New seven-tyre range won’t confuse fans, Pirelli insists

2018 F1 season

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Pirelli says fans will not be confused by its expanded range of tyre compounds for the 2018 F1 season following complaints it is too complicated.

Formula One’s official tyre supplier is introducing two new dry-weather tyre compounds this season. It now has a total of seven slick tyres available from which they can nominate three which will be used at each race.

Hyper soft tyre, Yas Marina, 2017
Tyre choices for the first four races of 2018
There are still “three compounds at each event, so no changes compared to last year” pointed out Pirelli’s sporting director Mario Isola.

“More colours, yes. [But] spectators are not so stupid not to understand three colours at each event.”

The seven compounds available are the super-hard, hard, medium, soft, super-soft, ultra-soft and hyper-soft. Isola addressed the complaints over the expanded range.

“I know that there were some criticisms around this choice to increase the number of compounds,” he said. “I believe that with the additional compounds we have more flexibility and the opportunity to make a better selection in order to have the all the three compounds suitable for the trace.”

“The target is to have a bit more degradation to try to target two [pit] stops and different strategies.”

Isola said Pirelli considered and rejected using the same three names at each race – hard, medium and soft – regardless of which compounds were selected.

“We discussed that internally and we came to the conclusion that we are not giving the right message because it looks like we are using the same compound for each event,” he said. “We want to explain to the spectators that in Monaco you need softer compounds and in Silverstone you need a harder compounds.”

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During F1’s ‘tyre war’ years manufacturers often gave different compounds the same name, usually either ‘hard’ or ‘soft’.

“In the competition days tyre manufacturers didn’t want to tell you what they are using,” Isola explained. “They didn’t want to give an advantage to competitors.”

“Even within the same tyre manufacturer, but different teams, they were using different tyres, different compounds, different constructions. That’s a completely different approach because in competition you need to find the best performance, full stop.”

“Now we don’t have competition, we have a situation which everybody has to use the same product and the request is to explain to the spectators what we are doing.”

Isola pointed out the public vote Pirelli held to choose a name for the new softest tyre showed the interest fans had taken in the change.

“It’s positive in a way because they’re talking about tyres,” he said. “Look at the example of the name of the hyper-soft, it’s incredible.”

“I wanted ‘mega-soft’, unfortunately the spectators voted for ‘hyper’, so we have to respect their vote. Anyway we had half a million interactions for the name of the tyre. It’s a huge number, it means they are interested.”

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Keith Collantine
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29 comments on “New seven-tyre range won’t confuse fans, Pirelli insists”

  1. If we have use colors to let the fans know who is using what tire at a specific moment of a race then paint the entire sidewall of that tire the color it will be called. Why because F1 can.

  2. ““More colours, yes. [But] spectators are not so stupid not to understand three colours at each event.””

    That’s disingenuous. The real issue is that the naming convention is hyper- (see what I did there?) convoluted.

    “Isola said Pirelli considered and rejected using the same three names at each race – hard, medium and soft – regardless of which compounds were selected.

    “We discussed that internally and we came to the conclusion that we are not giving the right message because it looks like we are using the same compound for each event,” he said.”

    An A-F system (say) would do exactly the same thing, but I guess Pirelli needed some gimmick to market their control-spec tyres.

    ““It’s positive in a way because they’re talking about tyres,” he said.”

    Even if the talk is “boy aren’t these names stupid?”

  3. “More colours, yes. [But] spectators are not so stupid not to understand three colours at each event.”
    – I couldn’t agree more with this phrase, LOL.

    1. Not eloquent but fine by me. Most championships have, like f1, multiple compounds. Most times these compounds are not easily identifiable, no colouring, in f1 there used to be dozens of different tyres per season in the tyre war days, but only identifiable via code.

  4. The target is to have a bit more degradation to try to target two [pit] stops and different strategies.

    Artificial tactics basically. There will be no difference, if the tyres don’t last half a race they will all do 2 stops instead of 1. We basically get shorter stints with drivers complaining they have no more grip. We get to hear their frustration two times, that’s it.

    They are, again, making the tyres with a tendency for degradation instead of performance, the exact reason they have been criticized for all this years.

    It makes absolutely no sense a Formula 1 with tyres especially designed to hinder the performance of the arguably best cars and drivers in the world. It is absurd, I’m always complaining about this, but it really annoys me deeply.

    And then they come and talk about road relevance, road relevant is to fit your car with the best possible tyres, not cartoonish rubber!

    1. @johnmilk, Exactly, and a tyre that degrades quicker will further discourage close racing and attempted overtaking. ” Stay 2 seconds back”, “We’re looking for a gap in the traffic”, ” We’re not racing him, don’t defend”, ” target lap time is 1.29 for next 16 laps”, hohum, yawn.

