3 tire compounds chosen for this weekends race. Each tire has 3 or 4 variants and these have been chosen by Pirelli for this particular race. Tire choices will become more and more important and I will try and explain why further in the post.
This weekend sees the Brazilian Grand Prix at San Palo and one would think a two week break would have done the teams some good. Unfortunately it never ends as development doesn't stand still and it was the turn of the McLaren team to get to grips with the new 18 inch tires for the 2021 season. They weren't playing with the current car, but more importantly working on things that are over 18 months away.
McLaren spent 2 days at the Paul Ricard track in France last week and all that is running through my head is how are any teams supposed to stay in the proposed new budget. There must be nearly 100 people who all need flights and accommodation which is not cheap and then they all go to Sao Palo in Brazil. Tough life and I suppose someone has to do it.
You may wonder why they are doing so much testing now and it is not only the teams and drivers but Pirelli the tire manufacturer has to tick some boxes first. The FIA has banned tire warming blankets from 2021 which currently keep the tires at around 80 degrees. Having the tires warm allows for a sticky type of grip which aids with the traction allowing cars to hold the corners at high speeds.
Pirelli have to produce and develop a tire that will grip immediately from the pits so anywhere around the 10 to 20 degrees Celsius mark compared to the 60 to 80 mark currently on offer. Currently a cold tire gives a glassy effect and there is very little grip which is a safety issue.
The FIA wants the tire performance to reflect time differences per lap according to what tire is chosen by that team. At the moment we have 3 tires which are soft,medium and hard which if chosen correctly by a team can give them the edge. For instance certain drivers are capable of preserving the life in the tires for longer and some even drive through the drop off area and then finding increased performance again.
The FIA doesn't want that and wants to see the faster soft tire actually show faster times but also have a drop off in time the longer it is used. For example if the lifespan is 10 -12 laps the FIA would like to see performance levels drop off by around 2 seconds per lap forcing the teams to change to another tire variant. The soft tire should be 2 seconds a lap quicker though right from the start. Hard tires are expected to last about 20 laps and medium 16 laps before there is a drop off in performance.
Maybe the only advantage will be how quick you can do your pit stop. red Bull leads the charts on this with a 1.8 second stop.
This tells us a few things going forward. The FIA wants more pit stops and more strategies around the tire usage. Currently a team can get away with one or two tire changes per race but now on a 70 lap race we will see 3 or possibly 4 pit stops. I still think certain drivers will be able to do one less pit stop than the others through their driving style and we will have to wait and see.
Someone like Hamilton or a Riccardo seem to get a lot more laps out of their tires than the other drivers around them they are trying to block them. I say that as the electronic adjusted suspension systems are going back to a manual setting which I feel will still keep the better drivers who look after their tires ahead of the rest. I just see the FIA is trying to make everyone the same taking away any advantages certain drivers may have over the others and that is not good and fair in my view.