F1 Testing | Mario Isola believes Pirelli is on the right path with the new tires’ performance
At the end of the three-days testing in Bahrain, Mario Isola commented on the 2021 compounds and believes data are aligned with their expectations.
Post afternoon session, Pirelli motorsport director Mario Isola illustrated the data collected throughout the last three days of testing.
“Day one was of course a bit tricky because of the wind and the sandstorm. It is a pity because after F2 tests the circuit was in very good conditions. Teams focused on C2 and C3 compounds and they all focused on collecting data because of the new aero-package”.
“Day 2 had completely different conditions in terms of track and weather conditions. Thanks to the data collected in the previous sessions and the simulations we got from the teams in preparation for the race, Pirelli was able to reduce the real pressure of the tyres by 1,5 PSI”.
On day one, some teams complained about a lack of stability and lots of understeering; however, Isola claims that thanks to Pirelli and the team's cooperation, they were able to fix the issue. the balance of the car was also better.
On Saturday, most teams started focusing on other compounds – C4 and C5, specifically. However, as McLaren’s Team Principal Andreas Seidl had already anticipated, it is very hard to make predictions about the actual performance of the new tyres.
“We know teams are hiding their real performance during tests so it is very hard to say what is the delta lap time of the different compounds”, Isola said.
“In the first two days, teams were focusing on short-runs mainly. Today, on the other hand, it was a bit different. Some drivers focused on long-runs and performance laps.
“We’re happy to report there were no issues with the tyres, no graining, no blister at all, only some abrasion of C4 and C5”
Mario Isola is convinced that, based on preliminary results, the performance is not too far from last year.
“I believe that, compared to the original plan of reducing downforce by 10%, teams have been able to recover their performance… Most of them are down by 4-5% in downforce and if we look at lap times, they’re very close to last year”.
Pirelli’s Head of F1 and Car Racing is pleased with their tires so far; however, it will be up to the drivers to have the last word. Indeed, in 2020 teams were given the chance to run some laps during the Bahrain GP free practice sessions and, most drivers were not pleased with how the 2021 tires felt.
Mario Isola was asked to comment on Pirelli and F1’s decision to extend their current partnership – After it was clear that the introduction of the 18-inch tires had to be postponed to 2022, due to COVID-19 economic impact; Pirelli was “happy to accept” FIA’s proposal and continue working together, especially because of the “huge investments we made for developing the new tires”.
Isola says he is “not surprised teams were able to reduce downforce” and believes it was thanks to the collaboration between Pirelli, the FIA and all teams that they could finetune the development of the new compounds together with the new cars.
“Despite the difficult situation with COVID, we are working in parallel with all the technical departments of the team and we were able to develop more robust compounds that are more reliable and we have maintained the performances of last year”. Additionally, Isola believes that Pirelli is on the right path with their tires’ development.
“The feedback we have so far are very in line we what we were expecting and the data we had from our factories; however, I believe today was much more representative in terms of conditions. So, we’ll have to check today’s data.”
From a technical point of view, Isola has explained that the “shape of the 2021 tires is a 3-4 millimetres wider than last year”, even if that might sound insignificant but such a small change can make a huge difference in terms of downforce for current F1 cars. Moreover, the new tires are 2,7kg heavier – more specifically, the front tires are 1,5kg heavier, while the rear ones weight almost 1,2kg more.
As far as performance is concerned, Isola believes it’s too early to give a credible verdict.
“The only reliable data we have are the delta lap times between C2 and C3, that is more or less -0,5…the rest is very difficult to assess because these tests were not like a traditional race weekend.
“Teams were not focusing on qualifying times, they run different programs, there wasn’t much track evolution, so it is hard to say…we need to wait for the race weekends”.
Lastly, Pirelli's representative is confident they were able to develop a much more robust set of compounds that won't run the risk of degrading as much as it happened last year - for example when both Mercedes drivers suffered tyres failures during the final laps of the 2020 British GP.