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Pirelli promises a “revolution” in F1 tyres: more pit stops for 2013
Posted By: James Allen  |  23 Jan 2013   |  12:18 pm GMT  |  174 comments

Pirelli is hosting a press conference at its base in Milan this morning, laying out plans for the 2013 season and it is claiming a half second a lap improvement in performance over 2012.

And the company president said that Pirelli intends to renew the contract with F1 after it expires in December and that he is “confident” it will happen.

In Formula 1 it promises “a revolution” with tyres featuring new softer compounds and constructions which will suffer more thermal degradation than last years’, forcing the teams to make two stops as a minimum and “increasing the overtaking opportunities and so helping to provide an even better show”.

Pirelli claims that the softer compounds will mean that performance is improved by 0.5s per lap, while from a strategy point of view the gap between the two compounds selected for each round will be at least half a second, in order to widen the race strategy options and speed differentials at various stages of the race.

When Pirelli brought 2013 development tyres to Brazil last November, the track temperature was exceptionally hot so teams were not able to learn much other than the fact that these new tyres will clearly warm up more quickly for a single qualifying lap, which is good news for the more stylised drivers like Jenson Button. The development tyres featured the 2013 construction, but not the softer compounds, so the Jerez test will be the first occasion for teams to learn about the tyres.

F1 team engineers have suggested that the 2013 tyres might not be all that different from the 2012 ones, but the proof will come when the new cars start testing in two weeks time.

The tyres are two kilos per set heavier than last year’s, due to a change in the carcass in order to increase the footprint of the tyre. Extra support material is needed to avoid sidewall buckling. The larger footprint will increase braking stability.

The focus of the engineers has been on traction; more grip on the exit of the corner and the construction has been changed to mean that the wear is more spread out across the contact patch.

The hard and soft tyres are designed for a higher working temperature range, while the medium and supersoft are designed for use in lower temperatures.

But managing the thermal degradation in the early races will again be a first order consideration as it was in the early stages of 2012, before teams learned more about those tyres.

A small but crucial note is that the turn in for the 2013 tyres will be much sharper, which some drivers will have to adapt to. Also mid-corner there is more stability, so the drivers can get onto the power earlier.

On the question of whether the season would be more about conserving tyres rather than drivers being able to push to the limit, Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery said that there would be an element of that but that the lessons of 2012 had shown that the best drivers adapt to the tyres and are able to push, “It’s something the drivers are in control of, so it’s in their hands,” he said.

He also said that Pirelli is likely to retain its existing test drivers, Jaime Alguersuari and Lucas di Grassi.

And it was announced that the winner of the GP2 series will get a day of F1 tyre testing as part of his prize, to encourage the development of young drivers. He also noted that the teams are not asking for low-profile 18 inch tyres from 2014 onwards and was cautious on the idea.

To help out the audiences who struggled to tell the difference on TV between the hard and medium tyres, Pirelli has now colour coded the hard tyre with an orange sidewall.

Marco Tronchetti Provera, Pirelli president said, “Many things have changed but one thing that has not changed is passion and competition.

“The effort that has been made has improved the grip, so better performance. Also the effort has been made to make the sets closer in terms of performance to make it harder for the teams to choose the tyres. We’ve been asked to introduce more uncertainty. Last season by the end the drivers were able to keep the same tyres for most of the race.”

Provera said that Pirelli wishes to continue in F1 beyond the end of the current contract which expires in December. “We are confident,” he said.

He brushed off suggestions that producing tyres which last only 20 laps sends out the wrong signals about Pirelli’s road tyres, saying that making tyres which will last for 70 laps is easy, but to make tyres which challenge the teams is a much more complex technical exercise in the service of the show.

Former Ferrari F1 driver Jean Alesi was announced as a Pirelli brand ambassador, “To be back in such a company is a dream of a sportsman,” said Alesi, who raced in Pirellis with Tyrrell in his spectacular 1990 season. “I’m happy to be part of the team and I’m happy to follow what Pirelli will do.”

