FIA confirms new tyre rules and Virtual Safety Car changes

2016 F1 season

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The FIA’s World Motor Sport Council has approved changes to F1’s rules regarding tyres and the Virtual Safety Car for 2016.

A major change to the tyre rules will see drivers given a choice from three different specifications of dry-weather tyre instead of two. However F1’s official tyre supplier Pirelli will still select two sets of tyres for the race, at least one of which must be used, and one set for use in Q3 only, which must be the softest available compound.

Drivers will still have to use two different types of dry-weather tyre in the race (if they do not use wets or intermediates) and one of these must be the type nominated by Pirelli.

The Virtual Safety Car may now be deployed in practice sessions. When it is used DRS will be available to drivers immediately afterwards, instead of after a two-lap delay as is the case with regular Safety Car periods.

The FIA also announced Emerson Fittipaldi has stood down as president of the Drivers’ Commission, to be replaced by Tom Kristensen. The sport’s governing body will also establish a new Hall of Fame.

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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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48 comments on “FIA confirms new tyre rules and Virtual Safety Car changes”

  1. Why can’t they just ditch the use both compounds rule? It’s really unnecessary and rather defeats the purpose of the new rules, ie granting teams greater strategic freedom.

    1. IIRC it was stipulated by Michelin when the tyre wars ended and they went single-supplier – to ensure people still talked about tyres! Talk about your obsolete rules…

      1. @gridlock Bridgestone, not Michelin – the latter left before (and because) the single-supplier rule came in.

        1. I thought it sounded wrong as I was typing it! Cheers.

    2. I’m sure that’s what they were going to do when these changes were first announced earlier in the year. But as always with F1, it seems like a big rule change to grab the headlines and get everyone talking about it. Then when it actually comes down to it, it isn’t such a big change after all.

  2. That’s confusing as hell;

    1) Pirelli choose an Option and Prime from the range, and the driver must run one of these during the race.
    2) A driver picks another compound, from the whole range? Including ultra soft?
    3) Pirelli names a compound for qualy, in addition to the Option and Prime and driver-nominated compound?

    So a team could be using 4 different compounds per driver per race?

    1. @gridlock My interpretation was Pirelli chose three tyres for a race, and select two of these of which at least one will be used in the race.

      In addition to that, the softest compound will automatically be the Q3 tyre.

      1. So, at Melbourne:

        Pirelli bring Ultra, Super and Soft as their 3 tyres and nominate the latter as their Option and Prime. All teams will therefore have to use Ultra for Q3 and run at least one of the second pair during the race.

        On top of this, any driver can bring any other compound? IE we could see Medium and Hards in use, perhaps enabling someone in P11 to pit on lap 1 and then run to the end?

        1. From the F1 website:

          -The tyre supplier will now provide three dry-weather compounds instead of two

          -Of the 13 sets of dry tyres available to each driver, the tyre supplier will choose two for the race (only one of which must be used in the race), and one set (the softest available) that may only be used in Q3. Each driver may then choose their remaining ten sets from the three available compounds

          So in your scenario, a driver will have to use their specific set of either the Soft (set 1) or Super Soft (set 2) in the race at some point, and “Ultra” Soft (set 3) if they make it to Q3. Then it looks like sets 4-13 can be of any specification they choose, so some might choose several Soft tyres, others might go for several “Ultra” soft etc.

          I think referring to them as compound A, B, C would be simpler!

          1. Why the hell did they not just give 3 tyres for a weekend and teams chose 2 of the 3 and keep everything the same as it is now. This is ridiculous it is so confusing. In fact why not choose 2 of the 3 tyres on any given weekend and you do not have to use both in the race.

      2. @strontium, I’ve read 2 copies of the report and both lead me to believe that the softest tyre can only be used in Q3. So the only real change is an ultra-soft Q-tyre.

        1. “May only use in Q3”
          The word “may” is there.
          My interpretation is that you may use the softest tyre in Q3 and never use it again if you wish not to.

          1. @david-beau, you may be right. Who writes this stuff, if you can use 3 compounds but are only compelled to use 2 during the race why write it in a way that can be interpreted in 2 opposite ways, I’m daam sure a good lawyer may argue both interpretations and convince a jury of either.

