Tag Archives: tyres

Heidfeld to test Pirelli F1 tyres

Nick Heidfeld has been reportedly hired to test out Pirelli’s F1 tyres for next year, starting with a 3-day test on Monday. The Mercedes GP test and reserve driver will be the first driver to try out and improve the tyres that will be supplied to the entire F1 grid starting next year.

It is believed that he will be driving the Toyota TF109, which is the car that Toyota used in the 2009 season, and also the one that will be soon taken apart and sold to a new team. While the test has not yet been conformed by Pirelli, it is believed that it will take place at Ferrari’s Mugello circuit.

Newspapers AS and Bild have previously reported this story, but now it is almost certain to be announced soon. Also, there are unconfirmed rumours that there will be 5 more tests this year with Heidfeld, not including the upcoming one at Mugello.


Pirelli announced as F1 tyre supplier for 2011

Pirelli has been confirmed as F1 tyre supplier for 2011 onwards

Pirelli has been confirmed as F1 tyre supplier for 2011 onwards

It has finally been announced by the FIA today that Italian company Pirelli will be the tyre manufacturer and supplier for all Formula 1 teams from 2011 onwards. This is after the company have had a 20-year absence in the sport. It is unclear at the moment if they will introduce 18-inch wheels.

Pirelli defeated competition from Michelin, and a brief attempt from Cooper Avon, to get the contract. It was always a 2-way battle between Michelin and Pirelli, although the main difference between the two was track sponsorship. Unlike Pirelli, Michelin would put up trackside advertising for themselves at tracks, and a share of the profits would go to the 13 teams.

However, they had also made certain demands, such as having a fellow competitor for tyres in the sport, something the teams were not keen on. Seeing as Pirelli were essentially no-strings attached, the FIA have today announced that they will be the company that wins the 3-year contract:

"Pirelli has been selected as the single tyre supplier for the FIA 
Formula One World Championship for a period of three years, 
commencing in 2011. The sole supplier will undertake to strictly 
respect the sporting and technical regulations implemented by the 

Pirelli last competed in Formula 1, when they supplied Tyrrell, Brabham, Dallara and Benneton, while all of the other teams ran on Goodyear tyres. Their last win came in 1991, when Nelson Piquet won the Canadian Grand Prix.

Back in the 1950’s, Pirelli were the dominant force in Formula 1, winning 5 championships in the first 10 years (2 of these were when the constructor used 2 tyre suppliers).

It is good to see that this tyre saga is finally over, and there are more announcements from the FIA to be written about, while will be up soon.

Extreme gap in tyre compounds for German GP

Bridgestone F1 tyres

Bridgestone F1 tyres

Bridgestone have announced that they are to bring a 2-step gap in the tyre compounds in the tyres that they will bring to the German Grand Prix, in an effort to mix up tyre strategies. Following the Canadian GP, the Japanese company had said that they would be more radical with their tyre compound choices.

For the race in Hockenheim, Bridgestone are to bring the super-soft and hard tyres, meaning that there will be a 2-step difference in tyre compounds, the first time that this has been done this season. Hirohide Hamashima, Bridgestone’s head of motorsport tyre development, said that the characteristics of the Hockenheim circuit allowed this extreme tyre variation to go ahead.

However, for the next 4 races after this, there will only be 1 gap between tyre compounds. In Hungary, the super-softs and mediums will be used, and similarly for Singapore. The soft and hard tyres will be used for Belgium and Italy.. Hamashima explained these choices:

"The Hungaroring requires a softer allocation as finding grip is 
always a target there. Spa and Monza are high speed tests for 
cars and tyres, needing a harder allocation because of the heat 
durability requirements. Singapore is a high-speed street course 
where the softer allocation is suited."

Personally, I think that a 2-step difference is dangerous, as performance in the cars will vary wildly across the race. What do you think? Is this a step too far to “improve the show”, or is a simple and effective way of spicing up the racing?

