Pirelli choose tyres for first four races

2011 F1 season

Posted on

| Written by

Rubens Barrichello, Williams, Jerez, 2011

Pirelli will bring its hard and soft tyre compounds for the first four races of 2011.

The same four compounds will be used for the Bahrain, Australian, Malaysian and Chinese Grands Prix.

Pirelli expect “some fascinating strategies as the teams compete with their new cars for the first time” with most drivers needing two pit stops during each race.

Motorsport director Paul Hembery said: “The valuable data that we’ve collected from both official and private testing has shown us that our nomination of hard and soft tyres is the best way forward for both the drivers and the spectators, so we look forward now to a successful Grand Prix debut and a great show in the Middle and Far East over the next four races.

“We’ve enjoyed great collaboration with the teams so far, and with the nominated compounds for the next four races now known, I am sure that this will help to focus their development for the start of the season.”

It will be the first time Pirelli tyres have been used at an F1 race since the 1991 Australian Grand Prix.

2011 F1 tyre compounds

Race 2011 Pirelli tyres 2010 Bridgestone tyres
Bahrain Hard / Soft Medium / Super-soft
Australia Hard / Soft Hard / Soft
Malaysia Hard / Soft Hard / Soft
China Hard / Soft Hard / Soft

2011 F1 season

Browse all 2011 F1 season articles

Image © Pirelli

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

59 comments on “Pirelli choose tyres for first four races”

  1. Well, this is going to be interesting!

    degradation, degradation, degradation!

    1. Looking forward to it!

      I was just thinking about finding what Bridgestone brought last year to compare. I do think it was a bit softer for Melbourne.

      Will have to look at the GP last year.

      1. I think in 2009 they brought the supersofts to Australia. They lasted only for a couple of laps. Which led to Kubica quickly reeling in Vettel who ultimately wouldn’t let himself get passed.

        1. From what we have so far heard, none of the Pirellis is going to last much more than a few laps, so we might se a new take on that.

          Keith writes they brough the super soft and medium to Bahrain as well. I now remember that being one of the reasons everyone was as cautious during the race.

          1. I’m not sure what you heard, but from what I read it’s not going to be nearly as spectacular as what you heard.

            Pirelli says their aim is to bring tyres that necessitate 2 pitstops.

            Keith has shown stints of 20 laps with reasonable drop offs. At any rate, nowhere near enough to warrant an extra stop.

            What does make sense is that indeed the drivers will most likely be very cautious on these tyres.

            I also fear that it will be better to wait and see if you can out “tyre handle” your opponent and/or pass them during a pit stop.

            At least among the title contenders. perhaps in the back field there will be some to slap on a couple of softs at the end and do some showboating.

            We can hope that some teams pick the wrong strategy though. That would indeed liven things up. Not particularly the type of racing I’d like to see, but at least it’s entertaining.

  2. Looking forward to this! i expect a few tyre blow outs in the first race or two.

  3. Awesome – I hope the tyres go off the boil quickly so we see two or even three stops a race! That would make Jenson’s tyre care skill pay off more than it did last year when everyone else has to make an extra stop!

    So excited!

    1. When will people like you understand that you can be fast enough to change tyres and still come in front of “smooooth” drivers like JB?

      McLaren has also confirmed that there is no difference in tyre management between JB and LH as shown in China 2010. So, stop the myth of JB being a good tyre manager!! It is getting tiresome ….. :(

      1. Nonetheless, if they’ve got the degradation levels right, there might be a real comparison between nursing some harder tyres and blazing through more sets of soft tyres. That’s the kind of driver-affected strategy we were hoping for last year. Whether we get it though…

      2. I agree 100% BBQ2 even mclaren managment dispelled the tyre management myth after one of the GP’s last season he made two Last gasp decision because of his poor position and he’s some sort of tyre god.

  4. Just take away the need to change compounds and the tyre rules would be perfect!

    1. you talk as if Jenson is the only driver that can look after his tyres. Alonso, I would say is better in that department based on Korea.

