Strategy variation the key in F1 as Pirelli prepares to test ultrasoft tyre for 2016
Insight Pirelli
Posted By: Alex Kalinauckas  |  05 Nov 2015   |  7:41 pm GMT  |  46 comments

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.

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.” Abu Dhabi

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.

Alexander Rossi

“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.

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why are they still dicking around with the tyres? F1 is simply getting worse and worse with all these gimmicks. what it should be is quite simple. three compounds, hard, medium and soft. teams get to choose what they want to run 90 days before each race so that pirelli can suitably manufacture the quantities. teams can choose what strategy they want to pursue. one stop, two stop whatever suits them. they should also drop this stupid rule of the top ten having to start on whatever tyre they chose in Q2. that is simply stupid. has anyone in the bottom ten won a race? why is it so hard ?.


For a long time, people have been moaning that F1 is too much about tyres. For the average viewer, it is not an interesting subject. Introducing another compound will only focus discussions around tyres even more. Although some die-hard fans will be fascinated by the variety and strategy, it will be even more boring for the wider TV audience.

Of course there should be more testing – new tyre compounds or not. F1 is the pinnacle of the sport. People expect the best from each car., so they need to be tested.


I like the idea as it introduces some more variability, but think it needs to go hand in hand with something else. What glory does pole bring if you have to drop to the back of the pack after 3 laps and ruin the rest of your race?

For me I would make sure that the delta to the next softer tyre is at least 0.5s per lap and ALSO introduce championship points for pole, 2nd and 3rd in quali. This would give a midfield team the shot at some extra points, because we know that the top teams will still go for the fastest way to complete the race – which an early pitstop may compromise. Unless I am missing something?


I don’t think it’s a good idea. It would make racing more artificial. 🙁


This is one of the best things to happen to F1 in a while- I say this with a caveat that the Ultra Soft last more than 10laps.

F1 always should have a tyre that performs at the highests level of grip. Watch carefully how certain drivers perform higher with more grip. Raikkonen on the current red super softs at places like Sing/ Monaco improves dramtically because he is used to high downforce massive grip from the “old days”.. This is what F1 should be about maximum grip, maximum downforce maximum speed.. Sliding… People call that skillful — well just head down to the speedway and see about 20guys who can do that in their sleep– thats not ultimate speed.



Apologies for going off topic, but I was wondering if you or any resident satto folk knew when if ever the last three spots on the grid were occupied by world champions as it was in Mexico.

Can’t have happened very often if at all!


Good question – I’ll ask a statman



Thank you sir!


I like the idea of it, especially as the teams will get more variation and the ability to choose the tyres that suit them for each race.

What I am still not convinced by is the durability of the tyres, they are still going to limit the cars and the drivers.



Are you doing an article on the supposed new engine of Redbull?

That would be more interesting than more tyre talk!


Um, there were two articles on that topic yesterday….


Not on this specific rumour!



All ready asked them as well………………………………they seem to be slow off the mark….c’mon boys!!!!


Not sure that super softs will improve racing, but might mix up the race lower down the grid, with slower teams using these tyres to improve qualifying performance. Especially if grid penalties continue to be implemented, where faster cars on harder rubber are placed behind slower cars on super softs, for the opening laps at least.

Preseason tyre tests, I think, are a good idea as the failures witness this season need to be sorted out, IE Vettels high speed burst at Spa, for example. If there’s only one tyre manufacture and standardised tyres available the tyres shouldn’t be a huge talking point after every race. If extra testing sorts this out, then great. Also make sure that the current race drivers test the tyres so they are part of the development process and have the extra mileage on the tyres to fully understand them.

As a thought I enjoyed seeing the cars sliding on corner exits at Mexico, as an armchair viewer it was good to see the drivers having to demonstrate there skills in easy to see car control. So maybe super softs would be good for the drivers but not good for the viewers.


Neither purple nor silver, black.


What a surprise that the majority of people chose purple for the new tyre compound given that silver has previously been given the flick because it was too similar to the white of the medium compound.

This was an illusion of choice.


Special tyres for HAM?



Even Vettel doesn’t trust the make up of Hembreys Perelli tyres.

So Lewis stated the tyres at Mexico were not great as the fresh tarmac was leaking oil residue that most fresh roads & new circuits do as the surface matures & cures.

