F1 Winter Break
Pirelli protects itself in new three-year contract with Formula 1
Posted By:   |  19 Jan 2014   |  1:51 pm GMT  |  100 comments

This week the FIA announced a three-year contract extension for Pirelli as the sole tyre supplier to Formula One and as part of the deal the Italian company has managed to enshrine in the new sporting regulations plenty of protections, to avoid a repeat of the embarrassments of the last year.

The contract extension, which will see the Italian company act as sole supplier until the end of 2016, was a long time in the making as Pirelli insisted on changes to the sport’s testing regulations in order to provide more on-track data and to have adequate means to develop its racing tyres. The lack of testing since 2011 with relevant contemporary cars available to them, led to some extreme situations, especially last year with tyre failures on the one hand and a controversial test with Mercedes on the other.

Under the new regulations there will now be one day dedicated to wet-tyre testing, out of the twelve available, which will allow for extensive use of the intermediate and extreme wet tyres. In addition to this Pirelli had requested that each team must spend one of its eight days of in-season testing on tyre development and evaluation, which has been granted. There will be four two-day tests following selected Grands Prix this year.

2013 was a challenging year for Pirelli, with their determination to produce exciting racing also providing some negative side effects. Mid-season changes in the tyre construction from steel to kevlar saw a reduction in the number of failures, however Sergio Perez’s delamination at the Korean Grand Prix meant that further development was required.

And with the regulation changes in place for 2014 Pirelli must adapt its tyres to work on a completely different machine, catering for greatly increased torque and thus more wheelspin as well as lower levels of downforce – increasing the chances oversteer. So far they have had very limited opportunities to test the 2014 rubber on relevant cars. A December test was called at late notice and the onus is on the two pre-season tests in warm conditions in Bahrain in particular to optimise the tyres for the first part of the season.

Should Pirelli head in a conservative direction using tyres designed around strength and durability, as expected, then it will be interesting to see the difference between each driver’s style and whether drivers with a more aggressive approach will prove quicker than that those with a smooth style.

Thermal management was the name of the game with the 2013 Pirelli tyres and although the 2014 models are likely to be far more robust, tyre temperature management is likely to still be a priority for teams.

Also in the 2014 Sporting Regulations, each driver now has 12 sets of tyres for the Grand Prix weekend, rather than the 11 sets as before.

They now have two sets of “prime” (harder) tyres for Friday morning’s FP1 session, of which one can only be used for the first half hour. After that everything stays the same as before with a set of primes and a set of the softer option tyres required to go back to Pirelli after FP2. This should ensure more running on Fridays, but as it’s going to be highly important for the teams to do aeronautic development testing on Fridays, another way of looking at it is that it gives them the tyre capacity to get that running done.

It also encourages teams to use young drivers, as do looser regulations on the number of drivers that can be used in practice sessions. This should give more drivers a chance and creates an opportunity to bring in some much needed income for the smaller teams.

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I want to go back to harder more durable tyres now after the last 3 soft tyres falling apart. I want flat out racing again and pushing to the limit but the new rules this year won't allow it I'm afraid I think. The fuel limit this year could be a terrible rule for f1 to use I think. Hope it doesn't mean there cruising about at 80% this year.


Remember this is year 1 of brand new machines for everyone. So sit back and enjoy the show. Like Churchill said, "fear not of chaos reigns for it undoubtedly will."


Interesting point on the fuel limits. I think they would add excitement to the racing only if there was less to zero communication between drivers and the pits, then we would hopefully see hot headed drivers push too hard and run out of fuel within metres of the flag, leaving the more intelligent and better drivers to take the victory. This would add more spectacle to the dying stages of the race.

Unfortunately this is unlikely to happen because part of the current entertainment package of F1 is broadcasting the radio communication between drivers and the pitcrew. While it has made some drivers heroes to the fans such as Kimi Raikkonen cause he "knows he's doing", other drivers have suffered due to poor car performance and undurable tyres, Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button come to mind. Personally I'd rather see racing then hear a bunch of whining, which is all we hear these days, with the exception of Vettel 90% of the time cause winners rarely whine. Although the overdone, "Yabba Dabba Doo, that's what I'm talking about!" could also be muted from our TV screens a bit more.

MotoGp is a good example of how little communication provides great racing, they only use the pitboards and you don't need to hear what the rider is saying to understand his personality, his riding style indicates his temperament. I don't think Formula One will go down this path, however, as the majority of fans enjoy the banter that is broadcast. Something tells me though that in 2014 we will hear even more of, "you need to conserve fuel", "you are not racing him, let him pass", "you need to conserve tyres, "I'm going as fast as I can", "your KERS is not working", "switch to fuel setting 6" and "settle for 4th, you can't challenge for the podium." Formula Procession, here we come.


