Max Verstappen, Red Bull Bahrain International Circuit, 2019

Pirelli: F1 turning against plan for “very high degradation tyres” in 2020

2020 F1 season

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A planned return to “very high degradation tyres” in the 2020 F1 season is now unlikely to happen, according to Pirelli.

A tender issued last year to potential tyre suppliers for F1 between 2020 and 2023 set high targets for degradation. It specified a soft tyre which lost around two seconds of lap time over 10% of a race distance.

However according to Pirelli, which won the tender and will continue as F1’s tyre supplier for the next four seasons, F1 has since turned against the plan.

“We have an ongoing discussion with both FIA and FOM and also the teams to understand which is the direction,” said Pirelli motorsport director Mario Isola in responds to a question from RaceFans.

“If you look at the tender document released by the FIA – the target letter that was appended to the document – they were thinking [about] very high degradation tyres. But looking at what happened last year now we quite agree that it is probably not the right direction.”

Pirelli’s attempt to create more varied, multi-stop race strategies last year using higher degradation tyres was not successful.

“We tried to be a lot aggressive with the three compounds and basically the teams were increasing the pace management to go on a one-stop,” said Isola.

Rival tyre manufacturer Michelin told RaceFans last year it did not submit an application to the F1 tender partly because “Formula 1 didn’t accept our recommendation to stop going towards the degradation with [the] tyres”.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Circuit de Catalunya, 2018
Formula One-stop: Why high degradation tyres aren’t working
However Isola pointed out that other approaches to tyre selection may not produce more lively races.

“If we go conservative with all the three compounds then the hardest of the three is not chosen by anybody and you just have the mandatory set. If we use the two soft that are quite close and a hard that is one step harder, nobody is using this one. If we use two conservative and one that is more aggressive – the softest is one step more aggressive, then we create an issue to the midfield because the top teams try to qualify on the medium while the others are obliged to use the soft and their race is done.

“So it’s difficult. We don’t have the perfect solution.

“What we are trying to do is to run many simulations with different delta lap times with different levels of degradation to understand which is the best. That is not perfect, but at least is in the right direction.”

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25 comments on “Pirelli: F1 turning against plan for “very high degradation tyres” in 2020”

  1. It always smells when companies choose a supplier based on one set of rules and change those rules afterwards.
    Michelin should still enter even if FIA desires square tyres.

    1. The fix was in when they made the tender comprise both 13 and 18 inch tires. LM is getting a kickback from pirelli, it is as clear as day. The tender was made specifically for pirelli and to dissuade any other tire manufacturers.

      1. Who/What is LM? @megatron

        1. @coldfly: Think he means Liberty Meddling. Could be Media, but Liberty Meddling is a small typo away down the hall.

      2. … except the FIA wrote the tender.

  2. Some good news. Still think Pirelli are hopeless, if they didn’t already learn higher degradation tyres were not successful from earlier seasons then they have a seriously worrying learning disability.

    1. It wasn’t Pirelli’s call. @skipgamer

  3. A planned return to “very high degradation tyres” in the 2020 F1 season is now unlikely to happen, because mercedes can not use those type of soft tyres.

    1. Or because fans, commentators and pretty much anyone who had to endure races like Mexico and Sochi last year knows, tyre management is outrageously BORING.

      But don’t let that get in the way of a cheap dig at the team that has technically and operationally outclassed everyone for the last 5 years.

      1. The Mexico race was great, what are you talking about?!?! Merc struggled and it made for something interesting to watch. Hamilton almost a lap down and Bottas over a lap down……awesome! Alas, since Merc struggles with high deg tires FIA will make sure they don’t get them.

  4. The problem with the pirellis is that the degradation targets were achieved through thermal degradation, which resulted in a very difficult to manage tyre. the cliff edge of 2011-13 was just one component of that. now you have a tyre that has to be treated very carefully from the start of the stint to avoid overheating. essentially the slip angles are too narrow, something the mandated high pressures are also not helping with.

    what the sport needs is a fast tyre (i.e. a soft compound) which degrades in a more linear way. that way teams will be able to choose between multiple strategies (hard tyre-slower pace-long stint vs. soft tyre-faster pace-long stint vs. soft tyre-slower pace-medium stint etc.) pirelli’s approach to degradation will never produce this, or at least very rarely. a high degradation tyre must be faster by a large enough amount over the stint(s) to make it worth pitting an extra time. I guess it’s a very difficult thing to engineer into tyre construction, but given we’ve had this in the past (albeit mostly in years with refuelling), I feel it’s not impossible.

    the other problem is that the teams are so well prepared, through simulator work and race modelling, that it’s very difficult to run a non-standard strategy. everyone basically knows the fastest way to the end (usually a one stop race, with lots of tyre nurturing, avoiding getting stuck behind slower cars) and there are limited options for thinking outside the box, so to speak.

