Pirelli tyre colours for 2019 pre-season testing

Five compounds, three colours: Pirelli explains tyre test labelling

2019 F1 season

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Pirelli has revealed how its five tyres will be identified during testing for the 2019 F1 season.

Formula 1’s official tyre supplier has reduced its tyre range from seven compounds to five for the new season. The three nominated compounds for each race will be referred to as hard, medium and soft and coloured white, yellow and red respectively.

However teams will have access to all five compounds in the eight days of pre-season testing which begins on February 14th. These compounds are named C1 (the hardest), C2, C3, C4 and C5 (the softest).

In order to distinguish between all five compounds when they are running on track, Pirelli will vary the style of the marking on some of them. C1 and C2 will both be coloured white, but C1s will not have the extra ‘bracket’ markings on the sides. Similarly, C4 and C5 will both be coloured red, but C5s will not have the red stripes between the lettering. C3s will be coloured yellow.

“Normally we will only see three colours at every race, so we’re only using three colours at the tests as well,” explained Pirelli’s motorsport director Mario Isola. “But we want to make sure that people can tell the compounds apart. As a result, the very hardest and softest tyres won’t be marked with stripes: only the colours will vary.

“This will be the case for the in-season tests as well.”

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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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  • 26 comments on “Five compounds, three colours: Pirelli explains tyre test labelling”

    1. I still think it would be better overall if the compounds weren’t color coded & the data telling us who’s on what compound wasn’t made available.

      A part of the problem with predictability in F1 is that everyone (Including fans) knows what everybody else is doing which allows teams to prepare the optimum strategy & takes away from fans been surprised by something.

      Watching the older races on F1TV has reminded me how much more unpredictable & fun it was to not know as much as we do. Back then a driver pitted nobody knew what compound he’d switched to & if he’d be pitting again or not & that made the races far more interesting than knowing everything like we do now.

      I don’t know how they would do it but i’d love a secondary feed on F1TV or something that didn’t have so much data included (Just basic timing data maybe) because I honestly am starting to think that having so much & knowing so much is starting to detract from the sport overall & I would really rather not have it.

      1. The real issue is that without refueling, the strategies have converged to a single, best one. It doesn’t matter if the commentators don’t know what tire they start or change to, all the frontrunners will still use the superior strategy as decided by simulators and testing sessions.

        1. Even during the refuelling era the teams quickly converged on what the optimum strategy was…

        2. The optimal strategy differs depending on where you are on the grid.

          1. It isn’t much of a differentiation, since the top 6 would all opt for the same strategy since they have the best chance of winning. Same goes for the next 6-10 drivers starting behind them.

        3. @afonic

          without refueling, the strategies have converged to a single, best one

          That aspect was the same even with refueling. First 2-3 years saw more variety but after that it was rare to see anyone do something different.

          I’m not arguing for less data because I think it will create more diverse strategies or anything (Although maybe it would). I just think it would make watching the races more interesting, less predictable & more fun.

          I watch races sometimes now & have all this data infront of me & am at a point after 30 years when I can pretty easily read how things are going to play out, Not just in terms of strategy but when tyres are going to go off & when there likely to pit, What performance there likely to have on the compound they have put on & more. With less data races would become harder to read & even if everyone ends up doing a similar strategy we won’t know that’s the case for sure because we won’t know what compound everyone is on & therefore won’t know for sure if somebody is going to the end or stopping again.

          I think a good example is maybe the 1993 Portugese Gp. Pretty much everyone stopped twice & when Michael Schumacher ended up in the lead everyone thought he would pit so when he didn’t it was a surprise, Everyone thought he was on the softer compound but he had actually switched to a harder compound at his 1st stop. We didn’t know & the other teams didn’t know so didn’t have the option of switching there own strategies & that helped make the 2nd half of that race far more interesting.

          1. Just to add something.

            A few years ago i’d have been completely against what i’m suggesting here because I used to want as much data as possible. But as we have gotten more i’ve started to become aware of how having it has affected things & I really don’t think it’s been a benefit overall.

            1. You don’t say!

              The sport has gone in a ludicrous direction. It now takes 5 hours to start a Mercedes out of the truck. My Alfa starts quicker than that.

              If you want unpredictable racing, turn the computers off

        4. @afonic, as others have noted, almost all refuelling races tended to converge onto the same strategy, usually with teams pitting within a few laps of each other, because there was almost always one strategy which was clearly better to all other alternatives.

          The classic example of that is Monza – a single stop strategy has always been the fastest strategy there, with or without refuelling, because the performance gains from running a slightly lower fuel load have almost always been too small. The only times when teams have gone for a two stopper was usually out of desperation – usually because were suffering from unusually high rear tyre wear, or they were out of position and trying to do anything they could, even if usually it wasn’t the most effective route.

