Pirelli reveal softer compounds and new tyre colours for 2012

2012 F1 season

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Pirelli's 2012 F1 tyre range

Pirelli will supply softer tyres in 2012 in a bid to further improve the standard of racing in Formula 1.

The tyre manufacturer revealed its 2012 F1 tyre range on Wednesday, including new soft, medium and hard tyre compounds. The super-soft compound remains unchanged, but all four dry-weather tyres will have a different construction in 2012 with a squarer profile.

Pirelli will also introduce a new wet-weather tyre. The intermediate tyre remains unchanged but the colours used to distinguish them will be revised – the intermediate tyre now has green colouring and the wet-weather tyre uses blue.

The dry-weather tyres will retain their 2011 colouring: red for super-soft, yellow for soft, white for medium and silver for hard.

According to Pirelli the banning of exhaust-blown diffusers has influenced their choice of tyres for 2012: “This new measure, which should result in a reduction of aerodynamic downforce acting on each tyre, requires a wider and more even contact patch.

“This objective has been met by having a less rounded shoulder on each tyre and using softer compounds, which produce better grip and more extreme performance.”

Pirelli added they intend to reduce the performance gap between the compounds from the 1.2-1.8 seconds seen last year to 0.6-0.8 seconds.

The new tyres will make their first appearance at the start of F1 testing at Jerez on February 7th.

Pirelli president and CEO Marco Tronchetti Provera said: “After the positive experience of last year, the teams asked us to continue providing tyres with the characteristics that contributed to spectacular races in 2011.

“And this is what we have done, optimising the compounds and profiles in order to guarantee even better and more stable performance, combined with the deliberate degradation that characterised the P Zero range from 2011.

“We’re expecting unpredictable races, with a wide range of strategies and a number of pit stops: all factors that both competitors and spectators greatly enjoyed last year. The development work on the new compounds took place throughout the 2011 season, thanks to the impressive learning curve and reaction times from our engineers, who are ready to continue those evolutions during the season ahead.”

More information on the 2012 F1 season.

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Image © Pirelli

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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...

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64 comments on “Pirelli reveal softer compounds and new tyre colours for 2012”

  1. They’ve made that silver a lot darker, haven’t they? And the wet weather tyre seems to have been given a new name.

    1. Yes; the branding on the hardest dry tyre will be a nightmare to spot at speed. Having said that it could be easy to differentiate as it would be almost without branding anyways.

      1. Yeah, as long as it’s differentiable in some way, even if that was is by looking like it has no colour. We all know it’s a Pirelli anyway.

        1. That what they said. They did it on purpose because it was hard to differentiate between bright silver and white. So now when you see a black tyre you will know it’s the hard one.

      2. @raymondu999 Spot on!

        @ajokay It certainly looks darker to me.

      3. I guess we will just be spotting the fact there’s no color on it. And it might be reflective to make the best of the light at Singaporte.

        1. I was rather hoping they’d go for neon pink.

      4. Pirrelli are doing a great job,beyond my expectations anyway. As for the colours,i think the wet and inter should both be blue(water colour obv.) but have the wet a really dark blue and the inter a light blue-freeing up the green for the hard tyre- RED – fast n fragile, YELLOW – fast but forgiving in tyre life, GREEN- steady and reliable. Just a late night thought for the not as well informed,public.

    2. Joe Saward has revealed that the Cinturato name used by Pirelli on the intermediates and wets goes back to the 1950s. I had never heard of that name before.

  2. I’ll be very interested to see if the adjustments made in width and having a squarer profile will help with the decrease in down force left from the banning of the EBD.

    More extreme grip and lowering the performance difference will make for an interesting year when it comes to strategies:).

    I am liking the new colours though! I think distinguishing between the hard and medium will be made that bit easier.

    1. @coop it definitely will. The question is how much more/less grip you would have from it. I’m personally not a fan of teams changing tyres only on one axle.

      1. I’ll second that! I guess we will have to wait and see when it comes to Melbourne. Personally I think it will depend on how well Pirelli have done their calculations, plus how much df the teams have found with the new restrictions.

        1. To be honest I think the teams probably will have regained; generally speaking; the same amount that they lost with the diffuser; over the winter. Obviously some have lost less and some have lost more; but I’m talking in a ballpark figure. Winter development averages to about 2.5 seconds worth of development.

    2. “Deliberate degradation” – certainly goes against the spirit of F1 which is why I never liked this idea, and the single trye manufacturer rule, in the first place :(. I just miss those years of Bridgestone-Michelin rivalry. A Pirelli-Michelin rivalry would have been great, with of course controlled testing.

