Formula One comes to the UK this weekend with the British Grand Prix, and Pirelli has opted to bring softer tyres to Silverstone than originally planned. During this halfway-point round in the 2017 F1 calendar, teams will work with the P Zero White medium, P Zero Yellow soft and P Zero Red supersoft tyres rather than the hard, medium and soft tyres initially nominated. Pirelli comments that the decision to focus on the softer end of the compound spectrum was taken after examining information gained from previous races. This will be the first time the supersoft compound has taken to the track at the British Grand Prix.
Alain Prost believes that allowing Formula 1 teams to combine different compound tyres on the same car, and giving them the option to compete without switching to a different compound, would make for a race with more surprises and greater freedom for drivers. But Pirelli isn’t having any of this. Pit stops are viewed as integral to the F1 spectacle, and the F1 tyre supplier dismisses the mixing of tyre types as impractical.
Pirelli will take its medium, soft and supersoft compounds to the Russian Grand Prix at Sochi, marking the fourth time in as many races in 2016 to feature the Red, Yellow and White P Zero Formula One tyres. The varied, technical track has a smooth surface that typically leads to low tyre wear and degradation, but Pirelli says its nomination will deal with any evolution of the three-year old asphalt that may have occurred since 2015’s visit, or indeed across the weekend, since the circuit is not heavily used.
Under the 2016 tyre regulations, Formula One teams have some control over the mix of the three compounds available to them at each weekend. Out of the 13 sets, Pirelli decides on two sets for the race, and provides one set of the softest available tyre exclusively for Q3. The other ten sets are chosen by the teams, and passed to Pirelli before a deadline ahead of each race weekend. The FIA has communicated to Pirelli each team’s tyre choices for the forthcoming Bahrain Grand Prix, displayed in the infographic below.
Pirelli and Formula One’s raft of new tyre regulations appeared to have increased the options open to drivers during the opening grand prix of 2016. Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg won the race in Melbourne, while eight of the 16 race finishers used all three available compounds following a red flag restart after 18 laps.
Formula One teams are said to pay Pirelli around £1.4 million for a season’s worth of tyres, minus a discount for the placement of Pirelli logos on their vehicles and other sponsorship activities. A substantial cost, but a necessary one. Yet Germany’s auto, motor und sport writes that as of 11 March, three F1 teams had yet to pay Pirelli for the season that’s about to start.
Pirelli has announced the compounds it will make available for the forthcoming grands prix in Japan and Russia. The exclusive tyre supplier said it would announce its final three 2014 allocations after its visit to Sochi, Russia, a brand new circuit for which Pirelli has relied on simulation data in making its compound allocation choice.
Pirelli has nominated the tyres that will be used in the grands prix of Spain, Monaco and Canada. The latter GPs will provide the first sighting of the exclusive Formula One tyre supplier’s softest compound, the P Zero Red supersoft slick.