Tag Archives: Pirelli

Formula One: Drivers make first in-season tyre selections

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Pirelli have released driver tyre selection data for the Spanish Grand Prix. The Spanish Grand Prix is the first time the Hard tyre compound will be used this season, but also represents the first event where drivers have made tyre choices having raced on 2016 compounds.

Owing to the production process of Pirelli Formula One Tyres, teams and drivers are forced to make decisions on tyre usage 12 weeks ahead of schedule for fly away races and 8 weeks ahead of time for European races. This means that drivers had selected tyre compound weighting for the opening races before pre-season testing had begun. As the first European race of the season, the Spanish Grand Prix represents the first time drivers have been able to build actual race experience into their decision making process.

As we have come to expect this has led to drivers focusing on the softest compound available. Intriguingly Spanish Grand Prix tyre selection sees far less disparity between drivers in the same team that in other races.

It can be expected Mercedes will again dominate the Spanish Grand Prix weekend. 100% of their pre-season testing was carried out on the Medium and Soft tyre compound, where as other teams split efforts across a wider range of compounds. This increased knowledge of the Medium and Soft tyre will likely facilitate a smooth optimisation of set up allowing the team to focus on race and reliability performance.

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Mercedes AMG Petronas have put together a short film on the impact of introducing a 3rd tyre compound option to race strategy. This offers an interesting perspective on what we might expect to see at the Spanish Grand Prix later this month:

Formula One: Rosberg SMASHES Sochi lap record

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Nico Rosberg has set the fastest lap ever of Sochi to claim pole on the P Zero Red supersoft, comprehensively beating the previous record of 1m37.113s set in qualifying last year.

Rosberg’s Pole time of 1m35.417 eclipsed the previous lap record, also set on P Zero Red supersoft tyres, by almost 2 seconds.

With every driver using the supersoft in Q2 as well, this is the tyre that the top 10 on the grid will start on tomorrow. As conditions were cool in Russia today, drivers had to concentrate carefully on warming up the tyres. Similar conditions are expected for tomorrow’s race as well.

Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director: “Russia is by no means a typical track as it features low grip that keeps wear and degradation at very low levels and also enables long stints. For this reason we saw drivers complete multi-lap runs during qualifying, with consistent performance from the tyres. We expect a one-stop strategy to be the preferred choice for most contenders tomorrow, and it’s unlikely that the medium tyre will be used.”

Pirelli Race strategy predictions: A one-stopper should be the favoured tactic on the smooth asphalt of Russia for the 53-lap race. Starting on soft or supersoft makes little difference to the overall race time. Starting on supersoft, the fastest way is to change to soft on lap 18. Starting on soft, it’s best to change to supersoft on lap 35. Some teams may gamble on a two-stopper, which is theoretically the fastest way to do the race but risks traffic. In which case: start on supersoft, change to soft on lap 12, then soft again on lap 32.

Formula One: Jenson “I love the track”

Mclaren Honda’s Jenson Button discusses his surprise enthusiasm for the Sochi Autodrome  with Mobil 1’s The Grid.  After struggling to pick out landmarks and differentiate corners when learning the track in the simulator, Jenson shares his thoughts on the thrill of driving through the Winter Olympic village and how the characteristics of the track encourage and rewards an aggressive style of driving.

Jenson hopes to register his first points of the 2016 season in Sochi, with the opening three races of the year falling somewhat short of both the team and drivers expectations.

Early indications suggest similar weather conditions for the 2016 running of the Russian Grand Prix to previous years despite the race moving from October to April. This should suit the supersoft tyre compound with which Mclaren have performed strongly this season.

Formula One: Red Bull Racing go agressive in Sochi

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Pirelli have published driver tyre selection compounds for the Russian Grand Prix revealing an that both Red Bull Racing and Haas F1 team duo have allocated 10 of the 13 sets availble to the super soft compound. In electing to take only one set of medium and two sets of the soft compound both teams are anticipating a race strategy with a high number of pit stops.

2016 sees the Russian Grand Prix move from October to May, with the move warmer temperatures are expected for the race weekend. This will likely impact the operating window of each tyre compound with the warmer temperatures lending themseleves towards a softer compound selection.

Conversely to Red Bull Racing, Ferrari have split their allocation evenly between the soft and super soft, Mercedes too have opted for a more conservative strategy approach leaving options open ahead of the weekend.

You can view driver tyre selection for the Russian GP in full here:

RUS Tyres. The 2015 Russian Grand Prix demonstrated overtaking is a possible around the circuit, but with

Formula One: Unnecessary Risk?

