More strategic variation is going to be the name of the game in 2016 as Pirelli confirmed that it will debut its new ultrasoft tyre at a 12-hour test in Abu Dhabi later this month, as a prelude to its race introduction next season.
The idea is to have a choice of three compounds at each race venue, with teams able to make choices which will increase the variability of the strategies and the racing – as was the intention with the changes to race start procedures this year. Some teams will choose the ultra soft compound to boost their grid slot, even if it means a slight compromise on the length of the first stint of the race.
As a general rule the races where the pit loss time is shorter will see more strategic variation. Sochi, for example, with its long and slow pit lane will likely remain a one stop, as would Monza, whereas venues where the pit lane time is around 22 secs or under will see quite a lot of action.
The Italian firm asked F1 fans to vote on its social media channels and choose between purple and silver for the colour of its new compound, which will be introduced for the start of the 2016 season. Pirelli revealed that 85 per cent of those who voted chose purple.
— Pirelli Motorsport (@pirellisport) November 4, 2015
The FIA has backed Pirelli’s request for more testing and the world council has agreed for the tyre company to run the test between 9am and 9pm on 1 December, two days after the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Pirelli has announced the session will be dedicated to developing its slick tyre range for next season as the firm wanted more testing included in its new deal to supply F1 with tyres up the end of the 2019 season.
Participation in the test is voluntary for all teams and there are restrictions on what is permitted as they cannot run any new parts or alter the cars at all during the session. Pirelli’s statement explained that teams had been asked to field “preferably race or reserve drivers.”
Paul Hembery, Pirelli’s motorsport boss, has also responded to Lewis Hamilton’s request for the company to supply specific “special” tyres for the 2016 Mexican Grand Prix, following the struggles the field had with grip on the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez’s return to the calendar this year.
The new surface in Mexico City, combined with Pirelli’s choice to bring the soft and medium compounds to the race, left a number of drivers complaining about the lack of grip.
Speaking to Autosport, Hembery said: “It’s always very hard when you come to a new circuit as you’re never sure how the surface will react during first running and this literally was the first race on it.
“If you look back to Austin the first year, it was very smooth, similar to this. But Austin has been used heavily in the last few years and has changed dramatically. Sochi is very similar but it hasn’t been used a lot so remained a very slippery surface.
“Probably next year you would have the super-soft in Mexico if you’re going to have three anyway. But the chances of doing a special one are unlikely.”
Will Pirelli’s ultrasoft tyre help racing in 2016? Should the company be allowed to conduct more testing? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below.