Pirelli tyres, Yas Marina

What’s changed in Pirelli’s new F1 tyre range for 2019

2019 F1 season

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Formula 1 drivers are today having their first taste of Pirelli’s 2019 tyres which it is hoped will improve the standard of racing next year.

Pirelli faced criticism from drivers towards the end of the year over how high levels of tyre degradation shaped some races. However the sport’s official tyre supplier pointed out the degradation levels were set down in the ‘target letter’ given to it by F1.

For 2019 Pirelli has set out to improve the performance of the higher compounds, which were often considered too conservative, and to widen the performance gaps at the softer end of the range.

The naming convention for the tyres will also change. The three compounds chosen for each race will always be referred to as hard, medium and soft. But the full range of compounds, which will reduce from seven to either five or six, will be referred to by number. ‘One’ will refer to the hardest compound’.

“The compounds we are developing for next year have already a slightly bigger delta [performance gap] compared to this year,” said Pirelli motorsport director Mario Isola. The soft tyre, now known as ‘three’, is unchanged.

“The hard and the medium performance is a bit better [than in 2018]. They are a bit closer to the soft because this year nobody was going to use the hard because they believed the hard is not at the right level of performance. So we decided to move the medium a bit closer to the soft and the hard is a bit closer to the medium.”

The super-soft – which was nominated for 16 of the 21 races this year, the most of any compound along with the soft – has been deleted and does not have an equivalent in the new range. This means there is a bigger gap in performance between tyres ‘three’ and ‘four’.

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“We had the soft, super-soft and ultra-soft, they were too close,” said Isola. “So the super no [longer] exists.

Finally the softest tyre in the range, based on the hyper-soft which was introduced this year, has been overhauled. “The hyper-soft is a new compound for next year with the same performance of the current hyper-soft, because it’s in the right position, but we worked a bit more on the mechanical resistance of the compound in order to reduce the graining. That means that you keep the performance a bit longer.”

As next year’s Australian Grand Prix is being held a week earlier, Pirelli faces a tight deadline to make its nominations for the first race of the new season. These will be announced on December 6th, and teams must submit their first selections within a week of then.

“With this range of compounds we cover all the 21 races for next year but it’s important that selection is the right one. So one/two/three, two/three/four, two/three/five, we have different possibilities. Obviously all this is something that we can start planning when we have the result from the test.

“The result of the test is useful because the cars will have a lot of sensors to give us more data, because they can compare 2018 to 2019, because we have all the range available. We have a lot of numbers, we have to analyse the numbers and come back by December 6th with a sensible proposal for next year.”

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
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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  • 28 comments on “What’s changed in Pirelli’s new F1 tyre range for 2019”

    1. So basically, the change in 2019 for the much-criticised tyres is to remove the only tyre from 2018 that was any good.

      1. +1, getting worse every year and we keep watching, until…

      2. And bigger performance gaps will ensure even more uniformity of tactics between the teams. FTire, will it ever end ?

    2. Have the sidewall colours been finalized? I presume the colours will match the hard/medium/soft nomenclature, and not the 1-5 ranks.

      Also, as a viewer, I’d be fine not knowing which of the compounds 1-5 have been picked for a race, as well.

      1. Also, as a viewer, I’d be fine not knowing which of the compounds 1-5 have been picked for a race, as well.

        Considering how this year some cars really prefer some compounds over others, I personally feel that knowing 1-5 is kinda important.

        1. @omega – fair enough. Let the information be available for those who want it, but it would be good if commentators refrain from talking about the numbers too much (maybe Liberty can even nudge their broadcast partners in this regard), seeing they’re the most accessible source of information for the casual viewer.

          Failing to do so will make this a meaningless change in simplifying the tyre races (that happen to be bolted on F1 cars).

          1. True commentators should probably stick to soft/medium/hard, except perhaps in more detailed pre-race shows.

            1. @omega – agreed, that would be perfect.

      2. @phylyp The colours will be red (soft), yellow (medium) and white (hard).

        1. @geemac – thank you very much! It’s good that it is a fixed palette, and not the colours being used in this week’s test, and nicer still that they’re traditional colours.

        2. @geemac
          In that case I’m not gonna be able to avoid calling the softs the “sticker reds” as they do in IndyCar!

        3. Sorry, I think you are in error. each compound has a color which doesn’t change and matches the compound number. During the race, the hardest will be referred to as hard, the next medium and the softest soft. So one weekend pink would be soft, and next weekend red could be the soft.

          1. Errr… No At each weekend only Red, Yellow, White will be seen BUT of the three Numbers chosen for that race Red would be the highest number, Yellow the middle number and White the lowest number. Colors for new Fans, Numbers for Fanatics!

    3. It’s a brand new thing, but somehow I have it in my mind that 1 is the softest, not the hardest! why, oh, why is it the other way round? I’ll take forever to get used to it! :(

      1. @fer-no65 – don’t think of 1-5 as hardness, think of them as performance/grip, that might help 🙂

        1. @phylyp: Expect that Pirelli will spend the off season not just tweaking the compounds, but training the global commentators in the new numeric reference languaging.