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With a focus on ultra-high performance tires, Pirelli Tire has managed to establish itself as an industry leader in terms of advanced design technology and superior quality.


Can’t understand why Pirelli is intent on making F1 the only “race” you win by being the slowest (to conserve tyres).

–has heart attack–

–bursts vein–

–kicks cat–

–dog runs for dear life!–


I really wish Pirelli would stop thinking they are part of F1 race craft rather than simply the wheels the cars drive on.

I’m tired of artificial racing created by funny tyres, DRS, outsize and hyper-ugly front wings etc.

Give us the good old days.


With little on track passing and the guy in the fastest car winning every race.


I wonder how the tyres are going to go in 2014 with the higher pick up of the new engines. Drivers could be begging for traction control.


I hate these tires. This is the most artificial part of F1. I think DRS is more real than the fake degrading Pirellis.

The 2014 rules make engines that are going to have tech transfer to the road. The Pirelli tires have nothing useful for road cars. Its sole purpose is to artificially create a circus show.

If I remember correctly, the most exciting races in 2012 was AbuDhabi and Brazil.

The drama in AbuDhabi came in the form of bad Mclaren reliability, screw ups from Renault engine, Vettel’s double comeback and cool radio chat.

The Brazil race drama was due to the year long rivalry built up from the two top drivers, rain and coming back from the bottom to win the driver’s championship.

Note on the two races, Pirelli provided stable tires.


Quite like the idea of increased number of pitstops (if it occurs).

I’d also like pitstops to be a bit more “complex” so that the difference between a good stop and a bad stop is more significant.

Now, if they had to change 5 wheel-nuts for each wheel instead of a centre-nut or if they were only allowed to have, say, six crew-members over the line at a given time, that would be interesting and definitely cause some “fun” !


so another year of drivers conserving tyres and not racing.

you know people always associate the pre pirelli era with no overtaking on the solid bridgestone tyres.

sorry, i dont call it genuine overtaking when 50% of the moves are DRS assisted, and the other 50% is due to drivers on different phases of tyre wear.

back in the day, it used to be thrilling edge of the seat stuff, watching 1 driver chase down another, lap after lap, putting them under intense pressure. Coming out the last fuel stop as the other driver came round the last corner. Maybe an overtake couldn’t be done, but Imola 05 or Imola 06 was far more exciting to me than anything i’ve seen in the last 2 years.

In this drive to make F1 more accessible and exciting to the casual viewer, it has completely dumbed down and neutered the sport, frankly.

Of course the best drivers/teams still win….because they have the best budgets! Not because they ‘somehow cleverly figured out the tyres better than the other team’. This argument that ‘they all have the same rules and equipment’ is absurd – F1 has never been a level playing field.

Ive been watching f1 since the age of 8, 94 season onwards, and 2012 was the first year i’d started to not bother watching some races live, even just watching highlights, even though I have the sky F1 channel.

Ive now started watching WRC again, it is truely exciting stuff where drivers are using all of their Driving skills. For me it is now better to watch and follow than F1.

These pirelli tyres were the final nail in the coffin for me.

I bet 100% this comment does not get published – can’t say anything bad about F1 can we?


Other than your jab at James, I agree with you about how racing was in the past.


You just got told by Mr Allen himself.


Correct jond, why bother watching exciting F1 when you can spend all your free time complaining about it?

James +1

Scuderia McLaren



Grow up

Adrian Newey Jnr

Perhaps to satisfy all the people who whine about “things being better in my day”, we should ask Pirelli to bring back cross-ply tyres!

Tornillo Amarillo

“…good news for the more stylised drivers like Jenson Button.”

Button, again? He’s a lucky man, oh dear! Just boring…


Interesting that so many people complain about tire degradation ruining the show by making drivers and teams conserve. No one seems bothered by teams turning down engine revs during the race to conserve engine life for future races. Nor does anyone seem to mind when drivers have to slow down to conserve fuel.