"I think they would add excitement to the racing only if there was less to zero communication between drivers and the pits" --- interesting, wasn't there a push to ban radio use b/w riders and team director in pro cycling (Tour de France on down) to make the riders less like automatons and more like individuals w/ free will and the responsibility to take their own decisions.

It worked, i think, and made the racing more unpredictable (but i dont wanna confuse correlation and causation, since this was when doping was being fought aggressively, too).


I agree with you, I think that never in F1 history all the drivers have been driving "flat out" the entire race and during all the year races, currently everybody moans about the tyre strategy, but the thing is that in previous eras we didn't have that live radio (and live timing which for me is amazing, it gives you a complete view of the race not limited by the TV director), wasn't Prost called the professor for his strategies? and many people says that 80's were the best F1 era... so is not logical to me, even in those days there should be a lot of preserving and strategy, is just that today we know in detail those things.


Your first paragraph brings back to my memory a classic race from the early 1990s; I believe at Long Beach in the now defunct CART series. 2 savvy vetrans of motorsports, Mario Andretti & Emmerson Fittipaldi, were continuously being passed by young Paul Tracy & someone else whose name I have forgotten. The higher rate of speed that these 2 were running however meant that they consumed their fuel loads more quickly and had to pit & refuel more often. Mario & Emmo would pass them back while they were pitted. Inevitably, towards the end of the race, the kids knew that all hope of winning was lost if they pitted one last time and just went for it; praying that the fuel would last to the chequered flag. Of course, it didn't and they both coasted to a stop with 1 lap to go. Mario & Emmo waved as they passed to take the 1 -2 finish, doubtlessly thinking to themselves, "Stupid kids".


Whenever I hear the cries for harder, more durable tyres I can't help but think of the boring Bridgestone racing and races where everyone pits only once all around the same time 🙁

I'd rather keep soft tyres that will allow 'flat out racing' more than hard durables.

These softs though must last a good few laps before deg, and still benefit tyre care to allow different race strategies to be competitive with each other.

Hopefully the undercut pitstop shouldn't mean a definite lap 3s faster than the guy who pits later as well.

They obviously shouldn't delaminate either and bust be spot on from race one so there is no messing about mid-season that penalises some and benefits others, particularly if it means one car wins everything after a change. So test everything before race 1.

Not much to ask for, is it, really!! 😉


I won't debate the durable vs. 'more exciting racing tyre' issue but I am compelled to take exception to your comment regarding the new fuel limit and fuel flow rate limit rules. This is amongst the most sensible things that have been implemented for this season!

Let me ask you how you'd define 'flat out'? Unless your answer relates to a certain set of constraints, it won't really be a valid one as you could always increase something a little bit to be 'flatter' out.

Just like there are other constraints (cubic capacity, dimensions of wings, exhaust position, etc.) this is another one - and one that makes sense. In fact, I'd quite like F1 to extend this approach and allow teams the freedom to choose other aspects. E.g. someone might decide a V8 with no energy recovery is the most efficient way to complete a GP distance, while another might prefer a V6 with extensive ERS (by the way, why limit how much can be harvested??). This allows creativity to be the differentiating factor while being relevant to today's world.

I'd love my road car to be as fuel efficient as it is today (or more), but still offer more power - why not let the best brains in the business work to make this a reality in times to come?


I know exact what Irish Con means! - He means he wants to see racing that is not constrained by the tyres. It then becomes a tyre strategy and conservation exercise not proper racing. If you can't push what's the point? Durable tyres while not ultimately as fast as soft tyres do allow sustained chasing down of the opposition. A soft high deg. tyres allows high speed for a few laps and then it's gone so drivers are forced to conserve to reach the appropriate pit stop window.


PB: To answer your question they will never stop because that's what this site is for! Personally I will always argue for proper racing and not a tyre strategy and conservation exercise. Yes Red Bull created a dominant car. but if you think they could push throughout then you are mistaken. All teams have to conserve that's the nature of the last few years formula. Red Bull's formula was to create a gap and then maintain it, and yes most of the time the car was very good coupled with very good set up. Just because we are given a set of regulations it dosen't mean we have to like them, furthermore designers are always looking for loop holes in the regulations that might give them an edge.


J.Danek: Certainly from 2014 fuel flow and limit will be another constraint I agree, but I don't like it. I mean what is the point just because F1 wants to be seen to be green?! Road cars are already light years ahead of F1 racing cars in this area. I don't agree with that type of artifice in any shape or form in this sport. They already spend vast amounts of money on fuel just transporting the circus around the world so it's all a bit ridiculous! I just want to see proper racing where drivers have a decent chance of catch up not just a few squirts and it's gone. It also protects the leading car from attack so most unfair.


