Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Zandvoort, demonstration run, 2020

Why Pirelli hasn’t produced special ‘Zandvoort tyres’ again

2021 F1 Season

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Having announced plans last year to produce special tyres for Formula 1’s return to Zandvoort, Pirelli has explained why it hasn’t done so this year.

The Dutch circuit has been extensively remodelled for F1’s first race since 1985, including the addition to two steeply-banked corners. The 18 degree banking – around twice as steep as the corners at Indianapolis Motor Speedway – will put tyres under significant extra strain.

During 2020 teams tested a new construction of tyre Pirelli developed specifically for use at Zandvoort. However, last year’s Dutch Grand Prix was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the tyres were never used for a race.

F1’s postponed return to Zandvoort will finally take place this weekend. However Pirelli has decided against producing special tyres this year.

The tyre manufacturer’s head of motorsport Mario Isola told RaceFans special rubber will not be needed for the event as its 2021 constructions are more robust.

“The banked corner is putting additional stress on tyres, as any banking, and we decided not to underestimate any possibility,” said Isola. “That’s why we made some analysis.

“At that time [in 2020] when we were talking about the possibility to change the construction for Zandvoort, we basically had two possibilities. One was to increase the pressure or to reduce the camber. The other one was to design a special construction only for Zandvoort.

“Now, thanks to the introduction of the new front at the beginning of the year and the new rear from Silverstone, we believe that the current tyre can cope well with with the stress in Zandvoort and that’s why we stayed on the normal production tyre, not any special construction.”

While Pirelli has nominated the hardest tyres in its range for this weekend’s race, Isola said Zandvoort will not be as demanding on tyres as some tracks, including Silverstone.

“It’s a bit lower compared to Silverstone,” he said. “Silverstone is still the highest of our ranking. Silverstone, Spa, Suzuka. Zandvoort [is] in the group of high severity but it’s not outstanding.”

Last year Max Verstappen warned the steep banking at Zandvoort will force teams to run “painful” high tyre pressures. However the minimum pressures set by Pirelli ahead of the race are lower than those used at some other races this year, such as the British Grand Prix. Pirelli has told teams to run front slick tyres at 22psi and the rears at 21.5psi.

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Author information

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...
Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a freelance journalist who roams the paddocks of Formula E, covering the technical and emotional elements of electric racing. Usually found at...

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14 comments on “Why Pirelli hasn’t produced special ‘Zandvoort tyres’ again”

  1. 2021 Dutch Grand Prix stats and facts:
    this is the first time in F1s 71 year history that two races went ahead without a single lap of Green flag running within one week.

    1. someone or something
      31st August 2021, 10:10

      Zandvoort isn’t Spa. Even if it did rain like crazy, its location at the edge of the sea and lack of topographical obstacles means there will always be a constant change in climatic conditions.
      If you looked at the radar on Sunday, it was a bit puzzling: Clouds and precipitations were moving rather rapidly on a larger scale, so in general, the weather was very changeable in that part of Europe.
      But Spa didn’t care about large-scale weather. Some very low-hanging clouds were trapped in the depression the circuit lies in, and the lack of any westerly winds on that day (it was predominantly North-Northwest) resulted in the circuit being in the lee of the hill range separating Spa from Francorchamps. And that led to a particular weather situation with more or less stationary local precipitations, high ambient humidity and virtually no air movement. In other words: a nightmare concoction in terms of spray.

      None of that is realistic in Zandvoort.

      1. I don’t think that @mrboerns was implying that the race would be stopped due to extreme weather. It could be either due to tyre blowouts, or the race could even be canceled beforehand due to environmental issues. Judge rules later today.

        1. @matthijs yeah considering the content of the article i Was just going for the cheap shot at Pirelli on this occasion

          1. someone or something
            31st August 2021, 12:20

            Yeah, I get it now. It is a cheap shot, and I think that’s why it wooshed over my head. But yeah, if I had spent those 5 minutes thinking instead of typing, I probably would’ve got it as well.

          2. @someone: don’t worry, I thought your post was still informative, albeit a little off topic.

          3. @mrboerns
            Came to me right away you were going on about tires (tyres?) failing ala F1 Indy.

            [Useless trivia]
            CART attempted to run the Firestone Firehawk 600k at Texas Motor Speedway back in 2001.
            The race was postponed because drivers were experiencing GLOC (G force induced loss of consciousness) due to the high banking.
            youtube.com/watch?v=wVyfgh3TVCM

          4. That’s a really interesting video and is worth a watch. I knew about this cancellation and the reasons for it, but the reality of 6g vertical loading because of the 24° banking was astounding as that was not an instantaneous load, but a repeated load lasting for 20 seconds or so with only a short bit of relief on the very short oval straights. Especially interesting was seeing one of the commentators actually standing on the banking; only then does it become obvious how steep it was. AVERAGE lap speeds for the fast guys were 235 mph…… with 250 mph on the short straights. On a personal note I sure liked CART back in the day. Thanks Tony George for screwing up a great racing series; with Penske now the owner of the Indy series, as well as the Indianapolis track, things will be looking up.

          5. You don’t have to worry about tyres at Zandvoort. Yes the banking is much steeper when compared to Indianapolis Motor Speedway but the key is that the corner is much smaller in distance and therefore the stress on the tyres is relieved much quicker. The extended period of time the tyres where under stress in Indianapolis was the reason for the tyres blowout.

      2. It’s very interesting, really makes for some great races at spa, wish we were back in the 90s.

  2. Coventry Climax
    31st August 2021, 17:55

    That’s the same super high tech innovative tyre that Pirelli/Isola deemed sufficient in/for Baku?

    1. Now that is a good question indeed.

  3. Imagine Max’s tyre exploding on the penultimate lap, the pirelli employees might need Z level security.

  4. I have an opinion
    1st September 2021, 2:33

    I fear debris will be magically attracted to the fastest cars again. Hope those outside barriers are perpendicular to the banking.

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