Tyres, Circuit de Catalunya, 2018

No more “hyper-soft”? Pirelli asked to change tyre names for 2019

2018 Monaco Grand Prix

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Pirelli could change the naming system for its tyres for the 2019 F1 season following a request from the FIA and Formula One Management.

The change would see the three available tyre choices at each event referred to as ‘hard’, ‘medium’ and ‘soft’. Different tyre compounds would continue to be nominated for each race to suit the track, but the current names would be replaced by letters.

Pirelli sporting director Mario Isola said a change is “possible” for 2019.

“We had a request from FOM and FIA to just call them hard, medium and soft, with three colours, the same colours and same names for all the races,” he said. “But obviously different compounds, because you cannot use the same compounds we use in Silverstone in Monaco or Suzuka.

“On a second level we will have compound A, B, C, D, E, F or whatever, and we will tell you that for this race, the hard is B, the medium is D and whatever.”

Isola said the aim of the change was to simplify the sport for fans.

“For spectators it’s probably more understandable,” he said, “but you also have the possibility to go deeper in detail for technical information that we will continue to provide.”

Pirelli has begun assessing the idea, said Isola. “It’s an on ongoing discussion but we said we are available to evaluate this change.

“I made a check with production and logistics, obviously we need to understand all the implications. It is feasible because we produce a specific batch for each race to be sure that they all come from the same batch of production. So honestly to put a purple label or a yellow label or any other colour is not a big issue. It’s a possibility.”

Some revisions to the rules might be needed to accommodate the change, Isola added.

Pirelli also intends to reduce the number of available compounds next year. “[There are] seven this year is because we wanted to have a back-up,” said Isola.

“Six is a good number to have the right flexibility in tyre choices. Maybe if they are better spaced we can have five instead of six. But the number will be five or six.”

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52 comments on “No more “hyper-soft”? Pirelli asked to change tyre names for 2019”

  1. A good proposal all around.

  2. Good. Serial designation is the most sensible approach.

    1. I think the problem lies rather in the fact that the serialisation will not be used by the medias: we’ll just hear “hard”, “medium” and “soft”, definitely not “A”, “C” or “F”.

      1. And that’s what you’re mostly meant to hear.

      2. I think that’s fine for the TV audience. Then the geeks like us can easily enough translate soft/medium/hard to which compound that refers to in the full range. It might make some elements of commentary a bit more difficult for the broadcasters, comments such as “well in previous races Mercedes has struggled to get the F tyre to switch on”, but overall I think it’s more intuitive and understandable. This week I was struggling to remember which was softer between a hypersoft and an ultrasoft (shame on me), so I can only imagine the casual viewer would have little chance of knowing this.

        1. This was my exact point when certain “geeks” argued we were dumbing it down. The information is there for the people who want it (which includes me and probably you too @keithedin) and for the regular viewer they get hard, medium, soft. A concept any beginner or child can grasp with ease until they feel the need to join us in the dark corners of F1 geek net.

  3. I disagree. So FOM & FIA think people are that stupid that they need such simplification?
    Oppositely, it will be confusing to think “soft” in this race was different from “soft” in that race;
    and harder to remember things like “medium” for this race meant “B” (a name is easier
    to remember, this is why we prefer to type “www.racefans.net” rather than “”,
    and thus use DNS for translating this for us).

    1. I am pretty sure it could save a lot of time and effort from people like Sky, who seem to get lost in explaining the available tyres a lot :)

      Given compounds will have individual, but serial, designation (and a W,I for wet and intermediate perhaps?), we can still get that info; but since a supersoft in Monaco means something different than at Barcelona, that name isn’t all that useful either – this would keep the information, but would translate into a functional description for the three compounds in a race.

      1. :)

        It is true that they have also started changing the compounds without changing the names, so…
        (What I meant was that he information will be kept and available but harder to remember specifically because not used during the race coverage, so we’ll miss the repetition, which is so much helpful to remember things…)

        I wish we had tyre competition again!

      2. @bosyber

        but since a supersoft in Monaco means something different than at Barcelona, that name isn’t all that useful either

        I think you’re exaggerating a bit here. The Supersoft used in Barcelona was basically the same tyre as in Monaco, just with a very slightly reduced tread depth. Also, the ‘normal’ tyre specifications, with the unadjusted tread depth, will be used in 18 out of 21 races. Only in Barcelona, Le Castellet, and Silverstone will they use the reduced tread depth.
        It’s a very minor change that doesn’t affect 88% of this season – calling a Soft tyre a Soft tyre is definitely a lot more useful (if you’re interested in that sort of detail) than obscuring the compound by giving them relative names whose meaning changes from race to race.

    2. @js

      So FOM & FIA think people are that stupid that they need such simplification?

