Pirelli aims for faster laps and more pit stops in 2013

2013 F1 season

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Pirelli say their new range of F1 tyres will produce quicker lap times and more pit stops in 2013.

F1’s official tyre supplier will supply softer tyres for 2013 – this year’s hard tyre will be approximate composition to last year’s medium. Pirelli says the performance difference between the compounds to be around 0.6 to 0.8 seconds.

The tyres will have stiffer shoulders but stronger sidewalls. This will increase thermal degradation meaning teams will need to make more pit stops – Pirelli expect at least two per race.

This will also benefit traction and extend the peak performance of the tyres which should reduce lap times by around half a second per lap.

Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery explained the reasons for the change: “To get more grip, more footprint, we had to change dramatically the carcass, going towards more of a radial construction. It’s not fully radial, but the plies that are inside the tyre are crossed and when you make them a radial you increase the size of the footprint.

“That might sound easy, but when you do that unfortunately you lose some of your lateral cornering force. So you have to recover some of that by increasing the rigidity of the belt pack – that’s the area you see at the top of the tyre. That’s the real weight gain, where we’ve had to put reinforcing materials in.

“That has a number of advantages, essentially. It stops what you call coupling in corners, that’s where the tyre deforms and tried to fold in the middle of the tyre. With that increased resistance you don’t get the buckling.

“You get improved heat distribution, we’ve seen the heat build-up on the on the tyre is much improved compared to last year’s tyre.

“And with the structure, while being ten percent less rigid vertically, we have recovered the cornering force by adding in that belt. We would have lost about five percent in lateral cornering forces if we hadn’t made modifications to that belt pack. So it’s very substantial changes.

“Add on as well the changes to the compounds, the slick tyres, with that increased rigidity and much more rapid heat build-up what we’re hoping for is more degradation. Now that might sounds strange because most of our lives we’ve spent, as you can imagine, trying to avoid performance decay and degradation. In reality that’s what we’re being asked for in the sport of Formula One.

“As has been mentioned earlier at the end of the season we were getting to the point where we were having negative degradation. The loss of fuel was actually compensating for any performance loss, the tyres were still going quicker at the end of their stint, we had tyres that could last the whole race.

“So we had to look again at what we were doing to create at one side improved drive-ability with the mid-corner traction, from another point of view still maintain a technical challenge for the teams.”

Pirelli will also change the colouring of the hard tyre to make it easier to identify them. These will now be coloured orange instead of silver, with the other tyres remaining unchanged from 2012.

Pirelli will also offer a day of tyre testing in an F1 car to the winner of this year’s GP2 championship.

Jean Alesi, who used Pirelli tyres in F1 with Tyrrell in 1990, has been confirmed as an ambassador for the brand.

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Image © Pirelli/LAT

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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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50 comments on “Pirelli aims for faster laps and more pit stops in 2013”

  1. Wouldn’t it have made more sense to make the colours super soft (red), soft (orange), medium (yellow) and Hard (white)?

    1. @geemac In a way, yes, but that might also confuse people who already memorized the old tyre scheme.

      1. I know, best from a continuity point of view I suppose. I still do a double take when I see the green walled inters, so I think it makes sense.

    2. Tom Haxley (@)
      23rd January 2013, 12:25

      yes :)

    3. My thoughts exactly!

    4. Agree…
      High Working Range = Soft (orange) and Hard (white)
      Low Working Range = Super Soft (Red) and Medium (yellow)
      The dark color means softer…

    5. Wouldn’t it have made more sense to make the colours super soft (red), soft (orange), medium (yellow) and Hard (white)?

      @geemac Actually, no. Red and Orange are quite similar, so is Orange and Yellow. The Super Soft tyre usually goes along with the Soft one in that odd weekend, so it’d be difficult to say exactly which tyre it is if the colours were so close.

      Better to have much more different colours. What you say is very logical, but practically, I think this colouring is better.

      1. “The Super Soft tyre usually goes along with the Soft one in that odd weekend”
        You’re wrong in that… They never use super soft + soft in the same race! and Medium + Hard too.
        Like i post early, they usually use:
        High Working Range is Soft + Hard
        Low Working Range is Super Soft + Medium
        See The Video.

        1. They never use super soft + soft in the same race! and Medium + Hard too.

          Yes they do – in fact these two choices accounted for almost half of last year’s races.

          Super-soft and Soft were available at four races last year: Monaco, Canada, Singapore and Korea.

          Medium and Hard were available at five races last year: Malaysia, Belgium, Italy, America and Brazil.

