Tag Archives: Pirelli

Formula One : The Future of Pirelli in F1

Screen Shot 2018-01-01 at 23.44.26.png

Pirelli returned to Formula One in 2011 as the sole tyre supplier and official championship partner. Pirelli, founded in Italy, recently acquired by ChemChina, joined the championship with a clear mandate from Formula One Management to ‘spice up the racing’ through the development of a range of tyre compounds with significant performance variables and accelerated levels of degradation. Initially, this new philosophy around tyre performance at the pinnacle of motorsports was well received with a positive response from fans and media around a new element of unpredictability surrounding an F1 weekend.

However, as teams and drivers adapted to the Pirelli approach to tyre compound chemistry, car set up and driving techniques evolved to minimise the challenges the tyres presented. This led to increasingly aggressive approaches to performance and degradation levels in tyre development culminating in the “challenging” 2013 British Grand Prix in which teams were supplied with tyres which were not capable of performing at the levels required. The result of which was a race which saw numerous failures throughout the field and a strategic re-evaluation from Pirelli.

In the seasons since 2013, Pirelli has maintained the vision of producing a range of compounds with varying levels of performance and high levels of degradation but with a more conservative approach. The result of this restraint has been races in which teams and drivers focus on tyre management over performance, understanding the optimal approach to a race has often been to extend the life of a tyre rather than push it to its limit. As such, in recent seasons, drivers have rarely complimented the performance of Pirelli’s efforts over a Grand Prix weekend.

Creating positive media coverage in a sole supply situation will always be a challenge. Since there is no competitor to beat, victory becomes the default leaving the only newsworthy coverage that of failure.  In such an environment it can be a challenge to understand how Pirelli quantify benefits from its sponsorship of Formula One. Over seven seasons they have developed a reputation for producing tyres with excessive degradation and minimal differentiation beyond coloured side walls. Would an F1 fan seriously consider buying Pirelli tyres for their own car based on how they perform in Formula One?

So where does this leave Pirelli?

At the end of each season, Pirelli produce an end of year summary detailing all every fact and figure imaginable around; corning speeds, top speeds, lap times, number of overtakes, number of compounds used by each driver and the figure which stood out to me the most, the number of sets of tyres produced in a season.

In 2017 Pirelli produced 38,788 sets of F1 tyres, which equates to approximately 3,258 tons of tyres. Of these, only 12,920 sets (1,085 tons of tyres) were actually used. This means two-thirds of F1 tyres produced in 2017 were never raced and simply destroyed. Whilst Pirelli makes it clear all tyres were recovered, a system in which such a vast number of tyres are produced and shipped around the globe and never used is hugely wasteful and frankly embarrassing for both the manufacturer and the sport. The strategy of an ever-increasing range of tyres being made available for a Grand Prix weekend has resulted in the requirement of an inefficient and cumbersome supply chain. Something which will only increase in 2018 with further tyre compounds and team selection freedoms being added to the Pirelli ‘menu’.

In recent years Michelin, a leading industry competitor, have repeated statements that the current philosophy of Formula One around the use of tyre degradation as a key variable in racing, is of limited strategic merit and is not in keeping with how they believe tyre technology should be presented in motorsport. Instead, Michelin has focused their efforts in Formula E and the World Endurance Championship, showcasing innovations around all-weather tyres, low profile tyres (18-inches, compared to the 13-inch profile used in Formula One), and minimal degradation allowing competitors to push the performance of a tyre throughout an event.

Increasingly Formula One and its regulations are focused on reducing unnecessary waste. limiting fuel use through a race, and limiting the number of power units available to a team through a season. This focus on efficiency appeals to existing OEM’s in the sport including Mercedes, Renault, and Honda, and again sits in contrast to the wasteful and confusing approach mandated to Pirelli. For the 2018 season there is no longer any opportunity for Pirelli to change their approach to racing, but with minimal technical regulation changes set for 2019, perhaps the management of Formula One should look to change the conversation around Pirelli’s role in F1 and encourage the manufacturer to innovate relevant style.