Racing is always a compromise between conservation and flat out speed. I am glad we have tire wear as a variable to mix things up.


Maybe Le Mans is more suitable for you then? For sure it promotes saving the car the last the distance. F1 shouldn’t be more Le Mans like, it’s about racing fast and to max.


Maybe drag racing would be more your liking. That is pretty much the only form of racing where the car and driver give it 100% for the entire race distance.

Over a 50-70 lap race there is always a trade-off between speed over the race distance vs. speed over a single lap. Fastest lap doesn’t always go to the winner, nor should it.


Maybe, but you never heard the drivers told by their engineers to save tyres. That’s the whole point which you failed to address in your response. Today’s races all you hear are save the tyres, nurse the tyres to finish (very evident in Monaco 2012). Now show me some vids from past races, as you say, Villeneuve, Senna and Schmacher where they had to save tyres and nurse them to finish).

There were more flat out racings in the past than there is today.

Senna, as you mentioned, watch Donington 1993 when did he had to save tyres?

Senna, Monaco 1988, he pushed like as if it’s his last race until he crashed. When did he save tyres? The only thing he failed to save was his car from over-pushing himself, but that has nothing to do with tyres.

Post 1993/94, all sorts of electronic gizmos came in and that helped a very young MSC to beating Senna at times. How was that related to saving tyres? All MSC had to do was just drive!

Prost v Senna, when did they save tyres during their fierce competition together?


There is a reason that the greats from Villenuve to Senna to Schumacher all had a reputation for being able to dig deep and run a group of qualifying laps in the middle of a race. It’s because they were managing the race prior to realizing that they needed to close/open a gap.

No driver runs 70 qualifying laps in a row. They would wreck or break the car. They pull back to 98% percent and aim for consistency. To finish first, first you must finish.


Or maybe you didn’t watch F1 from late 90s to mid 2000s?

Never back then I’ve heard cars had to manage tyres, or cruise to flag to make sure the tyres don’t blow up. It’s always been about racing to the flag, not nursing to the flag. There has never been this tradeoff between speed over race distance based on tyres until Pirelli was brought in. Even during the two-compound tyre rule on Bridgestone tyres, those tyres could last for an entire race as I remember Sauber once did one entire race on a single compound bar one lap where they changed after lap 1. So Le Mans fits your description rather than F1.


I’m going to go out on a limb and say that in the Bridgestone era, the only races that were always processional were the ones on poorly designed tracks (Bahrain and Abu dhabi for example). Incredibly relaible cars doesnt help too.

Give me tyres that can be pushed but after 10 laps or so begin to wear.

Good compromise.


we had no overtaking in the Bridgestone era is mainly due to the aerodynamic characterictics of the cars, which did’t allow the car behind follow closely to the car in front and position himself for a pass. Therefore passing was next to impossible but had nothing to do with durable tyres.


It’s very strange isn’t it, how nobody seems to be able to grasp this extremely *simple* concept?!


Really strange isn’t it, how nobody seems to be able to grasp this *simple* concept?!


James, given that these tyres are going to be sharper and help drivers put the power down mid corner and the likes, could we have an analysis on how it’d impact the current crop of drivers, given their own individual driving styles? Who’s the best suited for it as of now given these tyres?

Scuderia McLaren

I think the respective driving styles of Kimi Raikkonen and Jenson Button will be advantaged by the new character of tyres.

However, I await James Allen’s analysis.


Everyone said the same about Jenson when Pirelli was brought in, and also each season when Pirelli voices out saying less durable tyres etc.

Each time, even Paul H. said it’s Alonso who managed the tyres best of them all.

Scuderia McLaren

Yeah your right. I was referring to tyres heating up easier and having a more responsive turn in, less the degradation issues. But you make a good point. Button has been touted as standing to gain the most from tyre changes year on year. Never happens. Thanks for the reminder Kay.


Will do.


Thanks James! I’m looking forward to that


James, about the new engines being the performance differentiator, I worry that if, say, Renault are at a disadvantage and can’t afford the arms race to catch up, we would lose them and end up in a two horse race.


