Turn three approach, Albert Park, Melbourne, 2022

Pirelli explains thinking behind ‘step’ in Melbourne tyre compound choice

2022 Australian Grand Prix

Posted on

| Written by and

Pirelli has made a departure from its recent tyre selection approach this weekend in the hope of creating more varied strategies at the Australian Grand Prix.

In recent years Formula 1’s official tyre supplier has invariably selected consecutive compounds for each race. However it has brought the C2, C3 and C5 rubber to Melbourne, skipping the C4, which was the softest tyre used at the last round in Jeddah.

Pirelli’s head of motorsport Mario Isola said the manufacturer wanted to create a larger gap in performance between the medium and soft compound tyres.

“During our tyre test we found that the delta lap time between the C3 and the C4 was quite small,” Isola explained. Pirelli expected between 0.4 and 0.5 seconds difference per lap between the two around Jeddah’s 6.174-kilometre track.

Around the shorter Albert Park course, Isola said Pirelli expect the difference to be “less than 0.3” of a second. “So we decided to jump one level, that is always possible, and bring to Melbourne C2, C3 and C5,” he said.

This is the first time Pirelli has put a ‘step’ in its tyre selections since the 2018 Singapore Grand Prix. It comes in the third race for its new rubber designed for F1’s recent-introduced 18-inch wheels.

“We did it in the past sometimes in some occasions, [when] we wanted to create a bit more uncertainty and headache for the strategy engineers,” Isola continued.

Putting a ‘step’ in the compound this weekend should mean the lap time delta between the soft, medium and hard tyres is similar.

“Sometimes it works well because if the delta between C2 and C3, I assume is similar to what we have seen in Bahrain, around a bit less than one second per lap, probably between C3 and C5 is in the range of one second or something like that,” said Isola. “That means that we have three compounds that are correctly spaced in terms of lap time. That was the reason why we decided to nominate C2, C3 and C5.”

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

2022 Australian Grand Prix

Browse all 2022 Australian Grand Prix articles

Author information

Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a motorsport and automotive journalist with a particular interest in hybrid systems, electrification, batteries and new fuel technologies....
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

13 comments on “Pirelli explains thinking behind ‘step’ in Melbourne tyre compound choice”

  1. There needs to be a delta of 2 – 3 seconds between softest and hardest compounds, so a conservative 1 stopper could be scuppered by a 3 stopper on a tear , like they used to do when Mika & Schumi were creating classics

    1. @uneedafinn2win Strategies at the time were more about refuelling than tyres, so somewhat incomparable.

      1. @jerejj I think OP isn’t talking about the strategies themselves but the outcomes/observations. You can have a tortoise vs hare scenario in either case, though the mechanisms behind them will be different depending on whether the limiting/dynamic factor is fuel or tyres.

        1. @wsrgo you theoretically could, but in practice it was fairly rare for there to be such wildly differing strategies because it normally didn’t work and so it wasn’t worth the effort.

          The problem is that people tend to remember the rare times that teams tried such tactics and it did work – but the standard races, where either a one stop or a two stop (more usually the latter) was done by most? Those get forgotten precisely because they were so common that they fade into the background.

          It means we almost always get the same two races being used as an example – Schumacher in Hungary in 1998 and Schumacher again in 2004 in France – because they were so rare. People talk about “like they used to do when Mika & Schumi were creating classics”, but in reality Schumacher only did it a couple of times and I think that Mika never did pull off something similar.

          1. Fair point, I think fuel load is a lot more linear and less dynamic as a factor than tyre performance. With the latter, you could have variations like graining, normal wear or thermal degradation, while fuel loads don’t do anything but go down. Although coupled with tyre performance (the sprint-y Bridgestones vs the endurance-y Michelins) could give some strategy options. Also the ability of certain drivers to be able to extract better from traction control systems under low fuel (Trulli etc) may also have determined these things.

          2. Still better to have to odd highlight than a constant and complete greyish-beige, wouldn’t you say @anon?
            Even if it has only happened a couple of times that are particularly memorable, that’s a couple of times more than it is likely to now.

