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Pirelli goes aggressive with tyre choice for 2015 Russian Grand Prix
Posted By: Alex Kalinauckas  |  09 Sep 2015   |  3:58 pm GMT  |  61 comments

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.

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Competition is severely lacking at the top of the Grid. That’s our biggest problem right now.


@Brad you might as well add Bridgestone’s failure to have suitable tyres for the Spanish Grand Prix in 2005 as well.

I have to say reading all the comments it’s very interesting to see some of the opinions. But I think one thing the current era is missing so badly that we had in spades through the mid 90’s and even up to the first year of the Red Bull’s massacre of the field. Even then; when Red Bull messed up there was teams chomping at the bit to pick up the scraps.

Team’s were close enough that a mistake could be costly and 5 or 6 places disappeared on the grid if you made a mistake in qualifying. At the moment Mercedes advantage on the clock is really what is killing the sport. At least with Ferrari’s dominant years there was a bit of a romanticism about the chase for Fangio’s records and despite protestations otherwise; most did have a soft spot for Schumacher.


One word–Goodyear

Another word –Pirelli

A location –Mexico

Yay Toleman wins first race, or were they actually Benetton then………….

Speed reading the comments above and that jumped into my head.


Funny that the Wikipedia page on the 86 GP mentions that the greater durability of the Pirellis compared to Goodyear allowed Benetton to win.

Yet many “knowledgeable”people on here are convinced that Pirelli can’t make durable tyres.


People with that view clearly have no clue what they’re talking about. They will be the ones complaining if a durable tyre is introduced


Bit like the people calling for Michelin to win the tender because Pirelli can’t make a durable tyre ignoring the fact that Pirelli were tasked with creating a degrading tyre and did so whereas Michelin were tasked with creating a durable tyre and didn’t (US’05)


Or they could all have to get out and have an ice-cream aka 2009 Malaysian Grand Prix ………


Mandatory minimum of 2 pit stops with free choice of any 2 compounds.

Could be interesting


I am not sure about the brakes being a big issue, there are maybe 4 hard braking points but most will have a longish straight afterwards to cool them off, also weather in November might be 20-25 °C tops, it is not like Singapore or Malaysia

Horsepower will be affected, even if turbos compensate a lot, but downforce might be more of an issue in the thin air, it might be more of a power track than SPA for example, layout is actually quite similar to Monza, except for the new chicane/stadium section

It has traditionally been a “car” circuit, with probably 2 Mercs, 2 Williams, 2 Ferraris, etc. running in order, more so this year

I am afraid RedBull might not like it with no power and aero advantage being less effective than elsewhere

Of course the crowd would love the Mercs cooking their brakes, Williams messing the pit stops, Ferrari winning (Mexican fans are as close to tifosi as they come) and Checo on the podium, well one can always dream


Oh, all right, once again:

It’s a RACE over a DISTANCE, we don’t force marathon runers to have plimsols thst won’t last the distance, so why do it in F1 ?

If you MUST have pitstops, just make 2 piss stops / tyre change madatory, but have tyres that alow the drivers RACE at FULL speed !!!




Do you not remember sochi last year as this article talked about? The tyres allowed them to push for the whole race and they had to make 1 mandatory pit stop and it was easily the most boring race of the year (possibly the most boring race for a few years). I think that race kind of disproves your point. These Pirelli tyres create uncertainty and variation in strategy


I agree. I live quite a walk from my local pub. It’s a mandatory 2 piss stop, and everybodys happy.


They have to get out and pee too now? ????


Hi Martin

Two toilet breaks. Now that would be interesting.


Yep, i don’t really see much difference in manufacturing tyres to wear out to cause pit stops over simply making x pit stops mandatory. For me, more than anything else, what makes racing exciting is drivers being on the edge..all these limits on tyres, fuel, engines do is give teams reason to run within the limits because it’s more efficient in the long run. that means drivers take it easy, they make less mistakes, and the whole thing tends to become a different kind of procession – there may be overtakes but so many of them are simply ‘pre ordained’ as to not matter… “just let him past, he’s on a different tyre, we’ll be back in front after the final pit stop”

Making better tyres gives the drivers a chance to push them to the limit all the time. I’d also have a ‘minimum’ fuel limit – i don’t mind the more efficient engines, but making everyone start with a full tank of fuel will encourage them to burn it all off, not use as little fuel as possible.

If you still want to encourage variety in strategy, If they could make tyres durable enough to push hard on constantly, but still have 2 compounds with differing performance, you could even give teams a choice – min 1 stop to use both compounds, or the ‘option’ to use the same compound but must stop twice.


I think you’re taking the pits slightly with that typo ????


You had to be careful with autocorrect on that one.