    1. F1oSaurus (@)
      9th April 2019, 7:13


      the degradation targets were achieved through thermal degradation

      That’s not true. The thermal issues are a side effect of their poorly designed tyres.

    2. It doesn’t matter how the tire degrades, whether it’s linear, exponential or variable.

      Pit stops cost > 20 seconds. That means the engineers are going to take 1-2 seconds a lap degradation over having to stop again. If I lose 25 seconds coming into pit, I can go 1-2 seconds a lap slower for 12-20 laps, and still be ahead of where I was with another pit stop.

      You want more pitstops? Bring back refueling and specify maximum tank size.

      The teams will always engineer around tire degradation, and produce as few stops as possible.

  5. Whoever came up with this “very high degradation tyres” idea should really just quit all F1-related bodies and organizations.
    If it was not a single person, but some assembly, commission – they should be disbanded with immediate effect, and individual member should be expelled from whatever F1-related position they hold.
    Regardless of their experience, knowledge, statuses and so on.

    1. @dallein whilst it’s easy now to rant about the seemingly obviously issue of high deg tyres, I think that’s a bit unfair when the rationale behind it was completely logical reaction to issues that, at the time, everybody was raging about.

      See @frood19‘s comment above for a good explanation as to why it’s not produced the desired results.

      Nothing is going to improve the situation whilst pit lane speeds are so low compared to normal racing speeds. And while cars are so hard to follow. F1 should have an element of strategy, but under current conditions it’s very difficult to mandate.

      We could all stick our pink specs on and bring back the fuel rigs.

      1. I disagree still.
        Many problems in F1 is caused by people who just want to artificially create a “show”.

        Such people should be banned from governing and sporting organisations. Period

    2. @dallein I believe it was something Bernie pushed for which everyone else went along with because of how positive the reaction to the 2010 Canadian Gp was (A race which featured unusually high tyre wear for that year).

      The problem with the concept was that the 2010 Canadian Gp was as good as it was because the high wear organic, It was down to the circuit conditions of the weekend & was not expected so nobody knew how to deal with it. Everyone was figuring it out on the fly & reacting to what was going on, Drivers were not really managing the pace because nobody knew how much pace needed to be managed or if that would even be a benefit.

      As soon as you take that & try to artificially recreate it, It not only comes across as feeling artificial but you also create what we have seen in that teams/drivers know it’s going to be a thing & therefore prepare for it. You then start seeing less surprises & more pace management because they work towards figuring out the best way to extend the tyre life.

      1. There should be a ‘wa’s between wear & organic.

        1. Gosh what is wrong with me making these typos today… ‘Was’.

    3. F1oSaurus (@)
      9th April 2019, 7:18

      @dallein Well it was mostly Bernie Ecclestone who came up with this idea. He saw an exciting Canada races with many stops and differing strategies. He assumed he could recreate that through forcing more stops. Michelin wanted less stops at the time. Plus Michelin wanted money for their tyres (1 million per team per season), so Ecclestone struck a deal with Pirelli.

      Paul Hembery presented the plan to make the races more exciting through high degradation tyres, plus providing the tyres for free to the teams and taking out a season long sponsor deal to advertise on all tracks.

      So they had the story to win the tender and Ecclestone got his money.

      Both Ecclestone and Paul Hembery are out of F1, so you got your wish though.

  6. Glad that high degradation tires is seen as a flawed concept. If they want variety it’s easy, keep the 3 componds, but drop the mandatory 2 compounds per race rule. Give the same amount of each compounds for each team per weekend, and let them manage or choose whatever strategy it suits better.

  7. digitalrurouni
    8th April 2019, 16:27

    Ugh please no. We got enough tip toeing by drivers because of 3 PUs for the whole season and fuel restrictions and now tires? We finally got cars that seem like they are doing a decent enough job following each other and are getting overtakes etc. If high wear tires come in to the picture the drivers would still do the same 1 pit stop just go EVEN slower to protect said high wearing tires.

  8. Amen. No to high deg tyres ever again

  9. Just make tires that last a race even with intense use. The 2021 rules should fix on-track entertainment, but they need reasonably durable tires. 2020 will be a dumper year anyway.

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