      1. He didn’t even mention Jenson :P I agree that Alonso looked after his tyres wonderfully in Korea though.

        1. tbf, the Ferrari was very good with it’s tyres, the McLaren, especially by that stage was a bit of a mess.

          Alonso is very good at it though.

          1. Apparently even at Melbourne Bridgestone said that Alonso’s tyres were in a better state than Jenson’s…

          2. As Scribe points out though, the Ferrari was one of the easiest on its tires last year.

    2. Not talking about Jenson at all! I just think that the requirement to race on two different compounds is the main reason we don’t have race strategy anymore.

      1. I just think that the requirement to race on two different compounds is the main reason we don’t have race strategy anymore.

        Agreed. If you look at all the big strategy calls from 2010 that were successful, they all came in wet races. (Apart from maybe Vettel in Monza)

        1. Webber at Hungaroring? That was dry…

          1. Wasn’t that the win he inherited when Vettel messed up the safety car, when their car was about a second a lap faster than everyone elses?

    3. Not just that, but also the requirement to start on the same tyres as used in qualy (for setting the fastest lap)

      That ensures that everyone in the top 10 has to start on the softer tyre.

      It’s these stupid rules that make it impossible for team to use a different strategy when the rule makers somehow envision them creating different strategies.

      It also depends on the wether the adjustable rear wing works or not. If faster cars are reasonably able to overtake others it might make sense to swap those 3s a lap slower tyres and put on a fresh pair. Otherwise you will just be 30seconds down after the pitstop and then find yourself stuck there with your fresh fast tyres.

  5. It would be interesting to see how will the soft compound tyres be differentiated from the hard compound.

    Green colour band on the tyre wall just like Bridgestone? Perhaps something else?

    Seriously, I would prefer the two-tyre compound rule to be scrapped soon as I find it useless.

    1. Taken separately, the two-compound and race-on-qualifying-tyres are actually conducive to spicing up the action. It’s just together that they’ve cause problems. But I think with the extra degradation they might actually work to make things exciting, as I posted in the Sutil article:

      This should make those races with the super-soft very interesting, especially as the medium tyre is so slow. They key will be that a driver may qualify on them but then have to start the race on dead tyres. But for those who can choose their tyres, they might start on them, banzai one lap for position and then pit on Lap 1, then they can do some running in clear air and get the position back when their rivals stop. If the mediums produce a two-stop race then they’ll eventually find themselves winning out, despite the extra stop, because everyone else below the Top 10 will have to nurse the super-softs.

      Maybe we’ll see something similar with the soft and hard compounds.

      1. I am afraid that would just not work. What would be the purpose of getting off a set of softs in the first 2 laps, only to lose positions with stopping immediately?

        That would be a big gamble on being able to pass a lot of the top 10 qualifiers and these cars stopping right at the same time as you.

        As Pirelli makes it feasable you have to have 2 stops anyhow, why not go for mediums at the start, take advantage of the first 10 stopping early or dropping of bigtime to win positions and just make the tyres hold. Then stop for your second set of mediums/hards and do a short stint at the end. Alternatively some might go for sofst in the middle to have a try at passing some cars.

        1. What would be the purpose of getting off a set of softs in the first 2 laps, only to lose positions with stopping immediately?

          because they won’t last any longer so you might as well get the performance advantage off the line instead of having to nurse a set of mediums and softs the 2/3 of the race?

          That would be a big gamble on being able to pass a lot of the top 10 qualifiers and these cars stopping right at the same time as you.

          Of course it would be, which is why not everyone would do it and why it would mix things up. Besides, I am implying you are racing the non-Top-10, in this scenario you are probably starting 16th or something in the hopes of getting a sneaky point.

          As Pirelli makes it feasable you have to have 2 stops anyhow, why not go for mediums at the start, take advantage of the first 10 stopping early or dropping of bigtime to win positions and just make the tyres hold. Then stop for your second set of mediums/hards and do a short stint at the end. Alternatively some might go for sofst in the middle to have a try at passing some cars.

