The 2022 Formula One race in Monaco was effectively decided by tyres. A deluge of rain just prior to the scheduled start saw the race delayed as the teams were given time to switch to the Pirelli full wet tyre. Yet this seasons extreme weather tyre has come in for significant criticism.
The tyre didn’t appear to move much water during the laps behind the safety car, though Pirelli have had to cope with a switch this season from 13 inch wheels to 18 inch low profile tyres with significantly reduced tyre walls.
Pierre Gasly ditched his extreme wet tyres on lap 2 and whist it took 2-3 laps to get up to speed it was then obvious the Intermediate tyre was substantially quicker than the full wet despite the very wet conditions.
After the race Sebastian Vettel explained the further delay to the race start was because the new full wet tyres are basically “useless”. “In rainy weather, we know that the current cars have a lot of aquaplaning. Pirelli hasn’t worked on this subject for years and everyone knows it. So we have to wait until it stops raining to be able to launch a race”, said the German driver.
Vettel added, ”I remember the days when we could have driven here in the rain, with no problem with this amount of water, but with these tyres it is impossible.”
“Looking at them, the ‘extreme wet’ looks good but in fact they’re useless. As soon as you can switch to intermediate, you do it straight away.”
“The [full wet] rain tyres are far too hard for this track and even for Imola they were too hard.
The head of Pirelli F1 operations Mario Isola has since rejcted certain of Sebastian to Vettel’s criticisms.
“The Regen compound is different than the Intermediate, but it’s not much harder,” Isola explained. “The tests we’ve done in the past showed (that the tyres) had similar characteristics to last year’s and we also wanted to keep the crossover time at a similar level as last year.”
Isola believes the full wet tyre behaves differently in Monaco from most other F1 venues.
“I think the crossover time here in Monaco between the wet tyre and the intermediate was quite different than at other tracks,” Isola said. “We tested the wets and inters in these conditions and even in cooler temperatures.
“It was mainly due to the type of asphalt. This is a real street circuit with street asphalt. The roughness is therefore much lower than with track asphalt and therefore much less grip is generated for the rain tires.”
Ferrari failed to understand the huge difference between the Pirelli wet weather tyres and the huge time delta differential saw Sergio Perez first onto the Inters, wipe out a 10 second lead held by Ferrari’s Charles LeClerc.