Pirelli set to announce F1 2011 tyre deal

Pirelli is about to be confirmed as the F1 tyre supplier from 2011 onwards

Pirelli is about to be confirmed as the F1 tyre supplier from 2011 onwards

According to the Italain media, tyre manufacturer Pirelli are set to announce that they are to supply tyres to the Formula 1 grid from 2011 onwards.

While Cooper Avon and Michelin were also in the running, both companies had their disadvatages. Cooper Avon did not have commercial beneifts, while Michelin’s offer came with very pushy strings attached. So, in that sense, I think Pirelli was the best decicion.

The deal is reported to pay Pirelli €1m from every team per year, on a 3-year contract. Throughout the season, they will provide 3 compounds of tyre – soft, medium and hard.These 3 compounds will be available at every single race for the season, which in my opinion is too confusing for the fans to follow during races.

Also, it is possible that the Milan-based company would supply tyres to GP2 and GP3 teams as well, but this is currently unconfirmed. More on this news soon.

FOTA narrows down choices to Pirelli and Michelin

Folowing another FOTA (Formula 1 Teams Association) meeting after the Monaco Grand Prix, it has been revealed that the teams have narrowed their choice for 2011 tyre supplier to Pirelli and Michelin.

Prior to this meeting, many other companies were in the running, such as Cooper Avon and Kumho. However, according to Stefano Domenicali, only two option now remain. He stated:

"No decision has been taken yet. I think, give it another week and
maybe by next weekend we will have found a solution.

There are now only two possibilities, though - Michelin and Pirelli.
I don't see any other option."

Their decicion was supposed to be made this weekend, but an agreement has not yet been reached. Eric Boullier has said that a decicion must be made by the next race in Turkey in two weeks time:

"It has to be, because I think there is a technical issue that if 
we wait too late then nothing will be ready for next year. It has 
to be done by Turkey."

So far, we are not sure about which supplier the teams are tipping towards. Pirelli do not bring as many terms and conditions, althoug Michelin have technical and commercial benefits that Pirelli do not. The main problem with Michelin, it seems, is that they are insisting on having a rival supplier, something many feel is not appropriate in F1 at this time.

Over the Monaco GP weekend, Pirelli may have been the favourite, although that could well change by Turkey. Personally, I would prefer the Italian company, as Michelin bring too many conditions to convince me. But, as we know, commercial interests often win in Formula 1.

Pirelli considering F1 return, but wants 18-inch wheels

Italian manufacturer Pirelli is considering a return to F1

Italian manufacturer Pirelli is considering a return to F1

Italian tyre manufacturer Pirelli has joined the race to supply tyres to the F1 grid from next year onwards. As Bridgestone are leaving at the end of this year, both Michelin and Cooper Avon have already started negotiations to take the Japanese company’s place.

Pirelli have competed in 203 Grands Prix across Formula 1 history, and have the privelige of supplying tyres to the first ever Grand Prix winner (Alfa Romeo) at the 1950 British Grand Prix.

There were similar rumours about Pirelli in 2006, when they were tipped to return to F1. However, back then, the company said that they wanted to focus their attention on road-going tyres, rather than racing tyres. Their statement back then was as follows:

"Pirelli's previous position on F1 hasn't changed. Pirelli prefers 
to develop tyres for racing that will also be used on the road. 
Pirelli sponsors Superbikes, the World Rally Championship and GT2."

However, quotes from  Marco Tronchetti, Chairman of Pirelli, would suggest that Pirelli are now revisiting the idea of returning to F1, as long as certain criteria are met. It is believed that one of their conditions is that F1 wheels would be increased from 13 to 18 inches. This has already been voiced by Michelin, as they want Formula 1 tyres to be more related to their road-going counterparts.

This is something I support quite a lot, as F1 needs to make its technology more relatable to road cars. After the failure of KERS last year, tyres need to be used by Formula 1 to promote road-going technology.