For 2019, perhaps Pirelli should look to consider a simplified approach to tyre compounds, produce tyres with increased variance in performance yet minimised levels of degradation, and adopt 18-inch low profile tyres, enabling the end user to better relate to the product they see racing on a Sunday.

It is understood 2019 is the final season of Pirelli’s current agreement with Formula One. Without change, will it be their last?

Advertisements

Formula One: Tyres available for the Abu Dhabi GP

Screen Shot 2016-11-27 at 10.47.57.png

Ahead of the 2016 Formula One Season Finale from Abu Dhabi, Pirelli have release details of the remaining tyre allocation availble for each driver in the race.

The most likely strategy in the race is for two pit stops, with tactics playing an important role in the race as the Yas Marina circuit is quite difficult to overtake on, as has been seen in the past here during previous championship deciders. One predictable factor should be the weather, which is expected to be similar to conditions today.

With no difference in the remaining tyre allocation between the Mercedes and Ferrari duo very little differentiation can be expected in their respective race strategy. Red Bull Racing head into the season with only used super soft tyres available, these are the tyres they will start the race with, and may encourage the team towards a more aggressive approach to the race with undercuts the target to move up through the field.

screen-shot-2016-11-27-at-10-48-49

Formula One: Tyre availability and likely strategy for the Singapore Grand Prix

Screen Shot 2016-09-17 at 20.27.02.png

If points were awarded to drivers for not using their complete allocation of tyres Sebastian Vettel would be in the box seats for the Singapore Grand Prix! With 3 sets of unused Ultra soft compound tyres availble, owing to a technical in Q1 leading to a back row start for the race tomorrow, Sebastian and the Scuderia have the opportunity to take a ultra aggressive approach to the race. Philosophical on the difficult session Vettel commented:

” For tomorrow we have a long race in front of us, with a lot of safety cars. At least we have some new tires, and even if for sure it is not an ideal situation. we can still have a good race.”

Red Bull Racing and AMG Mercedes Petronas have taken opposing strategies to the race with the former electing to start of the Supersoft compound the latter the Ultra soft. Lewis will be keen to ensure he recovers from an average qualifying session quickly to minimise any time behind a Red Bull on a slower compound.

Pirelli have confirmed the life of each tyre compound is expected to be around 21-23 laps, the challenge will be managing the level of drop off in performance which could be as great as 6 seconds per lap.

A two stop strategy is expected to be the quickest way to complete the race, with a very high probability of safety car periods team strategists will be working overtime to pick the precise points at which to complete those stops and reduce loss of track position.

Nico Rosberg has looked strong throughout the weekend. With a good start and a cushion of Daniel Ricciardo between him and his most likely challenger Lewis Hamilton, the race could be his to lose.

See the info graphic below for a breakdown of drivers tyre availability for the Singapore Grand Prix:

Screen Shot 2016-09-17 at 20.38.56.png

Formula One: Likely strategy and tyres remaining for the German GP

Screen Shot 2016-07-31 at 09.52.52.png

Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg has claimed pole position for the German Grand Prix. Conditions remained warm and dry throughout the session, with track temperatures of 38 degrees centigrade at the mid-point of qualifying. Rosberg’s pole time of 1m14.363s was more than two seconds faster than the 2014 pole (1m16.540s).

The Mercedes drivers were the only ones to get through Q1 using the soft tyre only, while all the others fitted the supersoft – reckoned to be around 1.5 seconds faster on the German track. From Q2 onwards, all the drivers utilised just the supersoft tyres in qualifying and this is the compound that the top 10 will start on tomorrow. Although yesterday 1.5 seconds separated the soft and supersoft compounds, the gap today seemed to be reduced at around 1 second.

Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director: “It looks like we might be seeing a mixture of two and three stop strategies tomorrow, with the running up to now showing that there could be a few quite different approaches to the race. A lot will obviously depend on the weather, which still appears to be changeable. Mercedes handed themselves a potential advantage by saving themselves an additional set of supersofts, so it will be interesting to see if they can capitalise upon that tomorrow.”

