Pirelli racing manager Mario Isola said that Formula One should put the emphasis on mechanical grip in order to improve the sport’s racing. Formula 1’s wider and faster new-spec cars which were introduced last year led unfortunately to a lot less overtaking in the field during the 2017 F1 championship compared to the previous season, as Pirelli’s official data established.
Increased downforce is seen as the main culprit for the lack of passing moves, and Mario Isola says improving mechanical grip would go a long way towards improving the show: “My personal opinion is that we should have more mechanical grip and less aero grip,” Pirelli’s F1 man said, as reported by the British media – “With more mechanical grip you encourage overtaking, it gets easier. Because when you’re following another car you lose less downforce and it’s easier to try to overtake. You can follow the other car closely. So in the future I would like to see more mechanical grip and less aero grip.” – the Pirelli motorsport boss concluded.
Mario Isola’s view echoed that of former F1 driver Stefan Johansson, always a keen and smart observer of F1’s troubles, who also believes F1’s focus should be on improving tyres: “As long as you have a lot of aero, you’re always going to have this problem, and the more complicated the aero is, which an F1 car is the epitomy of, the more affected your car will be from the dirty air,” said Stefan Johansson – “I have said it before but I’ll say it again, I know I’m starting to sound like a broken record. The easiest way to get more grip – and it would be so easy – is to simply improve the tyres.”
Mario Isola has also highlighted the strong impact of increased downforce on tyre performance, especially in the wake of another car’s disturbed air. A state of affairs which Pirelli took into account when designing its compounds: “You lose the tyre because obviously the temperature is going up [when following another car]. You slide and you increase the temperature, you overheat the tyre and lose performance. The big step we did last year with the new family of compounds was to design compounds and use new ingredients to reduce overheating, control overheating. So even if you increase the temperature of the surface, the compound is still able to provide good grip.” – the Pirelli racing manager explained.