Since the monumental fuss created over the initial 2013 tyre compounds, Pirelli have tended to err on the side of caution when selecting tyre compounds for races. In fact, there are those who would suggest the past two F1 seasons have seen Pirelli more conservative than Margaret Thatcher.
Given that Pirelli announced the various new dry tyre compounds for 2015 would in effect be half a step ‘more robust’ than those from last year, TJ13 has been following the Italian manufacturer’s race weekend tyre selections carefully.
TJ13 analysis based on the 2015 Australian GP – which was unusually a one stop race for the vast majority of the field – it became clear were Pirelli continued to mirror their 2014 tyre compound selections at each race this year then they would completely miss their brief. This is that they should produce and select tyres that force the teams to stop each car 2-3 times in a race for new rubber.
Despite early warnings that there was a problem, Pirelli have this year to date brought the same tyre to each race as they did in 2014.
- Australia – soft, medium
- Malaysia – medium, hard
- China – soft, medium
- Bahrain – soft, medium
- Spain – medium, hard
- Monaco – supersoft, soft
- Canada – supersoft, soft
- Austria – supersoft, soft
Whilst we await the official announcement, Pirelli have informed the teams of the next batch of race/tyre selections
- Britain – medium, hard
- Hungary – soft, medium
- Belgium – soft medium
- Italy – soft, medium
These choices are the same as in 2014, with the exception of the Italian GP.
In 2014, Pirelli decided to change the tyre selection for the Belgium GP from the medium/hard compounds they had used in Spa for 2012/2013. This resulted in almost the entire field two stopping to tyres in the race. They have retained this selection for 2014.
Since TJ13’s criticism of Pirelli following the first race of the 2015, others have realised Pirelli’s choices are simply too conservative.
Following the recent Canadian GP, Christian Horner observed: “One-stop races aren’t good for Formula 1. You need to have two to three stops, and that’s important. Unfortunately, the tyres we have now are just a bit too conservative”.
Here is the 2015 tyre strategy which dominated each of the races so far.
- Australia – 1 stop race
- Malaysia – 2 stop race
- China – 2 stop race
- Bahrain – 2 stop race
- Spain – 2 stop race
- Monaco – 1 stop race
- Canada – 1 stop race
In 2014 Austria was predominantly a two stop race. However, with the 2015 more resilient tyres and cooler temperatures forecast for this weekend we may again be forced to watch a race dominated by cars just stopping for a change of tyres once.
There is little Pirelli can do about the races in Monaco, Canada and Austria, because their 2014 selections were already the softest choice they could make.
However, Silverstone is a different matter. Pirelli could have opted to make a change up from 2014, but they have refused to do so.
The chances are the British GP will also be a one stop race this year, based on the 2014 Pirelli tyre performances.
Last year the race was red flagged on the first lap after Kimi Raikkonen’s over enthusiastic return from an off track excursion caused carnage. The teams on the softer tyre from qualifying immediately switched to the hard compound and then one stopped over the remainder of the race once restarted.
With the tyre compounds locked in for each season and little opportunities to test, Pirelli are somewhat up against it. However, their recent suggestion that for 2016 they wish to create sub-categories for each of the four dry weather tyres is beginning to look favourable.
This would mean there would be three super soft tyres for Pirelli to choose from – each with different characteristics. The same would be the case for the soft, medium and hard compounds.
Currently the teams have agreed to retain the four Pirelli dry tyre compounds for 2016, but they will have a degree of freedom as to the tyres they choose to run at each race weekend.
It is good to see Pirelli being less conservative over their tyre selection for this year’s Italian GP. But by then we could have already been forced to observe 5 one stop and 6 two stop races with the season well into the Autumn.
Whether we like it or not, Formula One has decreed that tyres will be an important factor on how race strategy is planned and affects enormously the spectacle on track. Given this is the status quo, then Pirelli must do better than deliver 3 one stop races and 4 two stop races from the first seven of the current season.
This was not their brief.