          Full list here:

          Pirelli to use hardest tyres for United States GP

          1. Your’re Right! Sorry.
            Maybe that’s why they changed silver to Orange. They are too similar on tv.

          2. Medium and Hard: white and silver are too Similar.

  2. It is nice to see Pirelli is trying to nail the balance between grip and degradation. I’m looking forward to see how they perform on track.

  3. “Increased thermal degradation means” there will be more driving to delta time and no races like Abu Dhabi or Austin, when they could push all race long. What a shame.

    Maybe one day ‘show and entertainment’ will be provided with normal tyres and without gimmick like DRS, because true problem of modern F1 will be solved – cars. But for now, sorry, I’m not excited by fake overtakes and tyre saving exercise.

    1. The thing that they apparently will not change for this year is announcing the tyre choice mere weeks before each GP. To be honoust, I don’t get why no one has picked up on this, as it could lead to favoritism. I believe that with 5 or 6 more rounds to go, Pirelli announced to make more ‘conservative’ decisions on tyre choice for the upcoming GPs. This is a bit like changing the rules while the game is being played. For all we know, would Pirelli have chosen a more aggresive tyre choice for the final few GPs last season (which they did for the first 15 races), Alonso might have won the championship for all we know.

      In my opinion, Pirelli should have announced the tyre choices for every event at the press conference, so as to not favor any team or driver. The teams will know which tyres will be used at exactly what location, so that they can focus on that immediately at winter testing that commences in two weeks. If it appears that the tyres are not behaving like Pirelli had expected, then they can always change the tyre choices after all teams have agreed on this.

      Again, I find it mind boggling that no one has ever brought up this problem before. The tyre announcing system as it is now is flawed and it will not be fixed until 2014 – which bugs me out.

      1. Whoops, this wasn’t supposed to be a reply to Armchair Expert, sorry for that!

      2. I have thought this also. Why not get rid of the 4 types of tyre and only use 2. That way, development costs would be lower and there could be no accusations of favouritism!

    2. @armchairexpert, I am in total agreement with you, pit stop competition has absolutely nothing to do with a fast car or a fast driver, Speed TV even had a show where pit crew (nascar) staged pit stops against the clock (yawn) without any racing (between cars) involved. F1 could save a lot of money if pit stops consisted of the car and driver coming into the pits on a lap randomly selected by drawing out of a hat and then sitting in the box until the chief engineer scored a bulls-eye on a dart board, that would really mix up the field.

  4. Regarding them aiming for at least two pit stops per race, that was the case at most races last year. Exceptions included Monaco, Italy, India and USA:

    2012 F1 strategy and pit stops

    1. You missed Abudhabhi

      1. @harsha I said “included” – I did not say it was an exhaustive list. Besides which I did give a link to a full breakdown, and one of the podium finishers in Abu Dhabi pitted twice

  5. I think that what Pirelli need to aim for is a way to make different strategies equally-appealing. Two stops (option-option-prime) should be just as good a strategy as a one stop (option-prime). That should add a new strategic dimension to the racing, as drivers have to decide whether a set of fresh options is worth the time it will take to pit for them, or whether the loss of performance in the primes is worth the time saved by not having to pit again.

    1. Michael Brown (@)
      23rd January 2013, 14:26

      Like Canada 2012

    2. Absolutely! although I would prefer option-option-option (2 stops same tyre) versus prime (no stop)

    3. I agree, in a perfect world it would be having either a 1 stopper or a 2 stopper being alike, with the odd race where a 3 stopper can be a bit of a risk for high gains.

  6. So back to tyres that cannot be drive at Ten tenths for more than a few corners before the driver has to back off. These compounds are more suited to qualifying and certainly do not allow for spectacular racing. Fans may find the races interesting but this is not real racing just contrived entertaiment . Another year of yawns ….

    1. Another year of yawns

      Were you watching in 2012? Most of the races – particularly Sepang, Valenca, Abu Dhabi, Austin and Brazil were considered among the best in recent memory.

      1. They were interesting races, but not because of the tires degrading or tire strategy as such. Sepang – rain. Valencia – crashes/alternator. Abu Dhabi – crashes/DNF. Brazil – rain. (I would debate Austin’s “best”ness but that’s personal opinion.) Regardless, none of these really hinged on the tires for their excitement, which is sort of the point of this article.

      2. Yes there was an improvement in 2012 over 2011 but my understanding is they are trying to get back to a less durable tyre for the coming season.But I still fell asleep during some of the races last year,probably my advancing years.