      Yes, and quite rightly so, I’d say.

    3. petebaldwin (@)
      24th May 2018, 23:23

      @js You could flip it around and say “Do you think people are that stupid that they can’t remember which compound is the soft, medium and hard option for the weekend?”

      For me, this is a good decision because the information will still be available to people like us who want to know which compounds are being run. It makes the sport much more accessible to casual fans who will be able to learn that the red tyres are soft ones at every race – not the soft ones one race, the hard ones the next race and the medium ones the race afterwards.

      1. ☝🏼 This

        1. Precisely. Perhaps the rest of you all got into the sport in later years, or were just super smart kids. I started watching at 8 years old and didn’t even understand the CONCEPT that different tyre hardness presented a trade-off between durability and pace.

          This sport isn’t just for us. We should celebrate that people who don’t understand are actually coming in to join us and enjoy Formula One. Maybe. Hopefully. Some day soon.

    4. Must admit I agree – how hard is it to know what tyres are being used

      Only think they could possibly do is drop the use of the word “soft” in the SS,US and HS and just call them Super, Ultra and Hyper

      In reality it doesn’t take much to work out what tyres are available and what’s being used – I really do get concerned about this need for Liberty, FOM and FIA to make things “simpler” – it aint that hard people.

    5. That… Is not comparable to names vs. IPs numbers at all. A-F makes sense because it is a scale. IPs are just random numbers to the outsider, and that’s why they are hard to remember.

      In this case, I’d argue that the hyper, ultra, super qualifier makes the current names closer to IPs…

      1. Well, I wrote to hastily, probably worried by this somehow obsession of the new owners to “simplify” everything, while I feel the technique has always been part of F1 pleasure. The proposal is not as bad as my message indicates, I take it back!

        @losd: I agree the comparison is irrelevant.

        Using a scale is not a good idea, but I’d still be against using the same 3 terms to name different things. Maybe numbers would be more universal than letters then?

        @petebaldwin: I do not agree the argument can be flipped around. Studies seem to show that using different name for a same thing is not good for memorising. You’ll have heard “soft” in Barcelona to mean “super soft” (or “C”, say) and then
        you’ll have heard “soft” in Monaco to mean “D” or whatever. It seems easier to hear simply “C” and “D”, or any comprehensive name. (I agree, by the way, that putting “soft” in the name of almost all tyres used by the drivers is weird…)

        1. petebaldwin (@)
          25th May 2018, 12:14

          @js I think that’s the main issue – the stupid names where the “soft” compound is actually one of the hardest…..

          Perhaps the best solution is to just rename all of them? Soft-A, Soft-B, Medium-A and so on. They then pick one soft, medium and hard option for the weekend. A spec is softer than B spec but for casual fans, it’s easy to understand and is consistent across all races.

          Trying to explain how the soft tyre is the hard one and how hyper soft is softer than ultra soft to my wife who only watches F1 when I make her highlights how needlessly confusing F1 can be.

  4. Hm, I must say that on the one hand I like to know that the information about exactly what tyre is used can be found. But really doesn’t it kind of prove that there really is not much sense in dubbing a variable selection of tyres with the same set of designations every race?

    I guess that is what we get from Brundle and Crofty and Ted harking on about how complicated it is week in week out. Now they’ll have to explain that it is really simple (soft, medium hard, oh and intermetiate and wet) but also not quite, since what is now the medium is actually the C that was the soft 2 weeks back?.

    Great job again F1. Please rethink and come up with something better. This should not be something to lose too much time and effort with.

    1. @bascb +1.

      Crofty & Ted have a difficult time explaining how complicated it was for them to eat breakfast. It’s a good thing they’re not on TV full time explaining the technical intricacies of F1 – that’s a job for professionals. Or average RaceFans reader.

  5. Neil (@neilosjames)
    24th May 2018, 21:35

    I don’t mind either system… but I’ll admit that the overuse of the word ‘soft’ bothers me a lot, as I’ve said before.

    All but one of the compounds that are actually used having ‘soft’ in the name is just silly, especially when they’re not really that soft… ending that would be nice.

    1. @neilosjames: Agree.

      Why not just get to the speed part?

      Call them:

      High Performance
      Moderate Performance
      Low Performance

      Not Hard At All
      Barely Hard
      Very Hard


      1. Matteo (@m-bagattini)
        25th May 2018, 9:57

        @neilosjames @jimmi-cynic @phylyp I think the best approach to satisfy everyone is to have 3 names like “performance – balanced – duration” and disclose information about the mapping before each race.

        Tyres for Monaco: performance will be hypersoft, balanced will be ultrasoft, duration will be supersoft. Colors should reflect this approach: red for performance, white for balanced, green for duration.

