Formula 1 tyre change: tech implications of Pirelli's decision

Pirelli's decision to change its tyres from the Canadian Grand Prix onwards will potentially have a far-reaching effect

Formula 1 tyre change: tech implications of Pirelli's decision

Tyres are an integral part of the car's design, affecting the aerodynamics and the suspension.

With changes to the construction moving back towards the 2012 tyre specification, married to the current compounds, teams will be heading back to their computer screens to re-optimise their cars around the modified tyres.

AERODYNAMICS

Tyres have a big impact on the airflow around the car, not only because of their size but also because of the sidewall profile and the way it deforms.

Traditionally, the impact has been more critical around the front tyres, as with the front wing in close proximity to the tyre, small changes in this area have a compound effect downstream.

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But with the increased importance of air and exhaust flow around the rear tyres in the current generation of grand prix cars, there will also be implications for the rear end.

For windtunnel testing, Pirelli supplies 60 per cent scale tyres, which accurately reflect the deformation of the tyre.

Teams should be able to revert to the 2012 windtunnel tyres for aero testing.

Because of the change, teams will need to produce new versions of wings, endplates, floors and brake ducts.

SUSPENSION

The change to the tyre construction will impact the suspension.

Teams are provided with Pacejka models of the physical properties of the tyres by Pirelli, allowing their accurate representation in simulations.

As with the windtunnel tyres, it will be a case of reverting to known 2012 tyre data.

From this base, teams can look at revising their spring, damper and linking rates to account for the difference between the new and old construction.

Additionally, the suspension geometry will need revising to get the camber gains and the roll-centre location that work with the older tyres.

This requires revised suspension elements at the front and rear, necessitating new patterns, moulds and wishbones to be made, which is a significant investment mid-season.

Teams are faced with a large, but not insurmountable, challenge to adapt to the new tyres given the experience gained last year.

But it is a drain on resources for teams already stretched to develop new cars for the 2014 regulations.

The combination of the old tyre construction and new compounds will also be untested by teams going into the Canadian GP, which is quickly followed by some punishing, fast-flowing European tracks with unpredictable weather.

So any steps to stabilise the racing with these tyres could be offset by the effort required to adapt to them.

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Series Formula 1
Author Craig Scarborough
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