Where will these 'wishes' stop? Let's say tyres are no more the limiting factor, then someone will come along and ask for other things to go even faster e.g. bigger engines, removal or rev limits, mounting of aircraft size wings to offer ten times the downforce..we can go on and on and always find something to base the argument 'if you can't push, what's the point'.

You get given a set of regulations, constraints and circumstances and you deliver a package that optimises their use. Red Bull were able to push to the limit for the max number of laps during the most number of races, hence duly won both championships. I'm not a big Red Bull fan but really that's the only way to look at it.

I'm sorry, but people moaning that new constraints don't make sense doesn't cut it for me. For me it'll be a much more worthwhile discussion if someone was to say with a good rationale that certain constraint(s) mean F1 is no more the pinnacle of motorsport, with the latest cutting edge technology, etc. The new regs, including the fuel flow and fuel limits as well as increasing focus on ERS, certainly ensure F1 continues to be looked at worldwide as the cutting edge of motorsport.


ok but the same argument could be made regarding fuel!

you can't "push" beyond the the limit that's been established (Artificially, by the rules), regardless of what's theoretically possible or available w/ unrestricted engineering, development and implementation.

Tires are just one variable.


Another one who doesn't understand that you drive to the limits of the package.

James, could you please explain this? Or have Paul H. explain it so these regrettable laments don't start up again...

No one in the history of F1 has not driven to 100%, taking into acct. their particular performance and strategic limiters!!


I think your confirmation bias is spilling over into belief perseverance. LOL

I thought it was obvious I am referring to the mental and physical limitations of the driver only, not the package.

To put it simply the combined package is slower than 10 years ago, given the advances in aero etc. its obvious the drivers will be finding it less physically demanding. Hence spare capacity.

Of course there as always been a balance between flat out racing and managing resources, I think it's moved to far towards the former.


Sorry make that later.


I think its pretty obvious that everybody drives to the limit of the package.

The problem is that limit is reached when the drivers are at only about 80% of there capacity.

The drivers these days finish most races looking like they have been on a Sunday afternoon drive.

Its called the World DRIVERS championship, I want to see that part pushed 100%.


It's clear what he means. Basically the quickest/only way to finish the race no longer puts the machinery at the limits of grip, hence the driver is not tested to 100% of his ability to find the limits of the car for most of the race.

Schumacher Hakkinen Suzuka 2000 the racing now ain't.


"The problem is that limit is reached when the drivers are at only about 80% of there capacity" -- I'm not sure if this is cognitive dissonance, or simply [mod].

But if you accept that everyone drives to the limit of the package (ie, at 100%), then you can't logically claim at the same time that they're only driving to 80% of capacity!

What capacity? There's no extra 20% if you just acknowledged they're on the limit! And this has ALWAYS been the reality in F1 and all motorsports, no different now than in pre-2000s (going all the way back to mid-20th century when mechanical reliability was the primary limiter).

Tyre conservation is no more an artificial retardant on performance than fuel conservation.


There is a fuel flow limit, too. The drivers will be pushing plenty.


They don't push that much now. lift and coast, short shift, change mixture settings, all because they don't put enough fuel in to start with.

The teams themselves have, inadvertently maybe, contributed to the addition of a fuel flow meter.


Congratulations! You are the 100 millionth person to complain about Pirelli's tires and F1's new rules! Your prize is a one-way ticket in our time machine back to the golden age of F1: the 1960's! Have fun but don't forget: The brown acid is bad.


That is my question as well. This year fuel economy and reliability may be the dominating factors.


Reliability was always a key factor until the 8 engines per season rule was introduced.

Considering that teams rarely put sufficient fuel in a car to run the entire race flat out, fuel economy has also been a part previously.

Not much new here, it may well take most of the season for the teams to get a grip, due to a lack of testing, then it will be back to normal.


Did Pirelli leave themselves any get out clauses I wonder!

They have had to develop tyres for 2014 almost completely on guesswork and extrapolation.

The only testing they have carried out has been with last year's cars, which have the wrong weight, the wrong downforce and a fraction of the torque expected to be encountered this year. It would be incredible if they produced anything but the safest possible tyres, these are likely to be very hard wearing.

It is worth mentioning at every opportunity, that both Pirelli and Michelin told the teams and the FIA, that tyres able to cope with the gigantic increase in low speed torque and to put it on to the track would need a much larger contact patch. ie the tyres need to be both of a larger diameter and wider as well.

The teams turned this down and one can understand why, but I strongly suspect that minds will be changed later when the full effect of the new torque levels is felt on the track. Amongst calls for traction control to be allowed there will be those who realise that larger wheels was the correct way to go and maybe in 2015 we shall see them.