Unlikely. I’m sure the Renault will be good and they have lots of customers anyway…


I really enjoyed the U.S. Grand Prix at Austin due to the race long duel that occurred between Lewis and Sebastian. It was finally good to watch a race, whereas a change of position happened, not because of tires all of a sudden falling off a cliff.


It wasn’t tires. It was DRS. And that should be scrapped along with Pirelli’s nonsense. Engineer the best tire possible, rid the track of DRS, and force the drivers to battle it out wheel to wheel.


I don’t mind DRS, I just think drivers should be able to activate it whenever they want.


Just great.

Yet *another season of listening to ppl whine about the tires.


Look at the positives, I think it’s going to be a very close season with some exceptional drivers pushing each other to the limits.


Looking after tyres and can’t push yourself fully to race someone in front is hardly ‘pushing’ or ‘close racing’.

It’s like footballers have have rubber shoes that easily crumple if they aren’t careful, so they have to tread carefully and not kick the ball too hard.

How’s that pushing or exciting?


I just don’t see it James. Making a lop-sided football makes the game more interesting, but you don’t find out who’s the best. I guess I’m missing something if the industry pros call this a “revolution.”


Pirelli call it a revolution, that’s why the word is in inverted commas


Just not on the track!


Well said.

Hopefully the hype of even closer racing in 2013 is lived up to, as I do fear the the new engines, oops sorry power units, ICE and ERS, in 2014 will stratify the results with one manufacturers units being significantly better than the other two…



I just don’t get how engineering a product to be worse improves the sport. It would also be super exciting if control arms were extremely brittle and shattered unpredictably, but that’s not racing. I don’t watch to see pit stops and economic driving. I watch to see the to-the-limit driving every lap. I’m tired of the Pirelli name and of Paul Hembery’s face.


here here.

Mark Webber said it best in a press conference early on in the season, talking about how they were essentially doing qualifying pace in the refuelling era.

Who would not want to see that again? To know that the drivers are 100% pushing, for the entire race.

I just cannot understand how people can be enjoying this lemans type tyre conservation ‘racing’. I truely cannot get my head around it.

If one likes to watch the best drivers in the world racing, surely one likes to watch them doing their core skill to the very best of their ability?


Since when was Formula 1 the pinnacle of technology ? 😛


since when it wasn’t?


I wish they would make super-super soft for Monaco. They should basically be quali tyres.

They also know that the circuits at the back end of the season have smooth surfaces, thus needing softer tyres, but I think they are scared of being accused of manipulating the championships, so are too conservative.


If all tyre allocations were confirmed for all races at the beginning of the season there could be no possible grounds for these claims of manipulation. It is wrong that the current method of announcing tyre compounds gradually throughout the season is allowed. Safety reasons only should dictate any changes, no other reason is justifiable.

One thing that really disappointed me last season was how no supersofts were brought to the Hungarian GP. It drastically reduced the usually closely fought, frantic nature of that race which is often one of the best. It could have been a lot better.


Why not, instead of Pirelli choosing the compounds, let the teams/ drivers choose individually. They must declare after FP2 which compounds they will be using (2 of the 4) for the race, and then the usual rules apply. That way each driver gets their optimum tyre.


Because you would have to ship twice the amount of dry tyres around the world, with the extra cost involved.


I knew someone would say that and I almost preempted it. If it was an issue, then the teams declare what they are going to use immediately after the previous race. However, I really don’t think that the extra cost involved would be a factor – it’s a drop in the ocean to the amount of stuff that already gets shipped. But my point is that perhaps Lotus goes soft/hard and Mclaren goes Soft/soft/medium. It just adds and extra element to it and puts some power back in the drivers hands to make the decision. Another suggestion us that everyone chooses which compound to start on but the top ten must at some point in the race use the tyres they set their fastest lap on. Just thinking about how these things would affect the racing.


How would anyone know what tyres would suit them best at the next track??!