      3. I think it depends what you want from the races.

        The Pirelli’s of early 2012 may have produced some crazyness but they made the actual racing really dull.

        Drivers were unable to push because the tyres fell to pieces, Races were been decided by whoever hit the tyre sweet spot on any given weekend & differences in compound/performance saw non-existent close/wheel to wheel racing as the car on softer or fresher tyres simply drove straght by the car on harder/worn-er tyres.

        I want to see close racing, good, exciting battles for position & at the end some genuinely exciting & hard fought overtaking. Pirelli (On top of utter **** like DRS & KERS) do not produce any of this.

        Its back to the quantity over quality debate, Pirelli’s simply help produce a lot of pit stops & a lot of very low quality passing which are about as interesting/exciting to watch as watching an LMP1 car pass a GT3 car (i.e no contest).

        Also whats the obsession with pit stops from the current generation? We never used to see any scheduled pit stops & nobody used to complain, Now suddenly if we have a 1-stop race everyone whines it was boring because there wasn’t enough stops.

        1. Ja. I agree
          And then you know you’re just getting old.

      4. @prisoner-monkeys, that Is what I heard about Austin too, remind me again about what tyres were used and how many pit-stops there were.

  7. Chris (@tophercheese21)
    23rd January 2013, 13:12

    Good to hear they’re going to help improve the overall laptimes, considering the restrictions on DRS this year.

    As long as there is good racing; I’m happy.

  8. I think the key to this debate is the following. Do you want someone to win a race by taking all the life from the tyre and having to do 3-4 pit stops thereby using the turn performance to negate the extra time in the pits? Or do you want someone to manage the tyres better and do the race with few pit stops? With some one like Alonso who can manage a set of tyres versus Hamilton who cant, which is preferable? The key is to provide a balance of the two, so create a trye that gives grip but degrades faster but if someone looks after it gives more grip for longer, that is what Pirelli should be aming at. Create a tyre that just works as in the former is pointless you need both to open the strategy up for the teams.

    1. Why should the tyre degrade ? It’s racing not chess!

    2. “With some one like Alonso who can manage a set of tyres versus Hamilton who cant”

      er, lol. This myth still being floated around

  9. “You get improved an heat distribution, we’ve seen the heat build-up on the on the tyre is much improved compared to last year’s tyre.

    I know this is a quote, but I think there might be a mistake….

  10. I remember Paul Hembery saying something previously about Pirelli being able to create basically any tyre they want, depending purely on what people ask them to. Pretty sure he wasn’t joking after seeing this.

  11. There’s an interesting paragraph in there:

    “As before, each Formula One car will have 11 sets of tyres available for the weekend, made up of six sets of the harder and five sets of the softer compound. Each tyre has a barcode embedded into its sidewall before the vulcanization process, which effectively acts as the tyre’s ‘passport’, allowing Formula One racing’s governing body, the FIA, to keep track of which tyres have been used.”

    Hopefully that means we’ll be able to tell when I driver has a fresh set of tyres on the car this year. I’ve felt that was missing over the last few years. In 1993 (possibly 1994 I forget) they used to put stickers on the tyres which could be seen on TV. When a driver had a fresh set of tyres on the white stickers would flicker as the wheel rotated and it wore off after a lap or so. Very useful and it’s the kind of information I want to know as a fan.

    1. @sircoolbeans Pirelli have had technology in place to know in real-time exactly what tyres each driver is using since they returned to F1. Whether that information filters out to us is up to FOM.

      1. Seem to recall that fom show some tv graphics last season which displayed what compound a driver was on. there was usually a (S) or (H) in the compound color next to the driver name graphic. there was also the tower on the left which came up showing compounds during races.

        tire compound was also displayed in real-time on the official timing app & also from some video i saw the pit lane channel (which i’d love to have in the US as it looks great).

  12. People go on about Pirelli tires reproducing what was seen in the 2010 Canadian Gp, However what the Bridgestone tires did that race worked out much better for the racing than what Pirelli have done with there tires.

    In 2010 at Montreal the difference between the prime/option compounds was not as big as what it often is with Pirelli so drivers running different compounds were able to race without the driver on the option compound having so much more performance that the guy on the prime was unable to defend against him.