      I hate this idea as much as I detest DRS and all that crap.

      I never realized F1 was the showcase of deliberately non-durable stuff. How about engines that deliberately underperform at certain stages of the race? Would spice up the action!!!!

      1. Actually, I think we already have that in practice.

        Many teams have started races with insufficient fuel to run the whole race at full power, expecting to be able to run enough laps in a reduced power ECU mode (i.e. underperforming), and thereby saving enough fuel to reach the end.

        The early Virgin car, as I recall, actually couldn’t carry a whole race’s-worth of fuel, as it’s tank capacity was too small, so they were forced to adopt this tactic, but other teams have short-fuelled by choice. The reduced weight of fuel being carried partly compensates for the lower power running.

        When things don’t run according to plan, because of safety car incidents or hotheaded driving early in the race, there is a “spicing-up” effect towards the end, as drivers either have to try to eke out their fuel by driving more cautiously, or find they can take advantage of an unexpected fuel surplus and can drive faster than they’d normally expect in the closing stages.

        As always with Formula 1, be careful what you wish for!

      2. @PT…I hear you, but I don’t mind soft tires that degrade quickly because it means mechanical grip…now if they would only limit downforce more and get rid of DRS as you would wish, which I also detest, then I think we would see more seat of the pants passes that we can be confident were done by good driving and not because of a moveable aid on the back of the car.

        Any tire rivalry would result in tires that last longer and longer which would mean harder compounds and therefore more emphasis on aero which I think is the opposite direction they need to go…even though I’m all for competition and not for monopolies, I would not like to see one tire maker start favouring one team, designing their tires for one driver’s car on one team and letting everyone else adapt to those same tires as has happened in the past when there was a tire rivalry, although I take your point that limited testing would change how that has happened before.

        1. I think yours is a more sensible view of things – I just got carried away by the “deliberate degradation” wording of Provera. I just didn’t like it.

          As you said, downforce reduction and simpler aerodynamics are the key. We are having too much reliance on aero, which is why I believe teams like Red Bull, who aren’t car manufacturers as such, succeeding. That shouldn’t be the case. While F1 seems to be preaching about its road car relevance et al, this just goes against it. What place do fins, complicated wings, turning vanes etc. have in an automobile in the strictest sense?

          In spite of all this, how is it that only fans like us (and of course Montezemolo) are able to figure it out and not the boffins at the FIA and the representatives of the teams?

          I also understand the points you’ve made regarding a tyre war. But why I liked it was primarily because of a more multidimensional competition it was able to provide us. Back in the days of Renault’s resurgence, in 2003, when Alonso won his first race and lapped Michael Schumacher’s Ferrari enroute, the talk was all about Michelin finally succeeding in its mission of defeating the once unbeatable Bridgestone-Ferrari combine, as much as it was of Alonso’s coming of age. This excitement was also felt in 2006, particularly at the French Grand Prix when Bridgestone’s superiority enabled Ferrari to win ahead of the Renaults. There was just so much to talk about, so much excitement with the teams, tyres and even the engines competing against each other. The engine freeze has taken that out of the equation too (though I understand the practical aspects of it).

          The action was richer and so was the talk, before or after a race weekend. It wasn’t about tyre colours for various compounds and who opened whose wing…

          1. Fair comment PT…as you’ve hinted at, an interesting aspect of a tire war, to me at least, is that in general tire makers have said in the past that they would prefer having a rival in F1, because that way we ‘talk about tires.’ ie. when everyone is on the same tires and there is no competition within the competition, we talk about them less.

            Seems to me we talked about Pirelli’s an awful lot last year, and we probably will continue to do so this year, but I think it has a different flavour. We talk about Pirelli’s mandate by the FIA to make softer, quicker degrading tires, and we talk about how each team and driver deals with said degrady tires but that is different from talking about whose tires are better, or which team is benefitting from their make of tires better.

            It’s an interesting aspect and I think the bottom line is that the only way the FIA can mandate these soft tires is to have only one maker in F1. As soon as another comes in, the concept of durability would notch it’s way up as each maker tries to keep it’s teams on tires that are both grippy and longer and longer lasting eliminating the need for at least one pitstop per race. For now the shame to me (and you too and I’m sure others including Keith I believe) is that while they have a mandated single maker and therefore mechanically grippy tires they don’t need DRS to convolute things.

            One could perhaps argue that mandated softies are themselves a little bit manipulative and gadgety because we all know several tire makers including Pirelli could easily do better durability-wise if given the go-ahead, but I think there is no question DRS is about as gadgety as it gets and isn’t necessary. And at least the softies give F1 badly needed mechanical grip in an atmosphere that has seemed to be all about downforce for way too long. Hopefully the tweaks they make to the DRS useage will help but I know that gadget will definitely degrade the show for me, just as it did last year.

