until 2024. The FIA wanted tires that were reliable, smooth, but wore out faster. The FIA hoped that this factor would lead to closer battles. Pirelli was a willing supplier and signed the contract. The cooperation between the FIA and Pirelli seems to be working. The different wear of different types of Pirelli tires creates interesting team strategies. Very often two drivers from the same team can race on different types of tires at different times. This makes the competition interesting for the fans.
Competition Tyres & More
In the 2022 Formula 1 season, teams will start with 720 mm diameter tires instead of 660 mm diameter tires. The thread width remains the same as before; Front tires 305 mm and rear 405 mm. The biggest change will be lowering the height of the tire sidewalls. This means stiffer tires because the sidewalls are less flexible. It also means more control of the car for the drivers, giving the team less reason to work on aerodynamics. The new tires are expected to last longer even at higher temperatures, allowing drivers to push them throughout the race.
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Pirelli uses seven different compounds in the tires it supplies to Formula 1. The first five compounds are labeled C1-C5 according to the polymer combination used. The number after C (for the compound) represents the hardness level of the compound in descending order. C1-C5 are known as dry tires and are used when driving on dry roads. They are further divided into hard, medium and soft tires. All dry tires have a smooth thread and are called bare tires.
Compounds C1, C2 and C3 are classified as hard compounds. These tires have a hard surface and last longer during the race. The solid tires have a white Pirelli logo and a white stripe on the sidewalls. Another type of dry tire is an intermediate tire made of C2, C3 and C4 compounds. These tires are softer and have a shorter life than hard tires and are marked with a yellow bar. Soft tires are made of C4 and C5 compounds and have a shorter life than medium tires. Red stripes on the sidewalls indicate a soft tire.
Slippery dry tires are not used in wet races because slippery tires do not provide enough grip and the driver can lose control of the car. On very wet surfaces, cars can aquaplan, causing dangerous situations during the race. In this case, the race is suspended until the track dries out, or postponed until the conditions are suitable for the race. For these situations, Pirelli supplies wet tires made of two other compounds.
There are two types of wet tires; intermediate tire and wet tire. The spacer is marked with a green stripe on the side. This tire has threads on the surface that contact the track and are harder than a wet tire. The wet tire has a deep thread and is the softest tire in Pirelli’s Formula 1 series, with a blue stripe marked on the sidewalls. Wet tires usually wear very quickly on dry surfaces, but last a little longer on colder wet surfaces. Both tires have threads on the surface that touch the track.
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Pirelli selects three of the five compounds available for each Grand Prix. The selection of components is made in cooperation with the weather expert and the FIA. Proper attention is paid to the track and the grip the tires get on the track. The tires are then made from the selected compounds and transported to the venue. Pirelli supplies approximately 1,800 tires per race weekend. The total number of tires supplied by Pirelli for the FIA F1 season is almost 40,000.
Each F1 team is allocated twenty sets of tires for the Grand Prix weekend. Of these, 13 sets are dry tires and 3 sets are wet tires. The 13 sets of dry tires consist of hard, medium and soft tires marked white, yellow and red. For wet driving, Pirelli supplies the teams with 7 sets of wet tires. These sets are divided into 4 sets of intermediate tires and three sets of wet tires, marked in green and blue respectively. These tires must be used in free practice, qualifying and races in accordance with the tire regulations set by the FIA. Tires are marked with identification marks for tracking and careful inspection during use.
The driver participating in the race weekend must choose ten sets of tires from the twenty sets supplied by Pirelli to the team. Drivers are allowed to use three sets of tires in three free practice sessions. The set of tires used in the first free practice must be returned to the supplier Pirelli before the start of the next practice. After this, Pirelli uses identification stickers and examines the wear and condition of the tires.
Depending on the track conditions on the qualifying day, the drivers will choose the tires they will use for the race. On a slightly wet or saturated track, drivers must choose wet tires according to the race director’s instructions. On dry tracks, the driver has an idea of the grip offered by the track during free practice. However, most drivers prefer soft tires in qualifying. These tires provide better grip and allow the driver to accelerate quickly. The rider’s position on the starting grid has a significant impact on where the rider finishes.
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There are three qualifying rounds. The last ten drivers will be eliminated from the next round in each of the first two qualifying rounds. Ten drivers advance to the final qualifying rounds. Drivers who qualify for the final round must start the race on the tires they set the fastest lap on in the second qualifying session. Therefore, one must be very careful when choosing tires for the second time trial. Drivers who did not make it to the first qualifying round can start with any tires of their choice.
Drivers must run on any two dry compounds during the race, unless the race director instructs the team to race on wet tires. Tires can be kept warm by heating only the outer surface of the tires. Teams usually keep the rings warm by placing warm blankets around them.
The choice of tires to be used during the race and the time will determine the fortunes of the team at the end of the race. Poor tire selection and poor pit stop times can result in the loss of valuable race points. All teams have a tire strategy developed before the race. Input is taken from the supervisor, team engineer and team boss. There is usually also a plan B and an engineer’s invitation to select a standby plan if necessary. This article examines which tire characteristics affect the determination of a team’s tire strategy.
Here are the pros and cons of the different sets of tires available to the team for the dry race.
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These tires offer the best grip on any dry track. Good grip means good cornering and general speed for the driver. Because they offer grip on all surfaces, all riders would like to race on soft tires only. But soft tires wear out very quickly because the rubber burns on asphalt. Drivers usually lose control of the car and have to pit. Soft tires are mostly chosen for street tracks, where the track surface is slippery from dirt and oil accumulated from general use.
Medium tires are the tires that drivers use in most races. These tires are harder than