Cooper Avon in negotiations for tyre supply in 2011

It has emerged that Cooper Avon is in negotiation with FOTA about supplying tyres for next season, despite the fact that a provisional deal appears to already have been agreed with Michelin in principle.

For a tyre supplier to be allowed into F1, they need the unanimous support of the teams (FOTA), Bernie Ecclestone and the FIA. Michelin are currently looking for a chance to supply tyres in F1 again, but with certain conditions. They want at least one other manufacturer to battle with, and it is believed that they want 18-inch wheels on the cars instead of 13-inch wheels at the moment.

It has been reported that Bernie Ecclestone is not in favour of a deal with Michelin, possibly because of the conditions attached, and that he wants a different manufacturer instead. It is possibele that Cooper Avon would be able to use former Bridgestone employees to service the tyres, and ensure they are up to F1 standard.

It is currently unknown what FOTA’s stance on the situation is, as they are currently in negotiation with Cooper Avon, and they have provisionally agreed a deal with Michelin, so they may want both manufacturers in the sport next year.

A meeting with Bernie Ecclestone has been orgainised with FOTA representatives at the Chinese Grand Prix on Sunday, as he has not yet told the teams what he wants to do for 2011. FOTA appear to want to know what tyres they will be using next year by the Spanish Grand Prix.

I’m not yet sure who I would prefer to see supply tyres next year. As we have already seen, tyres are critical this year, and that would tip toward Michelin, as they have plenty of recent Formula 1 experience, up to 2006. While Cooper Avon can get former Bridgestone employees to work with them, I still think Michelin would be easier.

But, the French company has brought their own conditions, something which has not impressed Bernie Ecclestone. At first, wanting another manufacturer looked like it could be possible, but asking for 18-inch wheels as well is asking for quite a bit. Having said that, I still think they will get a supply contract next year, possibly with Cooper Avon competing against them.

Michelin refuses to be sole supplier of tyres in F1

Michelin F1 tyres

Michelin F1 tyres

The French tyre manufacturer Michelin has reitered its stance on a possible return to supplying tyres to Formula 1 teams next year, saying that it will not enter if it is the sole supplier.

At the moment, the FIA are on the lookout for a new tyre supplier, as Bridgestone will be pulling out at the end of the year. Having been a supplier of tyres from 2001 to 2006, Michelin were initially touted as a possible replacement. However, they have stressed that they will not return as a sole supplier, says a Michelin spokesman:

"We are interested in but it must be done in the right way, so 
who knows what will happens.

Certain things have to be done. We must have competition - we do 
not want to be the only supplier. Also, we need to be able to use
the opportunity of having competition to improve our tyre 
technology; for example, our new Pilot 3 road tyres have technology 
developed for Le Mans in them. We need something like this from 
Formula 1 too.

Finally, it must have the possibility to improve the greenness; 
perhaps we would like something like the Green X Challenge in F1 
something to help ecology."

First of all, let’s ask, why would Michelin want competition? This is mainly because their new objectives are to promote environmentally friendly tyres. By gaining access back into F1, Michelin would obviously want to promote tyre technology, which they would then put on their road-going tyres, like they did with the Pilot 3 tyres that they mentioned.

So they want to save the planet? Simple solution: reduce the amount of tyres that are used. Again, doing this is simple:  just bring back the old “one set of tyres per race” rule from 2005. Sure, there were problems, mainly Kimi Raikkonen’s problems, but sufficient technology should sort that out. Again, innovations in tyre technology can be put onto the road in this case. If you can develop a tyre that can provide sufficient grid for an entire F1 race, then this could be used to promote their road-going division.

The probable reason why Michelin want a second supplier is that they can beat them with better technology. If a company like Avon or Goodyear come into F1, then get slaughtered by Michelin, it would do wonders for Michelin’s reputation. Of course, the French company would still have a lot to do, after what happened in Indianapolis 2005. We won’t forget that in a hurry.

Bridgestone announce tyre compounds for next 4 races

Bridgestone tyres

Bridgestone tyres

Bridgestone have announced the tyre compounds that they will bring to the next 4 races after Australia and Malaysia.

