Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Circuit de Catalunya, 2020

Hamilton: Pirelli must produce better tyres for 2021

2020 F1 season

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Lewis Hamilton says Pirelli must produce better tyres for the 2021 F1 season, after teams rejected plans to use the new tyres they designed for 2020.

Formula 1 will use the 2019-specification Pirelli tyres again this year. But that won’t be possible next year when the sport switches to a new 18-inch tyre format.

“They brought 2020 tyres which were worse,” said Hamilton. Pirelli expects it will have to set higher minimum tyre pressures when using its 2019 rubber on the faster 2020 cars.

“It’s easy for us to go into another season with the same tyres,” Hamilton continued. “The fact that they pump them up more isn’t so great, because they were fine last year, but they’re definitely way too inflated.

“We just need to make sure that we always want to be working with the best technology, the best technology partners, I think, moving forwards. We’re just going to keep on pushing them to try and do better. But these tyres will be OK for this year.”

Hamilton stressed his concern over the tyres and suggested Formula 1 should be prepared to change suppliers if needed. Pirelli is at the beginning of a new, four-year contract as F1’s exclusive tyre provider. “That’s a very, very important line that we need better tyres,” he said.

Pirelli 18-inch tyres on a Formula 2 car, Monza, 2019
F1 will switch to 18-inch tyres next year
“We’ve been talking for years and years and years and years about tyre degradation, thermal degradation. Then we sat in the meeting room with Pirelli in Brazil and [they said] ‘we’ve never heard of the thermal deg, it’s the first time we hear about it’. So we’re trying to communicate with them better.”

Formula 1 sets its annual tyre requirements down for Pirelli in a ‘target letter’. “I don’t know who’s written it this year, but they obviously didn’t do a good job of the one for the 2020 tyres,” said Hamilton. “So I hope for 2021 that we have a better target and one that they’re able to meet or a manufacturer is able to meet.”

Responding to Hamilton’s comments, Pirelli’s head of Formula 1 and car racing Mario Isola said they were in the process of agreeing the ‘target letter’ for 2021.

“First of all, it’s important that we are now in the process of finalise the famous target letter, because last year we had many discussions but at the end of the day we didn’t finalise anything,” he said. “At a certain point of the year, we said, OK, let’s focus on 2021. It is much better, we want to understand which are the targets for 2021.”

Isola said some of the requirements for 2021 have already been agreed. “The main target, the priority is to reduce overheating. The second target that is very important is to have a wider working range, that is another common [point] from drivers.

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“Obviously also in the target letter we have numbers for delta lap time and the level of degradation, wear life and so on. But I believe that the looking also at the comments from drivers we need to be focussed on overheating reduction and the wider working range. And the two are connected.”

Pirelli has already begun testing its prototype 18-inch tyres for 2021. Charles Leclerc drove a modified Ferrari fitted with them at Jerez in Spain earlier this month.

“I spoke to Charles,” said Isola. “Jerez is not a circuit where we go with Formula 1 very often, so it’s just a subjective feeling, but he told me that he felt much less overheating on the 18 inch tyres.

“It could be because of the diameter, the cooling of the tyre itself or any other effect. But I believe that we are going in the right direction. Now we are at the start of the process so we want to continue in this direction.”

However Isola expects drivers are likely to be unhappy with aspects of the 2019 tyres. “I know the drivers will struggle with overheating this year with the tyres from last year,” he said.

“We don’t have any other solution than increasing the pressure because these cars are much quicker. Much quicker means that you put more energy on the tyres and we need the pressure inside the tyre. There is no other solution.”

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  • 39 comments on “Hamilton: Pirelli must produce better tyres for 2021”

    1. Hamilton is right. Nowadays tires are increasingly important in F1

      1. Only if there’s a rival tyre surely?

    2. “We’ve been talking for years and years and years and years about tyre degradation, thermal degradation. Then we sat in the meeting room with Pirelli in Brazil and [they said] ‘we’ve never heard of the thermal deg, it’s the first time we hear about it’. So we’re trying to communicate with them better.”

      -the pirelli tyre era in a nutshell. Yay.

      Lazy.

    3. Saying an F1 partner is amateurish and should be dumped because their new tyres doesn’t work well on his car is low.

      1. Ok let me moderate:

        Hamilton saying:

        “We’ve been talking for years and years and years and years about tyre degradation, thermal degradation. Then we sat in the meeting room with Pirelli in Brazil and [they said] ‘we’ve never heard of the thermal deg, it’s the first time we hear about it’.”

        .. is not saying they are ameturs, it’s actually saying they are rubbish.

        As for the rest, it’s obvious to anyone. If this line doesn’t spell it out for understanding, then nothing will:

        Hamilton stressed his concern over the tyres and suggested Formula 1 should be prepared to change suppliers if needed. Pirelli is at the beginning of a new, four-year contract as F1’s exclusive tyre provider. “That’s a very, very important line that we need better tyres,”

        Notice how he here says the tyres are not good enough.

