Sergio Perez, Red Bull, Red Bull Ring, 2021

New rear tyres “a complete unknown” for championship contenders

2021 Austrian Grand Prix

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New Formula 1 tyres Pirelli will test this weekend could affect the balance of competition between the leading teams.

Following the failures experienced by Max Verstappen and Lance Stroll during the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, and the revised restrictions on tyre use imposed immediately afterwards, Pirelli will evaluate a new rear construction in tomorrow’s practice sessions.

Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas said he doesn’t know what to expect from the new rubber. “It’s a complete unknown for us how the car’s going to handle, how the grip level is going to be with the new rear tyres,” he said.

“That’s what we’re going to try tomorrow. Anything I say more now is just guessing and speculation, I think we’ll learn more tomorrow.”

Each driver will have two sets of the revised C4 compound to test during Friday’s practice sessions. Bottas’ team mate Lewis Hamilton, who lies second in the championship, expects any change won’t be dramatic.

“Most often when Pirelli bring a new tyre it’s not huge differences,” he said. “So as far as I’m aware it’s just a reliability adjustment.

“I don’t really think it’s going to change much. But we could get in tomorrow and it could affect some more than others, who knows.”

Differences between tyres can have a significant effect on a car’s balance and handling characteristics. Championship leader Verstappen said he is also in the dark about the new rubber.

“I don’t even know what exactly they’re changing to. I know the construction, but we have to drive it first to really see what it’s going to do, because otherwise it’s almost impossible to really say anything about it.”

If the test of the new tyres is considered successful, Pirelli will introduce them across their entire range of compounds at the next round of the championship. F1’s official tyre supplier has nominated its three softer compounds – C3, C4 and C5 – for this weekend, while the hardest rubber – C1, C2 and C3 – will be used at Silverstone.

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2021 Austrian Grand Prix

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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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19 comments on “New rear tyres “a complete unknown” for championship contenders”

  1. If they are having to change the tyres as a result of the Baku failures it just proves that them trying to shift blame towards teams usage of them was a lie.

    If the failures were simply down to how they were been run there would be no need to change them due to the revised regulations.

    1. Not really. The live monitoring of tyre pressures at the moment is not something the FIA is capable of. That will be introduced next year. In the meantime, due to the ways some cars are running pressures in the races outside of Pirelli’s stated minimum, they need to change the construction. Starting the race with higher minimum pressures is not what any of the teams (or I assume pirelli) wanted. They could ask the teams to change how they run the tyres, but that may mean a massive change for the teams and would implicate their budget. So a change of construction it is.

      1. Pirelli by default receives the tire info metrics from all teams after the race.
        Even my car is able to show the tire pressure from the sensor in a graph via a app. F1 is the pinnacle and this info is essential for the teams so they do save that data.
        You would expect Pirelli analyzed this info and noticed the actual driving pressures at each race.
        The fact they missed all those info completely is staggering.

      2. Because with a different construction teams can’t underinflate them? It doesn’t make sense. PeterG is right.

        1. No. That’s not what’s going on. None of the teams have been under inflating their tyres according to the minimum starting pressure. What they have done is managed to run their cars during the race at a lower than expected pressure.

    2. Have to agree with PeterG here. Seems awfully convenient they have a new tyre they’re trailing at this race and they will use the same construction method on ALL tyres going forward. Defo looks like they found a manufacturing weakness and are trying to cover their asses.

      1. The timing does seem a little suspicious.
        In their defense, it would be completely reasonable for Pirelli to lay out the timeline for bringing a new construction like this to the point it can be tested, one that runs back 2 or 3 months, not weeks.
        The picture at the head of the article is interesting. It certainly looks like the Left Rear is getting loaded in a way that … just might, show up as inside shoulder damage. Possibly not here, but as the car returns to the track.
        Of note, the FIA has specific rules in place to prevent teams controlling tyre pressure on track. Something I bet they would love to do.

        Reply moderated
      1. I’m not at all eager to defend Pirelli but I don’t think they spent too much time blaming the teams. I believed the teams right from the start that they were doing everything within the parameters, and Pirelli’s report said the same. So when they admitted they needed to adjust their parameters and the teams didn’t do anything wrong, I felt the blame lied with Pirelli and they were admitting as much without actually saying it. This new tire does confirm this has been on them all along. I just never had the sense they were pointing fingers at the teams, just because they were saying they had to investigate what the teams were doing. That just made sense.

  2. What a disaster. Can’t we just go back to a solid tire that works the whole race? Maybe one pitstop for a third of the runners. Pirellis have always been bad and always will be.

  3. With the reduced practice times, this “testing” just takes away the opportunity for teams to test things themselves.

    Probably just as well it’s been arranged for this track where they’d already run last week, although the fact that there will be some rubber down from last week has the potential to skew their tyre testing results.

    Agree with the other posters that bringing a new construction lends itself to a narrative that the real issue was the tyres not the teams playing around with pressures etc.

  4. They really need to fix those rear tyres.
    I just rewatched the last race and noticed huge vibrations when accelerating out of turn 3, for example Leclerc following Vettel on lap 50. Both had this strange bouncing/deformation, similar to dragster tyres but smaller obviously.
    Also I imagine they have big “standing waves” at stop speeds, so no wonder Pirelli wanted to increase air pressures.

  5. Ahhh yes, I remember the last time Pirelli changed tires mid season. Seemed awfully convenient for Mercedes then as it probably will be this time as well. But hey, is it really any surprise Pirelli helping Mercedes out since the secret tire tests and switching back in 2013 which ironically backfired and helped Red Bull. Hope it backfires on them again this time.

    Reply moderated
  6. Ok so, Pirelli admitting their tyres as they are, are simply not good enough. This also gives them an out if these tyres don’t perform in the test and the teams don’t want them. “We wanted to bring safer tyres but the teams wouldn’t let us” they’ll cry, just like last year.

    1. So Pirelli has to use their existing tyres to prove that they were fine after all?
      They aren’t allowed to alter or improve their tyres in any way, because that only proves that they were fatally flawed before…
      Right… I see the logic… I think. :/

      1. Yep, I don’t see what your :/ is for. It’s perfectly logical, the tyres are unsafe, that is why they are allowed to try and fix them, otherwise they wouldn’t be…

        1. Maybe I should have put this /s instead.

          I’m betting they’re not unsafe – given that nobody in the know is saying so, and the vast, vast majority of tyres are fine. The fact remains that tyres, just like the cars they are attached to, need to change over time according to demands and usage conditions.
          F1 doesn’t work in such a way that tyre failures are on the teams – people prefer to blame the tyre supplier and their products instead – even if they intentionally misuse them or bypass usage instructions. Many even like to ignore the constraints put on the tyre supplier in the first place.
          Whatever, a modified construction may simply be preferable to raising pressures. No need to dramatise it or come to false conclusions.

          1. given that nobody in the know is saying so

            Ok I stopped reading at that point.

          2. Too bad. You missed the best bit.

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