For all of these 4 Grands Prix, there will be one compound step in between the two that are brought. In the cases of China, Spain and Turkey, Bridgestone will be supplying hard and soft compounds. However, for the first time, the cars in Monaco will use the medium tyres, as well as the super-softs.

Clearly by putting in a compound step, Bridgestone are trying to increase the difference in performance between the two tyres, and thereby improve the racing. The problem lies in that the harder of the two tyre compounds can mostly be used for a large portion of the race, without dangerous amounts of wear.

There are two main solutions here. One, suggested by many, is to make the harder tyres less durable, so there would be more of a variety in tyre strategy. This makes sense in theory, but it is a monumental waste of tyres when you consider that Bridgestone are trying to be environmentally friendly.

The other solution, one that I think would be much better, is to bring in the old 2005 rule of using one set of tyres for the entire race. This would significantly improve Formula 1’s environmental record, as well as clear up the problem of changes in car performance across the race because of tyre compounds. Of course, a pit stop would be available for an instance of extreme and dangerous tyre wear.

Here is the table for tyre compounds used already, and for the next few races:

Race 2009 compounds 2010 compounds
Bahrain Medium/Super-soft Medium/Super-soft
Australia Medium/Super-soft Hard/Soft
Malaysia Hard/Soft Hard/Soft
China Medium/Super-soft Hard/Soft
Spain Hard/Soft Hard/Soft
Monaco Medium/Super-soft Medium/Super-soft
Turkey Hard/Soft Hard/Soft

Large advantage to Sauber because of tyre managment

Sauber's biggest advantage could well be in their tyre managment

Sauber's biggest advantage could well be in their tyre managment

Only an hour ago, I was talking about how tyre managment was going to be a serious issue in Bahrain. Now, Bridgestone claim that Sauber could well be a thorn in the side of the “big four” teams, because they are so good at managing their tyres.

Sauber were already showing great pace in pre-season testing, and now news has been released saying that the team suffers less tyre degradation than Ferrari, Red Bull, Mercedes and McLaren. Hirohide Hamashima, Bridgestone’s director of motorsport tyre development, says that Sauber is different to the other teams:

"We have compared many teams' data and looking at the quick [four]
teams – their degradation tendency is very, very similar. Once they
have the 150kg start weight, with both the medium and soft compound,
then there is little difference – so we could expect a very close
pace. However, Sauber is more consistent."

There are two tactical advantages that Sauber can take from this. The first is more obvious, in that they can use the softer compund of tyres for longer distances than anyone else, and get a huge boost from this. In Bahrain, it is well known that the medium tyre is much worse than the super-soft, so Sauber can now benefit by being on the super-softs for longer without having to pit early.

The second is made in qualifying. In 2010, there is a new rule stating that the top 10 cars have to start the race with the tyres they set their fastest Q3 lap on. This will mean a mix of teams running the medium, who will be slower but will last longer into the race, or teams who run the super-soft, qualify well, andn then are forced to pit early. Now though, Sauber can confidently qualify with the super-soft tyre, and still be able to run a long distance with them. By my figuring, the optimum strategy for them would be to run the super-soft tyres for the first two stints, then the medium for the last stint. This would mean that they can keep up in terms of performance, and still run longer on better managed tyres.

BMW Sauber’s technical chief Willy Rampf has acknowledged that their tyre managment is one of their strong points:

"The car doesn't have any stability problems, and its performance 
and balance on high fuel loads is a strong point. We will build on 
this – it's a very good thing. Our car is not too heavy on its tyres, 
so we can do reasonable long stints without killing them.

That will help keep the strategies more flexible, if you're not 
forced to stop by tyre wear."

Last year, if you remember, Jenson Button won in Monaco, primarily because he was so good at managing the softer tyre, which degraded too quickly for the other teams and drivers, most notably Sebastian Vettel. This same scenario may well happen again in 2010.