  3. Tom Haxley (@)
    25th January 2012, 10:12

    Hmm smaller gap between compounds in terms of time.

    What do we think of that? Do you that is to make the qualy top ten contended as drivers dont want to ruin all their soft tyres?

    If they are closer in performance they wont mind burning an extra set?

    1. @welshtom I don’t think so. A new set of tyres will still last one or two laps longer than a scrubbed set; and will still have more grip.

      It’s more to avoid situations where the teams have felt the primes were rubbish and basically tried to just leave it until the end – in a way Pirelli is looking to make more of “soft-soft-soft-hard vs soft-hard-hard” races.

      1. Tom Haxley (@)
        25th January 2012, 10:20

        well saving a set of softs through the qualifying enabled drivers to leave the hard right until the end.

        If the two compounds are closer they may decide that they can give it the beans in all qualy sessions because they know they wont lose too much by using more hard tyres in the race?

        Same point as you, but i think Qualy did play a part in tyre strategy for the race and these closer compounds would mean Qualy is a little more exciting yea?

        1. I still am not convinced to be honest – the pace advantage of being on a fresh set of rubber vs an older set still seems to be quite substantial. Like how Hamilton blitzed past Button in China into Turn 1; on tyres that were only 3 laps younger (Button’s out and inlap in qualifying – he aborted his run – and the outlap from the pits.) The out and inlaps weren’t even laps in anger.

          1. I thought Hamilton used his new set of softs in the second stint, though overtook Button in the third (with tyres having done one lap less): http://www.formula1news.net/hamilton-wins-the-2011-chinese-grand-prix/ (although it doesn’t say here which tyres they were on).

          2. @adrianmorse it was the 3rd stint (from lap 25 onwards)

      2. That would be my expectation as well @raymondu999, who knows maybe an alternative strategy might be paying off within the top 10 this year. Or it will at least take care of using these tyres only for a lap or 2, especially combined with the softer compounds presumably lasting a tad less long.

        On the other hand, won’t smaller differences between the tyres make cars overtaking/passing each other more rare, as the speed differences will be smaller?

        1. @BasCB if they’re at the same age; or at least the same point in the tyre’s life; then probably it would to be honest.

  4. Pirelli did a great job last year. Not sure I would like the performance of the compounds to be much closer. I suppose it’s alright as long the degradation continues to be fairly high. One small complaint is that it’s difficult to differentiate the white markings from the silver ones on tv. But it’s rare for them to bring the medium and hard compounds for the same race.

  5. Correct me if I am wrong but

    “Pirelli added they intend to reduce the performance gap between the compounds from the 1.2-1.8 seconds seen last year to 0.6-0.8 seconds.”

    In the past, I am sure the target was to do the opposite of what Pirelli are doing? I dont really see how reducing the gap between compounds produces better racing….

    1. I think @RhysColes it depends on the combination of speed and wear.

    2. Pirelli don’t want a tyre that is avoided and only used because the rules require it, by making them closer it makes the correct tyre coice harder to make, good for us, bad for engineers!

  6. uh, why didn’t they just make the wet tyre green and keep the inters blue? seems like avoidable confusion.

    1. Not to mention the ‘Inter Milan’ connection is gone now. I liked that.

      1. What, @Journeyer! A.C. Milan is the only team!

        1. Alright, @Fixy. Internazionale, if you’re being fussy about it. Hehehe. :P

      2. Haha never spotted that! “Inter”-Mediates, Internatzionale colours, and also Pirelli/Inter connections! Wonderful!

  7. The only problem with last year’s tyre colouring system was that silver and white were too hard to tell apart – not that they were used in the same races but it seems pointless changing the wet weather colours which were fine if they’re not going to fix the silver/white issue.

  8. Should have gone red SS, yellow S, white M, green H, blue I, purple W.

    No silver in sight, and all the colours are easily identifiable.

    The Wet tyres are now known as Cinturato Blue and Cinturato Green

  9. I Like Pudding. That is all.

    1. +1 – COTD

  10. Why can’t they just do as Bridgestone did: white banding for the softer compound that weekend, no banding for the harder compound.