    2. They are, again, making the tyres with a tendency for degradation instead of performance, the exact reason they have been criticized for all this years.

      Probably a good time to mention that they didn’t decide on that approach themselves, they were given that brief by FIA/FOM.

      1. @geemac +1

        Everyone likes to jump n the Pirelli bashing bandwagon, but the fia are the guys dictating this. Pirelli choosing the different names sand colours is a decision for the brand

      2. @geemac yes, but they did agreed to those terms, while others didn’t. And they are the ones making the tyres aren’t they? If they are just a pawn in the hand of FIA/FOM maybe they should reconsider their contract, and put themselves in a position with more power

        FIA also imposed the current PU, but I don’t blame them for the Honda failure, and the Renault problems (a bit unfair comparison, but still)

        Their poor wet tyre performance is down to FIA too?

        Both institutions are at fault here, no need to excuse Pirelli. The work that has been done is an absolute farce, it is comical at times.

        We are talking about racing here, what is the point of weakening a fundamental structure of the car? Imagine if this was applied to other areas. Super soft suspension that don’t ride kerbs or poor quality fuel.

        Its just tyres, they should do what tyres do.

        1. Pirelli produced a tyre rage for the 2017 season that was conservative in part to protect its brand because of the raft of negative press and fan feedback it got for producing the product that the FIA/FOM asked it to do. What was the result? Of yeah, a raft of negative press and fan comment about the tyres being “too conservative”.

          Pirelli can’t win.

          1. Yes they can. If they stop being news and if they get some compliments from teams and drivers, which were the first to complain about the matter, not the fans.

  5. Wow. Has it really come to this? We aren’t idiots. How much confusion could there possibly be?

  6. Tire degradation is a thing again. The names degrade, the colors…

    But the tires themselves do not degrade in the way they did before. That cliff after x laps is gone. Last year you basically could hardly wear them down at all; even the softest tires were simply too hard (Ferrari managed to do it anyway in Silverstone, but that was the exception).
    Pirelli, uncertain about how precisely the new regulations would impact the tires, played it safe.

    But not this year. All tires go one compound softer, and there is an all new even softer compound on top of that.
    More grip therefore. More wear too, likely. But no cliff.
    Will we see blowups? Will we see tire canvas? I sure expect so…

    1. Ah yes, the ultimate in motorsport, exploding tyres.

      1. Yeah, tyres never just randomly exploded in F1 prior to the current Pirelli era…

  7. Well I still think of the tyres as ‘primes’ or ‘options’. However, I do not think there will be any difficulty in understanding/coming to grips with the new array of compounds and colours.

    It does seem to me that degradation (in the recent past at least) has come more so from the aerodynamic wash from the car in front, rather then the Pirelli compounds themselves. When following from anything less than about 4 seconds, the driver behind is faced with having to either pass the car in front quickly, or else ruin his tyres… I do not think that Pirelli is to be blamed for this, but rather the Aero regulations…

  8. It would be just easier if the compounds were colored the same for every race. Red is always the softest, yellow is the medium and white is the hardest. If you need fourth color then you have purple. Then blue is wet and green is monsoon tire. I don’t get it why there needs to be gazillion different colors making the relationships different for each race. Just use those 3 or 4 colors for the main compounds and allow spectators to learn which is which. And call them hard, medium and soft. No need for this option and prime nonsense either.

    The tires go to shredder after each race anyways so they are not used in any future races which means the coloring doesn’t matter from logistic perspective. The tires are allocated long before the race anyways. And coloring them can’t be that difficult either. In the first race they used marker pens to color the tires.

    During the last two years I have not been able to use the colors for anything except telling if the drivers near each other are using different colors. But I don’t relaly know which tire is the softer one if I get something like orange and green or pink and yellow. Can anybody? It just feels like such a simple thing is over thought. All we need is tires that have consistent colors from one weekend to next. And tires that are clearly marked so it is possible to tell the difference. I mean look at the mercedes picture on the bottom of t his page. Are those orange or red tire side markings? Why can’t there be more color on the sidewalls?

    1. But that only makes it “easier” at the race, if you take every one race as if it was an isolated event @socksolid. This will als show more easily that there ARE differences between tracks as far as tyre wear is involved too.

      To me there is no issue with showing that there are softer tyres used for some races than for others. I remember the likes of Brundle explaining how the “primes” at one even were actually softer than the “options” used at a previous race, when discussing how it was no wonder they did not last long.

      The most important thing, is that Pirelli has hopefully tuned the compounds they can now choose so that they actually fit the track they are picked for and get used!