But the purpose of these tyres is not just to cause pitstops. Having the high tyre deg leads to overtaking opportunities where a car with newer tyres catches up with one on older ones.

Until/unless the cars are made such that overtaking is not inhibited by the excessive aero effects, there needs to be some way to create such overtaking situations and the current tyres do help with that I think. Your marathon runners analogy doesn’t include this factor.

There is too much nostalgia for the Bridgestone tyre era IMO. There was a lot of dull racing then with 6-car “Trulli trains” and the like.


@forestial, totally agree, the rock hard Bridgestone era was often dull, as the lack of different strategies and poor overtaking stats prove.

Aero penalising following drivers stopping the chance to get alongside,race wheel to wheel and possibly overtake is the big issue, not tyre deg.

Tyres should deg and always have allowing varied strategies, but tyres should never explode and should never deg randomly such as a lap or two of bad blistering before suddenly getting better as if by luck.


@ martin….i agree. let the racers race.


Can’t see why they can’t have 3 compounds to choose from but they only nominate 2 they can test and qualify on – the only time they run the 3rd compound tyre is in the race which would add a bit of the unknown into it and it would maybe open the strategies up a bit. Start on mediums then a short blast on new softs to gain track position mid race before bolting on the hards to get to the finish

The gambles in how long and hard they can push the tyre that haven’t tested….


I am looking forward to what Gaz Boy and Gaz_Boy have to say about this.

I am sure that I am more likely to agree with the former but the latter thoughts on whether Hamilton can improve his ‘Extension Ratio’ could be fascinating.

In the meantime I am grateful to KRB for drawing my attention to the joke.


Shame Michelin isn’t a second tyre manufacturer alongside Pirelli. At least they’ll be the added tyre wars of yesteryears.

So Pirelli are going all Racey Pacey with their tyre choices,

so I guess Roseberg will be Locking & Flat Spotting all 4 tyres. Also

Soft & Super Soft tyres can only be a Red Rag yo a Mad Bull like Mad Maldo who no doubt will be playing Frogger in FP1 missing FP2 as Lotus rebuild his car , only to rebuild it again in FP3 only for him to loose it Qualifying &; then come Race Day to hit a barrier on lap two. That Maldo he’s a cheeky driver “All The Gear And No Idea” 😀


Thats Gold! I also imagine him having to sign the cheque each time they hand him the new car…



Maldo will present a Cheque & an agreement to relax his mono brow after every “Off” ” Shunt” or Mad Moment.

Leading up at least a finger gap between the brows 😀 as Lotus try & change his appearance for yhe public…

(“It’s Alive!!!” Young Frankenstein- Mel Brooks comedymasterpiece 😀 )


Well it’s hardly surprisng given last year that the tyre choice for Russia would be more aggressive than last year.

People complain that the tyres go off too quickly, don’t last long enough., should last an entire race etc.. So what is the solution?

I do like the idea of teams people to nominate which tyres they use for a weekend as it might allow greater variation, though I suspect once all the numbers have been crunched they’ll be little variation in which tyres the teams choose.


Bulletproof tyres provide dull racing, a poke in the eye for the Pirelli bashers.


@ tim w…sorry but that is just plain wrong. dull racing is a product of ridiculous R & R set by the FIA. tyres are only a by-product that eventuates as a result of that.


My post disappeared. I then posted that my post had disappeared, then when I posted that post my original post reappeared as still “awaiting moderation”. Then I refreshed the page and they’d both disappeared! I’m posting this to see if the same thing happens again!


@kenneth, you just can’t say “we’ll if you can’t see why you’re wrong then it’s not my job to educate you”, that is not supportive of your argument at all! It’s not as though you don’t write enough to have contained a few salient and backed up points.

My argument’s right because I think so, is no argument. It makes you look rather simple.


Kenneth, here we go again! No ideas of your own, no counter argument, just a blanket “you’re wrong” in an exasperated tone. remember the original comment? I said “Bulletproof tyres provide dull racing, a poke in the eye for the Pirelli bashers.” and then pointed out that if we had tyres that lasted the whole race, the racing would be poorer than it is now. Forget all the other waffle and answer a straight question for once, do you agree with that statement or not?


Kenneth, I know how fond of Pat Symonds you are, so heres a link to an interview he gave to Sky. I hope you find it interesting. http://www.skysports.com/f1/news/12476/9987221


@tim w…..wrong again…once, twice and thrice. if you can’t see what most others see then it is not my place to educate you. let me just say one thing and then let’s move on. why do you think that there is supposed to be a major shakeup taking place in 2017? because the people who actually run F1 realise what a crock of [Mod] they have on their hands and it need to change.

i have outlined just some of the problems that exist. i could go on and on but i don’t want to bore you or anyone else. i will just remind you of one small thing though.customer teams do not always get the ‘rigi didge’ self same engine as the manu’s. if you doubt my word i would suggest you take it up with james as that what he actually posted sometime ago. keep in mind also that james can make errors just like us but if he states that as being the case then that is good enough for me. obviously you know better but that is fine.

have a nice week end and don’t forget to watch the motoGP quali….then you’ll see some brave riders doing the almost impossible!!!!