          If you qualify one or two rows outside of the Top 10, yes. Otherwise you’ll just lose out to their superior pace in the end.

          1. I was thinking of someone starting say 11th-14th and targetting to overtake those in front.

            But you are probably right, it might be a good gamble for some of those guys as well as the guys starting 16-20 to have a go.

            Then maybe during the race someone might have a go for a soft second stint after the mediums got them in front of some top 10 qualifiers (during pitstops) to stay ahead or to take another 1 out.

            I would love to have different takes working for people this year.

    2. They are using different coloured Pirelli logo’s for each compound

      1. im yet to se this.. is there any pics of them…? :)

        1. Not yet I think. No such mark in testing yet. I understand that they are not there when F1 teams test but while Pirelli is testing on their own they should have them, so they could analyze who the tyre markings work.

    3. I asked about this at the Jerez test – they said they haven’t decided yet and will announce it before Bahrain.

  6. Medium and super soft for Bahrain…? Those tyre compounds will melt down before the race even gets started.But that’s a sign for a good race don’t you think so…?

    1. Not quite i was looking the tyres Bridgestone provided last year. but still i thought Pirelli would bring hard and medium not soft in a race like Bahrain!

    2. They’re using hard and soft this year. It was medium and super-soft last year.

      1. McLarenFanJamm
        16th February 2011, 13:00

        Don’t the tyres have to be two compounds apart anyway? So they can’t take Hard/Medium to a race.

        1. There isn’t a rule on that, so Pirelli can do as they choose.

          1. McLarenFanJamm
            16th February 2011, 13:56

            Ah, I see. Must have just been an agreement between Bridgestone and the teams then.

        2. Hard and soft IS 2 compounds apart. Just as supersoft and medium are.

          2 compounds apart means “not sequential”, “one in between” or whatever you want to translate it into.

          1. McLarenFanJamm
            16th February 2011, 16:36

            Yes, thank you for pointing that out, but I worked that out for myself.

            Fanatikos said he didn’t understand why Pirelli weren’t taking Hard/Medium to Bahrain (which you will notice is one compound apart) hence my question.

  7. Tyre strategy is going to be very interesting, especially for the first few races whilst teams & drivers learn the strengths and weaknesses of the individual compounds.

    There will also be the effectiveness of the adjustable rear wings and KERS to take into consideration. Should, as is the intension, overtaking become easier, teams will have the “option” for an aggressive tyre selection during qualifying, reasonably safe in the knowledge they will be able to make their way through the field and consolidate track position. But should the new equipment fail to produce the increase in overtaking, the teams will revert back to a more conservative strategy. Either way, I fully expect most of the front runners to be selecting the same compounds by half way through the season.

    I for one can’t wait.

  8. The super softs apparently lost a few seconds a lap after they had been giving a good beating in a qualifying simulation run.

    If those in front start on worn super softs, you’re going to easily outlast them before the first round of pitstops, only ending up giving away position to those you’re not likely (supposed) to be racing, getting the super softs out of the way. It would encourage ballsy moves, but far from impossible on the extremely grippy fresher super softs, especially in the chaos of a first laps.

    For the most part I think it’ll be a case of 11th and up starting on the harder compound and holding up the pack once they get caught by fast cars already having made their pitstop (valencia), but I can definitely see some teams using an alternative strategy, especially if they have two cars starting near tenth. I think we might also see more drivers doing Q3 on hard tyres, especially if they don’t expect to be up there to begin with.

    Canada last year showed starting on the faster wearing compound can be the better strategy even without the help of a safety car.

    But they’re outright leaving the super softs at home for the first four races including Bahrain, who knows if we’ll see the super softs at all this year, they might simply suck too badly. ;)

  9. There seems to be some confusion with regards to what is ‘wear’ and what is ‘degradation’.

  10. I`am not to keen on the outcome of races being determined by a team of boffins bashing away at a computer running algorithms and simulations in a location thousands of miles away. I say massively reduce the wings, one set of tyres, a tank full of fuel and get out there and race.

