The early verdict on Pirelli's key 2019 F1 tyre changes

Pirelli is hopeful it has addressed several key areas that impacted Formula 1 races negatively in 2018 after the teams gained experience with their '19 tyre compounds this week

The early verdict on Pirelli's key 2019 F1 tyre changes

Abu Dhabi's two-day tyre test was an opportunity for all 10 teams to trial the new compounds, all of which have a revised construction and thinner tread.

The consensus among drivers was that the 2019 tyres did not feel significantly different to 2018, which is because the fundamental changes are not based primarily on peak performance.

Pirelli was already confident that its efforts to contain blistering that blighted several races this year would be successful, and has been buoyed by feedback of the new hypersoft tyre.

The softest compound in Pirelli's range suffered extreme graining this year, which made it difficult to use in the race.

Pirelli F1 boss Mario Isola said: "The first feedback is that the new hypersoft is a good tyre.

"In terms of performance it's very similar to the current hypersoft. It looks like the level of graining is reduced.

"That's exactly the target of this very soft compound."

Temperature issues

As previously reported by Autosport, thinner-tread tyres will be used at every race in 2019 to combat overheating and blistering issues.

That follows a successful, albeit controversial, use of thinner-tread rubber at three grands prix in 2018.

Blistering occurs when the temperature of the tyres surpasses a certain threshold and this phenomenon happens more easily with thicker tread, which retains the heat and can cause chunks of the tyre to be torn from the surface.

This week's running was not particularly useful to testing the targeted 2019 improvements because the Yas Marina circuit lacks the high-speed corners that put high lateral stress on the tyres, the primary cause of blistering this year.

However, Pirelli conducted tests at Barcelona, Silverstone and Suzuka while developing the '19 compounds, so is confident it has met this demand.

What Yas Marina is good for is assessing how the tyres cope with overheating because of its many traction zones.

Drivers complained that sliding around while following other cars caused the surface temperature of the tyres to rise uncontrollably.

The hope is that changes to the tyre, combined with F1's front wing adjustments to make it easier for drivers to follow, will help ease this problem.

"We tried to design new tyres with the target to help with this effect, to reduce the overheating," said Isola.

"We received some estimations from the team on the level of downforce expected [from their new wings] but not the influence of the turbulence from the car in front.

"This is information we don't have. But hopefully, with the new wings, it should be better."

Pirelli shelves the supersoft

Pirelli has also almost finished balancing its range of tyres next season.

It had already confirmed it would stop using a seven-compound range (from softest to hardest) of the hypersoft, ultrasoft, supersoft, soft, medium, hard and superhard.

Next year it will nominate a 'hard', 'medium' and 'soft' tyre for each weekend - picked from a range of five compounds, depending on what is suitable for each track.

As well as a revised hypersoft to improve graining, Pirelli has altered all other compounds except the soft.

It needs to choose which ultrasoft compound to homologate by December 1.

Pirelli ran two versions this week, with the softer of the two possibly too close in performance to the hypersoft, as it works to make a decision.

The medium and hard tyre will be slightly softer for 2019. This is to increase more strategic variety by equalising the performance gap between the compounds.

What was previously known as the supersoft has been eliminated because Pirelli deemed it was too close in performance to the ultrasoft.

As well as deciding which ultrasoft to homologate by December 1, Pirelli is closing in on a December 6 deadline to select its compounds for the 2019 season opener in Australia.

The teams will need to make their selections for pre-season testing at Barcelona as well as Melbourne, plus a draft selection for the rest of the first five grands prix, by December 13.

shares
comments
The steps that have led to F1's 'very silly cars'

Previous article

The steps that have led to F1's 'very silly cars'

Next article

F1 is witnessing a 'new' Lewis Hamilton in 2018 - Mercedes' Wolff

F1 is witnessing a 'new' Lewis Hamilton in 2018 - Mercedes' Wolff
Load comments
The tough balancing act facing Schumacher’s Netflix film producers Plus

The tough balancing act facing Schumacher’s Netflix film producers

Michael Schumacher is the latest sporting superstar to get the ‘Netflix treatment’, with a special documentary film airing on the US streaming giant’s platform this month. DAMIEN SMITH has the inside track on how the filmmakers gained access to tell the human story behind one of Formula 1’s most publicity-shy champions - while the man himself, for obvious reasons, is in absentia… 

The times that suggest Verstappen should be confident of F1 Russian GP recovery Plus

The times that suggest Verstappen should be confident of F1 Russian GP recovery

For the second race in a row, Mercedes has ended the first day of track action on top. It’s in a commanding position at the Russian Grand Prix once again – this time largely thanks to Max Verstappen’s upcoming engine-change grid penalty. But there’s plenty to suggest all hope is not lost for the championship leader at Sochi

Formula 1
Sep 24, 2021
The ‘backwards step’ that is the right move for Formula 1 Plus

The ‘backwards step’ that is the right move for Formula 1

OPINION: With its days apparently numbered, the MGU-H looks set to be dropped from Formula 1’s future engine rules in order to entice new manufacturers in. While it may appear a change of direction, the benefits for teams and fans could make the decision a worthwhile call

Formula 1
Sep 23, 2021
The floundering fortunes of F1’s many Lotus reboots Plus

The floundering fortunes of F1’s many Lotus reboots

Team Lotus ceased to exist in 1994 - and yet various parties have been trying to resurrect the hallowed name, in increasingly unrecognisable forms, ever since. DAMIEN SMITH brings GP Racing’s history of the legendary team to an end with a look at those who sought to keep the flame alive in Formula 1

Formula 1
Sep 22, 2021
Why the 2021 title fight is far from F1's worst, despite its toxic background Plus

Why the 2021 title fight is far from F1's worst, despite its toxic background

OPINION: Formula 1 reconvenes for the Russian Grand Prix two weeks after the latest blow in ‘Max Verstappen vs Lewis Hamilton’. While the Silverstone and Monza incidents were controversial, they thankfully lacked one element that so far separates the 2021 title fight from the worst examples of ugly championship battles

Formula 1
Sep 22, 2021
How F1’s other champion to emerge from 1991 thrived at Lotus Plus

How F1’s other champion to emerge from 1991 thrived at Lotus

Mika Hakkinen became Michael Schumacher’s biggest rival in Formula 1 in the late-90s and early 2000s, having also made his F1 debut in 1991. But as MARK GALLAGHER recalls, while Schumacher wowed the world with a car that was eminently capable, Hakkinen was fighting to make his mark with a famous team in terminal decline

Formula 1
Sep 21, 2021
The forgotten F1 comeback that began Jordan’s odyssey  Plus

The forgotten F1 comeback that began Jordan’s odyssey 

Before Michael Schumacher – or anyone else – had driven the 191 (or 911 as it was initially called), Eddie Jordan turned to a fellow Irishman to test his new Formula 1 car. JOHN WATSON, a grand prix winner for Penske and McLaren, recalls his role in the birth of a legend…

Formula 1
Sep 20, 2021
The squandered potential of a 70s F1 underdog Plus

The squandered potential of a 70s F1 underdog

A podium finisher in its first outing but then never again, the BRM P201 was a classic case of an opportunity squandered by disorganisation and complacency, says STUART CODLING

Formula 1
Sep 18, 2021