James, I’m sure that’s true, but boring Kenneth into submission is difficult with a word count limit!


James, yes because it is short. It seems if you witter on too much your comment doesn’t make it!


Brevity is the soul of wit..


Kenneth 3, Engine penalties maybe a bit harsh on the driver, but do increase the number of overtakes as he has to come through the field, how would their removal help the racing?

I ask again Kenneth what is your answer to the problem? How would changing regulations help?

In my opinion the best thing F1 could do to help the racing would be a more equitable distribution of prize money, this would have little effect at the front, but would tighten up the mid field and close the gap between the haves and have nots.


Kenneth, 2! How would getting rid of tokens help on track action? Do you still think Renault and Honda would produce a Merc matching PU with un restricted development? Have you heard anyone from either of those two companies say that?

Mercedes give their customers the same engines and modes as they use themselves, Ferrari don’t, but if they gave Sauber the latest unit, would this help the racing? How?


Kenneth, forcing the teams to run two different compounds gives us most of the racing we do get! getting rid of this rule would mean the teams just pick their favoured tyre and run that the whole race, how on earth would this help? The part of that rule regardind compound choice has already been changed for next season.


my comments keep vanishing again!


Well this one is here!


@ tim w…ok, let’s start with PU development and tokens. then move onto the ridiculous decision to force teams to take on two separate and different tyre compounds irrespective of their own individual strengths and weaknesses as manufacturers. moving on to customer teams not getting identical engines from the manufacturers and ridiculous penalties being heaped upon drivers who have not made any errors to warrant them. enough? i could go on ad infinitum but i think that these will suffice for the moment.


sorry Kenneth but you are just plain wrong. The good racing we do get now is a result of one driver having made a stop for fresh tyres and trying to overtake other drivers who haven’t. What rules and regulations are you refering to? What is your answer to the problem? You don’t really get to say my ideas are wrong without coming up with any of your own!


Don’t you know that 99% of commenters here on this forum know better than F1 bosses and want tires that don’t degrade.

We all know that when your tires don’t degrade you get the best racing ever. Even though there is no evidence to suggest it, we all parrot eachother while throwing our toys out of the pram because our current tires degrade. We also have no memory and flip flop constantly on issues we disagreed with just 1 year ago when our favorite driver was/wasn’t winning. Also, we have no clue what we want.


I think far too many folks are flippant and hasty in dismissing DRS – often associating it with other issues and problems that are unrelated.

I personally see it as the most practical solution to the aero issues caused by current downforce techniques impacting on on cars behind, impeding their ability to get close enough to contemplate an overtaking manoeuvre.

If implemented as per the original intention – it should merely eliminate the problems caused when approaching a car in front, getting in the dirty air. If it manages to level the playing field in such circumstances, I can’t see why it offends the traditionalist racing sensibilities of many who continue to call for its removal. I consider the original idea as part of the natural progression of the selective implementation of technological advancement – just as with other improvements F1 has adopted over the years.

If the current version is providing too much of an advantage to the cars able to deploy it, the solution should simply be to adjust the regulations so that the correct amount of drag is reduced to negate the effects of dirty air – then allowing faster cars and/or more skillful drivers to attempt any overtaking move they would like to try.

Suggestions that the cars are fundamentally redesigned to use alternative downforce techniques such as ground effect, seem rather ambitious due to the significant changes they would entail.

I fail to understand why there is so much high-mindedness and principled objection to DRS? In the various F1 design eras since it was introduced – I think DRS has provided a net benefit in terms of increasing the overtaking during races.

I struggle to see why DRS is any less desirable than other technologies introduced into F1 over the years, to promote more competitive and exciting racing on track.

So many times I read calls for DRS to be eliminated, by fans of F1 on forums and discussions such as this – with no reason given as to why, or what the benefits would be? I rarely see opponents provide a viable alternative, if they provide any alternative at all!

I don’t ever recall any drivers, engineers or team managers calling for the removal of DRS at any point recently. If any of those qualified people were to offer up sensible opinions, then I would be inclined to take it more seriously.

Until then I’ll continue to ignore it, just like I do all the supposed F1 fans who are so keen to tell US they no longer consider Formula One GPs worth watching – compared with Formula E, WEC, Moto GP or whatever. If all these folks find so much fault with F1 – why are they still reading websites and articles exclusively concerning F1, rather than those dedicated to whatever racing series de jour is now of more interest to them?