    I very rarely favour moves to make things easier for the ‘casual viewer’, I have nothing in common with the casual viewer, so couldn’t care less if something makes it easier for them, but this is unnecessary. Even as an ‘F1 Fanatic’, I have to refer back to an F1 news site to remember which colour relates to which compound. I like to know which specific tyres are being used at a given race event, but fans such as ourselves would most likely already know which of the four compounds are being used at any given race weekend prior to Friday practice, so why is it important – for the fan or the casual viewer – to know anything other than whether a driver is on the harder or softer compound at any given time. If only softs and super-softs are available in Australia, I don’t need colour-coding to tell me Alonso isn’t on the medium or hard compound.

    I could understand more substantial detailing for wet tyres, although someone with even a modicum of knowledge/eyesight could tell which tyre they’re on either from the tread or – more likely – the laptimes.

    1. I should point out – I’d much rather favour on-screen graphics detailing which tyre the drivers were on. I think this might have been used towards the end of last year.

  11. Seems like a logical change of colour on the inters and wet tyres. I associate rain with water, which I associate with blue.

  12. Correct me if I’m wrong, but was there not talk of increasing the wheel radius size in the future?- I’d really like to see bigger, fatter tyres.

    1. That change was not agreed upon between the teams, then put aside to possibly be introduced in 2013/14 and later it disappeared altogether when the new rules for engine and for chassis were publicised

  13. I dont like that they tried to compensate for EBD ban by making the tires more grippy and softer. Too much grip results in too little overtaking chances.

    1. Only aero grip has that problem due to the “dirty air” effect. This increases mechanical grip which doesn’t affect overtaking.

      1. So why do we have more overtaking in the wet then? Or when the tyres are worn out?Same aero, less tire grip yet cars can follow eachother more closely.

        1. To be honest a lot of that is more that on a set oftyres that have gone south; or in the rain; the lack of traction means a lot of drivers would be unnecessarily cautious; or some would be making mistakes.

    2. The EBD ban means the cars will lose quite a bit of down force. Because of this the cars won’t be pushed as hard into the track, which means the tyres are worked less and in turn, will last longer.

      1. Not entirely necessarily true. Lack of downforce means less heat in the tyre; and less pace carried through the corner. Both would mean less degradation.

        On the other hand; less downforce would mean more slip introduced; and less temperature could crucially mean as such as well; causing graining.

  14. Pirelli Candy Tires 2012

    Hope that this generation of tires will resolve the issue of degredation and the effect it had on Q3 in particular. When teams won’t attempt Q3 because of the potential for not having enough tires for raceday rather smells of something rotten. How is it possible that the tires produced were so feeble that teams wouldn’t risk an attempt to qualify.

    I have hopes that Pirelli have overcome this embarrasment and that the new generation of tires will satisfy the potential of the next generartion of race cars.

  15. Pirelli… green and blue…. thats even less easy to spot. why not blue for rain yellow for inters and white for dry.

    1. I know that Pirelli wants the yellow on dry tyres but it would work another chance would be blue for rain, grey for inter and yellow for dry

  16. ” 1.2-1.8 seconds seen last year to 0.6-0.8 seconds.”” NOOOO, this will just bring rack racing like the Bridgestone did.

    1. @wasiF1 how on earth do you come to that conclusion?

      1. @raymondu999 Towards the end of 2011 F1 season we saw that the performance level between the hard & the soft compound (in each race) wasn’t too much of a difference so if the performance level is shortened then more or less everyone will try the same strategy.So if the gap is more then we may have different people doing different things which according to me should spice things up,the main thing Pirelli did last year & Bridgestone missed it.

        1. @wasiF1 Pirelli began to go conservative in selecting tyres for venues. Yes. Tyres started to last longer (not really as a function of Pirellis changing; but rather of the cars growing kinder on the tyres). Yes.

          But where exactly did we see that the difference became smaller?

          1. @raymondu999 the time difference between the two compound.

          2. @wasiF1 yes; where did we see that?

            In fact most of the races where most difference was observed were towards the end. Korea for one; India for another; etc.

    2. If Pirelli are keeping the same compounds (except the SS) and changing only the profile (which affects all tyres the same way) then how can they reduce the performance gap between the types?

      1. @Tricky the compounds have all been softened a step. i.e. the 2011 supersoft is the 2012 soft; the 2011 soft is the 2012 medium; etc

  17. Honestly out of all the Wet/damp driving sessions we had throughout the entire season last year,I cant remember the extreme wets being used once.If im wrong then someone correct me on that!!!

    With the compounds albeit the Super-soft,It seems as though Pirelli are taking Bridgestone’s construction of the tyres in 2009,which did what Pirelli are currently aiming to do,providing ‘better grip and more extreme performance’ but im skeptical.Will they face the same problem Bridgestone had with the tyres in 2009? That being the Fronts providing more grip than the Rears

    1. Canada? Korea practice?

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