How the tyres behaved today:
Medium: Not used during qualifying but might be used in the race as tactics will vary.
Soft: Used by the Mercedes drivers only to get through Q1: could be key to the race.
Supersoft: Around 1.5s faster than the soft on Friday; around 1 sec. gap seen in quali.

Possible race strategies and maximum laps*:
Pirelli recommends that the following numbers of laps are not exceeded on each compound:
Soft = 29 laps
Supersoft = 22 laps

On this basis, the optimal pit-stop strategies predicted by Pirelli are as follows:

QUICKEST
Three-stopper: three stints on supersoft + one stint on soft
SECOND-QUICKEST
Two-stopper: two stints on supersoft + one stint on soft (maximizing the stints on supersoft)
THIRD QUICKEST
Two-stopper: two stints on supersoft + one stint on soft (maximizing the single stint on soft)
SLOWEST
Two-stopper: one stint on supersoft + two stints on soft

Screen Shot 2016-07-31 at 09.59.50.png

Formula One: Tyres available for the Hungarian Grand Prix

Screen Shot 2016-07-23 at 19.00.57.png

After an enthralling, if stop start qualifying session in which both wet and dry compound tyres were used. With clear skies and dry weather set to return for the race tomorrow, drivers making appearances in only the opening segment of the session will have plenty of tyres to choose from.

Commenting on the qualifying session and likely strategy for the race tomorrow, Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director: “In a sport that’s thrown up some crazy situations in the past, this was one of the most mixed-up days that we’ve witnessed – but the end result was still a Mercedes one-two. The teams certainly got to try a wide range of our tyres today, and the mixed conditions means that they have a good allocation of unused slicks to choose from tomorrow, which will probably be a two-stop race.”

Screen Shot 2016-07-23 at 19.01.32.png

How the tyres behaved today:
Medium: Used minimally in practice but not in qualifying, unlikely to be seen in the race.
Soft: Not seen at all in qualifying but will figure prominently in the race strategy.
Supersoft: The teams switched straight to this tyre once the track dried up.
Intermediate: Used from Q2 onwards, despite the standing water.
Full wet: With the circuit waterlogged during Q1, the automatic choice for this session.

Possible race strategies and maximum laps*:

Pirelli recommends that the following numbers of laps are not exceeded on each compound:
Soft = 29 laps
Supersoft = 14 laps

On this basis, the optimal pit-stop strategies predicted by Pirelli are as follows:

QUICKEST
Two-stopper: two stints on soft of 29 laps each + one 12-lap stint on supersoft
SECOND-QUICKEST
Three-stopper: three stints on supersoft of 14 laps each + one 28-lap stint on soft
SLOWEST
Three-stopper: two stints on soft of 24 laps each + two 11-lap stints on supersoft

Formula One: Hungarian GP – Tyre stats, watch outs, and reminders

Screen Shot 2016-07-18 at 15.47.25.png

Following the flat-out straights and fast corners of Silverstone is the tight and twisty Hungaroring: two circuits that could not be any more different. The medium, soft and supersoft tyres have been nominated for Hungary: statistically the most popular combination of the year so far, which was last used in Baku. The Hungaroring has been described as being like an oversized go-kart track, and adding to the challenge of the first circuit ever to stage a grand prix behind the Iron Curtain exactly 30 years ago are weather conditions that can range from extremely hot (a common occurrence) to rain (which was the case two years ago, as well as 2011).

THE CIRCUIT FROM A TYRE POINT OF VIEW:

  • There’s only one real straight on the Hungaroring, which means tyres are constantly working.
  • It’s a well-balanced track, with traction, braking and lateral energy demands roughly equal.
  • High temperatures make thermal degradation a factor.
  • The emphasis is on mechanical grip, as a low average speed means there is little downforce.
  • Drivers describe the Hungaroring as one of the year’s most physically demanding circuits.
  • Hungary starts another back-to-back weekend, with the teams then going straight to Germany.

THE THREE NOMINATED COMPOUNDS:

  • White medium: a mandatory set that must be available for the race, low working range.
  • Yellow soft: another mandatory set whose versatility will make it a popular race tyre.
  • Red supersoft: used for qualifying but it’s not yet clear how much they will figure in the race.

