How the 2016 Formula 1 tyre rules will work

For the 2016 Formula 1 season there is a new tyre compound - the ultra-soft - and new rules governing the use of manufacturer Pirelli's rubber

How the 2016 Formula 1 tyre rules will work

The intention is to spice up grands prix by creating more strategic variety, but the regulations have even left some of the drivers confused.

Autosport drills down into the detail of what's new, and what is and is not allowed.

Is the total number of sets of tyres available over a weekend still the same?

Yes, this hasn't changed. There are still 13. In previous seasons there were seven sets of prime and six sets of option available over a weekend per driver.

Of the 13 sets now, two are chosen for the race by Pirelli - and could be of differing compounds (with three available per race, and not two). A set of the softest is also set aside for Q3.

Of the 10 remaining sets, teams/drivers choose what they would like from the three available compounds.

Of those 10 sets, are the ratios for each team/driver pre-determined?

No. The ratio depends on a team's strategy for the weekend. For example, if a team fails to send its choice to the FIA it receives a standard allocation of three sets of the harder compound, four of the middle, and three of the softer. It can play with any combination of the numbers dependent on set-up of the car, driver style etc.

Will teams still get an extra set of tyres for the first 30 minutes of first practice?

Previously one set of 'prime' only tyres was used for the opening half hour of FP1. This set came from the seven sets of primes available over a weekend. Now, one set of the 10 chosen by the team/driver can be used for the first 40 minutes. It means they have the option of running whichever of the three compounds available.

Can teams still use the softest compound available in Q1 and Q2?

Yes, providing they have chosen enough sets of the softest among their pre-selected 10 sets for the weekend.

Is the 'mandatory Q3 specification' effectively a qualifying tyre and can it be used in the race too?

It doesn't carry the name 'qualifying tyre', but as it is the softest of the trio of compounds available then it can effectively be viewed as such. And it can be used in the race too. Most likely top 10 cars will qualify in Q2 with this compound, therefore they have to start the race on it.

Does the stipulation that drivers have to start races on their Q2 tyres still apply?

Yes, as stated in the regulations, "at the start of the race each car which qualified for Q3 must be fitted with the tyres with which the driver set his fastest time during Q2".

We now know three tyre compounds will be made available for a race, but can all three be used in a race?

Quite simply, yes.

Do the same rules apply for the minimum use of a compound in each race?

The rules simply state "each driver must use at least two different specifications of dry-weather tyres during the race". So if it's one lap on a set of softs and 50-odd laps on a set of mediums, that's within the rules.

Does the 'mandatory race tyre specification' mean it's not really a free tyre choice?

There is a free choice because while Pirelli is selecting two sets of tyres for a race, there are still another 10 available for a team/driver to go as aggressive or as conservative as they wish.

Even if Pirelli nominates two different compounds for its mandatory race sets, teams still have a completely free choice from the three nominated compounds for their other tyres.

Do the early deadlines mean drivers are committing to tyre strategies months ahead of a race?

Effectively, yes, because with the new rules, teams/drivers must inform the FIA eight weeks before the start of a European event, and 14 weeks before a non-European race, the ratios of the three compounds they wish to use at that event, after being supplied with the options a week beforehand.

Will the super-soft, let's say, be the same compound everywhere, or are those names now generic to cover a range of options?

Pirelli has decided to retain the current names. They will always be associated with that particular compound.

In short, how will tyre strategy in an average 2016 grand prix be different to tyre strategy in an average 2015 grand prix?

Over the past two seasons Pirelli has slipped from its original mandate from when it entered F1 in 2011 of providing tyres that will ensure drivers have to pit at least twice in a grand prix.

Primarily that has been due to the introduction of the hybrid power unit, with the teams keen to focus on that rather than over-concern themselves on tyres, leading to Pirelli deliberatly designing tyres that had less impact on how races turned out.

It is hoped with the introduction of a new compound, to make five in total, and with teams able to use all three compounds available for a race, the possibility of different strategies will increase in an exponential way with two or three pitstops.

Are there any particular races that will be dramatically changed by this?

