Pirelli should now make more aggressive tyre compound selections
TJ13 commented following the Australian GP, that the 2015 Pirelli compounds appear more durable than their predecessors. This may appear somewhat simplistic, but the tyre degradation was such that most cars managed a one stop strategy in Albert Park, whereas the year before we saw predominantly two stop race strategies.
In Malaysia, we saw the majority of drivers adopted a three stop race strategy, but this was due to the almost unprecedented temperatures on race day. China and Bahrain reverted to becoming two stop races.
Pirelli’s brief is to deliver tyres that provide optimum race strategies of between two and three stops and as such have this season been on the conservative side in their tyre selection.
The F1 tyre manufacturer will soon announce its tyre selection for the next three races – Barcelona, Monaco and Canada.
In 2014 the compound selection was as follows.
- Barcelona – medium/hard
- Monaco – super soft/soft
- Canada – super soft/soft
The big call will be whether to change the Barcelona selection to soft/medium.
At the circuit de Catalunya, the key tyre performance requirement is to cope with high energy loads particularly through the now infamous long turn three where Alonso and his MacHonda made big news during winter testing.
The surface of the track is one of the most abrasive of the year and the wear on the left hand tyres is particularly high.
Yet in 2014, by selecting the medium and hard compounds, two stops was the preferred strategy in Catalunya, with just 6 cars electing to adopt a three stop approach to the race.
Further the preferred race tyre in 2014 was the medium tyre and not the hard compound. Pirelli need to seriously consider changing their historic compound selection for the Spanish GP or we risk seeing a race that becomes a one/two stop and not a two/three stop.
With the increased durability of the 2015 tyre, Pirelli can afford to go aggressive and elect the dry compounds as soft/medium without criticism. If they revert to tyre then the season to Canada will be dominated by two stop races.
Pirelli believed in January that the step forward in engine power this year, may make their ‘conservative’ choices appear less so.
“So like many we are interested to see what happens with the unfreeze for a little while of the engine regulations”, commented Pirelli’s commercial director Paul Hembery.
“What that is going to mean for the majority of teams – particularly on race pace, that is the one aspect where we expect to see a big improvement in performance. And that might make a conservative choice suddenly a bit more aggressive.”
To the average fan, this has simply not happened.
Of course should the Italian tyre manufacture make an aggressive compound selection for the Spanish GP, then the politics may well kick off. Yet having suffered the battering they received in 2013, this would be insignificant and would raise the profile of the F1 tyre provider for the weekend nicely.
Of course an aggressive choice of compounds means Ferrari would think all their Christmases had come at once, and Mercedes may well be quaking in their rubber boots.
Choosing softer compounds for Barcelona would be applauded by the fans – as the races this year have bubbled along nicely, but are nowhere near being likened to Champagne.