Formula 1 is moving towards a scenario where the issue of environmental sustainability plays an increasingly central role. Earlier today, the series’ management confirmed that all teams participating in the championship have received recognition from the Federation regarding sustainability.
This process involves not only the teams but also the Grand Prix promoters and Pirelli. The goal is to develop tire compounds that do not require the use of tire blankets, thus achieving energy savings. Work is currently underway to create prototypes for dry tires, with teams already having had the opportunity to test some of them during specific test sessions.
However, at the beginning of this season, the teams had approved the use of extreme wet tires that do not require tire blankets starting from the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix. After the cancellation of the Imola event, this particular type of tire was used for the first time during the race in Monaco and was tested again during the final practice session in Canada.
In addition to the work on dry tires, the Italian manufacturer is also focusing on new intermediate compounds, which were supposed to make their debut during the 2023 Formula 1 season, just like the full wet tires.
The Singapore Grand Prix had been identified as a potential starting point, considering the production and transportation times required to introduce the new product. However, despite extensive testing conducted in recent months, a majority of teams voted against the introduction of the new intermediates during a vote held over the Monaco Grand Prix weekend.
“There are usually races with rain, such as Suzuka, for example. It was a good opportunity to test them before the end of the season,” explained Mario Isola when asked why the debut was supposed to take place in Singapore and why it was important to test them during this championship.
“The problem is that testing them as an additional prototype is difficult because we would have to send them all over the world. I was talking to the FIA, proposing the intermediate tires for Singapore, but then they responded with a no. The teams were not in agreement. Unfortunately, there were more than two opposing teams because we needed eight in favor.” – the Italian pointed out.
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Mario Isola insisted that he doesn’t know why the teams rejected the new intermediates after accepting the full wet tires. “It’s a good question. But honestly, I don’t have an answer.”
In fact, not all teams had the opportunity to participate in the tests for the development of the green band tires, and Mario Isola acknowledged that this could be a reason why some teams refused their potential introduction during this championship. However, the head of Pirelli Motorsport also added that it’s not possible to give everyone the opportunity to try them: “It’s clear that it’s also difficult to test intermediates or wets. It has never happened to have a complete test with all the teams because it simply cannot be organized.”
The refusal came despite the positive outcome of Pirelli’s wet tests, with Alpine conducting the final test at Paul Ricard at the beginning of last month, before the official vote took place.
“Esteban [Ocon] was quite satisfied with the new tires, the pace is good. Even without tire blankets, they worked well, the warm-up was good. We also tested them in other sessions with different conditions and so on. So, in all these sessions, they were judged positively, but sometimes it’s like that.”
Confirming the successful test in France was Alpine’s Sporting Director, Alan Permane: “We tried the non-blanket intermediates, and they worked very, very well. Pirelli did an exceptional job, and we compared them with the standard intermediates.” – he explained.
James Vowles, Team Principal of Williams, attempted to provide an explanation behind this refusal, suggesting that teams are still in an evaluation phase because before voting even for the non-blanket intermediates, they want to fully understand the functioning of the new full wet tires.
“Before moving to the intermediate tires, before this decision, no one, except for the teams that had conducted the tests, had used the extreme wet tires. Monaco was the first time they were used in a race. And it wasn’t perfect; it’s a low-energy track in some ways, but it didn’t go perfectly.”
James Vowles suggested that the data collected in the practice sessions in Montreal could provide further insights into the behavior of the full wet tire that may not have emerged during specific tests: “The reason why the teams voted cautiously [on the intermediates] is that they want to obtain some track data with the existing product and ensure that it doesn’t have any negative effects that haven’t emerged from specific tests. And that’s evident from what happened here [in Montreal].” – he concluded.