Sharp turn in and stability under braking suggest somewhere in deepest Austria, a Mr S. Vettel has a huge grin in his face today having claimed just a few short weeks ago that his lack of love for the early RB8 related to the cars inability to carry speed to the apex.


I would like to see lower profile, 18″ rims/tires. It would put more of the suspension tuning into the teams’ hands, and not Pirelli’s. It would also feel more relevant to the average fan, as nobody uses 13″ wheels on their road car (except maybe a Smart Car). I can see that Pirelli would be against it due to reduced ad space on the side of the tire.

I would also like to see a tire compound that liked a lot more slip angle on corners. That way we could see the cars and drivers working, not just zipping around the corner, seemingly on rails.


Thanks for the link Kay. I guess I missed that. I suppose it’s Bernie and friends that don’t want to change the look of F1 cars then, with their traditionally tall sidewalled tires.


Pirelli themselves asked for 18″ in the first place! Not the other way round!

Just dig up news from when Pirelli joined, back in 2009 or 10.


I don’t think Pirelli would really suffer from reduced space… tyre makers in other formulas use low-profile tyres and manage just fine. Besides, in the last few years the tyres are always on people’s lips, so they’d get exposure even if the tyres were completely unmarked!

I get the impression that it is mainly the teams that don’t want changes in the tyres. They already have to get their heads around the 2014 engines, plus the effect they will have on the cars’ aero balance (which is likely to be considerable). But I would like to see more modern tyres scheduled for a year or two later.

Whether this will give us cars leaning one way or the other, I don’t know… but I’ll be extremely happy if we at least do away with silly luck-of-the-draw incidents, like cars bouncing around on their tyres ungainly when they caught the wrong end of that double-chicane in Singapore, helplessly ending up sideways on a wall.


This thing about manipulating the tires is just not my kind of tea. I will rather bring back refueling and two tire manufactures. Refueling with a limit of fuel maximun weight will be much better. How teams fuel their car will be a better variable than having a tire that will surely underpeform in the next few laps. It’s as good as saying DRS is exiting. It’s not. And so does tires that that can either break away or Pirelli gets it wrong and a soft tire almost cover 70% of the race distance. Kimi did not deserve that disaster about tires.



“He (Paul Hembery) also noted that the teams are not asking for low-profile 18 inch tyres from 2014 onwards and was cautious on the idea.”

What? The teams HAVE to ask for 18-inch rims?

Why continue with tyres and suspension that have nothing to do with reality? Indy has real tyres, Lemans racers have real tyres… why does the pinnacle of motorsport insist on using tyres that would have looked dated in the late 70s?

I realise that 2014 presents enough challenges for the F1 teams, as it is… but please, let’s at least have a plan for modern tyres and crucially, REAL suspension (since the tyres do most of the work now), from 2015 or thereabouts.


Paul is completely rewriting what he said in the past.

Back then before Pirelli was brought in, Michelin also wanted to join and on Pirelli’s agenda it was stated that F1 MUST use 18″ wheels from 2013 / 14 onwards.

Now he’s saying teams HAVE to ask for it before they can use it??

I never trusted this guy Paul and he’s just showing more of a sign that he’s playing things as he wishes.


That ‘MUST’ is what I remember, too. I think I also remember that the teams smiled on the idea at the time.

It’s probably fair to say that someone has to ask for it, since it would make the teams work a bit harder. In my opinion the ‘they have to ask for it’ comment is admission that the idea isn’t seriously considered. It was Pirelli that supposedly wanted it back then, so that its tyres identified better with its road-going products.

The teams can be depended on NOT wanting it. Now we see Pirelli doesn’t want it. FIA is the only remaining body in the affair, and we haven’t heard anything from them… so while I really hope it happens at some point, I think it is likely that the comedy tyres will stay with us for the foreseeable future.


I’m not sure what you mean with reality.

The current tyres and suspension have quite a lot to do with reality. One thing is what we tolerate on our street vehicles. The rules we force for the competition is a completely different matter.