    1. The outcome will still be determined by “boffins”, unless you think that teams like HRT will suddenly come to the fore just because the rules were changed.

      1. McLarenFanJamm
        16th February 2011, 13:02

        You mean like when the rules changed for ’09 and Red Bull and Honda/Brawn were suddenly the front running teams?

      2. I`am talking about during the race not before or after, let the racers do the racing on the race track.

    2. Tyres, fuel and wings are all at the disposal of the driver and they will make a split second decision as to the requirement of them at any one time.

      The drivers are still very much in control.

      1. I think Hamilton after the 2010 Aus Grand Prix would have to disagree with that, Whitmarsh even held He`s hands up and admitted it was a back room mistake, undoubtedly after a flutty of computer activity back at Mclaren HQ.

      2. How on earth would drivers know where everybody is on track and what everybody’s strategy is?

        They NEED the team to keep an eye on all that and calculate (guess) when is the best time for a stop.

  11. I don’t have a problem with the two-compound rule per se, but I wish there was no need for it. The whole point of the rule is to create a more unpredictable and exciting race- which is exactly what refuelling gave us.

    The two-compound rule is just an artificial way of forcing pit stops. I’m not saying it doesn’t work, but it wouldn’t be necessary if we still had refuelling.

    1. the 2 compound rule was brought in during the dull refueling era in 2007 because refueling wasnt working at improving the show.

      refueling in f1 was terrible, did nothing but kill the on-track product and moved the racing into the pit lane which completely killed the on track racing.

      cant remember the number of times i was excited about a great fight between 2 drivers on the track only for that fight to be killed by fuel stops.

      the very 1st refueling race at interlargos 1994 for example, schumacher vs senna in a nice battle for the lead on the track. both pit, schumacher gets out ahead and then simply runs away. a great fight for the lead totally ruined because of refueling.

      1. Schumacher only ran away after Senna spun out. Before that Senna was catching up to Schumacher about a second a lap.

        Pit stop problems like Senna suffered in Interlagos can happen with any type of stop. We saw it last year with tyre only stops as well. Bolts falling off or not going on easily cost time too. A one or 2 second delay is enough to lose the position.

        Besides, refuelling DID add to races. At least it gave them a proper way to differentiate in strategy.

        That was killed when “they” (FIA) started messing about with the qualifying setup. ie nonsense like that you need to start on the setup and fuel load that you ended qualifying on.

        If there is anything that killed “the show” then it’s nonsensical rules like that.

        “They” want the results to be understandable for the common viewer and at the same time force an element of surprise into the race.

        How “they” cannot understand that these forces are opposite is beyond me.

  12. my problems with these new tyres is that we could end up with strategies as limited as we saw last year because of the now that refueling is finally gone pointless rule to run both compounds.

    also i fear we may see drivers running around conserving tyres. i know everyone talks about how great montreal was last year, however let us not forget that in the last half of the race a lot of guys backed off to save the tyres.

    something else i dont get is why everyone is so adamant that we need to see more pit stops? last year everyone moaned we only had 1 stop and its great that we will see 2-3 or more this year. whats so great about pit stops?

    i want to see the action on the track and not in the pits like we used to see prior to refueling, by encouraging pit stops your just going to end up seeing drivers taking it a bit easy on the track and then trying to jump another car in the pits.

    in fact i think this year we could see that more. if you get up behind another car, just back off to save your tyres, wait for him to stop and then hope your tyres have another fast lap in them to try and jump him.

    i can see this year been quite dull, adjustable wings, kers and dodgy tyres to artificially make things better, personally hope it all backfires and we get back to pure racing for 2012.

  13. As it is, methinks given the drab of a contest Formula One has been becoming over the recent past, the idea of well, sort of deliberately having the tyres to degrade quicker should bring back some much needed dose of overtaking to the sport.

    I mean, what’s the point in having drivers go round the track 60 times like as if they were part of a procession? The tyres, aided by KERS and ARW, should bring back the days of fun and excitement for the F1 Fanatic.

