Start, Sochi Autodrom, 2018

Pirelli: “We went in the wrong direction and we need a different approach”

2019 F1 season

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Recent races have shown Formula 1 should continue to move away from high degradation tyres, according to Pirelli motorsport director Mario Isola.

F1’s official tyre supplier brought higher degradation rubber to several races last year hoping it would encourage teams to make more pit stops. However it discovered many of them instead used more extreme tyre management techniques.

“Last year we went a lot softer,” explained Isola. “I would say two steps softer compared to 2017. And the only result was that teams were managing the pace in the race a lot more than in the past.

“We made an analysis with an index representing the level of management of the tyres and we discovered that using this number Sochi was more than two times compared to previous years.

“This is telling us that going softer is not achieving the target to do additional pit stops. It was just slowing down the cars when they had to start with the softest compound, with the hyper-soft last year.”

Pirelli has brought harder rubber for some races this year and Isola says he is encouraged by how it has performed.

“The roughness in Silverstone was quite smooth with the new Tarmac. And we went with hard compounds and we had a good race with drivers that can push until the last lap. Hamilton did a fast lap with hard tyres, worn tyres, with a stint of 30 laps.

“So it is not sure that going softer and softer is the right way to achieve two stops or to achieve better action on track. That’s why for the future we are receiving the request to go and to develop low-degradation tyres, not high degradation tyres.

“Probably the common understanding in Formula 1 is that we went in the wrong direction and we need to have a different approach for the future.”

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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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  • 18 comments on “Pirelli: “We went in the wrong direction and we need a different approach””

    1. What do you think this means?

      We made an analysis with an index representing the level of management of the tyres and we discovered that using this number Sochi was more than two times compared to previous years.

      Does it mean that the teams were more than twice as careful or does it mean that they went twice the number of laps expected? Or even that there were half the number of tyre changes they expected?

      1. I think it says something about how much teams were managing tyres by decreasing their pace. So the delta between the quickest lap time and average lap time was twice as big compared to previous years.

        1. @neviathan Aha, got it. Thanks.
          So the teams decreased their speeds by twice as much as they had in 2018 in order to avoid an extra pit stop. And as grat posted below, completely killed racing and promoted tyre management – which I think is pathetic.

      2. It means what everyone should have realized a long time ago… Give an engineer a choice between losing a second a lap for 20 laps, or a 21 second pit stop, and the engineer will choose to drive slower.

        Higher degradation tires mean slower races, especially since pit lane deltas are approaching 30 seconds in some cases.

        And now Pirelli, by looking at how the teams are managing their tires, has the data to prove it.

      3. Simple summary, provide the tyre that lets the driver push for strategy and track position, rather than pulling down pace and preserve them, killing the essence of pushing race and making it all about management. F1 is engineering, not MBA, PgDBA. Innovation is all about pushing the boundaries, not restricting to conservative processional boundaries.

    2. I think Pirelli need a goal for themselves to achieve each year. To add more stops don’t fit the spirit of F1. To go faster is the core of F1. So the Italian factory should find a way to let the cars go faster and faster. If they could let the bottom teams be quicker than last year, they did a really good job. When it comes to the top teams, if the tires fit their cars, ok, let them race. If not, the gap between them would be closer, still a win-win. To make races more unpredictable is the job of FiA and the teams. And the best solution is to make the cars close. Adding more stops is just cheating.

      1. A nice thought, but it’s not up to them. The target letter comes from the FIA

    3. I enjoy the “Falling off a cliff”races big time. Anticipation and panic by teams and drivers.

      1. What we really need, @blik, is a sniper in the bushes.

        1. Spike strips coming up at random intervals during the race

    4. I think a big problem is the narrow operating window and the finicky nature of the tires, and he is not addressing that. This all seems like muddy double talk to me. Why can’t they make high deg tires that are simply softer and therefore grippier and therefore provide loads of mechanical grip so they can rid themselves of some aero downforce and still maintain respectable lap times? These tires needn’t have such a finicky operating window. I thought studies had shown that the more exciting races, as polls have revealed, tend to be two stop races. So I just don’t get what is so hard about making tires that provide good reliable mechanical grip that drivers can go out and race hard with and use up for a third of a race and then come in and pit for new ones and go back out there and actually push themselves and their cars to some sort of enthralling limit, rather than go out there just to be told by their engineers what speed to run in order to manage the tires. The tires have for several years now needed way too much management. Yeah Pirelli, you’ve gone the wrong direction for too long now.

      1. @Robbie, yes, I think you are correct. Sometimes I think people can be a bit too harsh on Pirelli, given that they are just trying to make the kind of tyres that they are told to make. But then I remember that the narrow operating range is all down to them. It’s the combination of high deg and narrow operating range that demands a very precise driving style, and that in turn puts drivers off pushing – the harder they push, the harder it is to maintain the style necessary to keep the tyres in the right window.

        A further issue that must be considered, is how hard it is for cars to follow and pass a slower car in front. This makes track position king and discourages a “drive fast and do multiple stops” strategy, because that strategy requires overtaking cars on track. With the current formula, that’s just too risky. So at the moment, even if Pirelli solved the operating window problem, you’d still get tyre management over multiple stops. If the 2021 regulations achieve their aim, I think experiments with high-deg tyres are much more likely to be successful.

      2. Yeah, they are really tricky. Not only is the window small, but how you get there is also important, at what rate you heat them up/move in out of the optimum window etc is also very important to get the maximum out of the tyres. Hence why some teams/drivers struggles and some succeed, even drivers within the same team.

    5. That is what Ves told Dutch fans in an interview. Most of the time (80%) were are just cruising around to save the tyres.

    6. Captain Obvious to the rescue!

    7. Isola just showed he doesn’t know what he is doing. Tyres are not linked to spectacle, tyres falling apart or teams making wrong assumptions on strategy is what has made all of the interesting races.

    8. I think the main problem with these tires is that going slowly is actually faster than going flat-out during the race. If Pirelli can solve this somehow, then the races will be more interesting.

      Having said that, despite the huge tire management, racing was much better in 2018 than in 2017.

    9. #Fake Pneus

    Comments are closed.