F1 tyres: What are the compounds and what do they imply? - Motor Informed
Formula 1

F1 tyres: What are the compounds and what do they imply?

For so long as automobiles have raced one another for grand prix wins, tyres have performed an important function in securing victory. As the one contact factors between the automobile and the street, by which each piece of engineering wizardry should in the end be channeled, that’s logical sufficient.

And though the expertise has progressed in step with every thing else in System 1, the elemental problem round tyres has remained just about unchanged because the very first world championship occasion in 1950. How do you get essentially the most grip (and thus nook pace) out of your rubber – with out sporting it out too quick or too quickly?

What are the tyre compounds utilized in System 1?

Tyre compounds seek advice from how exhausting or mushy the rubber is on a selected sort of tyre – they usually introduce a vital variable to the System 1 tyre equation.

On any given weekend, drivers can select from mushy, medium and exhausting compounds for dry climate circumstances. These ‘slicks’ are marked purple, yellow and white respectively. There’s additionally a full moist compound (marked blue) for racing in severe rain, together with an intermediate (marked inexperienced) for a moist, in-between observe floor.

All of those are equipped by Italian producer Pirelli. Whereas there have been durations of ‘tyre struggle’ competitors up to now, and at least 9 producers have shod automobiles in world championship races, Pirelli has taken unique care of F1’s rubber wants since 2011.

Pirelli tyres in blankets

Pirelli tyres in blankets

Photograph by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images

What’s the distinction between a mushy, medium and exhausting tyre?

As we talked about up high, the important problem with tyres is to get as a lot road-holding efficiency (grip) as doable – and keep it for an affordable size of time. If tyres present glorious dealing with however put on out after a lap or two, that’s not going to be a lot good for successful races. As a result of as soon as tyres are worn, dealing with deteriorates and the hazard of a blowout will increase. Which in flip means pitstops grow to be mandatory sooner fairly than later. And also you don’t need to lose time making too a lot of these, regardless of how briskly your automotive is when the tyres are recent.

So, tyres are all the time a compromise between efficiency and endurance. In System 1, the completely different tyre compounds imply groups have the selection of which manner they need to shift this compromise. In principle – which doesn’t all the time match apply! – a softer tyre is quicker however wears out sooner. A more durable compound lasts longer, however doesn’t present the most effective efficiency.

· Mushy tyres – These characterize the quickest rubber, however are probably to wear down earlier than the more durable compounds do.

· Medium tyres – That is the compromise compound. It’s normally slower than the softs however quicker than hards. And it ought to last more than the softs, however not so long as hards!

· Exhausting tyres – These present the least grip, however are supposed to stay in working order the longest.

Pirelli tyres, from left to right: soft (red), medium (yellow), hard (white), intermediate (green), wet (blue)

Pirelli tyres, from left to proper: mushy (purple), medium (yellow), exhausting (white), intermediate (inexperienced), moist (blue)

Photograph by: Erik Junius

What number of tyres can a driver use over an F1 weekend?

The tyre plot thickens when you think about that sources are restricted by the foundations. For a begin, every driver can use a most of 13 units of dry-weather tyres for the total three-day weekend. The allocation of slicks is damaged down by compound, so every driver will get two exhausting units, three medium units and eight mushy units.

Even earlier than you contemplate extra wet-weather tyre allocations and the marginally completely different numbers governing weekends with the dash format, there are additional twists. Drivers should return two units following every of the three apply periods, leaving solely seven for qualifying and the race. They usually must hold no less than one set of sentimental tyres for doable participation within the Q3 session. Those that make it that far must return this set after qualifying, while those that don’t get to maintain theirs for the race.

If that’s not sufficient to think about when planning the weekend, drivers are additionally required to make use of no less than two completely different slick compounds throughout a completely dry race. Which means no less than one pitstop will likely be mandatory on raceday. Drivers are additionally free to vary tyres greater than as soon as in the event that they really feel it is smart strategically – and have saved sufficient units throughout apply and qualifying.

To cowl moist climate, every driver may draw from an allocation of 4 units of intermediates and three units of wets.

