Pirelli have launched their tyre range for the 2018 season of the Formula 1. The sports exclusive tyre manufacturer announced the full set of 7 tyre options at Abu Dhabi, where the teams are preparing for the last round of the season. Brand new new year is two new compounds (and colours). Tyres have been a fair contentious parts of the sport in recent times with the pressure on the contact patch to contribute to enable competitive, exciting racing.
One of the key elements of the sport is tyre degradation which when done right will force the teams to pit and mix up the race positions. Choosing the right compound at the right time of the race could be the difference between winning and loosing, it really is that important. In 2017 the tyres went wide, really wide to increase the mechanical grip of the car and that has proved successful with lap records falling at almost every track this year.
Tyres are typically a sliding scale, the softer they are, the more grip (and faster) they are, but they degrade faster, meaning you get to use them for fewer laps than harder compounds. Pirelli are pushing further in soft direction with a new pink striped ‘hypersoft’ and in the other direction with a new orange striped ‘superhard’.
Introducing new tyres is always a risky prospect. Its not until the first round of the season (Australia) where we’ll know how the new tyres and new vehicle upgrades combine, along with new team strategies. The hypersoft is a no brainer, that should provide an almost DRS-type boost to lap times, making more passing opportunities, something fans love. If the compound isn’t stable enough, or we see teams push the boundaries of pressures, and tyre life, we could see failures.
In the case of the hardest compound, its possible we continue to see 1-stop races. This new Superhard could potentially make it the entire race without the need to stop for new rubber, meaning the only reason to stop is due to the requirements in the rule book. At least a couple of stops per race would be beneficial to the fan experience both at the track and the millions watching at home. More stops equals teamwork, strategy (armed with technology) to make the right call on precisely which lap to pit on. This makes Formula 1 more of a team sport than an individual driver accolade.
Selecting the right tyre for the right track is equally important and something teams will continue to nominate ahead of each round.
Pirelli’s Head of Car Racing, Mario Isola said,
“We realised that, under the unique circumstances of this year, some of our 2017 compounds were perhaps conservative. The tyres we have created for 2018 addresses this, in line with the objective of having around two pit stops at most races.
However, the fundamental design concept of the tyres hasn’t changed next year, preserving the attributes that all drivers have appreciated this year and allowing them to push hard from the start to the finish of each stint. The new range consists of faster tyres that should lead to even harder and more spectacular racing in 2018.”
Formula 1 drivers will get their first chance to try the new compounds next week, during a post-race test in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday and Wednesday.