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Nico Rosberg will start the Chinese Grand Prix tomorrow from pole position having set pole an incredible 0.5 seconds faster than his closest rival. Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo will line up second on the grid, with the Scuderia Ferrari duo lining up on the second row.  Lewis Hamilton will start from either the back of the grid or the pitlane with MGU-H issues curtailing his qualifying session and likely forcing the team to introduce his second power unit of the season significantly earlier than planned. Something which could cause a headache for the team later in the year.

With Formula One returning the 2015 qualifying procedure for the Chinese Grand Prix, regulations around tyre selection have also returned. One such regulation is that drivers progressing into Q3 must start the race on tyres they set their fastest lap on in Q2. Intriguingly in Q2, the Mercedes team elected to send Nico Rosberg out on Soft compound tyres, despite all other contenders electing to set times on the Super Soft. The rationale for this decision within the session proved logical with Nico setting the fastest time in the session despite running a harder compound tyre. However with heavy rain preceding the event and cooler temperatures than were seen on Friday and are forecast for the race, the impact of tyre compounds had been marginalised.

This decision forces Nico Rosberg to start tomorrow’s race on a tyre compound which is known to be slower than every car around him. Whilst the performance of the Mercedes W07 suggests a significant advantage over the field, there is a growing belief that that aerodynamic efficiency of the car creates challenges for drivers when dealing with traffic. With Nico Rosberg’s likely title contender Lewis Hamilton starting at the back of the grid, and with  Mercedes struggling to consistently optimise start line performance in the opening races of the 2016 season, why did Mercedes make this call?  Nico could have elected to run Super Soft tyre in Q2 along with every other car in the top ten and in so doing have taken a considered and calculated approach to the race, mirroring or reacting to the strategy of those around them. In starting on the Soft tyre compound this is no longer an option.

Should Nico fall behind the Ferrari’s or Red Bull around him, spending his opening stint on a suboptimal tyre possibly 0.8’s per lap slower could  damage the team’s prospects of securing victory in China. Question marks over the longevity of the Super Soft tyre seem somewhat unwarranted with the soft tyre compound having lasted only 6 laps long in Free Practice stints.

Such a strategy call suggest that either the team have a genuine concern over the race pace of Ferrari, or locked themselves into a strategy ahead of the session and choose not to respond to Hamilton falling out of the process.

Pirelli commented on the strategy call

“Tyre wear and degradation in China is traditionally high, so the optimal strategy should theoretically be a three-stopper: start on the supersoft and then change to the soft on laps 11, 26 and 41. An alternative strategy (Rosberg, for example) would be to start the race on soft, run soft for the majority of the race (changing around lap 16 and 31), and then put on the supersoft for the final stint around lap 46. Am S/S/S/Mediuum strategy looks interesting but slightly slower.”

The Chinese Grand Prix has all the makings of a classic Grand Prix.

Formula One: Mclaren go agressive in Shanghai

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Pirelli have released tyre compound selections from drivers for the Chinese Grand Prix later this month and revealed an aggressive choice from Mclaren drivers Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso.

Mclaren, along with Williams and Haas have elected to take 7 sets of the Super Soft compound to Shanghai, suggesting a likely 3 stop strategy for these teams. Shanghai  traditionally plays host to one of the cooler races of the season with teams often struggling with tyre temperature. Soft compound tyres will serve to counter act this issue, although the higher wear rate of the tyres may minimise any total race performance gain.

The Haas F1 team demonstrated in Bahrain at the weekend how a strategy focusing on soft tyre performance can work in the favour of the driver and deliver high quality on track entertainment for fans. We should expect a similar performance from both Mclaren, Williams and the American team in China.

2016 will be the first year in which Pirelli bring the super soft compound to China. It is noteworthy that all teams appear to focus on the softest compound available under the new tyre regulations. With softer compound tyres available we can expect to see lap records being challenged during qualifying as we saw in Bahrain.

Should Alonso be unable to participate in the Chinese Grand Prix Stoffel Vandoorne will again step in, he will be supplied with the tyre compound selection Fernando Alonso and the team made earlier in the year.

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Formula One: Excessive Tyre wear thwart’s Hamilton’s chances

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Mercedes AMG Petronas have confirmed excessive tyre wear on the medium compound tyre prevented Lewis Hamilton from challenging for the win at the Bahrain Grand Prix. Following a difficult start in which Hamilton’s W07 again struggled to get away from the line, Valtteri Bottas made contact with the Brit as he approached the first corner.