(Centre of mass and centre of roll will change as well as all relatively simple suspension characteristics. Attachment point changes require new gearbox housings,possible monocoque changes, then the flexing is affected, re-homologation) Pity Gary Anderson will not be there to explain.


"They have had to develop tyres for 2014 almost completely on guesswork and extrapolation."

Every tire manufacturer in history had to do so.

Every one had to design a tire that would be first used in the pre season tests. But in contrast to today in the 80s there haven't been any computer simulations and far less data points. And until last year there haven't been strict restrictions on camber and tire pressures either.

Still the tires that Pirelli built in the past 3 years were rubbish.


Hi Franed,

Michelin and Pirelli weren't seeking a larger contact patch. If you fix the minimum tyre pressures (16 psi minimum) for safety, and the force on the tyres (downforce + mass) is generally less than last year, (expect possibly at the end of the race in slow corners), the contact area will be less than in 2013, regardless of how big the tyres are.

Taller and wider tyres distort less than shorter and narrower ones to provide the same contact patch. The contact patch will be the same as the tyres are slicks and the pressures will be the same. The reduced distorting will reduce the heat build up in the tyres and it makes it easier to design a safe tyre structure.

Re centre of mass and centre of roll, if you just change the tyres and not the rest of the design then yes that is the case. Angled driveshafts - the extreme version of which was pioneered by Willimas - means that the changes can be effectively limited to the gearbox.

Bigger tyres in an open wheeler are an annoyance due to their aerodynamic properties as much as anything else that F1 designers car about. They cause large disturbances of the air that impact the airflow around the wings and diffuser.


There are pedal torque demand maps and a gearbox between that "torquey" engine and the rear wheels. Oh and don't forget the driver's use of his right foot, too. They will be just fine, nothing new, just like Kimi has said.


I am intrigued that the new tech regs allow the electrical modulation of rear braking effect. Ostensibly this is to allow for the much greater retardation this year, of the MGU-K (KERS unit) this is a highly exploitable chink in the regs, which should allow an ABS system of sorts to be developed, just how far this can be pushed, will be interesting to see. Expect lock-ups until it is working correctly.


I expect full retardation in 2014.


Sad. I really hoped Pirelli will be gone.

I find nothing good in their existence in this sport, they are like DRS - exists only for entertainment\show carrying nothing more than a distraction and irritation for a long-time F1 fans... not to mention countless controversies and incompetent behavior.


You missed the point completely! Pirelli did what the FIA asked them to. They could have asked Michelin to do the same, they were not off on some wild experiment of their own.

So it you were Pirelli and the FIA asked you to make tyres softer and you asked how soft? The answer would not be hardness grade figure an exact amount. So you had to make some and see how they went.

Some teams got the hang of using them better than others, then complained when they were made more like what you want. Well this year if Pirelli have played safe they won't wear out it will be like the days with concrete tyres. The only factor being the amount of wheelspin and rear locking which may increase wear unexpectedly.


Pirelli produced the tyres they were asked to. They were told by the FIA to produce tyres that degraded quickly, and lasted only a few laps. They did just that.

I'm quite sure they are capable of producing harder tyres that last a full race distance. It sounds like this type of tyre will be used in 2014.


The Pirelli years have been some of the most exciting that I can remember. The races used to all be processions unless it rained. Pirelli did what they were asked to do. I liked it. It added a lot more strategy to the race. It wasn't until Pirelli reverted to a more stable tire that we started to see Red Bull dominate again. Boring processions, but I guess that's exciting?


Go back to the last 5 years of Bridgrstone and read the internet comments about how fans won't watch anymore due to the 'boring processional' nature of races. Yes Pirelli messed up but memories are short.


I am following F1 for the 20th year right now, I can remember many things. And actually nothing good about "sole" tire suppliers.

From my perspectives tires - as engines - require competition. Goodyear-Bridgestone, Bridgestone-Michelin eras from my perspective were fantastic.

I can understand FIA striving for some cost-reduction, but monopoly was never a good thing. Imagine F1 with only Ferrari engines... stock racing.

We have Mercedes, Ferrari, Renault, next year we will have Honda back... why do we have only one tire supplier? For some cost cutting? Then do not introduce totally new ERS-enabled V6s! Spend money cleverly, don't waste it on artificial field-leveling tech.

FIA rule makers (to some extent together with manufacturers) are playing politics and money too much without substantial achievements. And they are going in rounds. Now is 2014 and we are back with "cost cap" discussions.


I understand your points but you are confusing some issues there. Yes the V6 power trains are insanely expensive - but Honda wouldn't be returning without more Eco drive road relevant technologies - Mercedes and Renault may well have looked for an exit - then you'd have Ferrari as sole power train suppliers - it's swings and roundabouts - it's never as simple as 'this is a bad thing'.