Amazing that you miss the real reason for the statement rather have a sideways dig att Hamilton.

Bottas stated the same regarding Mexico as did Hulk at the post race interviews.


More gimmicks… just what the sport, and I use that word loosely, doesn’t need. The tires are the least of F1’s worries. We already know what team will win the 2016 WDC and Constructor title because of how they’ve cocked up this sport.


Wonder how many teams will be chasing glory in qualifying by using the ultra softs at the risk of ultimate race time. Manor on pole anyone?


it will be interesting to see how much extra these new tyres bring in terms of lap time.

half a second over the super soft would be nice 🙂


What about the ultra-supreme-super-soft which can run for a half a lap? One can overtake everyone at the start and then has to pit for new tyres. Ultra-supreme-super action.


Yeah, Pirelli should bring it so we could see more action on track. 🙂 😀


I think this is a really good idea and a great way to mix up the grid.


I’m all for it. Anything to spice up the current state of racing.

Just as long the ultra-soft tyres don’t burn out after 3 laps. I don’t think I can see Hamilton getting on too well with those.

Would also be good for some pretty fast lap times with there was a safety car at the end and everybody went onto them.


This myth about Hamilton and tyres still persists I see. Hes actually very good at dealing with and controlling tyre degradation. Youll find instances where that isn’t the case but you will with ANY driver… Lewis less than most though.


Sorry Dean I didn’t reply to your comment earler.

it’s not actually a myth. Its called watching the races from 2009 to 2012 and seeing Hamilton constantly fall back during races and listening to repeated team radio transmissions, 90% of them being when Hamilton was saying that his tyres were shot.

Did you only start watching the last two years or something?

And I’m not actually slating Hamilton at all – I’m a major fan!


Yeah, let’s focus more on the tyres.



Any truth in the Judge13 article on the RBR/Ilien?


I certainly hope not.

Not because I particularly care which engine Red Bull runs, but because it’s a terrible website.


And the other day they were talking about Niki Lauda joining Ferrari. 🙂


Really you hope the news is not true?

Because of the website.



Nice write up, thanks!


Purple tyres for Purple sectors.

Unless your in a Mclaren Honda it probably means there’s alot of

Ribena on offer in the restaurant.


More tyres types,more variants on strategies which hopefully gives more interesting races…..hopefully.


I would prefer a tyre war in Formula 1, if only for selfish reasons! Putting aside personal preferences, the sight of Michelin and Pirelli going to head to head against each other would be great and produce very unpredictable races, and therefore results.

A sole tyre supplier is very worthy and (in theory) sensible, and yet even so, it STILL leads to controversy and bad publicity! Silverstone 2013 and Spa 2015 any one remember?


Need a tyre war – I really don’t understand how F1 is supposed to be the ‘pinnacle’ of technology and they want the tech to filter down to road cars, yet they think that making tyres that fall apart is a good idea!

I’m not saying that you need a tyre to last the whole race and you can only use one set, but I feel if the option of having eiher tyres supplied by X that can last the whole race or supplied by Y which are faster but will only last half the race it makes it bit more intresting – still artificial! Or maybe just forget this 1 stop minimum rubish, if you can make it to the end fair play!


Tyre wars are good in some ways, they slash lap times and add an additional variable to race weekends. The problem with tyre wars is that you effectively get “works” tyre teams, like Bridgestone/Ferrari, meaning that if that a tyre is superior to their rivals the season is a total whitewash. It’s worse than having a dominant engine because (i) there are generally fewer tyre suppliers (although not by much these days…), and (ii) tyres have a much larger effect on car performance than anything else.


It also makes it harder for someone to manipulate the “show”.


Alex in regards to the possible 3 tyre compounds used at each 2016 race

Will Pirelli

1 Select one mandatory compond and then let teams nominate 2 others?


2 Will Pirelli pick three compounds and then allow teams to select how many sets of each compound they want in their sets of tyres?


3 How many sets of dry weather tyres do you think will be allocated in 2016 would it be more than now considering three compounds would be offer at each race on in 2016 instead of two ?

4 At what races do you think we will see the new ultrasoft tyre, Monaco, Russia , Azerbaijan(( being a street circuit) Austria, Melbourne, Abu Dhabi and Singapore maybe?

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