Pirelli concerned over wider wet weather tyres

2017 F1 season

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Pirelli has warned that improving its much-criticised wet weather rubber will not be made easier by F1’s adoption of wider tyres in 2017.

The sport’s official tyre supplier is seeking a recent-specification F1 car to conduct further tests of its wet weather product. Last year’s Brazilian Grand Prix prompted further complaints from drivers about aquaplaning.

Two years after Bianchi’s crash drivers are still unhappy with Pirelli’s wet tyres
“You can imagine wet tyres, we’re going wider, and that’s not a direction you want to go in when you’re trying to do wet tyre performance,” Hembery admitted in an interview at the Autosport International show.

Pirelli conducted three wet weather tests for its 2017 compounds last year but Hembery says the development programme needs to go on.

“We’re working actually on an ongoing development during the season, which is something we’re allowed to do this time around, before we weren’t able to test at all,” he said.

“In the last three years I think we’ve had three days’ testing. Now we have up to 25 car days’ testing in a season, So we have a programme to change the wet tyres in the season.”

Hembery said Pirelli also needs to take into account new regulations intended to increase the use of standing starts in wet races.

“We want to improve the warm-up characteristics [as] we’re going to have standing starts, for example, so the tyres are going to be cold,” he said. “So we’re going to do like we do in GP2 where we don’t have [tyre warming] blankets, trying to get a product which warms up a lot quicker. So that’s ongoing and those tests will be February and March.”

“We’re already doing some of those, trying to get one of the hybrid cars that we used in the last months of last year. So we’re trying to convince one of the teams to get that out of the museum and allow us to do a bit more work.”

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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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19 comments on “Pirelli concerned over wider wet weather tyres”

  1. Is this not something they should’ve thought about several months ago?

    1. LOL

    2. It reads like they did to me @strontium, but it has been a longer effort to get that testing arranged and done.

      1. @strontium @bosyber On the potential upside – as Max Verstappen pointed out – the cars will have much more downforce this year, which could help prevent aquaplaning.

        1. Aquaplaning is roughly proportional to tire width… So they need more than 30% more downforce.

          Probably best bet will be new and improved rubber. Especially if warmup is amazing.

  2. There’s not really a simple solution to this – pirelli need a car to test tyres but the new cars aren’t finished yet so all they can do is simulations and modify old cars. By the time the new cars use the tyres it will be too late to change them for the first races.

    1. As http://www.wtf1.co.uk pointed out: classic F1/FIA style planning

  3. Why don’t they make full wets narrower? The narrower the tyre the easier it cuts through standing water. This is the primary concern for wet weather tyres as grip can only exist where there tyre displaces and/or cuts through the water.

    Is there a technical reason wet wheels/tyres can’t be different from the dry’s? If the hub or brake arrangements are a problem then use a wet tyre wheel design, split it down the middle (or 3/3rds) with the narrow tyre on the outer rim?

    1. It is a good idea.
      Even if the rim gets narrower there could still be a flange on the inside to cover the brakes etc like on the wider dry tires.
      The main problem I see is that it would disturb the aerodynamic setup of the car, which would be optimized for the wide tires.

      I’d preferto have the same width, but a special thread design where only the middle part is ‘normal’ and opens up very wide to the sides as well as receding somewhat so that all the pressure is on the middle part.

    2. @psynrg, one reason would be the interaction with the aerodynamics, especially at the front. Smaller tyres would almost certainly mess that up.

    3. Weren’t the wet tires smaller in the past?

      1. Taller, actually. To add ride height.

  4. On of the mayor problems with the wet tires seems to be the temperature window they perform best.
    Restarts ( driving behind a safetycar) do not heat up the tires enough to get them in the performance window.
    Driving up front keeping the temperature in the optimum window with less spray seem to work great.
    When VES started his multiple passing actions he to succeeded to get the tires in the performance window with great results. He and HAM showed the tires were not that bad if you succeeded to use them the right way.

  5. This is a problem which should have been sorted a long, long time ago. Yet we seem to have little, if any progress.

    1. How exactly?

  6. I remember reading an article on ESPNF1 where they expressed concerns over Pirelli’s wet tyres in 2010. Its been very frustrating watching wet races in this era. Surely Pirelli ought to have more wet weather testing or is there not a quick way of raising ride hights so they can clear standing water better. You don’t want SC’s and red flags when it rains.

  7. man that ferrari looks absolutely beautiful

  8. I warned about the problem as well, but who listens. Jureo pointed out what matters in this issue. However, I’m not concerned about wet tires, I’m concerned about sidewalls height of these pneumatics and increased contact width which must result in greater energy flow trough the sidewalls because of its deflection under lateral forces. Pirelli had a problem with narrower rear tires regarding this. Wider tires in combination with Pirelli’s (don’t) know how might result in to much tire failures and a horrible season as well.

    1. Just can’t see how sturdier, less gadgety tires can be worse than the poor ones providing the (non) racing we’ve been having not to mention tires that were exploding during races at one point.

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