Yes competition and non spec formulas are often more exciting or at least challenging but competition sometimes prices too many players out of the market. Imagine no cost cap and we end up with only 4 teams able to finance an entry into the championship - how exciting is it to watch 8 cars spend each other into oblivion?

The teams also wanted a single spec tyre manufacturer because the tyre wars were expensive and only favoured the elite rich teams with the ability to fund spec tyres. How much fun was Schumachers unique tyre era? Again - a lot of skill and engineering prowess but not exactly fun.


Would Bridgestone or Michelin done better with no testing or development on relevant cars? Maybe maybe not.




Well I guess Pirelli is here to stay, hopefully we will mention the tyres for all the right reasons in the future.

Now this is a clever move by Pirelli for insisting each of the teams test their tyres during the season for in F1 trying to do things the democratic way will get you zero results.

Having said that, it's a shame Pirelli have reduced the number of tyres available for we also need to avoid drivers sitting in the paddock saving tyres.

Now, it will be interesting to see if Pirelli go the conservative route by rolling out more durable tyres, coupled with less downforce at the rear, if this will indeed favour the aggressive drivers for it's been ages since we last saw the back of cars stepping out.

Overall, wishing Pirelli luck in their endeavours, we pray they can get their figures spot on this time.


Maybe more durable tyres will affect Lotus, Ferrari and Force India's performance as shown by the tyre change in 2013 especially getting heat in the rubber during qualifying.


"Now this is a clever move by Pirelli for insisting each of the teams test their tyres during the season for in F1 trying to do things the democratic way will get you zero results."

Well, maybe if you are tyre supplier competing against another tyre supplier. In Pirelli's case they are appointed to provide all teams and are expected to treat all teams equally, so they cannot have, say, Red Bull testing for four days whilst Sauber don't get any testing. That makes them look biased.

Plus they probably have to have that stipulation that each team WILL test for one day otherwise some teams may not and then, this being F1, complain that the tyres do not suit their car because there was no testing. Remember that in the last couple of years we have not seen teams putting up their hand and saying "we had tyre problems but it's all our fault because we didn't stick with Pirelli's recommended camber and pressures." They just fire away and do not acknowledge their own contributions to the problem.


Just re read the article myself, I think James has a mistake in their, I'm pretty certain that for the last 4+ years teams have only had 11 sets of tyres per car for a weekend, not 13.


Pirelli haven't reduced the number of tyres this year, in fact read the article again and you'll find there's an extra set to be used in the first half hour of FP1. And I've seen plenty of cars over the last few years have the back step out, the idea that F1 cars are on rails is simply for the ignorant.


It is going to be interesting to see just how 2014 pans out, and I fully expect Pirelli to err on the conservative side of tyre thermal degradation, but I think it would be wrong to say that the tyres will be as durable as in the Bridgestone area. The problem with high degradation tyres is that they won't support sustained "chasing down" by drivers wanting to make up places which really goes against everything F1 should be. If a car interacts with the tyres well, has good aero efficiency, and produces downforce whilst minimising drag then it will be a front runner or even a dominant car like last years Red Bull. Add to all that the restriction on fuel usage and power deployment will most likely produce the most convoluted and limp formula so far. - I hope I'm wrong but todays F1 is too far removed from why drivers wanted to race at the beginning.


The drivers still want to be there and most pay for the opportunity in one way or another.


Of course they do wouldn't you at their salary!

You should read Mark Webbers comment especially about the tyres.


There is the possibility that Pirelli avoids thermal degradation altogether. It was a tyre design choice that could be reversed, and probably would be if Pirelli feared competition from another company.


That will depend on the brief they've had from the FIA and Ecclestone. - If it remains the same albeit with the proviso that they will take account of the higher torque then high degradation will figure to some extent.


Martin: The marbles are already a problem with Pirelli high deg. tyres as much more expended rubber has been left off line than in the Bridgestone era. It should not be looked in black and white terms because wear occurs with high deg. tyres also, but when the thermal range is exceeded the compound changes it's characteristics, performance drops off and the wear rate goes up. Personally I don't like the artifice as I've said many times, but I think Pirelli are likely to retain those elements to some degree. I expect construction changes and slightly harder compounds over their range.


Not necessarily. Pirelli made a choice to go with tyres that degrade rather than wear out. If you design a tyre to wear out then marbles are a greater concern, as is safety, with drivers wearing through a tyre until it is at risk of puncturing. A dual compound tyre, where the intended contact compound has much better performance than a "limp home" compound that is safe but 2 seconds off the pace, is a way that it could be done.

To me, one of the key problems is that Pirelli is limited to four dry tyres for the season. Bridgestone was tailoring tyres for every track as it saw necessary. That compromise to suit many tracks forces Pirelli to make tyres that have inherent degradation characteristics, rather than have tyres that are designed to do 30 laps at Monaco and a different tyre to do 20 laps in Melbourne.