PAUL HEMBERY, PIRELLI MOTORSPORT DIRECTOR:                     

“Hungary provides a very different type of challenge to what we’ve seen at Silverstone, but some of the teams used the recent Silverstone test to try out a few ideas that could be relevant to the Hungaroring, so it will be interesting to see what effect this has. The track has been completely resurfaced, and we saw in Austria that this had quite a profound influence as well: we will need to see if this is case in Hungary too, so free practice will be very important.”

WHAT’S NEW?  

  • The track has been entirely resurfaced and the circuit infrastructure upgraded this year.
  • There is also some new kerbing and run-off areas while the effect of the resurfacing has additionally been to smooth out some of the bumps. This should culminate in faster lap times.

Screen Shot 2016-07-18 at 15.43.49Screen Shot 2016-07-18 at 15.44.46

Formula One: Remaining tyre allocation for the British Grand Prix

Screen Shot 2016-07-09 at 18.53.58.png

The 2016 British Grand Prix looks set to be a race of tyre management. Pirelli have released data on the remaining tyre allocation availble to all drivers ahead of the race and indicated the projected life of each tyre compound.

Tyre usage by the top teams in free practice and qualifying leaves them with minimal opportunity to run fresh tyres on the optimal race strategy. As such we can expect to see a certain level of compromise in strategy approach in tomorrow’s Grand Prix, should it remain dry.

Possible race strategies and maximum laps:
Pirelli recommends that the following numbers of laps are not exceeded on each compound:
Hard* = 26 laps
Medium = 28 laps
Soft = 15 laps
*The hard compound experienced some graining, which is why the useful life of this tyre is predicted to be less than that of the medium.

On this basis, the optimal pit-stop strategies predicted by Pirelli are as follows:

QUICKEST
Two-stopper: two stints on soft of 12 laps each + one 28-lap stint on medium
SECOND-QUICKEST
Three-stopper: three stints on soft of 12 laps each + one 16-lap stint on medium
THIRD-QUICKEST
Two-stopper: one 12-lap stint on soft + one 14-lap stint on new soft + one 26-lap stint on hard
SLOWEST
Two-stopper: one stint on soft of 12 laps + two 20-lap stints on medium

Different permutations of compound usage within each strategy are possible.

Screen Shot 2016-07-09 at 18.52.24.png

Formula One: Remaining Tyre allocation & possible race Strategy – Austrian GP

Screen Shot 2016-07-02 at 23.01.32.png

The 2016 Austrian Grand Prix is set to be a thrill tomorrow with a mixed up grid, alternate qualifying strategies and limited dry running across the board. Due to the differing data available from Friday and today, a number of opportunities are open and it is quite difficult to predict the best strategy for tomorrow. The drivers with two sets of soft tyres available have a big potential advantage. A two-stop strategy looks to be the winning one. Using the data from Saturday, two different types of two-stopper appear to be best: start on supersoft, change to soft on lap 16, and soft again on lap 44 is the optimal strategy. If starting on ultrasoft, a change to soft by lap 10 and then soft again by lap 40 looks to be just a few seconds slower.

Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director:Austria has certainly proved to be a very unpredictable event so far, and lap times before the shower that fell in Q3 were up to two seconds faster than the times in each equivalent session from 2015. Both in terms of weather and events on the track, so we can expect this unpredictable theme to continue tomorrow. We’re anticipating two stops tomorrow and reasonably short stints on the ultrasoft, which are of course designed to provide the ultimate performance but at the expense of durability. We saw tyre strategy underway during qualifying, with Ferrari and Red Bull running the supersoft in Q2, which will give them the opportunity to run a longer first stint tomorrow. The final shoot-out was all about finding the right window of opportunity for the slick tyres to perform at their best on a drying track.”

Taking a look below the a diverse range of strategy can be expected through the race. Current forecasts suggest dry conditions for the race, but with mixed conditions throughout the weekend to date teams will have to be prepared for every eventuality.