      1. If the colors were consistent in every race then it would better for f1 as a whole. It is easier to remember and understand what is going on when there are 3 or 4 colors or compounds of tires in each race each with their names and colors that you only need to learn once. You don’t need to remember where the yellow, orange or whatever soft they are using on this stint is on the compound scale for that event. Is it the harder or softer tire?

        The current system makes things a lot more complex because neither the color nor even the name of the compound tells you anything about what kind of tire it is. I think it would be enough for commentators to mention it couple of times during the weekend that there are actually bazillion different compounds but only 3-4 per event. But it is pretty insane that we need 9 colors and lots of stupid names when they could just be called hard, medium and soft.

        I mean nobody can tell which color is softer than other. And in a race if you asked someone during the race about whether that soft tire is the softest compound they would not know. I would not know. I’m not going to learn the same thing again for each race.

        Honestly I think pirelli went with this system just because they wanted to have different system than what bridgestone had. But bridgestone’s system was better. In couple more years we probably have 12 different dry compounds with various hyper-mediums and giga-softs.

        Only things the spectators want to know is what kind of tire it is (soft tells everybody immediatelly that it is fast but fragile tire) and how it compares to the opposition (soft means you are going to be faster unless the other one picks the same tires). But if you see them picking soft tire in the current system you’ll have no idea. Even with super soft they could be picking the durable option because there are 2 more softer options below that. Nonsense!

        You could even have soft and super soft and not know if the third compound available is softer or harder. I mean even the names are non-sensical. Currently the medium compound in the range is called soft with 4 out of the 7 tires being some sort of soft tires.

  9. Still think that had they called it Softy McSoftface the problem would’ve been solved.

  10. What I don’t get is how we got into this situation with mandatory use of 2 compounds. Does anyone have link to a good article on this topic?

    Why can’t team just choose by themselves what tyre to use?

    1. “to spice up the show” – FIA

    2. @johnmilk That is what it’s turned into but at the time it was proposed in early 2007 the FIA were actually against the idea.
      In 2007 refueling was still a thing so there was no need to do it from a strategy perspective because stops were dictated by fuel loads rather than tyre wear because all the compounds could easily handle the 20-30 lap stints they were doing on low-ish fuel loads.

      @anunaki The reason this rule came into existence in 2007 was because Bridgestone were concerned that without a tyre war (Michelin had effectively been forced out at the end of 2006) nobody would be talking about tyres & they felt that having drivers forced into running 2 compounds would bring in some discussion about tyres.

      Bridgestone had initially tried the concept in Champcar & felt it worked for them from a commercial perspective so pushed for it to be part of F1.

  11. The names and colours of the tyres are not a problem. The problem is Pirelli has to produce tyres that will result in multiple pit stops per race so there’s enough action taking place to please the fans. Quite frankly, I would rather more overtakes on track than via pit strategy. I can’t see that happening with the current emphasis on aerodynamics however.

  12. I don’t think that the naming scheme, tyre colours, number of compounds, or intelligence of the audience is any barrier to whether this tyre system is a good idea or not.

    The problem is that teams already understand by the end of testing which tyres are “never to be used” and which are statistically insignificant. Having large variations in performance just means the teams calculate around them, or don’t use them at all.

    They were introduced on the back of a race where the teams hadn’t got previous experience of the compound, and the results were unpredictable. That was exciting, but it only worked because the teams lacked data. Changing compounds, colours, names, allocations, forced pitstop strategy are all irrelevant, because you can’t recreate that unpredictable excitement without taking data away from the teams.

  13. Spare a thought for the 5% of the male population who are colour blind (mostly red/green/brown blue/purple).

    If there are only 3 types allowed at each race (ie a hard, medium and soft), then that is all that a spectator cares about. Apart from Pirelli, who gives a toss whether the soft at a particular race is mega or ultra or super or hyper or turbo or gooey or marsh-mellow or whatever.

    A good set of 3 colours to minimise confusion for colour blind people would be yellow (for soft) grey or nothing (for medium and blue (for hard).

  14. It’s not the number of tyres which have the potential to confuse, but the bonkers naming and colour scheme. Good luck to casual or first-time viewers telling the difference between super, ultra, and hyper soft or knowing which is which on track. Tyre hardness is a spectrum, perfect to align with colour, but no let’s mix them up with no rhyme or reason. Something like the following would make more sense. No ambiguity in naming, and easy to tell relative tyre softness at a glance by the colour ‘temperature’.

    Super Soft – White
    Soft – Yellow
    Medium/Semi Soft – Orange
    Medium – Red
    Medium/Semi Hard – Purple
    Hard – Blue
    Super Hard – Green

    Inter – Flourescent Pink
    Wet – Flourescent Green

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