Sorry am i missing something - it says they now have 12 sets instead of 13, i understand they have to give sets back so somewhere they must have less tyres, didnt understand the comment after "Fp1 everything stays the same" cos surely if they start the weekend with less tyre sets and give some back they must have less tyres no? Is it still 3 sets of prime / option for qual and race? Sorry if im being thick


"Each driver now has 12 sets of tyres for the Grand Prix weekend, rather than the 13 sets as before"

Why the hell are they reducing it? Do they want even more conserving of the tyres, even less cars participating in Q3? Seriously FIA.


I agree.

Plus the amount of fuel has gone down from 150kg to 100kg (or whatever it is).

So we are now going to get alternate messages from the engineers.

"look after your tyres"

"preserve your fuel"

"look after your tyres"

"preserve your fuel"


All this is making the drivers drive for economy and not hell for leather flat out RACING which we all want to see.


Read before you comment, this change effects FP1.

Currently they give tyres back after the practice sessions leaving them 5 sets to qualify and race on.

This is not changing, they will still have 5 sets to qualify and race on and the tyres may well be more durable.


This is what happens when you give stake holders the power. Now every sponsor will want some special regulations to aid them.

Bernie never should have given up any powers. Red Bull and other big brads basically own F1 now. All marketing from now on.


They're forcing teams to give a set back after FP1 so given teams are going to be desperate to run aero tests they won't sit out any Friday running. The main tyre allocation is the same but they will see less teams sitting out.


From reading that looks like the FIA are again trying to destroy f1's speed


Hopefully they’ll now invest in a decent off-track mechanical test-rig . . .

And spare the drivers the 'embarrassment' of catastrophic high-speed tyre disintegration.


They have one. Watching a video tour of their factories and R&D department shows them running the tyres for 1000s of miles at different angles and surfaces but ultimately this isn't the same as testing them on a car.

Just ask Ferrari about their wind tunnel and how that isn't as good as being on the car itself ...


Although the car is the ultimate performance test bed, grip should fall off to an unacceptable level well before catastrophic failure occurs.

This should be engineered and tested in the factory.

Wind tunnels trial the performance of intact components so the comparison to grip is valid but not to that of sudden failure.


You are correct that it shouldn't just suddenly fail but I do remember a piece by Gary Anderson talking about the sharp curbs at Silverstone contributing to the spectacular failures that we saw. This isn't something that is easily replicated on the test rig I imagine which is why they need real world testing as KaRn said above!


Yeah, I know what you mean but it seems they were doing this. I can't remember the exact mileage but they were doing way beyond race distance (multiple times over) under all sorts of conditions, simulating camber and other effects. Different wheel base lengths suspension arrangements and other stuff differs which are hard to test off a car but can have a big difference. Ultimately I don't think they can do much more inside the factory, they needed testing time which they are thankfully getting.


One thing I can't get my head around is the comments I've read indicating the new power plants will have much more torque, therefore the tyres will have a tougher job handling it. As I see it, sure, the engines will have more torque but at a lower rev range, so the cars will have to run much higher gear ratios, therefore the torque at the wheels won't be as high as some seem to think, especially as many say that lap times will be slower! I understand that drag is reduced due to less downforce, (regulations) so I expect to see high top speeds, so where is the lap time being lost? Probably through the corners and out of the corners, and under braking, so to me that means the tyres will be under less load, sure they might slide a bit or spin a bit, but they won't be subject to the high loadings they have had in 2013! Anyway it'll all be rather acidemic because most of the time the drivers/robots will be tiptoeing around the circuits just trying to get to the end of the race, and I wouldn't be surprised if more than a few of them finish the race on battary power only. Oh well, time will tell and it should be quite interesting.



Yeah, the corners is where time will be lost. Tracks like SPA (long laps and/or with throttle open a lot) will feel it more too as the lower engine power can't be topped up as much by the new ERS. (33 seconds is less when your lap is 2 minutes long, Spa is probably 1.30 with throttle open).

Monza may suffer this less as lower drag on the cars means higher top speeds and the downforce is less important there. Also a short 1.10 lap means half of it will be ERS topped up so running at 760 bhp (as opposed to 720ish now and with 80 from KERS but only for 6 seconds :p)

This is all restricted by fuel flow rate too, again though the short 300 km of Monza means a high flow rate can be used there. It's 100L/h, they have 100L but it's usually 1 hour 15 so that's an advantage over Singapore at 2 hours where a lower flow rate will have to be used.


