The FIA and F1 focus on the 2030 net zero agenda is forcing a number of changes and as the old adage goes, ‘people don’t like change.’ Max Verstappen has already been vociferous in his condemnation of the increase in Sprint weekends and even suggested it may affect when he choses to end his career in the sport.
Of course the number and use of the Pirelli tyres has has been part of the discussion on reducing waste with the Italian tyre supplier designing a new full wet tyre which does not require pre-heating in the warmers.
F1 teams reject tyre blanket ban
When an F1 tyre is pre-heated, even if not used, this can prevent it from being recycled for another day. Pirelli revealed this year that when unused but pre-heated tyres are removed from the wheel rims, one often becomes damaged due t the heat cycle and so the entire set is then discarded.
However, at the F1 commission meeting following the summer break, the teams rejected the dry weather tyres Pirelli has been developing for next season demanding more research and development be carried out.
At present each driver receives a tyre allocation of 13 dry, 4 intermediates and 3 full wets for a weekend. This is a whopping 9,600 tyres sipped around the world assuming the full 24 race calendar and the FIA are targets a reduction in this monumental logistics programme.
A reduced allocation of 11 dry weather tyres has been trialed in both Hungary and at the recent Italian Grand Prix together with a revised format for qualifying.
Pirelli ATA trials reviewed
Each driver must use the hard tyre for Q1, the medium for Q2 and the soft tyre for the pole position shootout. Further, they must save a new set of each of the compounds which they will run in each the three sessions.
A number of the drivers have complained about the Alternative Tyre Allocation (ATA) in particular Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen.
Hamilton said after free practice two: “We only had one tyre that we were going to use this session. Not really a great format this change that they made for this weekend, it just means we get less running.”
Lewis vented suggesting there were other ways the FIA and Pirelli should examine to improve sustainability.
Hamilton criticises wet tyre waste
“Not ideal,” he continued, “and there’s a lot of wet tyres I think they throw away after every weekend, like a lot, maybe they should look at something like that rather than taking time on track away from the fans.”
Verstappen agreed with his arch rival stating, “With this new format, you are just super limited with the tyre sets that you can use, and I didn’t want to use them today to at least have a bit more of a better preparation tomorrow.
“It’s a shame. There are so many people around and you basically don’t run a lot so we will have to see what we can do to improve that. We are literally just saving tyres which I think is not the correct thing.”
Pirelli boss Mario Isolo now suggests the ATA may well be here to stay and at each Grand Prix weekend of the year.
Pirelli boss presses for permanent ATA
“[We have to [assess] the pros and cons of the new format. Then we will make a decision,” he said but suggested some tweaks may be possible.
“If there is a need to do a bit of fine-tuning – like for example considering one extra set for FP2 instead of seven sets for the race, with just six sets for the race which is more than enough and perhaps an extra set for FP2 with the same total number possible.”
The teams one average did less laps during FP2 in Monza than at the previous even in Zandvoort. Though a significant reason for this is the lap is much longer so the total time on track across the whole field was not too dissimilar.
Isola went further claiming, “To be fair, we compared the number of laps they did in FP1, FP2 and FP3 to last year and it is very similar.”
Sprint race allocation must be different
Of course the ATA has not been used at a Sprint race event this year and it seems unlikely it would work for that format since there are now two qualifying sessions, one for the Sprint and another for the Grand Prix.
With F1’s CEO Stefano Domenicali looking to increase again the number of Sprint weekends for 2024, the impact of the ATA becomes diminished. Across 24 races would reduce the annual tyre production by 3,840 units but were half the events to become Sprint weekends, that number would of course halve.
No decision has yet been made for 2024 on the ATA, but having seen their prototype no tyre blanket tyres rejected, Pirelli may well feel they need to push harder on sustainability by insisting the ATA be adopted.