        “We just need to make sure that we always want to be working with the best technology, the best technology partners, I think, moving forwards.”

        This is of course that F1 should consider a change to their current tyre provider for the future.

        ..And again he drives the point home, here describing where Pirelli has already been dropped:

        “So I hope for 2021 that we have a better target and one that they’re able to meet or a manufacturer is able to meet.”

        As for not happy with the tyres, he says:

        “They brought 2020 tyres which were worse,”

        “It’s easy for us to go into another season with the same tyres,” Hamilton continued. “The fact that they pump them up more isn’t so great, because they were fine last year, but they’re definitely way too inflated.”

        “obviously didn’t do a good job of the one for the 2020 tyres,”

        But this is of course all clear for anyone who can read and has a basic understanding of logic, but as usual for Hamilton fanatics, it’s to challenge everything no matter what in order to silence the poster. It’s their MO.

      2. What Hamilton is insinuating is quite obvious for those willing to read between the lines.

      3. Imagine what Mercedes would have achieved if tyres worked well!?

      4. He manages them better than most drivers on the field and is vocalizing what the fans have been asking for years. But you already knew that, just wanted a cheap dig you clown. @balue 🤡🤡🤡

        1. No, it was Hamilton having a cheap dig at Pirelli, and you having a cheap dig at me.

          1. @balue have you proceeded to delete the comments where you were being criticised for manipulating the comments that Hamilton made, meaning that the comments pointing out how other drivers had made similar, if not even more critical, comments on the tyres where you had not criticised the drivers, or even agreed with their complaints?

            1. anon Presumably that’s a power only available to the site owners. However the deletion is noted and with that I take my leave of this site.

            2. Why did the nanny state delete them?

    4. are there any of those target letters public? I would love to know what Pirelli has to work with.

      1. The target letter for the 2021 tires came out around the time the 2020-2023 tire tender came out, but the the target letter was completely changed, specifically for 2020, and then for further on. The deg demanded by the FIA was significantly reduced and a much more durable tire was called for, but I’m not sure if that new target letter was made public. There are alot of smokescreens around the tires, probably to help mask pirelli’s terrible product.

    5. What surprises me in the quotes above is LH’s statement that Pirelli says they haven’t heard of thermal deg. I thought it was pretty common knowledge that the route they have taken for too long was to have tires degrade because they are hard to keep in their narrow temp operating window, and when outside of that window the tires degrade, or at least degrade in performance. This as opposed to tires that are less sensitive to a specific temp window and rather lose their performance as they lose tread ie. tread wear deg Vs thermal deg.

      So then if there is no such thing as thermal deg, what does Pirelli call it then? I suppose simply as has been worded above ‘overheating’ and ‘narrow operating range’ tires?

      Had to shake my head at Isola’s last few remarks above…paraphrasing…’there’s no other solution than higher pressures because the cars are quicker’. How about the solution was to make better tires for 2020, not worse ones.

      1. There is no way that Pirelli haven’t heard of thermal deg since it was them who coined the phrase. So either LH is lying or mistaken, or that person the drivers were speaking to on that occasion was new, lying or completely incompetent. Out of those options, pirelli lying or being incompetent is the most likely.

        @robbie

          1. @balue
            I doubt it, pirelli are habitual liars when it comes to their F1 product. I’ve heard their “cuts from debris” lies far too often to believe them. Also, what reason does Hamilton have to lie in this instance? plus your above posts are complete trash so…

            1. @megatron His motivation is obviously to get rid of Pirelli, and he’s a habitual liar. Saying Pirelli has never heard of thermal degradation and not once registered the team mentioning this despite them doing it for “years and years and years” is just too obvious a lie.

          2. @balue
            Hamilton has won 5 of his 6 championships on the pirelli garbage and he clearly has a better mastery of the tires than Bottas and Rosberg before him. Hamilton has no reason to want to get rid of pirelli other than the fact that they are clearly providing a trash product to F1. Also they have been unsafe in many instances. Even if he is lying then I commend him for doing so for the greater good as getting rid of pirelli is for the betterment of F1 and should be done BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY.

            1. @megatron He is saying this relative to the new tyres so his concern is obviously how they will work on his car. Specifically they are too inflated which means they will diminish the effect of his car’s new DAS system.

      2. @robbie @megatron @drycrust – Pirelli are aware and refer to it by the same phrase.

        From the horse’s mouth in August 2017:

        In an exclusive talk with f1technical.net’s Balazs Szabo, Pirelli’s racing manager Mario Isola revealed […]

        “We also reduced the thermal degradation, […]”

        1. @phylyp There is no guarantee that the person Hamilton is referring to was Mario Isola. Hamilton himself has said some contradictory things , but pirelli have been consistently incompetent since day 1 of their being sole supplier. Pirelli have made claims for their upcoming tires nearly every season, and nearly every season they fall short of those claims. As you can see, pirelli 2020 tires failed miserably.