Jenson Button will be keen to capitalise on an incredible 3rd on the grid, with both Mercedes and Force India have struggled off the grid in earlier races this year could we see a Mclaren leading into T1 for the first time since Brazil 2012?

Screen Shot 2016-07-02 at 22.42.08.png

Formula One: Austrian GP – Tyre compound selction reminder & preview

Screen Shot 2016-07-01 at 00.05.16.png

For Formula One’s annual visit to the Red Bull Ring, with its stunning mountain setting, the three softest compounds in the P Zero range have been nominated: soft, supersoft and ultrasoft. The Spielberg track is probably the closest that Formula One comes to a rally stage: with big changes of elevation and a sequence of fast and twisty corners. The weather in the region can also be quite unpredictable. Although the circuit only returned to the F1 calendar in 2014, it has its roots in the 1969 Osterreichring, which gives the track quite an old-school character that is still in evidence now.

THE CIRCUIT FROM A TYRE POINT OF VIEW:

  • The first two sectors are fast with the final sector being slower and more technical.
  • The circuit tests a wide spectrum of a tyre’s ability, in terms of lateral and longitudinal loading.
  • Wear, degradation and temperatures are quite low, which is why we have the softest tyres.
  • Judging the braking points is quite complex, as there are a number of uphill braking areas.
  • The track surface is generally low-grip and low abrasion, as well as being bumpy in places.
  • Spielberg is the shortest lap time of the year with only nine corners, so precision is vital.

THE THREE NOMINATED COMPOUNDS:

  • Yellow soft: unusually this is the hardest tyre in the range, one of the mandatory available sets.
  • Red supersoft: these should play an important role in the race, also a mandatory available set.
  • Purple ultrasoft: the most popular choice by a long way, with up to nine sets nominated per car.

Screen Shot 2016-07-01 at 00.03.31

Driver tyre selection could all be for nothing however, with wet weather forecast across the entire race weekend.

PAUL HEMBERY, PIRELLI MOTORSPORT DIRECTOR:                     

  • “Austria is one of the most picturesque and individual tracks on the championship, which asks a lot from the tyres in terms of all-round mechanical grip and performance, which is why the ultrasoft has been resoundingly favoured here. As a result, we may have a two-stop race this time, even though last year was a one-stopper. However, this venue is always quite unpredictable: we had a safety car period right at the beginning of the grand prix last year, while rain as well as bright sunshine seems to be an equal possibility. The ultrasoft compound should be well-suited to the Red Bull Ring, which means that we will almost certainly see the fastest laps ever of this current circuit configuration this weekend.”

WHAT’S NEW? 

  • The circuit has been completely re-asphalted this year, with the new asphalt having a similar level of abrasion to before. The fresh bitumen may offer a different amount of grip though: it will be measured by Pirelli’s engineers on Wednesday before the race.
  • The ultrasoft makes its Austrian debut, having been introduced for the current season.
  • As well as cars, Spielberg also hosted the Red Bull Air Race earlier this year, above the track.

Screen Shot 2016-07-01 at 00.03.56

Formula One: Williams break the 2 second pit stop barrier

Screen Shot 2016-06-19 at 23.51.08.png

Williams Martini Racing set a new record for the fastest recorded pit stop at the Grand Prix of Europe. The team finally broke the magical 2 second barrier with Felipe Massa’s stop. Williams are the first team to officially complete a pitstop in which all 4 tyres are changed in under 2 seconds in Formula One.

After a series of calamitous pitstop performances throughout the teams 2015 campaign, for 2016 the team employed a process manager to analyse possible areas of improvement and implement change. One change has been to introduce a 21st person to the process. The person is responsible for monitoring the pitlane throughout the stop and signal (through a hand-held remote) when it is safe to release the car. This additional person reduces the number of tasks to be completed by the front jack man, and as a consequence has allowed for increased focus and improved efficiency. By allocating only single tasks to individuals in a pitstop process focus can be absolute. No doubt rival teams will be looking to emulate the Williams pit stop process in races to come.

For the 2016 Season DHL are awarding a Fastest Pitstop award after each Grand Prix. Williams have won this accolade at every race this season.