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Pirelli Degrading Tyres Causing Interesting F1 Results

29 March 2011 7,881 views One Comment

The F1 season finally got underway on the weekend at Melbourne, Australia. Everybody was eager to see the pecking order for the 2011 Formula One season. The eventual winner was the champion Vettel, again in the very fast Red Bull, leading Hamilton in the McLaren.

Besides how fast each team’s car was, the other interesting aspect was the effect the tyres would play on the race. There had been much talk about the tyre strategy since Pirelli took over in F1 as one of the key aspects was to create a tyre that degraded more quickly!

Pirelli Design Degrading Tyres

Why make a tyre degrade more quickly? For years and years tyre makers have been trying to improve the tyre with Michelin making their own Energy Saver Tyre which lasts longer. Well this time, its all in the name of making F1 a more exciting sport – as if flying around at 200mph wasn’t enough.

The Pirelli P Zero tyres have been designed to degrade more quickly than the previous Bridgestone tyres. Similar to the Canada event which saw high tyre degradation. They offer performance for only a certain number of laps, in Sunday’s race the front runners were pitting after the tyres had done 15 laps. Then, like a runner in a marathon, the tyres hit a wall and degrade very quickly, providing less grip and causing a loss of lap time.

Colour Coded Pirelli Tyres

They have also colour coded the tyres to provide viewers a clear idea of which tyre is in use.

Pirelli Tyre Markings

  • Hard Dry Weather Tyres: Silver.
  • Medium Dry Weather Tyres: White.
  • Soft Dry Weather Tyres: Yellow.
  • Super-Soft Dry Weather Tyres: Red.
  • Full Wet Tyres: Orange
  • Intermediate Weather Tyres: Light Blue

Pirelli describes the tyres as follows: “The wet tyre is used in case of heavy rain, while the intermediate is for a damp or drying track.

“The super-soft provides plenty of speed at the expense of durability, while the soft tyre lasts a bit longer but is still more biased towards performance.

“The medium tyre is a balanced compromise, while the hard tyre is the most durable of all.”

The Tyre Verdict

What we saw was lots of discarded bits of rubber on the side of the racing line, with the degradation causing many drivers to pit 2-3 times. The only astonishing exception came from the Sauber team who only pitted Perez once but were eventually disqualified on a legal technicality of the rear wing.

Was it more exciting? Well I think it was more exciting than if the tyres didn’t degrade as much. There were drivers in the field on different strategies, using different compounds of the dry tyres. It all meant mayhem and action in the tyre strategy department but not quite the high number of overtaking manouvers that viewers were hoping for.

I’m sure the research and development won’t stop for Pirelli so it will be interesting to see what they have in store for the fans.

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