FIA sets tough con­di­tions for Pirelli’s 2017 tyres

F1 Racing (UK) - - INSIDER -

Pirelli have been tasked with pro­duc­ing tyres for next year that can be pushed hard through­out their life. The FIA has is­sued the com­pany with a ‘tar­get let­ter’ that de­fines the be­hav­iours it wants to see in the tyres in 2017.

This fol­lows grow­ing dis­en­chant­ment with the na­ture of the cur­rent tyres, which have high ther­mal degra­da­tion and can­not be pushed hard for more than a lap or two at a time. This has meant drivers must lap well below the limit in races to en­sure the tyres make the op­ti­mum stint lengths. Grow­ing pres­sure from the drivers over the past year or so brought this is­sue to a head.

But Pirelli have also made the let­ter a con­di­tion of their con­tin­ued in­volve­ment in For­mula 1. They had asked to be is­sued with a clear brief, since they felt they were al­ready cur­rently sat­is­fy­ing a brief given by Bernie Ec­cle­stone, but that dif­fer­ent stake­hold­ers had other ex­pec­ta­tions and de­sires. Pirelli’s Paul Hem­bery: “We have to make tyres that will have less degra­da­tion and less wear”

F1 Rac­ing can re­veal the key de­tails of that tar­get let­ter, which fo­cus on two main is­sues. First: degra­da­tion should be pro­por­tional to the per­for­mance of the tyre; so the lower the per­for­mance of the tyre, the longer it will go be­fore it starts to de­grade.

And sec­ond: For­mula 1 does not want tyres that de­grade to the ex­tent that their per­for­mance can never be re­cov­ered when one car is fol­low­ing an­other closely. Cur­rent tyres can­not be pushed for more than a lap or two due to high ther­mal degra­da­tion – some­thing Pirelli have been asked to ad­dress

The FIA feels that these two aims will en­sure a tyre in which ther­mal degra­da­tion is a far less sig­nif­i­cant char­ac­ter­is­tic at all times. Pirelli mo­tor­sport boss Paul Hem­bery said: “We now have to make tyres that will have less degra­da­tion and less wear. And they have to be tyres that the drivers will have a wider win­dow of op­por­tu­nity to push on. So it is a big change, and big per­for­mance im­prove­ments.

“We’re work­ing on tyres that have a wider ther­mal work­ing range, so they are less sen­si­tive to ther­mal in­put, mean­ing that if there are con­di­tions that cre­ate cur­rently an over­heat­ing sit­u­a­tion, that won’t be the case.”

The FIA and the teams had also ini­tially wanted the tar­get let­ter to in­clude a re­quire­ment for Pirelli to set min­i­mum pres­sures closer to the tyre’s op­ti­mum per­for­mance level. This is be­cause teams have com­plained about what they see as the ex­ces­sively high min­i­mum pres­sures im­posed by Pirelli for safety rea­sons fol­low­ing the high-speed blow-outs suf­fered by Nico Ros­berg and Se­bas­tian Vet­tel at last year’s Bel­gian Grand Prix.

But Pirelli ob­jected to this on the grounds that it was too dif­fi­cult to achieve and guar­an­tee. The FIA, to which Miche­lin had ex­pressed the same view when they were com­pet­ing for the 2017-19 tyre ten­der won by Pirelli, backed down and left it out of the re­quire­ments.

The gov­ern­ing body has sent For­mula 1’s sole tyre sup­plier a ‘tar­get let­ter’ out­lin­ing how the tyres should work next sea­son

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