          Ant: “Lewis is starting on 3 from pole, Seb starts 2nd on 4 and Max slots in 3rd on 5. Or is it 3? Could be a softer 4.”
          Crofty: “Thanks, Ant, but that’s a hard 3 for this track.”
          Ted: “No, wrong. guys. All the cars are starting on 4 – 4 tyres on each car. I’ve calculated it.”

          1. Crofty: “Thanks, Ant, but that’s a hard 3 for this track.”

            @jimmi-cynic – Crofty can never be that succinct. That sounds more like Brundle. Crofty would waffle on, and probably end up speculating on all 5 compounds as being used in a race!

            Your bit on Ted is spot on. :)

            1. @phylyp: Yes, of course. I had Brundle saying that at first, but after enduring Crofty’s faux drama-tone all weekend, dreamed of a simple one line from him. Dare to dream!

              Forgot that Button is joining Sky next season… so he’d add:

              “Kimi is not happy with his set of tyres – Ferr…Sauber must have bolted on the 0 – because they have no grip.”

      2. I have it in my mind that 1 is the softest, not the hardest!

        You’re not the only one, @fer-no65.
        Just check out this quote from the article: “For 2019 Pirelli has set out to improve the performance of the higher compounds, which were often considered too conservative”

        I was a believer in the numbers, but now see it is confusing as well.
        Maybe the hardest should be called Diamond, or Tungsten, or Black Sabbath, and go softer from there.

        1. Black Sabbath

          @coldfly – so when the tyres start graining we’d say they’re “shredding”?

          1. @Phylyp hahaha I see what you did there…

      3. @fer-no65 same here. I’m used to motorbike racing tyres and Pirelli themselves brand their softest tyre as SC0 and the hardest as SC3. Dunlop uses numbers, 1 being softest, 5 hardest.

      4. @fer-no65
        I can see “1” as the hardest, but only specifically because my introduction to F1 was via Geoff Crammond’s F1 game back in the early 90s!
        The tyre compounds in the game were A – D, with A being the hardest.
        But I totally see where you are coming from – I’d be the same if it were the other way!

    4. Gavin Campbell
      27th November 2018, 9:19

      Finally! Every other series I’ve come across does this (noteably Moto GP which often brings bespoke tires to certain races) where they always refer to a soft/medium/hard tyre but there is information available underneath if you care to look into it.

      In the midst of racing and people switching compounds around it makes life easier for the viewer to know who is on what rubber relevant to the GP. With a reverse strategy battle going on and times etc. all I need to know is who is on performance tyres and who is on endurance rubber so to speak.

      I do still think in Abu Dhabi or Mid-season we should have a “rookie race” of some sort – everyone has to put their reserve or junior drivers in and we can muck about with the rules. With the tyres this year I would have run a race forcing everyone to use all 3 compounds over the distance – it gets rid of tyre saving or at least allows you a stint of maximum attack because you have the rubber (bolt on a set of ultras and bang in 6 quick ones and undercut onto something else!). You could still do longer tyre runs but I feel it would be a lot less saving heavy than this year – might not suit Perez though!!

    5. It some additional costs and stress for Pirelli, but I would like the rules to allow all 5 compounds at any track, any combination of tires can be used in the race, as long as they use at least 2. And a tire allocation with more sets for each team, so they can run more in FP.

    6. I’d like them to stop coloring the sidewall’s & stop releasing the compound data to us (And therefore also other teams/drivers).

      Watching older races always reminds me of how much more interesting & therefore exciting it used to be as a viewer/fan when we didn’t have quite as much information. I don’t mean so much the timing information or basic telemetry (Revs/gear/throttle/brake) but stuff like tyre compound, If its a new or used set, How many laps is on it etc…

      One of the things that used to help make even the more predictable races a bit less predictable & more interesting was when we didn’t know what compounds everyone was on, We didn’t know what compounds they had left & therefore couldn’t read what everyone was doing until they did it. Now we can see what tyres everyone is on & can read what there planning which takes away that element of unpredictability/surprise that we used to have before we had all this info.

      1. Personally disagree, I rather know as much info as possivle

        1. i used to feel that i did want to have as much information as possible, i wanted to know everything but i do now think that there is something in what @stefmeister is saying and that the amount of information we are getting access to is detrimental to the viewing experience as it is maybe starting to take away some of the elements of surprise during races.

          i think back to 2009 when they were giving us the starting fuel weights and we went from not knowing what a team fuel strategy was going to be to knowing exactly what they were planning to be doing in the first stint and knowing this made things a lot less surprise which i did not like at all.

          i have using the f1tv archive and even knowing the result of some races not knowing how we get to the result is what makes watching those races exciting. i know that senna crashes out of lead at monaco in 1988 but i do not know what lap, if i did and that race featured lap counter then it ruins not knowing when it happens so makes watching the race less fun.

          we should know less, i want to be given the option to have less info yet sadly it does not seem they do this and it is sadly maybe ruining my enjoyment of races now. it is shame and i sad :(

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