          1. @megatron – I’m not disputing your comment. Just saying that Pirelli leadership have used that same phrase.

            I agree – while there is a small chance that Hamilton is either embellishing that incident or is mistaken, the likelihood is more that Pirelli are deflecting.

            And that doesn’t fill me with confidence for 2021 – they can’t even get the year-on-year 13″ tyres right, so what makes us think the 2021 tyres will be any better, especially when they claim to have not received a final target letter.

            1. @phylyp
              Like I said above, it is pirelli themselves who coined the phrase “thermal degradation”.

              I fully agree with you. I am just hoping that getting the 13in tires correct takes some weird trick that they never quite figured out but since they have much more experience with 18in tires that they will do better. But looking at their 18in track record in sports cars and even in the spec tire pirelli world challenge most still complain about the low quality of pirelli’s race tires.

            2. @phylyp
              In regards to the target letters the FIA gave a very specific target letter for the 2021 season when they put out the 2020-2023 tire tender. After they chose pirelli for the tender, after much complaints from the teams and drivers(and fans), they made an announcement that they were drastically changing the target letter for 2020 and forward.

    6. Acres of space has been spent moaning about ‘pay drivers’ and how they’ve lowered the quality of racing in F1. It’s time the question of ‘pay tyre suppliers’ was raised with F1 and the FIA. The other major tyre manufacturers are not prepared to lower the quality of their products for the F1 show, but Pirelli are so desperate for sales, they’re happy to supply rubbish. Another example of a confidential FIA ‘settlement’ ?

    7. It does happen from time to time where you’re at a meeting and everyone is discussing some issue when it becomes apparent that some of the people have a different concept of what some words mean from that held by others.
      The problem with Lewis’s “thermal degradation” is he seems to be using it as a technical term. So, at least to him and the people at Mercedes, it probably has a very specific meaning that covers specific parts of the tyre, e.g. just the tread; the tread, belts, and sidewalls; etc. It may even be other teams use different words to express the same concept, or to make matters worse, some of the people at the meeting may have understood “thermal degradation” to mean something slightly different, or even completely different, from what Lewis does.
      My guess is Pirelli have their own technical term for Lewis’s concept of “thermal degradation”, but it could be they didn’t because to them what he was talking about was actually several specific concepts.

      1. Sure, and all the Pirelli engineers needed to ask was a simple “What exactly do you mean by thermal degradation?”. You know, like normal people when they believe they may be talking at cross purposes.

        Jeez.

      2. Oh cmon. You’d have to be pretty stupid to not at least have a 99% accurate guess about his meaning of that term in the very unlikely event you have a drastically different interpretation of ’thermal deg’.

    8. There are none so blind as those that will not see.

      1. @hohum – you gotta be specific, man. Are you talking about Pirelli, F1, FIA, FOM, …? There’s so many candidates worthy of that nice comment! :)

    9. Ok, so tires are going to overheat more easily this year. What does that mean for us?

      More use of the harder compounds, or more pit stops. But also means the big teams will have an edge in the sheer data they have over other teams on maintaining the working range of the tires.

      It should mean more interesting races at least, with more strategy influence.

      1. @scottie, Sorry but I can’t get excited about turtles winning races while the hares are limping into the clinic to have their blisters seen to. What does it mean for us ? Well I suspect LH and VB are the drivers least likely to be complaining they “can’t get the tyres up to temp.” or being told to “back off to cool the tyres”.

      2. More holding back as has been the norm since Pirelli came to the scene. You can’t go full speed because the tyre overheat. You can’t race because it overheats. You can’t do anything. And when it overheats the tyre is wearing quicker and vulcanizing etc and ironically the compound is getting harder making it harder to get the heat up and you lose performance from not reaching working temperature. Many factors at play. Bad tyre for racing.

    10. With the change to 17” wheel rims etc, it’s going to be really difficult to benchmark the 2021 tyres.

      All we can hope is that the “improvements” brought about by the massively revised technical regulations aren’t negated substantially by really poor tyres. We’re not going to know how they perform until next year and Pirelli already have a sting of excuses built in because of the changes to cars and rims so if they don’t hit the mark, there won’t be any “penalty” to them.

      At the end of the day, 2021 is likely to not have everything 100% right – it’s a process, it might take a season or two before all of the changes realise their full effect.

      1. @dbradock With the bigger wheels the current sidewall issues should all but disappear.

    11. Pirelli is totally incompetent.
      If Zandvoort goes ahead, it will be a disaster for them…

      2021 FIA/Liberty will finally terminate their contract.

    12. “We’ve been talking for years and years and years and years about tyre degradation, thermal degradation. Then we sat in the meeting room with Pirelli in Brazil and [they said] ‘we’ve never heard of the thermal deg, it’s the first time we hear about it’. So we’re trying to communicate with them better.”

      That pretty much says it all about Pirelli. It basically says they have an exclusive multi-year contract and F1 will get what they give them. In 2021, it will be take it or leave it with no other 18-inch tires to fall back on.

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