2018 Pirelli tyres

“Incredible” F1 lap times prompt Pirelli to change tread depths

2018 F1 season

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Pirelli has announced it will reduce the tread depth of its tyres at three of this year’s races in order to run softer tyres.

F1’s official tyre supplier will bring tyres with lower tread depths to the Spanish, French and British Grands Prix. The planned 0.4 millimetre reduction will reduce the weight of each four-tyre set by one kilogram, according to Pirelli.

The change has been made in response to the resurfacing at the three tracks. As a result the available grip has increased and tyre wear has decreased.

“With a lot of grip obviously the lap time is improving a lot,” said Pirelli’s head of motorsport Mario Isola. “We saw the lap time in Barcelona was during the pre-season test three seconds quicker than last year. That is incredible.”

“But the point is that we keep a lot of rubber on the tyre. Obviously with low wear the tread is there, we are not wearing the tyre. This means that we have very high temperature in the compound. So to try to reduce temperature because of the new Tarmac, the same Tarmac we have at Paul Ricard and Silvcerstone, we asked for a small reduction in tread thickness with the target to reduce a little bit the temperature.”

“We tested this solution already last year and in terms of performance or other consequences they are almost transparent.”

Isola said the change was “a recommendation that we ourselves brought to the FIA – as we have done in the past at some races – because it is less disruptive than nominating harder compounds, which was the alternative.”

“Apart from making a set of tyres weigh around one kilogram less, there is no appreciable difference in performance; so in effect this is an ‘invisible’ change. It only applies to the three races in Spain, France and Britain: there is no alteration to the tyre specification planned for any other events.”

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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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18 comments on ““Incredible” F1 lap times prompt Pirelli to change tread depths”

  1. If there is ‘no appreciable difference,’ why not just do this for all races? Therefore, 2/3 pit-stop races are a common thing. Drivers will actually use medium or harder compounds for strategy, and this wouldn’t cause degradation ‘flak’ all over the track. Lastly, I don’t know what who told Pirelli what, but the drivers and teams are chasing 10th’s of kilograms every weekend. How is it 1/4 of a kilogram in spinning mass per wheel not effecting performance? Or even economy at that point. Less rotational weight=less drag on the IPU.

  2. Other reports were they did this for Merc. Everyone else were ok, Merc couldnt work it out so Pirelli obliged them. If true it’s very much like the 2013 season.

  3. Any truth to reports suggesting that Mercedes brought this issue to Pirelli?

    1. Yes, and Ferrari and Red Bull are not happy.

    2. @savagebaboon, care to provide a link to those sources so we can judge their trustworthiness? Unlike some here, who seem to want to accept the story without question, I’d rather see what the claim is and whether the site that is making the claim has any credibility or has a habit of exaggerating their claims.

      It should be noted that there have already been races in the past where Pirelli also reduced the tread depth – the 2011 Italian GP and 2012 Belgian GP’s also saw a reduction in tread depth for exactly the same reasons, but nobody seemed to care about those changes at the time or made claims about Pirelli trying to favour a particular manufacturer. I would like to see what explanation they can come up with for trying to explain why this particular change is any different to what has happened in the past, or whether it is a case of somebody looking for reasons that aren’t there.

  4. Sorry for the stupid question, but I only speak “American” and not English. In America, there is no “tread” on a slick, only on the rain tires (tyres). So in this case, does tread refer to the thickness of the outer layer of rubber on a tire?

    1. Yes, tread is the part that grips as opposed to the structural part inside.

      1. Marc and @glynh
        Thanks guys. In America, we only refer to “tread” when we are talking about the grooves cut into tyres for channeling water. So over here, only the wets and the intermediates have “treads”.

        I spent years working for multiple companies headquartered out of London so I usually know the differences in our usage of the vocabulary but that one was new to me.

        As for the dimples, I assume they’re not talking about that? Or maybe I’m wrong in that.

    2. There are dimples on the tyres to help engineers judge how much “tread” is left on the tyre. The difference between slicks and wet weather tyres is the wets have channels cut out to allow the tyre to dissipate standing water. We weather tyres tend to be extremely soft in compound to allow fast warm up. You could effectively cut channels in the ultra soft tyres to create wet weather tyres, along as you don’t go deeper than the wear dimples.

  5. I’m curious to know if some cars will have to add ballast to get back up to weight. 1kg is a lot for these machines.

  6. Wasn’t Silverstone once their worst ever race for tyres exploding? Plus those 2 Ferraris puncturing late in a more recent race? They don’t seem to be remembering those problems.

  7. So…..exploding tyres again? (OK probably not I guess, for the betetr)

  8. Normally, when technical regulations between seasons stay the same, I expect around 1.5 to 2 seconds improvement. Neither in Australia nor in Bahrain today have we seen even one full second. How are lap-times “incredible” in any unexpected way?

    1. They’re referring to the Barcelona lap time because it and the other 2 tracks were resurfaced @crammond

  9. So we have Wet, intermediate, hard, medium, soft, supersoft, ultrasoft, hypersoft, and now we have spec A and spec B, or should that be Thick and Thin.

    1. Brian (@flyinglapct)
      8th April 2018, 2:01

      Thanks for pointing that out. Now my head hurts. Is this like changing the rules in the middle of the game? Have the teams tested these different tires? I’m sure some teams and others have not. Is this now giving some teams an advantage?

  10. I hate lobbying. It’s always Ferrari this Ferrari that, but all I see is, Mercedes this RB that. Again in-season tyre changes! They only do this when things start to look better.

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