Whilst the severity of the impact was not sufficient to retire the car, Hamilton lost several positions and Mercedes estimate that the loss of downforce due to damage to the floor and sidepod may have cost Hamilton up to 1 second per lap in performance. In a bid to recover from this early misfortune, Lewis and the Mercedes team attempted to switch from a planned 3 stop strategy to a 2 stop. To achieve this Mercedes fit Lewis’ only set of Medium compound tyres available for the race weekend on lap 13 of the race, on the same lap as Rosberg fitting soft compound tyres and one lap later than Raikkonen who also switched to the soft compound tyres.

Unfortunately this gamble did not pay off for Lewis, with his performance on the harder compound tyre relative to his immediate competitors unlikely to be sufficient to improve his overall finishing position. On lap 28 Lewis stopped again, this time fitting a set of worn super soft tyres, thus reverting to a 3 stop strategy making his final stop for soft compound tyres on lap 41.  Had the 2 stop strategy been successful with Lewis maintaining the gap to his teammate after the first round of pitstops he could have saved a total of 24 seconds, the time lost in a pitstop, which could have delivered a finishing position ahead of Raikkonen in second and may have lead to a challenge for the lead overall.

On the strategy call Paddy Lowe, Executive Director (Technical), commented:

“We decided to try something different to get him [Lewis] past by taking the medium tyre and targeting a two stop strategy. Initially this looked promising, as he was gaining on Kimi despite running a slower compound after the first stops. However, it soon became apparent that the medium was degrading as badly as the soft, so that strategy unfortunately began to unwind quite quickly. We therefore converted him back to a three stop – but of course Ferrari shadowed and we then had to cover that in turn with Nico. At that point, with all three cars on the same tyres, we had to just hold position to the end”

Formula One: Pirelli confirm Monaco tyre compounds

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Pirelli will bring the following three compounds to the sixth round of the 2016 Formula One season in Monaco*, to be held (May 26-29) on the street circuit in Montecarlo:
P Zero Yellow soft
P Zero Red supersoft
P Zero Purple ultrasoft (at its GP debut)

These are the tyres that Pirelli has said must be used at some point in the race:
One set of P Zero Yellow soft
One set of P Zero Red supersoft.

Each driver must have both these sets available for the race, and must use at least one of them.

There are the tyres assigned for Q3 in qualifying:
One set of P Zero Purple ultrasoft

Following the regulations, each driver must save for Q3 one set of the softest of the three nominated compounds. This set will be given back to Pirelli after Q3 for those who qualify in the top 8, but the remaining drivers will keep it for the race – as is the case currently.

The teams are free to choose the remaining sets; making up 13 sets in total for the weekend.

Formula One: Ferrari & Williams avoid soft tyre in Bahrain

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The FIA has communicated to Pirelli each team’s tyre choices for the forthcoming Bahrain Grand Prix.  It is important to note that driver choices on tyre selection for the early rounds of the championship were made before pre-season testing.

As you may expect in the second round of the championship teams have tending to make the same tyre selection for both drivers. With only Sauber and Haas F1 electing to vary the weighting of tyre choice between drivers.

Both Scuderia Ferrari and Williams have weighted tyre selection away from the soft compound  opting to focus on the medium tyre (hardest available) and the super soft. This suggests both teams will maintain an aggressive approach to race strategy, with multiple stints on the super soft likely.

Mercedes have elected to take only a single set of the medium compound tyre to the race weekend, which may suggest they don’t intend to use the compound. However, Lewis took took only one set of the medium compound to Australia then used it for the majority of the race distance.

It should also be noted qualifying regulations are not resolved at the time of driver tyre selction.

 

Formula One: Top six Drivers use five different strategies

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Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg won the first race of the new 2016 tyre regulations, with three compounds available per race and teams allowed a large element of choice in their allocations. Eight drivers used all three compounds available, in a race that was characterised by a red flag stoppage after 18 laps. A variety of strategic choices – which was the intention of the new regulations – were possible at the re-start, with Mercedes and Ferrari notably opting for opposite tactics. Nonetheless, the top three were separated by less than 10 seconds at the finish: underlining the closeness of the competition under the latest tyre rules.

Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director: “The grand prix started and ended with a tactical tyre battle, but a red flag after 18 laps reset the race, giving it a very different complexion with tyre changes allowed. After starting with the same used supersoft compounds, Ferrari and Mercedes chose opposite strategies in the second part of the race, with Mercedes running two-thirds of the total distance on the medium tyre but closely challenged by Vettel on the soft. This goes to show how the new regulations have helped to open up a number of different approaches to strategy, with nine of the 16 finishers taking advantage of all three compounds on offer and five completely different strategies covering the top six places. As well as the expected battle at the front, Romain Grosjean finished an excellent sixth for the Haas team on its debut by effectively not making a pit stop at all: instead swapping from soft to medium during the restart, which was an inspired decision. The same strategy was used by Valtteri Bottas”.

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