Max. torque occurs in any engine when the largest amount of energy is released (the biggest bang) so it will not be at low revolutions necessarily, but at maximum throttle opening, and maximum boost pressure. From what I've read this can only occur over 10,500rpm. Downforce will be reduced significantly from last year by reduction in size of the front and rear wing with the lower rear wing removed altogether. Couple that with loss of the exhaust assisted diffuser on can see a large chunk of downforce lost, however engineers will be working flat out to improve downforce within the new constraints. Lap times will be slower throughout the year with some catchup as things progress. A lot depends on how conservative Pirelli go as to how much drivers can throw the cars around, but I don't expect they will be anything like as durable as in the Bridgestone era.


I'm not a mechanic but,

Most engines produce max torque at the lower end of the rev range so the 15k limit should not come into it.

They have an extra gear which will somewhat compensate for the lower rev limit for max speed.

less drag would normally equate to a higher speed on the straight except less grip in the corner means a slower exit speed, initially I think top speeds will be similar until they get a handle on maximising mechanical grip.

Tyre spin and sliding generates heat in the tyres, if they get too hot we know what happens to them! I do hope we have not replaced driving to a tyre wear delta with driving to a fuel saving delta, that would be bad.


I had similar thoughts to PK's... Is possible James, for one of your contacts among the teams to enlighten us on how the performance of this year's cars will differ to 2013 models?


We will have an item with Mark Gillan on that soon


Hi Paul,

Possibly a way to think of it is that an engine's power at any point is turned into torque at the driving wheels. If you have two cars with different engines and different gearing doing the same speed, the car producing more power at that speed will accelerate faster. The gearing advantage you talk about for the V8s is what turns the engine torque into power via greater engine rpm. They way to think of it is consider instantaneous power and forget about the gearing as that will cancel out in the process.

The peak power of the V8 plus KERS is greater, but the power curve rises very sharply. The V6 turbo ERS powertrains produce much closer to peak power over a wide rev range. So the average power will be greater. This means that the torque at the wheels will be greater too.

The addition of an eighth gear will help cover for the need to do 350 km/h in Monza, so the 2014 cars will not be compromised too by having to run too low in the rev range for a given speed.

If you were to run an acceleration chart of the 2013 and 2014 cars, in a fixed gear the 2014 would have relatively constant acceleration. The 2013 car will have relatively low acceleration from 9000-13000 rpm and be at its strongest in the 15000-17000 rpm range. When it is in that range the 2013 car will be accelerating harder than the 2014 car can manage. But it is only a relatively small window and it outside the range that corners are taken in.




"so where is the lap time being lost?"

The cars will be heavier - 690kg compared to 642kg last year.


Finally someone mentions gearing. Don't forget, there not only is a max fuel limit but also a fuel flow rate limit. The 100kg wasn't a WAG. They will be driving flat out for most of the race if not all of it at most venues.


The cars are heavier, so you'll need more torque at the wheels just to get the same level of acceleration. And that assumes the teams don't want to increase the acceleration: with heavier cars and lower downforce, cornering speed may well be reduced, so the teams will most likely want to accelerate out of corners harder than they do currently.

Whether they can or not is a different story, but they'll be trying to put as much power down as they can get away with.


From my understanding the lack of corner stability plus massive torque into the tyres will mean insane lateral forces and effectively torque slides a real possibility. High speeds into corners with less grip equals higher loading cross wise.


It all sounds good on paper so let's hope it works out that way on the track.


Sounds like Pirelli had the FIA over a barrel to an extent. Give us what we demand or we walk away leaving you with no tyre supplier!!

Will be kind of glad to see the tyres being conservative this year actually, there are enough variables to spice up the show this season as it is, especially with reliability unproven until mid-season at least!


James, won't fuel management just replace tyre management as the skill that will punish over aggressive driving? Webber said in a BBC interview that he thought continually changing your driving style to manage enargy resources would be crucial this year something 'right up (Vettels) street', something that will hurt hard chargers, surely?


One short week until we see if the theories are true.


Pirelli producing performance tyres this year? I'll believe it when I see it.

I wonder how the fuel limits will affect drivers attacking the race track. Surely they will not be producing qualifying speeds when they conserve fuel in the race, but can they still operate the controls (throttle, steering) in a "flat out" manner while simply turning down the boost?


Some of you guys have no idea!!

How do you expect them to come up with a mechanical test rig that simulates all the different cars and track conditions, Surfaces, kerbs, rumble strips etc????

For once and for all, Pirelli are making tyres to the FIA SPECS. Stop blaming Pirelli!!!

Once again they have been setup for failure pre 2014 with no actual tests on vehicles/engines from the 2014 season. Just bare that in mind for the first 1/3 of the season when tyre issues might happen....

The new contract and testing requirements are fantastic for them. Great news.

I cant wait to see the first test and how that goes for everyone....is this a televised event, anyone know?