        This way both casual watchers and fans should have all the info they need to understand. Now we fans have the same data (we map all these info in mind) but who doesn’t follow F1 closely only has confusion. It should be the other way around: simplify and allow to go deeper.

  6. I really do not want different tyres to be given the same ‘name’ in different races. I don’t care what they are called – and would be happy for a number to be used, but if a tyre is medium in one race that same compound should be medium in every race that uses it.

    However, 6 different tyres numbered 1 – 6, with 1 being softest and 6 being hardest would work fine. This weekend the softest tyre is 2, the middle compound is 3 and the hardest is 4 (for example). Then in the race we could easily refer to the softest compound, mid-range compound and the hardest compound, we are used to thinking about comparatives, and superlatives so our brains would cope with that better than suddenly and magically last week’s hard being this week’s medium.

  7. chris97 (@chrismichaelaoun)
    24th May 2018, 23:46

    Wild thought,
    I’ve always thought they should force more than 2 pit stops for racing through tyres. I’m thinking 4 or 5 stops. Every other sport has timeouts, pauses, halves, quarters. We just have single stops and 1.5 hours of boring racing.

    Think about it. 2018. Attention spans are shorter than ever, racing needs to spice up a bit. No gimmicks. Why not extremely soft tyres that wear out often?

    Fast lap times every lap and can cut back on the aero. More suspense trying to stay on top of where everyone is as it will jumble up the grid during the race, and the fastest guys will always win anyway, which is how it should be. Teams get even more involved with pitstops becoming an actual big factor in results (rather than trying to shave 1sec off 1 pit stop) Will also allow more issues to arise with strategy errors, gambles, upsets.

    Would love to hear other peoples thoughts and cons that I potentially haven’t thought of.

    1. chris97 (@chrismichaelaoun)
      24th May 2018, 23:47

      I think 5 would be pushing it, but more so 3-4 every race without failure.

    2. Donald F. Draper
      25th May 2018, 0:08

      To add to your proposal, Pirelli should put all of these letters (or numbers) into a hat and pick out 3 random ones for the next races in question. This would take place the usual weeks/months in advance before a race to help with the logistics. That way the teams would just have to deal with what Pirelli have given them and just have to work it out in the race.

  8. Great news. It is annoying when the tire names are totally meaningless. You could have a driver out in the lead of the race on soft tires and you have no idea whether it is the softest, hardest or the medium tire available to him. Calling them soft, medium and hard should be a no-brainer. And just like this season has shown the compounds do changes even if you have 9 of them. The soft is not the same soft throughout the season.

    People are smart enough to understand that there are more than one tire choice for f1 car. Don’t need to paint all them differently when that specific information is borderline useless anyways. What matters is the comparative softness of the tires. In a good system when you hear medium you know instantly what kind of tire it is. When you have a soft tire in current system you never know if it is the hardest or the softest tire.

    I don’t really mind if they want to label the tires as a, b c.. and so forth as long as they use the letters sparingly. If one team is strong on tire C and then C is soft in this race then that is relevant info but I hope they don’t start calling them c-soft, e-medium or g-hard. But the main use the letters should be when people want to discuss about the tire choices between race weekends. Not during the race.

    Only change I’d really want is that the softest option be colored purple so it matches the purple sector time which is supposed to be the fastest lap time.

    I’d really want to see the tire stickers come back as well. That way you’d see on pitstop if the tires are new or used (sticker = new, no sticker = used because it has worn off). The stickers wear off extremely quickly anyways so the tires won’t be slippery when exiting pits. Little bit of useful extra information for us geeks. Obviously the teams are not allowed to touch the stickers.

  9. Duncan Snowden
    25th May 2018, 0:51

    Honestly, the current naming wouldn’t be so bad if the “medium” wasn’t closer to the hard end than the soft. (In fact, since we rarely see even the medium, it would actually make more sense to bias it the other way. As it is, it can sometimes seem as if all the tyres are some variation of “soft”.) But I can’t object too much to these changes either. It’s reminiscent of how it used to be years ago when there were multiple suppliers.

  10. This is the ideal solution with the compounds being given simpler names as well :D Glad to hear the nominations for each race will still be shared for transparency. I hope they go with 6 compounds still for next season. The more the better I think, backups are good!

  11. My 13 year old daughter suggested,

    Super Hard
    Super Soft

    Now if a 6th or 7th compound is needed, name them Ultra Soft and Ultra Hard. I think it’s important to have consistent information to the fan in what type performance is expected, so I do not agree with the simplification which adds more confusion as a consequence.

    1. Hi,

      I like your daughter’s line of thoughts!

    2. But still they introduced an even softer compound and they called it hypersoft. Which is confusing because in my mind hyper is still less than ultra. Better stick with hard, medium and soft.