      2. I guess It would not be hard for the teams to figure out in which compound is running an opponent. Since you have an idea on how much fuel is on the other car, then you just need to watch the lap times and its consistency and you will be able to infer who is in soft and/or hard tires.

        In my opinion, the problem is that now the teams are able to analyze the data on real time and get into the optimum strategy quite soon during the race.

      3. The thing is the other teams can pretty quickly figure out on which tires you are on after couple of laps. Which means the teams have the knowledge but the viewers are missing out.

    2. So you basically have still a range of 5 but it’s more difficoult to tell them apart, because some compounds share the same color and you have to spot if they’re striped or not, wich is less immediate. I get it: dumbing down to 3 colors for the casual fans, not to confuse them with too many; and still providing distinctive features in the form of the stripe for the hardcore fans who will bother to spot the difference.
      This must have looked like a clever idea when someone proposed it to the board…

      1. Considering that all 5 are only going to be on track at the same time during testing, it is a fair compromise.

      2. I am looking forward to Karun Chandhok just naming it C1 to C5. Much better than ultra-mega-hyper-supersoft anyway!

        Oh wait Channel 4 got busted out of their 50% live broadcasting rights, that’s right… I still cry QQ
        Then to think that I’d pay for the Channel 4 production if it were the other way around. Sky? Never!

        1. Sorry I didn’t make myself clear I think:

          My point was the different *colors* were never the confusing part of the tyres. It was the crazy ‘let’s call everything something-soft’ names that made it confusing.

    3. @alfa145 just during the tests. During a normal race weekend, if selected compounds for that race are C1-C2-C3 we’ll have C1 white, C2 yellow, C3 red. If selected compounds are C3, C4, C5 we’ll have C3 white, C4 yellow, C5 red.

      Right guys? If that’s the case, I’m fine with the new system. Ok, an azure-white-red coloring would have worked better for hard/cold-medium-soft/hot but white yellow and red are OK.

      1. @m-bagattini that’s my understanding aswell. Regardless of the compounds selected for each race, the softest will always be red and the hardest will always be white.

        As long as the fans are still allowed to know which of the 5 compounds have been chosen for each race then that’s OK. It’s one thing simplifying an unnecessarily complicated 7-compound system. It’s quite another to hide previously-available information from the fans.

    4. “The three nominated compounds for each race will be referred to as hard, medium and soft and coloured white, yellow and red respectively”
      Are you really sure that’s the case? Isn’t hard red, medium white and soft is yellow?

      And this new tyre marking and colors is just bad. So if purple ultrasoft is used, it will be colored as yellow to make it look soft to the “casual fan”? Or if hypersofts also used, then ultrasoft will be marked medium white?

    5. The “casual fan” doesn’t care – only the hardcore fans who can easily access the information they need.

      1. @petebaldwin: My ‘casual fan’ friends wonder question why they have to change tyres for such short race distances.

        I try to explain the FIA’s mandatory two tyre compound type per race rule provides spicier racing – don’t forget the thrill of a 2 second pitstop that takes 20 seconds.

        How multiple compounds are available but the teams can only select 2 from 3 types for the race, but their tyre type allotment is chosen weeks before each event. And why having only one tyre supplier is a thrifty cost-saving measure in a sport that throws away hundreds of millions a season on aero tweaks and doodads.

        Then I attempt to explain tyre type usage through qualy, and the fun Q2 tyre wrinkle for those that get to Q3.

        They respond with: “Pirelli is crap. They should use Michelin.”

        1. @jimmi-cynic – Yeah. It’s such a difficult balance for them to find I guess… If it’s too technical, casual fans will turn off and if it’s dumbed down, the hardcore fans get annoyed. As anyone currently following the UK news will be more than well aware of, the middle ground isn’t seen as a compromise – instead it just makes everyone unhappy.

    6. *** Obvious joke alert ***
      I guess the C4 tyre is the one that will explode, right?

    7. Frankly I can’t understand what was difficult about last year’s naming and colour.

      C1, C2, C3…… and gee look two are white and one has brackets……

      Congratulations for all involved for giving Crofty and the sky team yet another excuse to make our ears bleed with excessive babble about the tyres.

      I just can’t see what was difficult and needed changing.

      1. Boy you got that right!! The old system was fine. I cringe thinking about the endless yak yak of the announcers

    8. Sounds like a reasonable solution for testing.

      I still wish they’d numbered them the other way round… in my mind C1 should be softest tyre but I can’t find a logical reason for why I feel that way.

    9. I’m still going to keep referring to them by their actual names as before.

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