          2. @hohum, @david-beau

            I understood that there is a set, of the softest available compound for that race (ie amongst the 3 type of tyre), which can be run during Q3 only. You would have 12 sets for the whole week-end and Maldonado set for Q3.

            However they put unecessary rules there. If Pirelli picks 2 compounds and teams should run 2 different compounds during the race, they will necessarily run of of the two chosen by Pirelli making the rule of having to run of the tyre selected by Pirelli quite useless.

            Anyway that is a complicated way to say simple things :
            – Pirelli now brings 3 tyres compounds per race
            – Team selects a combination of 12 sets with at least 2 different compounds
            – a 13th set, of the softest compound, is provided to each driver for Q3 only
            – During the race teams still have to run at least 2 compounds

          3. @jeanrien Yes, that’s how I have understood it too. Pirelli (or possibly, though less likely, @keithcollantine) seem to have chosen the least intelligible explanation of the rules possible.

        2. From my reading, I think that the “only” bit is talking about the Q3-only set, which fits with the current rule. It’s just saying that your Q3 set has to be whatever the softest tire available for the weekend, which you may opt to use or not during the race (since I doubt Pirelli is ever going to designate the softest tire available as the Prime).

    2. Agreed. Much simpler changes have been scrapped before with the argument that “the fans will find it confusing”.

      How is this better?

    3. Mansellsmoustache
      2nd December 2015, 20:15

      I interpreted it to mean Pirelli would nominate one of their choices for Q3. As it will be the softest of the two they nominate for the race, it would be the ‘option’ tire. So three total dry tires per weekend. 2 nominated by Pirelli and a third one the drivers may also use.

      Might make alternative strategies viable at some events.

      1. 2 nominated by Pirelli and the 3rd. from the 3 made available by Pirelli.
        But maybe the entire race can be run using only 1 compound choice instead of the mandatory 2 compound rule currently in place.

        1. @HoHum Oh how I wish, but this line leaves me to believe that stupid rule is still in effect.

          Drivers will still have to use two different types of dry-weather tyre in the race (if they do not use wets or intermediates) and one of these must be the type nominated by Pirelli.

  3. Any indication of how many of each will be at each weekend yet? Or what the third choice will be called?

    I’m glad that there will be a new Hall of Fame, I was on the website just last week looking for one, and all they had was a list of world champions.

    1. Prime, Option and Geoff.

      1. @bullfrog Naming them Geoff is still less ridiculous than the rule itself therefore the name must be more ridiculous.

      2. I like Geoff. Sounds really good.

      3. Geoff

        To be renamed Hammerhead Eagle i-Thrust halfway through the season :)

    2. Prime, option and alternative option

  4. Pirelli will still select two sets of tyres for the race, at least one of which must be used

    This simply means that every team will still need to use at least two compounds. Unless it means you can run on a single compound of the two chosen by Pirelli – which is denied in the following paragraph. So who actually cares which tyres are chosen? As a guidance?

    1. That’s exactly what I was thinking – if teams have to use 2 of the 3 tyres then what’s the point of forcing 1 of Pirellis 2 choices to be used. According to basic maths it seems pointless.

    2. Yes, you still have to use at least 2 compounds. The bit about Pirelli selecting two sets of tires for the race is for tire allocations only, I think. Of your 13, 2 sets will be the 2 compounds Pirelli has chosen, and 1 set is the Q3-only set that will be the softest compound on offer (the other 10 being free choice for the drivers among the 3 compounds available).

      During the race, you have to run whatever compound Pirelli is calling prime, and at least 1 of the other two options. So if the options are Soft/Super/Ultra and Pirelli designates Soft as the prime, then someone who runs a 1-stop Soft/Ultra race is fine, as are drivers who run a 1 stop Soft/Super and 2 stop Soft/Super/Ultra, but a team that runs a 1-stop Super/Ultra is in violation of the rules.

  5. Why not ditch the link between qualifying tyres and race tyres altogether? Why must everything in F1 be made overly complicated?

  6. Those tyres changes are confusing as hell. Can anyone tell me if this hypothetical scenario is wrong:
    Pirelli roll up in Melbourne with the super-soft, soft and medium compounds. They select the super-soft and soft for the weekend, meaning that the super-soft must be used in Q3. However the drivers each get to choose whether they’ll use the soft or medium in the race along with the super-soft?

    1. @ciaran I think the super-soft can only be used in Q then.