What people want, I believe, is an end to the artifice that currently exists in F1.

DRS, non-durable tyres, create overtakes, that is true, obviously. But the problem is that overtaking has lost it’s significance, it is less of an event than it used to be.

This is not rose tinted spectacles. But back in, say, the early 2000’s, there would be less on-track action, sure. But when it came, it was correspondingly more exciting, it meant something. The long awaited wicket in cricket is worth the wait.

To me, it is obvious. Back to basics, ground effect, durable tyres, no DRS, open engine wars (creating completion and unreliability). Let things just happen without forcing it- F1, as in life, has a funny way of keeping things interesting.

One final thing- do we actually think that any of the ‘let’s make racing interesting’ artifice in F1 is having a positive effect on viewing figures? There are plenty of tracks around the world, excluding Silverstone (which may be more down to the improved facilities), whose emptiness would indicate otherwise.


nice summary Layercake. Any F1 influencers that read this site must reach the same conclusions – F1 fans are completely paradoxical in their desires.

We say we want lots of racing then ask for; bulletproof tyres, engines and more speed. Which just results in qualifyingorder being the same as the end result… the excitement from sport is about uncertainty as to the result.

Oh well, guess we are all amateurs for a reason.!

Anil Parmar (FormulaeDiary)

Only because of aerodynamics and track design. Any other racing series that uses durable rubber, from WEC, Moto GP and even Formula E, produces spectacular multi-lap battles. Go back and watch F1 races from 2000-2010; the tyres were never the problem, it was simply the over reliance on overbody aerodynamic which caused too much dirty air. The problem is worse now because they are having to do so much fuel saving too.

Pirelli tyres and DRS were a band aid and only a return to ground effect or simple front wings will solve the problem once and for all.


This year especially with the way the nose and front wings are it is just too difficult to follow and pass.


Anil, I watched every race during the years you mention, and the decade before and the racing was poor for a lot of those seasons. There is never one reason why racing is poor, it is always a sequence of events. This year the racing at the front isn’t great because no one can get near the Mercedes, but down the field there are always great battles and a lot of that is because of the tyres. If we had very durable tyres then the strategy options would be zero, as it stands we have drivers making extra stops for fresh rubber and others trying to get to the end, when you think about it there is no reason why, if there is a trouble free qualifying session that there should be any racing at all. During the years you mention, exactly ghat happened quite often.


Spot on Anil. All about the aerodynamics


In the days when F1 was a capitalistic sport, a team used to compete against other teams, not a tire manufacturer.


Competing against teams in a closed environment is not capitolism.


Good news for Sochi, last year’s race was one of the most uneventful for quite some time; not necessarily Pirelli’s fault as it was a new track.


The original plan was to have the Russian GP around the streets of the gorgeous and elegant city of St Petersburg, but then Mr E had a word in Mr Putin’s ear, and it switched to Sochi. Big mistake if you ask me………..another bland Tilke drome instead of a race around one of the world’s most fabulous cities. Ah well……….

Not joking about Mexico City altitude: its 2200 metres/7500 feet above sea level. That’s over twice the height of Mount Snowdon…………..and the air was cold and thin enough in Wales highest peak, even on an August day. Come to think of it, the Snowdon Mountain Railway which I used to ascend the rooftop of Wales probably has more horsepower than the McLaren-Honda. If they were struggling at just over 400 feet/121 Metres above sea level in Milan, God only knows how much they struggle in the smog and skinny air of Mexico City……………even Bernd Maylander and the Mercedes SLS could be quicker down the long pit straight…………

Turbo engines aren’t that badly affected by altitude, and with the thin air meaning virtually no drag, I reckon 360 KHM (223.6 MPH in Church of England) could be a conservative estimate. Maybe Montoya’s record of 231 MPH at Monza in 2004/2005 could be broken this November?


What is 231mph in kmph? I imagine you know off the top of your head Gaz


After how dull the race was last year this can only be welcomed. One of the worst Tilke tracks even by his standards.


@ nick H ..the sochi race last year was one the dullest, if not THE dullest race, that i have ever seen and i have been watching longer than most posters have been around! i may well be really wrong about this but given the superiority of the mercedes it could end up up even worse this year. now that would be something no one wants to see. to cap it all off the pre race farce with putin was enough to bring on an urgent desire to regurgitate.


Your fears will most likely come to fruition, Kenneth. A truly awful track. It pains me when there are legendary circuits such as Imola not on the calendar and they go to places like Sochi.



Agree the Ruusian GP track has to be one of dullest race tracks going.

Think Tilke must’ve been disappointed being paid in Russian Roubles & not $’s or £’s so decided to copy a layout suggestion picture on the back of a childrens ‘Play Mobile’ Box



I’m just thrilled there aren’t any weird spelling errors in PKara’s post :’D

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