F1 tires play a vital role in how a team completes its weekend runs, with Pirelli having been Formula 1’s sole tire supplier since 2011.
In addition to the cars themselves, significant changes were made to the tires in Formula 1 when Pirelli changed their construction from 13-inch to 18-inch wheels, after thousands of miles of testing, over 5000 hours of simulations and cycling through over 70 prototypes to create their new compounds.
F1 tires are an important topic of conversation during any race weekend, given their importance to race strategy and how each team goes about using their allocations:
F1 tires: what compounds are used?
Pirelli will add a sixth dry tire compound to its ranks in 2023, creating a new C1 and making the previous C1 known as the C0.
The range now goes from the C0 band, which is the hardest, to the C5, which is the softest.
During each race weekend, Pirelli will nominate three of its compounds to go to each race, based on the circuit and predicted relegation rate. wear circuits like Suzuka and Silverstone.
The selected F1 tires are then classified into three categories:
Soft (red): The fastest tire over one lap, but the least durable – the best for qualifying.
Medium (yellow): The ‘intermediate tyre’ that balances speed and durability, which is often beneficial in the first stint of a race.
Hard (white): The most durable of the three compounds available, but offers the least grip for single-lap pace – best for race strategy options.
In addition, there are also two rain tire options available during each race weekend, and the softness of their compound does not change throughout the year:
Intermediate: Partly grooved with tread to clear small standing water and navigate on slippery road surfaces.
Wet: Marked with a deeper tread to work in the toughest, wettest riding conditions.
What are the basic rules around F1 tires on race weekends?
Once Pirelli has confirmed its choice of tires for race weekends, teams will select up to 13 sets of dry tires for use over the course of the weekend, although there are rules for some sets.
During a dry race, drivers must use at least two different dry compounds, effectively forcing each driver to pit at least one time during the race. However, this rule does not apply in wet conditions.
The teams also have to return two sets after each free practice, making a total of seven available for qualifying and the race, one of which is a set of soft tires to keep aside for use in Q3.
Those who make it to Q3 will then have to return that set of soft tyres, leaving six sets for the race, while the bottom 10 qualifiers will have that fresh set of soft tires available for the race, if they choose to use it.
Four sets of intermediates and three sets of wets are also available to each driver on each race weekend.
Tires are also not allowed to be shared between drivers, meaning teams are not allowed to take unused fresh tires from one driver to tactically give to another.
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F1 tyres: what are tire covers and how do they work?
Tire blankets are used over the F1 tires while they are in the garage or on the grid to keep them warm for when the drivers take to the track, meaning they can get into their proper working window more quickly and thus perform close to their target . optimal potential from the start.
However, Formula 1 wants to ban tire blankets in 2024, given the push for a more sustainable sport and pointing to the energy they use to warm up.
After dropping from an overall temperature of 100°C (212°F) to 70°C (158°F), F1 planned to drop it further to 50°C (122°F) in 2023, but teams and drivers fought back against the idea on safety grounds – with Pirelli considering redesigning their tires for 2024 to warm up quickly without the need for blankets.
As a compromise, teams will be allowed to reheat their tires to a maximum of 70°C before 2023, but only a maximum of two hours before a session instead of the previous three hours, to save energy.