  7. Will we call this progress ? Will we call this novel ? No we will call it what it is, the reintroduction of qualifying tyres, remember them?

    1. Exactly. Seems backwards

  8. Talk about saving costs and now they have to implement the logistics for the extra sets of tyres. Well done FIA well done

  9. While there are some great posts here explaining the new rules, it still makes my head hurt.

  10. Yes (@come-on-kubica)
    2nd December 2015, 21:38

    I literally have no idea what the tyre situation is for next season, this is going to be fun explaining to neutrals.

  11. Is there a rule about when they have to decide what 3rd set they’re bringing? Or can they bring all of them and decide during the race which one to use if they used the softest tire pirelli requires during qualifying?

  12. So to wade in on this subject, my interpretation so far:

    Pirelli choose 3 different sets for the whole weekend (ie. soft, medium, hard).
    The softest set must be used in Q3 by all 10 cars (ie. soft)
    They then choose two of the set types that must be run in the race (ie. for example Pirelli choosing medium and hards)
    Teams can then choose their tyre choice for the race (ie. using the above example teams can pair softs with hards or soft with mediums, as long as they have used one of the stimulated tyre type (mediums or hards). They could also used the mediums with the hards if they want to obviously)

    Whether that is correct or not, I have no idea.

    Points that confuse me:
    Would this then mean each team would allow themselves to allocated the amount of each set they want to run? So with the 13 sets could a team ask for (using my above example again): 3 sets of soft, 2 sets of hard and 8 sets of medium tyre if they saw that the medium was the best race tyre?

    Does each team have to then announce what sets they are taking (and amounts) before the weekend? or before qualifying? or before the race?

    Or is this just stupid wording for having a qualifying tyre (The softest tyre available on the weekend)? If so why would you need to “use one type nominated by Pirelli” as you would need to use both of the other compounds during the race?

    1. You seem to have got it right. Why do they have to complicate stuff so much? I was so confused until I read your post. To answer your last question, it does seem to be the reintroduction of qualifying tyres. Maybe they want to ensure that Pirelli suggests one compound to ensure safety or strategy options for teams? Could be to prevent teams from selecting the same two compounds which would negate the idea behind this idea?

  13. Pirelli should just bring 3 compounds and let the teams choose two of them for qualy and race. You could have a slower team then choosing the softest tyre and qualifying ahead of faster teams who have chosen harder compounds.

    1. Agree with you completely. Again I think the rule makers have shot themselves in the foot by engineering an unnecessarily complex solution as compared to the basic idea you just suggested

  14. I’m glad to this.

  15. Can the FIA ever come up with SIMPLE rules?

  16. Ok, so to simplify what i just read…..

    Pirelli will bring 3 compounds to a race meeting, for this example:- Soft, Meduim and Hard

    In quallifying, specifically in Q3, drivers MUST use the softest tyre (Soft)

    In the race Pirelli will pick 2 compounds of tyre (eg. Soft, Medium) and the drivers must use at least one of these compounds. The driver must use 2 compounds in total during the race.

    So for instance a driver could chose to run a set of the Softs at the start (fulfilling the obligation to run at least one of the chosen 2 compounds) followed by a set of the Hards (fulfilling the obligation to run at least 2 compounds)

    It is unclear to me from the wording however if a driver can use all 3 compounds during the race, it does look like they can.

    So in theory they could run a combination of:-
    Soft, Medium
    Soft, Hard
    Medium, Hard
    Soft, Medium, Hard

  17. Pat Ruadh (@fullcoursecaution)
    3rd December 2015, 13:06

    I don’t see the need to overcomplicate this so much by the FIA.
    I believe they should be aiming for the largest possible scope of strategy variations.
    The more you box them in, the more we are going to see processional single-strategy races.
    I also think it would be healthy to revisit the ‘start on Q2 tyre’ rule (making the provision that you must set a lap time). Perhaps the ultra will degrade so quickly the main contenders would rather quali on a harder compound, giving the midfielders a chance of putting the ultras on and having a go at pole.

  18. Does this mean they have free choice to start the race on either of the two compounds selected? In other words, you don’t have to start the race on the tyres you used in Q2 (i’ve always thought this was a daft rule). Allowing the top 10 to start on the harder tyres means there is more chance of split strategies, hence making the race a little more interesting (a bit like GP2)

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