    Not only that, the drivers that win will not necessarily be the fastest drivers, instead the smartest drivers in the world, since they’ll have to manage their tyres wisely.

    1. so basically putting artificial entertainment over actual racing.

      the tyre rules i could live with if they opened up the startegy more by ditching the stupid mandatory tyre stop, however the adjustable wing and kers have no place in f1 as there nothing but gimmicks to create artificial racing and dull straght line passing.

      this is what kers does, a dull pass in the middle of a straght, its dull, boring, easy and totally unintresting to watch-

      no silly gimmicks involved here and its a far better actual hard fought pass-

  14. Run flats for Bahrain!

  15. After reading many of these posts, it still seems that most haven’t quite grasped what Pirelli are doing with the tyres.

    Someone mentioned “running around conserving tyres”. Well, this is an option open to everyone, and some will use it, others won’t. What it means is that some drivers at the beginning of the race will appear to be ‘not in the running’, until it is realised that they had something else up their sleeves.

    Some say that the two compound rule should be abolished.
    Last season it was a no brainer to start on the softer tyre and finish on the harder tyre. Now that choice isn’t so clear cut, because the soft tyre will not get you very far on a full tank of fuel. Not very far at all actually. Probably making it necessary to definitely pit twice. Whereas if you start on the harder tyre, it will last much longer, on full tanks, than the softer tyre. Which, if managed correctly, will take you beyond the half way stage of the race, and then may only require managed use of the softer tyre to stay ahead of the ‘two-stoppers’.

    Even the teams are saying that qualifying is now going to have to be approached much more differently than before.

    P.S. Try to think of Pirelli’s ‘hard’ tyre as being much like Bridgestones ‘soft’ tyre, only much less consistent.

    1. I get all that.

      The thing i hate about the tyre situation (mandatory stop and the higher degradation tyres) is the fact that it is forcing pit stops when i think that like pre-refueling it should be possible for a team/driver to decide if they want to stop or not.

      I dont want everyone to have to stop, if a team/driver decides they want to run a softer compound and have more speed but need to make a stop or 2 then they should be allowed to. however on the other side if a team/driver decides they dont want to stop at all then this also should be an option. and again if a team/driver wants to start on a soft compound planning 1 stop to switch to a harder one this should also be an option.

      Be it refueling, mandatory tyre stops or tyres which wer too fast, its all artificially forcing teams to HAVE to stop and in a tyre situation like we are likely to see this year its forcing them to stop more than once.

      I don’t mind the fact the soft compounds are going to wear, I just dont like the harder ones also wearing at a rate which will require a 2nd stop.

      If people truly want to see more open, unpredictable and varied strategies employed in a race, you have to take the rules regarding pit stops and tyre compounds back to how they were before refueling came in for 1994.

      Give them 3 or 4 tyre compounds and let them use them however they want, the softs last at least 15 laps & have the best performance and the hards can go the full distance but are slower, dont require them to stop and just let them decide what they want to do.

      ARW & KERS im not the biggest fan of & im kinda glad drivers/teams are indicating the ARW may not be enough to make passing as easy as i feared although based off 2009 KERS may still make it easier than I’d like as the Raikkonen on Fisichella video someone posted above shows.

      1. I agree with most of that. I fear that the Pirelli strategy will back fire on them. The perception will be that Pirelli tyres dont last. If they were hoping the F1 would be a shop window for their product this policy will shoot their toes off!

        The fact that the tyre company can determine team strategy is a BAD thing for F1 which is SUPPOSED to be the pinnacle of motor racing. This encompasses high quality engineering and skill, which is now thrown out because the tyres won’t last. Why should Pirelli decide how a race should be run? The team are the ones competing and should be the ones deciding on their own strategy.

        Neither am I a fan of KERS but that is another story.

  16. I suppose this years regs will help recruit newbs to the sport :-) . You got your Mario stlye boost button, your Mario style flexi wing and your compolsery Mario style low grip Mushroom tires, if that doesn`t get`em nothing will.

Comments are closed.