Formula 1 tyre supplier Pirelli has revealed the tyres it will bring to the races in Singapore, Suzuka and Sochi, with the Russian Grand Prix being given softer tyres than in 2014.
Pirelli’s announcement comes after well-placed sources suggested to this website at Monza that the Italian company is likely to be confirmed as F1 tyre supplier from 2017 onwards, following a tender process against Michelin.
The decision to take the soft and supersoft compounds to Sochi comes after the inaugural event was characterised by a surprisingly small amount of tyre degradation turning the race into a straightforward one-stop strategy. Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg was even able to complete all but one lap of the race on a single set of medium tyres.
At the time, F1 drivers and team personnel complained that the race was too similar to the “old-style” of racing from the Bridgestone tyre-supply era, as the degradation was worth just 0.05sec/lap over the course of a stint, a factor not seen since the Japanese company was the sport’s sole tyre supplier.
Speaking after the event in Sochi last year, Red Bull team principal, Christian Horner, said: “This is the first time that we have been on this surface, and this asphalt. The Pirelli tyre was bulletproof on this circuit, so hopefully they will take some lessons away from this that old style races like that are not exciting.”
McLaren driver Jenson Button, who finished fourth in the first ever Russian Grand Prix, echoed Horner’s view.
He said: “It was odd that we were able to run so many laps on a single set of tyres today. The Primes [tyres] felt like they could have gone on forever – it was a bit like going back to ‘old school’ racing in that respect.”
The nature of the track surface in Sochi led the teams down the one-stop strategy route as the very low macro roughness in the tarmac that meant slippery conditions on the Friday at the 2014 event, had a lot of grip on race day as more rubber was laid down as the weekend progressed. This also meant cars were going faster than had been anticipated and several teams were forced to adopt critical fuel saving measures.
In a bid to create more strategic variables in the 2015 Russian Grand Prix, Pirelli will bring the softest two tyre compounds it produces as, “the asphalt has not changed significantly since its debut last year,” according to the company’s announcement.
The tyres used in Singapore and Japan will remain the same as in 2014 – soft and supersoft for the Marina Bay race, and medium and hard for Suzuka – due to the street track layout in Singapore and Suzuka’s high-speed nature.
Looking further ahead, the Mexican Grand Prix, which comes two races after Sochi, is expected to be a concern for teams, as it looks likely to be the hardest race of the season on brakes.
The low air density of Mexico City due to its high altitude means it will be possible for the field to hit speeds of 360kmh with little chance for drivers to cool their brakes.
This could potentially have a significant impact on the race as Rosberg and his Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton struggled with brake problems towards the end of the Bahrain Grand Prix in April.