While F1 teams are currently working hard on their 2022 challengers, Pirelli has also been working diligently to develop their new 18-inch tyres for this season. In 2021 there were some alarming moments including two massive blowouts on the left rear tyres of both Max Verstappen and Lance Stroll cars during the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. These incidents put the Italian tyre company at the center of controversy especially on social media platforms where some believed that they should have been held responsible for the dangerous crashes.
During the 2022 Pirelli launch, the tyre company boss Mario Isola spoke to the media outlining the goals and the direction that they have planned for the upcoming F1 season. After receiving critical feedback from the F1 drivers Isola says they have designed the new tyres with their valuable input in mind.
"Drivers were asking for less overheating, less degradation; they want to push on tires, they want to fight on track, we decided and we agreed with the FIA and the teams to follow these directions. So we had to design a new profile, new construction, optimize the footprint, design a new range of compounds—a completely new product with a new approach," he stated.
One of the most significant changes from 2021 was going from a tyre size of 13-inches to the current size of 18- inches. Now with a completely new approach and product, Pirelli will have a new set of challenges to face for the 2022 season. However, Isola addressed the 2021 issues emphasizing the importance of how these difficult incidents are handled in a timely manner.
“Challenges are always there when you are involved in such a high level of competition. What is important is the reaction and to fix the issues as soon as possible," he said.
The Pirelli boss also made it clear how crucial it is for the teams to utilize the tyres properly under the ideal conditions.
"It's important that in any championship, they [teams] operate the tire in the right condition. A tire needs air inside it to resist. If you go too low with the pressure, you take the risk of damage to the construction”
“So it's part of our job, but we provide a lot of technical assistance on track, we have a lot of people traveling around the world to give suggestions to the teams—advice, prescriptions and it's continuous work with the federation, with the promoters to be sure that they use the tires in the proper way, in the right way to extract the maximum performance."
Isola discussed some of the technical aspects of the new 18-inch tyres including their exclusive wheel supplier BBS and how there will a bigger gap between the rim and brake which will affect how the teams manage the temperature inside their tyres as well as the pressure.
"We have a working group that was managed by the FIA together with BBS [F1's exclusive wheel supplier for 2022], Pirelli, and also the supplier of the default sensor," Isola explained.
"We ran some tests with the 18-inch tires fitted on BBS rims, [which] was a very useful approach, to have this working group that was meeting every week to monitor the progression of the activity in terms of how the teams will manage the temperature."
"This year we have more space between the rim and the brake - in the past, we know that teams were using the heat to transfer from the brake to the rim to manage the temperature inside the tire. So to manage also the pressure, it will be different in 2022. I believe that is still in part a performance differentiator. So the teams will try to use this also in 2022 if they are able to do that, we will discover it."
Pre-season testing for F1 is set to take place in Barcelona from February 23th to the 25th and from March 11th to the 13th in Bahrain. The teams and drivers will then have a better understanding of the new tyres and we will be able to see if the past issues have been resolved.