    Also in regards to wear, The performance loss from the Bridgestone’s on that day was not to the degree of the Pirelli’s so a driver on older tires was still able to put in a decent defensive drive against someone on new tires.
    As an example when Webber was leading on old tires, Hamilton/Button caught him on there new tires yet were unable to zip straght past as Mark was still able to defend as his the Bridgestone’s never had the ‘performance cliff’ of the Pirelli’s. As a result the McLaren’s & Alonso had to fight hard to overtake him & we got to see a good fight & some exciting overtakes.

    This has really been my only issue with the Pirelli tires the past 2 seasons. Different compounds & tires at different stages of wear often prevent some good racing as the driver on the faster compound or less worn tires has such an advantage that he often zips straght past with relative ease which if im honest ain’t as exciting as watching a good scrap ending in a bold/exciting overtaking move.

  13. Biskit Boy (@sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk)
    23rd January 2013, 18:18

    My view is Pirelli play around with the compounds and construction too much as it is. At best it’s confusing, at worst it could be considered favouring certain teams. There should be four different compound/constructions for the whole year. They should be fixed after pre season testing. I think Pirelli are clever enough and have enough data now to do this. Teams should then pick the dry tyres they want for each car, for each race (up to a maximum number of tyres. So each car in every team could pick exactly the combination of tyres they will use over the weekend. There should be no silly requirement to use more than one compound but the compounds should be designed to give choice and promote different strategies. Admittedly this wouldn’t play out the same way at every track but in plenty of cases it would emulate the days when there were multiple suppliers and a teams competitiveness would ebb and flow track to track.

    1. I think they should go back to the days before refueling when every dry compound was taken to every Gp & teams could just use them however they wished & run whatever strategy they wanted without having to make a mandatory stops to use 2 compounds.

      Fans often talk about wanting to see more strategy options & more varied strategies through a race, Well thats what we had up until 1994 when refueling came in. Teams/Drivers could run whatever compounds they wanted & run races based around what compounds/strategy best suited there car/drive & Race pace/position on the day & to be able to change strategy during the race based on the cars pace/position mid-race.

      The way races/strategy played out in those days was so much more interesting (And unpredictable for that matter as you never know who was running what strategy until they did it) than what we have seen since be it with refueling or tyre suppliers only bringing 2 compounds & teams been forced to have to run both during a race.

      1. they should go back to the days before refueling when every dry compound was taken to every GP

        I doubt that will happen on grounds of cost. You’re talking about doubling the number of slick tyres being taken to every race but probably not much of an increase in the total number of tyres being used, creating a huge amount of waste. And at some tracks certain compounds would simply never get used – there would be no point unpacking the hards and mediums at Monaco.

        1. @keithcollantine, surely the teams would know this and elect to use the softer options before they were transported, only a little different than having pirreli decide only (eg) mediums and softs, McLaren could request softs and super softs for Jenson etc.

    2. @keithcollantine – agreed but I’ve thought of a compromise between the two before: allow the teams to choose which two compounds they bring to each race a prescribed time before the event itself. It would increase the logistical and manufacturing challenges for Pirelli obviously but I don’t feel it would increase costs exponentially and it would add an increased element in race strategy. If we got rid of the “use both compounds” rule then teams could bring the hards and try to no-stop. I would if that were to happen actually keep the “start on tyre on which you set your fastest time” rule to prevent the teams using a set of super-softs (to prevent mimicking the qualifying tyres of the 80’s) to set a lap and then start on the “race tyre” so it would be interesting to see if teams such as Red Bull elect to qualify high and race from there whereas teams like Sauber may elect to compromise grid position in an effort to make places on preferential race strategy.

      I think it would be very interesting to see the varied strategies and the only real problems I can see is what I have previously stated and teams gaining an “unfair” advantage by having the correct tyre choices (although really it isn’t very unfair as everyone is presented with an equal opportunity which is the definition of fair in my mind). It may also help to get rid of the tedious tyre conservation in races…

  14. So for the S-Softs and Medium compounds, would they be the easiest for drivers to get temperature into? Although they would have to ensure that they don’t go beyond the mentioned working range, otherwise the tyres would over-heat?

  15. The debate over whether increased tyre degradation and more stops either improves the racing or makes it gimmicky is a debate that will never be settled as it depends on whether “true” overtaking is more or less important than the dynamic of the race itself.

    I for one find the dynamic a much more interesting part of F1. What happened 10 laps ago and how it may influence what happens 15 laps in the future is much more fascinating to me than whether an overtake is “artificial” or not based on how intact each driver’s rubber is.

  16. If Mercedes F1 didn’t changed rear tires degradation characteristic of the car this could be a good news for them.

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