A number of outfits are struggling this year to get tyres up to the right operating temperature, with Pirelli’s 0.4mm thinner tread having moved the ideal temperature range higher.
Scuderia Ferrari believes that its failure to challenge Mercedes this season is down to the new tyre situation, which is why it is working on fresh ideas to help boost its performance in this area. Pirelli’s F1 racing manager Mario Isola is aware that teams have faced some headaches hitting the sweet spot with regards tyre temperatures this year, which is why he says thoughts will be given to making things easier for 2020.
“What we are trying to do for next year is to focus on the working range, to make it wider,” explained Mario Isola – “In 2021 we will have 18-inch tyres, but without blankets, so we need to design compounds that are working without them. You need something that generates grip from 20 degrees to 120 degrees. This is giving us the opportunity to develop new compounds for 2021, so if we find something good in this research phase, then we can introduce in 2020, why not? If we find a new family of compounds with a new philosophy, that is making the working range much wider, then we can introduce this new family also in 2020 with 13-inch [tyres] and with blankets. It’s not that blankets will create an issue. They just start from a higher temperature.” – he explained.
Mario Isola believes that the increased focus this year on tyre working ranges is the result of the competitiveness of F1, where tyre performance can now make a big difference to positions.
“If you consider the midfield, we have five or six teams that are within 0.2 seconds of each other,” he said. “It has become very, very important to find any thousandths of a second. It can create a difference in qualifying position or in the race pace or whatever. That’s why they [the teams] are so focused on the tyres, because probably if you are able to use the tyre in the best possible way you find performance. To find such performance with the powerunit, or downforce is a bit more difficult.” – he added.
How the working ranges have changed
Pirelli’s thinner tread tyres, introduced to prevent blistering and overheating, have shifted the working ranges slightly higher. Here is a run down of how the operating windows compare this year to last season (2018 equivalent temperatures are in brackets).
C1 – 110-140C (Hard 105-135C)
C2 – 110-135C (Medium 110-140C)
C3 – 105-135C (Soft 105-135C)
C4 – 90-120C (Ultrasoft 90-110C)
C5 – 85-115C (Hypersoft 85-105C)