Sure, Pirelli can do low profile tyres as well. But what would it change? Physics remains the same, no matter what rules we write. Engineers must adapt, just like with the current tyres.

Yes, the looks would change, and in my opinion, for the better. But I’m afraid that fancy rims can’t mask substantial errors, for example the mess with the signal lights and flags in Brazil…

Current f1 has moved drastically to building a facade without content. Switching to different rim size without a good explanation would be another step.


Respectfully, I think you’re missing my (perhaps not well-stated) point. The appearance of the tyres does seem silly to me, but my primary issue is the suspension.

At the moment, we are told that at least half the travel in the suspended mass at each corner of an F1 car comes from deflection in the shape of the tyres, NOT the suspension itself… and it’s probably more than half when cars ride a high apex in a chicane. This is only possible because of the massive sidewalls these tyres have.

As you say physics must stay the same. So if the sidewall height was reduced drastically, F1 mechanics would have to recover the lost travel by designing new suspension, because the stuff they use now is based on torsion bars, which can afford only so much travel. At the moment, teams choose their suspension arrangement based primarily on aero packaging concerns, NOT what the suspension itself does.

I really don’t know if there is much to be gained from this, competitively, but I’d like to see F1 cars leaning on springs and shock absorbers, rather than torsion bars and sidewalls.

I guess I should have emphasized ‘real’ on suspension, rather than tyres, in my first post.


Yes the teams have to ask, because 18″ rims mean that the have to completely redesign the suspensions, and the aero to a large extent. Before Pirelli was chosen, there were talks with Michelin, who were only interested if F1 move to 18″ rims, and the teams did not want that for cost reasons.


I have been looking at the F1 tyre stats which have surprised me as shown below:

i) Despite being the head quarters of F1 (so to speak), Britain has never been a tyre supplier whereas the likes of Italy, Belgium and Germany have been providers in the form of Pirelli, Englebat and Continental respectively back in the 50s

ii) Despite F1 being alien to the US, they have been the most prolific tyre suppliers in the form of Goodyear, Dunlop, Avon and Firestone

iii) Goodyear has produced the most F1 world champions with 25 world champions, followed by 11 champions for Brigdestone and then 8 champions for Dunlop

iv) Ferrari has been most successful on the Brigdestones with 6 wins, Mclaren have been most successful on the Goodyears with 8 wins whereas Williams have been most successful on the Goodyears with 7 wins

v) Brabham and Renault have been the most successful on the Michelins with 2 wins a piece whereas Ferrari and Mclaren have won just one WDC and one WCC on the Michelins whereas Williams has never won on the Michelins

vi) The only time Ferrari won with the Pirellis was in 1953 whereas Maserati was the last Italian team to win with the Pirelli in 1957

vii) Red Bull are the first team in the history of F1 to have won the constructors title with Pirelli due to the fact Pirelli have been in the game from 1950 – 1958 and 1981 – 1986 (as a reminder the constructors title begun in 1958)


At the risk of sounding unappreciative, I think this date is somewhat skewed… how many teams won with ‘x’ tyre maker when they weren’t the exclusive F1 tyre supplier?

For example, Michelin’s successes appear quite limited, because compared to others, they didn’t stay in F1 for very long… but in their brief time in the late 90s and early 00s, they sent Goodyear packing (literally) and gave Bridgestone a good run for its money… before leaving the latter alone and unopposed, like Goodyear had been before.


Dunlop and Avon were both British companies.


hypocrites at their best, 2014 will see more “green” race cars, smaller more fuel efficient engines, energy recovery, etc. yet 2013 will see softer tires, faster lap times, more tires used, guess Pirelli didn’t get the memo, will 2014 see harder tires, less tires manufactured and used, energy conversation in their manufacture and usage, etc. these guys get more like NASCAR everyday!


They won’t use any more tyres. As has been stated before, Pirelli manufacture the same number of tyres to take to every GP. All the tyres, used or not, get recycled afterwards.

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