Pirelli believes all the races can potentially be very different compared to 2015, especially at the beginning of the season when all teams will likely struggle to apply the new rules, introducing a high level of uncertainty.

shares
comments
Sauber pursuing new design concept for 2016 Formula 1 car
Previous article

Sauber pursuing new design concept for 2016 Formula 1 car

Next article

The top 10 F1 drivers of 2015

The top 10 F1 drivers of 2015
The sliding doors moment that saved Red Bull and Porsche Plus

The sliding doors moment that saved Red Bull and Porsche

OPINION: Everything looked set for Red Bull and Porsche to join forces for the 2026 season, before the marriage between both parties was called off. While at the time it looked like a major coup for Formula 1 in gaining both VW Group powerhouses Audi and Porsche for 2026, Red Bull and Porsche have really been spared a potentially fractious relationship.

How Tyrrell’s post-Stewart era descended into a fight to survive Plus

How Tyrrell’s post-Stewart era descended into a fight to survive

Glory days for Tyrrell became increasingly infrequent
 after Jackie Stewart’s retirement. But in the latest instalment of his history of the team for Autosport's sister title GP Racing, 
MAURICE HAMILTON recalls how Ken Tyrrell’s plucky and defiantly small team stayed bold enough to innovate – springing a surprise with F1’s first six-wheeled car

The forgettable final car of a former F1 giant that gave Damon Hill his start Plus

The forgettable final car of a former F1 giant that gave Damon Hill his start

While it launched the F1 career 
of a future world champion, STUART CODLING recalls that the BT60 was also the final nail in the coffin of a once-great marque 30 years ago. Here is its story

Formula 1
Dec 5, 2022
How departing F1 boss Brawn views F1’s new rules - and the future Plus

How departing F1 boss Brawn views F1’s new rules - and the future

Multiple-title-winning designer and team boss Ross Brawn is finally leaving Formula 1 after nearly 50 years in motorsport. But he still has plenty of insights on what’s working and what comes next, as he revealed to Autosport in a far-reaching exclusive interview in Abu Dhabi

Formula 1
Dec 2, 2022
The key F1 management call Ferrari must make to avoid more defeat Plus

The key F1 management call Ferrari must make to avoid more defeat

OPINION: Mattia Binotto’s departure from Ferrari will naturally bring a range of changes across the Formula 1 team. But how the changes shape up and the impact they could have is set to be dictated by a key direction Ferrari’s top dogs will need to pick

Formula 1
Nov 30, 2022
The difference between Mercedes’ stumble and the fall of F1 giants Plus

The difference between Mercedes’ stumble and the fall of F1 giants

OPINION: Mercedes endured its worst season of the hybrid Formula 1 era, but was mercifully spared its first winless campaign in over a decade late on. It has owned up to the mistakes it made which led to its troubled W13. And while its task to return to title-challenging contention is not small, its 2022 season seems more like a blip than the beginning of a downward spiral.

Formula 1
Nov 29, 2022
The physical focus bringing out the best of an F1 midfield star Plus

The physical focus bringing out the best of an F1 midfield star

Esteban Ocon likes to point out he’s the first driver since Lewis Hamilton to emerge from a spell as Fernando Alonso’s team-mate with a superior overall points record. While some may disagree, as LUKE SMITH discovered, the 2021 Hungarian GP winner reckons it’s not just luck which has made him France’s pre-eminent Formula 1 driver of the moment…

Formula 1
Nov 28, 2022
How Red Bull's dynamic leader shaped its F1 philosophy Plus

How Red Bull's dynamic leader shaped its F1 philosophy

The death of Dietrich Mateschitz last month has not only deprived Red Bull of its visionary founder, it has shorn Formula 1 of one of its most influential benefactors. Mateschitz himself was famously media-shy, preferring to let the brand do the talking on his behalf. And, while it’s now normal to speak of Red Bull F1 titles and champions made, Mateschitz never assumed it would be easy or even possible – as ANTHONY ROWLINSON discovered during this previously unpublished interview from 2006…

Formula 1
Nov 27, 2022