New Pirelli F1 rears set for Silverstone debut after Austria test

Pirelli’s new Formula 1 rear tyre construction is set to be raced at Silverstone as planned following successful testing in Austria on Friday.

Lando Norris, McLaren MCL35M, Mick Schumacher, Haas VF-21

All drivers were allocated two sets of the new tyres to run at any point in all three practice sessions, with some teams choosing to complete their running in FP3 on Saturday.

The consensus from drivers was that the new tyre – which was run at 2psi lower than the regular 2021 rears in Austria – had little or no impact on handling, with one calling them "transparent."

The concern of teams was that the change might affect the competitive order by favouring some cars more than others.

A final official call on Silverstone will only be made after data from the Saturday running has been collated, but Pirelli doesn’t foresee any problems.

“Not all the teams completed their run plan on the prototype,” said the tyre company's F1 boss Mario Isola.

“The general feedback that I collected is the proto is behaving in a very similar way compared to the C4 compound baseline, so the medium they have for this race.”

Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin AMR21

Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin AMR21

Photo by: Erik Junius

Isola said that the lower pressures countered the stiffer sidewall, thus reducing any impact on handling.

“We have asked the teams to use the rear tyre at a pressure that was 2psi lower compared to the baseline,” he said.

“This is a way to compensate for the additional vertical stiffness of the new construction. And in fact, the feedback from drivers was positive. Some found a bit more traction in the first laps. And some commented that the new prototype is very, very similar to the current C4.

“At the end of the day it was the target, because we know that the new construction is more robust, that we want to introduce it to have an additional margin, but we didn't want to change the behaviour, and the balance, or to ask the teams to make any set-up adjustment when they move to the new construction. That was confirmed in in general.”

Asked if anything had emerged that might prevent its use at the British GP he added: “No, I didn't hear any objection, I didn't have any negative comment. I don't see a reason why we shouldn't introduce it in Silverstone.”

Teams collected aero data with the new tyres, in order to judge whether a different shape at speed had any impact. That data will be studied this week, but Isola is confident that the impact was negligible.

“I just had feedback by voice, not based on data analysis, but I believe that because the new construction has no differences in profile, the new construction is not affecting basically the aero of the car.

“We compensated for the additional vertical stiffness of the new construction with a lower pressure, so basically the tyre is not working in a way that is different compared to the previous one. And this is also witnessed by the some of the drivers, who said that it was almost transparent.”

Lando Norris, McLaren MCL35M, in the pits

Lando Norris, McLaren MCL35M, in the pits

Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images

Red Bull boss Christian Horner, whose driver Max Verstappen suffered one of the failures in Baku that triggered the construction change, welcomed the fact that the new tyres appeared to have no impact.

“I think first of all, credit to Pirelli that they’ve reacted so quickly following Azerbaijan and brought prototype tyres here,” he said. “The initial response from the drivers was pretty benign, that it didn’t feel too different to what they previously had.

“So hopefully that’s a positive thing as well. What we’d hate at this point of the year is for a variable to be introduced that favoured one team or the other.”

“There is nothing really untoward about them,” said Alpine’s Marcin Budkowski. “What we seem to see is a little bit less rear grip than the equivalent standard construction. It’s a bit difficult to assess because we ran them first thing in the morning on a track that was a little bit green.

“There was nothing very surprising there, so it seems like it’s going to be small changes to the car behaviour and the balance.”

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