Pirelli: F1 cars will be just as quick as last year

Formula 1’s 2021 cars are going to be just as fast as last year's despite aero rule changes aimed at slowing them down, reckons tyre supplier Pirelli

Pirelli: F1 cars will be just as quick as last year

The FIA introduced a raft of measures over the winter targeted at slashing downforce to put less strain through the tyres.

The new regulations included cutting away a section of the floor ahead of the rear tyres, outlawing holes and slots in this area, plus reducing the size of rear brake ducts and diffuser strakes.

The hope was for the changes to cut back on downforce by 10%, with a further speed loss expected to come from more robust tyres Pirelli have introduced.

However, early data from last weekend’s Bahrain pre-season test indicates that teams are well on their way to clawing back the downforce losses – plus the speeds are already pretty close to 2020.

Max Verstappen’s test topping time of 1m28.960s was pretty much on a par with practice pace from last year’s Bahrain Grand Prix, and would have been good enough for 11th on the grid in the actual event.

But considering in testing that fuel loads and engine settings are different, plus drivers don’t push as hard as they do in qualifying, there is clearly even more to come from F1’s 2021 machinery.

PLUS: 10 things we learned from F1 testing 2021

Pirelli’s head of F1 and car racing Mario Isola says what he saw over the testing weekend suggests that lap times will be the same as 2020.

“The difference compared to last year is very, very, very small,” he said.

“I’ve tried to make some calculation on the lap times compared to last year and that's why I'm telling you that, if we consider that probably the track was not in perfect condition, plus the reduction in downforce, and the fuel level, so considering fuel corrected lap times, I believe that we are not going to see a delta lap time or a difference in reduced performance compared to last year.”

Mario Isola, Racing Manager, Pirelli Motorsport

Mario Isola, Racing Manager, Pirelli Motorsport

Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

Based on analysis of the car performance and the forces being put through the tyres last weekend, Isola estimated that teams had recovered around half of the downforce lost from last season.

“I believe that compared to the original plan to have a downforce reduction in the range of 10%, the teams were working around the modifications and the current situation is probably a downforce reduction in the range of four to five percent.”

But despite the pace of the cars being quicker than some anticipated, Isola is confident that Pirelli’s 2021 rubber is robust enough to cope with the forces without needing to drastically increase the minimum pressures.

In fact, on day two of testing in Bahrain, Pirelli was comfortable enough with the situation to lower the rear pressures by a further 1.5 PSI.

“I'm not surprised by the amount of downforce they [the teams] have been able to recover even before the start of the season, because we know that they are very good in doing that,” he said.

“I'm also happy that we decided last year, together with the FIA, F1 and the teams to work in two parallel directions: one to reduce downforce on the cars and the other to find a [tyre] construction that is able to cope with the additional loads that are probably going to happen in the second part of the season.

“So despite the difficult situation we had with COVID, we took the right decision and, working in parallel, we have now a product that is more robust and cars that are probably as fast as last year.”

He added: “I'm confident that the new construction, and I rely on data that we have from our indoor test department, is more resistant. That's why we decided to introduce it.”

shares
comments

Related video

The trackside verdict on F1 2021 testing

Previous article

The trackside verdict on F1 2021 testing

Next article

Perez needs five F1 races to get fully up to speed with Red Bull

Perez needs five F1 races to get fully up to speed with Red Bull
Load comments

About this article

Series Formula 1
Author Jonathan Noble
The diva that stole a march on F1’s wide-bodied opposition Plus

The diva that stole a march on F1’s wide-bodied opposition

In 2017 new F1 technical regulations were supposed to add drama - and peg Mercedes back. STUART CODLING looks at the car which, while troubled, set the stage for the wide-bodied Formula 1 era

The themes to watch in F1’s Imola return Plus

The themes to watch in F1’s Imola return

Three weeks is a long time in Formula 1, but in the reshaped start to the 2021 season the teams head to Imola to pick things up after the frenetic Bahrain opener. Here's what to look out for and the developments to follow at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix

The 'new' F1 drivers who need to improve at Imola Plus

The 'new' F1 drivers who need to improve at Imola

After a pandemic-hit winter of seat-swapping, F1 kicked off its season with several new faces in town, other drivers adapting to new environments, and one making a much-anticipated comeback. BEN ANDERSON looks at who made the most of their opportunity and who needs to try harder…

Formula 1
Apr 12, 2021
The delay that quashed Aston Martin’s last F1 venture Plus

The delay that quashed Aston Martin’s last F1 venture

Aston Martin’s only previous foray into Formula 1 in the late 1950s was a short-lived and unsuccessful affair. But it could have been so different, says NIGEL ROEBUCK

Formula 1
Apr 10, 2021
Verstappen exclusive: Why lack of car-racing titles won't hurt Red Bull's ace Plus

Verstappen exclusive: Why lack of car-racing titles won't hurt Red Bull's ace

Max Verstappen’s star quality in Formula 1 is clear. Now equipped with a Red Bull car that is, right now, the world title favourite and the experience to support his talent, could 2021 be the Dutchman’s year to topple the dominant force of Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes?

Formula 1
Apr 9, 2021
Are we at peak F1 right now? Plus

Are we at peak F1 right now?

For many, many years Formula 1 has strived to do and to be better on all fronts. With close competition, a growing fanbase, a stable political landscape and rules in place to encourage sustainability, 2021 is on course to provide an unexpected peak

Formula 1
Apr 8, 2021
How crucial marginal calls will decide the Red Bull vs Mercedes battle in F1 2021 Plus

How crucial marginal calls will decide the Red Bull vs Mercedes battle in F1 2021

The longer Red Bull can maintain a performance edge over Mercedes, the better the odds will be in the team’s favour against the defending world champions. But as the Bahrain Grand Prix showed, many more factors will be critical in the outcome of the 2021 Formula 1 World Championship

Formula 1
Apr 7, 2021
How Williams’ new structure adheres to a growing F1 trend Plus

How Williams’ new structure adheres to a growing F1 trend

Williams held out against the tide for many years but, as MARK GALLAGHER explains, the age of the owner-manager is long gone

Formula 1
Apr 6, 2021