Formula One official tyre supplier Pirelli Motorsport are confident that we will be able to see an increase in overtaking during the 2018 F1 championship, having introduced two new compounds of their P-Zero slick tyre and made several revisions to their current line-up. The Italian tyre manufacturer came under criticism for their tyres being overly hard and durable last season, after widespread changes were made in order to cope with the increased performance of the new regulation cars. On average, there was just one pit stop per race in 2017, compared to two in 2016. Additionally, overtaking fell by half in comparison to 2016, marking 2017 as the worst year for overtaking since the arrival of DRS.
However, Pirelli Motorsport racing manager Mario Isola is confident that the extended range and softer nature of the 2018 tyres will have a positive effect on the quality of racing – with more pit stops likely: “We have a range now.” – Mario Isola said, as reported by leading US motorsport magazine Racer – “We are not obliged to go to most of the events with the soft, super and ultra. We have a medium compound that is last year’s soft, so it’s a good compound for many circuits.”
Last year, the hard compound was only used once throughout the whole season, in first Free Practice for May’s Spanish Grand Prix. At that time, Sahara Force India F1 Team driver Sergio Perez confirmed that the hard compound was only suitable for ‘pictures’. Last year’s hard tyre falls under the moniker of ‘super-hard’ for 2018, and Isola says that it is purely a back up tyre, with no need for it to be used.
“We are not planning to use the super-hard this year. The reason why we wanted to homologate it is that if you have it in the range, you can use it. If you don’t homologate, you are obliged to ask for unanimity from the teams to introduce this one.” – Mario Isola added. Further questions have been raised regarding the coloured walls of the tyres, with the new hard compound featuring an ‘ice blue’ band, somewhat similar to the current wet compound. Yet, Mario Isola assured critics that changes will be made to the hard tyre – the rainbow is not exhausted just yet.
“We are planning to make the full wet a bit darker to make it more distinguishable compared to the hard” – he added – “The hard is ice blue and the wet will be a blue that is more dark, but I believe it is [unlikely] that we can see the hard and the wet used at the same time. It is not really an issue. But you never know, that’s why we are changing the colour – just in case!” – Pirelli Motorsport racing manager Mario Isola concluded.