According to racefans.net, ‘’A tender issued to potential tyre suppliers [by the FIA] for F1 between 2020 and 2023 sets targets for degradation. It includes a soft tyre compound which becomes two seconds per lap slower over 10% of a race distance.’’
Pirelli’s F1 boss, Mario Isola said “We are analysing the numbers for degradation. They’re quite high.
That’s why before replying we are, with the guys in Milan, trying to make some simulations to understand what we achieve with these numbers. They are probably not far from 2011, 2012. We are making the comparisons to understand.
Pure degradation [is one thing], a different thing is degradation during the race. Because during the race, the teams have it in all their interests to manage degradation and reduce it without reducing too much the pace in order to achieve the best result. They are in competition, so they have to do that.
So, we need to put on the table all these aspects to understand which is the final result. Because of all these numbers, it’s not very easy to predict that without support from the numbers.
Honestly, they are quite high [The target levels of tyre degradation].’’
Does F1 need to go back to tyres with big degradation?
When Pirelli returned to F1 back in 2011, we saw lots of races from 2011 to 2013 where the tyres wore out very quickly – and there would be three or four stops at a couple of tracks where there were heavy loads of the tyres.
Ever since the tyre blowouts on multiple cars at Silverstone back in ‘13, conservative, durable compounds have been the story as we’ve seen. One stops have been a regular occurrence, even on the softest compounds in the Pirelli range at present.
Is the Italian tyre manufacturer too cautious at the moment? Quite possibly. Yet, it must be said the FIA tell them to make either durable or high deg tyres depending on the year.
The reality at the moment is that the soft tyres are too hard. A lot of fans do like to see the drivers going hard throughout the race and not having to look after them, but it doesn’t offer more opportunities to overtake.
As we saw over the three seasons where tyre wear was quite to very high, it created chances for lots of overtaking and different strategies in a fight for victories or positions on track – Hamilton (three stops) vs Vettel (two stops) in the 2011 Chinese Grand Prix is a perfect example of this as the Brit passed his German rival in the closing stages to take the win.
In 2012 and 2013, it gave teams who didn’t quite have the raw qualifying pace to challenge in races thanks to looking after the tyres much better than the front runners. Think of Perez and Grosjean at Canada in 2012, Raikkonen at Australia in 2013 as two big examples. It brought more teams like Sauber and Lotus into play to fight for podiums on a Sunday afternoon – and that would only be a good thing if it happened again.
Without question, the gap between the top cars vs the rest are much bigger than they were in 2012 or 2013 and it’s much more difficult to pass another car at the moment with similar pace compared to a few years ago. Big tyre degradation would help that somewhat.
Managing a tyre is a skill in itself and there would be drivers who are better at it than others as we witnessed from 2011 to 2013. It would be good to see tyres with high wear return and have races where there would be more than one stop. Let’s hope the field is much closer by 2020 to see the best effects of it.