I have to agree with you. I think what Pirelli are trying to achieve is great but unfortunately they have not quite got the formula right but with out representative testing it is nearly impossible to achieve. Hopefully with more time they will get it right but with some many variables that will be hard to achieve and will never be perfect. This Pirelli era has created some really interesting racing and tactics - can Lotus do one less stop? How long can Mercedes hold on for? etc.

I know some fans of MotoGP are calling for less durable tyres because it really shows the driver's skills!


"Pirelli are making tyres to the FIA SPECS."

No there not.

The compound/construction of the tyres is 100% down to Pirelli, Any & all flaws in the compound/construction is 100% Pirelli's fault.

According to Bernie all Pirelli were asked to do is make tyres that couldn't last half race distance. After that its solely down to Pirelli to actually design the tyre compounds/construction & overall philosophy.

In 2011 they got things right, However going more extreme in 2012 & even more extreme in 2013 caused the problems & the decision to go more extreme was again 100% Pirelli's decision.

Pirelli desrve full blame in harming the racing in F1 & making tyres which the drivers by all accounts all hate.


Nope, they were instructed to make them to FIA specs, just as the guy above said.


In 2011 it was Vettel whitewash, which prompted Pirelli to try and shake things up. Maybe that shouldn't have been their decision to make, but since 2012 was an infinitely better season it was probably a good decision, even in hindsight.

The main problem in 2013 was the change in the construction of the tyres which was supposed to be better (but as we now know ended up being worse), but if they had been allowed to test properly that would have known that beforehand and so the whole Silverstone debacle could have and should have been avoided.

I think now with their new stance and the ability to test things should improve for everyone including the teams, the drivers, the fans and Pirelli themselves...or at least I hope so.


Firstly, +1

Secondly, I'm pretty sure they show it on Sky, but I'm more sure there'll be other ways to watch at least some of it 🙂


+1 v2

Pirelli do not deserve the criticism that's been leveled at them by unsophisticated fans who've been misled by lazy (biased?) media and self-interested teams.

James, thank you for endeavouring to present a fair and unbiased perspective of what's happening and why. It's much-appreciated.


I would expect that if indeed the tyres are more durable this year, drivers like Hamilton, who tends to lean on his tyres, will have a resurgence whereas someone like Button will see his stock fall sharply now that his driving style won't reap any benefits. Unless of course the new engines mean that driving styles must stay delicate.


I'm hoping that this article about tyres is the first and last in 2014...


That would be a nice change, but I wouldn't get your hopes up too much...


Interestingly no mention of Bernie in the deal unlike last year.


as any tyre or vehicle manufacturer will tell you there is no substitute for on the vehicle testing

I wondered why the contract was so long in being sorted but it it is no clear that pirelli dug their heels in and refused to depend on the gentlemanly cooperation of the teams , a bitter lesson for them ; looks like they got their way !


I think they should allow competition between tyre suppliers again.

If Pirelli want to stay they fine, If Michelin or anyone else also wants to join F1 then why prevent them as F1 is afterall supposed to be about competition & competition between tyre suppliers each trying to make the best tyres possible should be part of that.

Also open up the tyre rules, Don't limi teams to the 2 compounds selected by the supplier each race & don't force them to make 1 pit stop to run both of those compounds.

Let the teams/drivers select what compounds they want to use each weekend & let teams/drivers have total freedom over there race strategy. If they want to make 1-2+ pit stops to change tyres then let them but also give them the option to run no-stop races as we saw in the past.

Pirelli, The FIA & many others talk about Pirelli's High-deg tyres creating strategy, But in fact the way the tyre rules are handled limit strategy because everyone is forced to run the same compounds & forced to make at least 1 stop. Go back to what we had before & give tyres/drivers complete freedom over tyre compounds & tyre strategy.

That will produce far better racing than silly High-deg tyres forcing delta-driving or gimmicks like DRS ever will.


Pirelli can't compete with Michelin or Bridgestone. They just not big enough, it would be suicide.

Goodyear, Bridgestone and Michelin are the only ones that can go at war with each other on equal terms.


Well if Pirelli were unable to compete against any other suppliers who were allowed to enter F1 then Pirelli have no business been in F1 under those circumstances.

F1 should not maintain the current sole/spec tyre route just because the chosen supplier may feel it is unable to compete against the competition.


"Aeronautic development on Fridays"

Wow - the cars will be flying this year.

I guess that's one way to reduce tyre wear.


So which team is bringing back Webber? 😉


Ha ha. Enjoyed that.


'Aeronautic development testing'? So teams will be testing their ability to develop aircraft?


Well they say Red Bull gives you wings 😉


Pirelli are still going to regret this.


Why? With all the negative publicity they've had to endure in the last year or so could it really get any worse?

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