            Or is this another one of those “No, I like F1 to be boring, consistent and predictable” scenarios?

          3. @S We’ve had more of these kinds of races now than in the past. We’ve had so many races where the two or more drivers fighting at the front are on different strategies. Just last year, we had Spain and France as two examples. Hamilton was also on a different, more aggressive strategy in Hungary hunting down slower cars for the win. Just even in the Pirelli era, the 2013 season was full of races like that. Australia, Bahrain, Spain, Germany, Japan, Hungary etc. were all races where the top 2 were on completely different strategies.

  2. Good thinking & doing this variation is good for a change anyway.

  3. Coventry Climax
    7th April 2022, 11:18

    “three compounds that are correctly spaced in terms of laptime”.
    Let’s see how track specific this is, and how often C4 is used for the rest of the season, and we’ll find out if here, Isola confesses they’ve made yet another research and design error.

  4. I think Pirelli wanted to cover all bases. Having a big delta was always a way Pirelli ensured they had a raceable tyre. Albert Park like all street circuits is a softest tyre track but Pirelli must have been afraid of a 2013.

    1. someone or something
      7th April 2022, 19:23

      Albert Park like all street circuits is a softest tyre track

      And that’s where you’re wrong.
      Last time around (i.e. in 2019), the C4 was the softest compound in the available range. And it was far from the preferred race tyre: 304 race laps on the C4, 471 on the C3, 263 on the C2. In other words, the softest compound was only 40 laps away from being the least used race tyre, and that’s despite every single top 10 qualifier using them in the first stint.
      Out of the 6 drivers who started on one of the harder compounds, only 3 took on the C4 at a later stage in the race, none of whom scored any points. In fact, the only points scorers that started outside of the top 10 were Stroll and Kvyat, both of whom never used the softest available compound at any stage of the race.

      If those facts are anything to go by (the switch to 18” is a major unknown), the C5 has every chance of being too soft to be useful in the race.

      1. I’m not wrong. You didn’t understand the statement. The softest tyres are made for street circuits, but Pirelli is completely inept, therefore I stated Pirelli brought harder tyres because they are afraid of failures. I even went to the extent of bringing 2013 out, a disaster because no tyre lasted, only Kimi and Lotus set-up the car in order to achieve a 1 stop.

        1. someone or something
          7th April 2022, 21:57

          You didn’t understand the statement. The softest tyres are made for street circuits,

          Sorry, but that makes no sense. Not all street circuit are the same. There is a general tendency for street circuits to feature low-grip conditions and predominantly angled, slow corners. That much is true. However, Monaco and Jeddah are both street circuits with completely different characteristics. And Melbourne is yet another type of street circuit, not sharing too many similarities with either Monaco or Jeddah. Tyres aren’t made for a nebulous category of track that tells you something about how the tarmac is or isn’t used outside of F1 weekends. Just like they aren’t made to work better on cars with a blue paint job.

          therefore I stated Pirelli brought harder tyres because they are afraid of failures

          I fail to see the logic in that. Pirelli haven’t brought harder tyres, they’ve gone one step softer than on the previous visit to this track.
          And I really can’t see what fear has anything to do with it. Last time around, the C4 was an okay race tyre, but the C3 and, to a lesser extent, the C2 were favoured by the teams because they enabled them to drive faster for longer. There were zero tyre failures, by the way. Just the observation that the C4 degraded a bit too quickly over a stint for their liking.

          I even went to the extent of bringing 2013 out, a disaster because no tyre lasted, only Kimi and Lotus set-up the car in order to achieve a 1 stop.

          You went to the extent of bringing up a race that was about as far as possible from any definition of the word ‘disaster’ that I’m aware of … Same for the pit stop strategies, unless you’re using the words “achieve a 1 stop” to refer to the fact that Räikkönen made 2 pit stops on his way to a surprise victory, being one of 5 drivers who used that strategy, unlike the 13 other finishers who made 3 stops.

Comments are closed.