      1. Pirelli said there will be 5 or 6 next year, and that these are the numbers we want to stick to. So…

    3. Your daughter has far too much common sense to be making suggestions to the F1 community….

  12. Seems strangely pro-active on the part of the FIA, especially when there are still plenty of unused prefixes that could be used in front of “soft”. I was hoping we’d get to see plus-softs, doubleplus-softs, extrasofts, ubersofts, and gigasofts at the very least. The current hypersoft could be renamed colour-me-purple-soft which would free up the name for another compound. The mediums should be named undersofts and the hards antisofts. There, I fixed it.

    1. * Correction: the current ultrasoft for colour-me-purple-soft. It’s a good thing none of this is genuinely confusing.

    2. Michael Brown (@)
      25th May 2018, 3:55

      I’d rather the Spaceballs approach:
      Ridiculously Soft
      Ludicrously Soft

    3. There is also extreme soft and excessive soft.

      Maybe a metric bend? Soft, KiloSoft, MegaSoft, GigaSoft, TerraSoft, PetaSoft…

      Ludicrous Soft does have a ring to it though… Who would be Dark Helmet?

  13. People are always eager to make a big story out of nothing. I’ve never found it confusing nor complicated at all with this many different compound names, LOL. Actually, I’ve always rather liked it this way, so I wish this particular approach would be kept instead. If this were to happen then at the very least, hopefully, they’d still keep informing beforehand which three specific compounds are going to available for each race like was the case from 2007 to 2010 when Bridgestone was F1’s sole tyre supplier before the current Pirelli era.

  14. Michael Brown (@)
    25th May 2018, 3:53

    I’d rather not have the letter designation, but I also don’t like how things are now with four compounds having “soft” in their name. If I had to choose, I’d go with the letters. What would wets and inters get? W and I?

  15. Michael Brown (@)
    25th May 2018, 4:06

    I don’t like the overuse of “soft” in the compound names, so I used a thesaurus to help Pirelli pick new names.
    Silky compound
    Velvety compound
    Supple compound
    Fine compound
    Fluffy compound

    1. @mbr-9: Sounds great!

      But, it’s F1 so….it becomes:

      Silky Soft, Velvety Soft, Soft & Supple, Ultra-Fine-Soft, Softy Fluffy.

    2. I nominate Soufflé compound

  16. I think it’s a great proposal, make 3 colours available per race, stamp the corresponding letter on the tyre and everyone’s happy. Newbies see soft medium hard, and geeks see B,C,E. No more Softy Mcsoftface.

    1. @eljueta: not bad an idea, but they’ll have to make sure the stamps are visible (during practice the drivers’ initials are often stamped on the tyres, but I’m not sure we can see them on TV…)

      1. Or put it somewhere else. I for one couldn’t care less which compounds pirelli brings to the the track. What makes a difference is what compound is each car using at any point in the race, and as long as that is easy to see (less shades of purple) it’s fine for me.

  17. Hard / Med / Soft is the common sense option that fans have been calling out for for years! We don’t to start confusing fans with compounds B and F etc all weekend, although it would be interesting as a side note to refer to, to see just soft this weekends soft actually is within the range.

    I’d be surprised if Pirelli willingly comply though! The problem (with any tyre company) has always been that as manufacturers of consumer road going tyres, companies such as Pirelli don’t want consumers to see their ‘hard’ tyres as still being only good for 150 miles or so, irrespective of the gulf in performance compared to their road going tyres.

  18. I’m positive there were comments on RaceFans in the past couple of months describing a system exactly like this. I can’t find it, but I’m pretty sure I commented on it.

    Maybe someone at the FIA reads RaceFans? More likely that it’s the most sensible and logical approach.

    A lot of comments here disagreeing – but RaceFans readers/nerds are the minority. How can Liberty bring new fans with such confusing names? It’s intimidating to new viewers. Keep it simple, with the info available for the hardcore fans.

  19. Why not just use the proper hardness figure in the appropriate Shore scale?
    This will actually give the engineers data. (Mr Hook and Mr Boyle somewhere) Of course there are many other factors like heat conductivity, coefficient of friction etc. The tread thickness also affects the warm up time and heat retention.
    However Liberty are really aiming for a less knowledgable audience than us lot, so the three types per race will be ok. Even better if teams have to use all three during the race!

  20. When Pirelli were asking for names for the new tyres last year, that’s what I put forward.
    Soft A, B & C
    Medium A & B
    Hard A & B

    What would be interesting is if the rules then required the use of two actual compounds in a race & not different designations within the compounds.
    So, where Soft A is the current hypersoft, the other tyre would be one of the Mediums … and 3 full steps away, which could really mix the order up – especially in qualifying.

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