Lastly, dash race weekends see the variety of dry units for the weekend diminished to 12. Drivers are additionally obliged to make use of the mushy tyres all through qualifying. After the dash race, drivers should return the set with which they accomplished essentially the most laps on this quick race.

Alpine F1 mechanics with tyres

Alpine F1 mechanics with tyres

Photograph by: Carl Bingham / Motorsport Images

Can drivers share tyres?

The tyre allocations talked about above are strictly on a per-driver foundation. If one in every of a staff’s drivers drops out of the race – and even has to drag out of the race weekend at an earlier stage – that doesn’t imply his team-mate may help himself to an additional few units of tyres. Tyres are strictly marked in response to their allocation, so policing that is easy.

This rule provides no sympathy for mix-ups both. George Russell was mistakenly given Valtteri Bottas’s tyres when the Mercedes drivers pitted one after the opposite on the 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix – and the staff picked up a €20,000 wonderful.

Can drivers use completely different compounds on the identical time?

Followers of different classes or types of motorsport are used to seeing rivals hit the observe with a mixture of completely different tyre compounds on their autos. In MotoGP, for instance, it’s common for a rider run a mushy entrance and a tough rear, for instance. System 1 doesn’t enable for this. You must run the identical compound on all 4 wheels always.

What does scrubbed, blistering and graining imply for F1 tyres?

System 1 has a jargon all of its personal. And loads of that has to do with tyres. Right here’s a quick glossary masking among the phrases you’ll hear when watching F1.

· Scrubbed: Typically utilizing a brand-new tyre is difficult because it heats up for the primary time in its life. When that is the case, groups usually ‘scrub in’ a set of tyres by operating them for a few laps in apply. Which means they’re able to hit the bottom operating on raceday.

· Slicks: Utterly clean tyres with no grooves. Designed for dry-weather use.

· Compound: How exhausting or mushy the rubber on a selected tyre is. Tougher tyres last more, however softer tyres grip the street higher.

· Blistering: When the interior a part of the tyre overheats in relation to the outer half, making a minor explosion from the within and damaging the floor.

· Graining: When the outer floor is hotter than the within of the tyre, it results in the surface rubber flexing, breaking off and sticking on high of the tyre floor.

· Flat spot: Because the identify suggests, it is a patch the place the floor of the tyre loses its curvature. Usually occurs when a driver ‘locks up’ by braking too late for a nook, inflicting the wheel to momentarily cease turning and the tyre to scrape alongside the bottom.

· Deg: Quick for ‘degradation’, this refers to a gentle lack of tyre efficiency because of put on.

McLaren Google Chrome tyre detail

McLaren Google Chrome tyre element

Photograph by: Erik Junius

How do groups determine on a tyre technique?

Whereas the foundations governing tyre technique are framed when it comes to drivers, the tyre plan for the weekend is a staff resolution. Groups normally use the primary apply day to attempt completely different compounds and get a really feel for the most effective tyre technique for the race.

This resolution is usually a combination between data offered by Pirelli, degradation noticed over a ‘long term’ simulating a big chunk of the race, the character of the circuit and the climate forecast for Sunday. If rain is anticipated later within the weekend, there’s much less of a squeeze on dry tyre sources as a result of drivers can then draw from their wet-weather allocation and hold their dry allocations intact.

Conversely, if scorching climate (which normally interprets to larger tyre put on) is on the playing cards for the race, groups must be certain they’ve sufficient rubber to cowl loads of tyre adjustments.

The observe format’s function in tyre technique performs out on a few ranges. If overtaking is hard and getting caught behind one other automotive is extremely probably in a race, a staff could err on the facet of extra pitstops as a result of that’s a useful solution to get their driver operating on a ‘clear’ observe fairly than dropping time behind a slower rival.

Additionally, if it’s a observe the place the partitions are shut and a security automotive is thus extra probably within the occasion of an incident, groups could plan for extra stops as a result of altering tyres prices comparatively little time when your rivals are required to drive across the observe slowly.

As soon as the goal sources for Sunday have been labored out, groups can then plan their tyre use for the remainder of apply and qualifying accordingly. In a really perfect world, they might all throw mushy tyres on their automotive for all three components of qualifying, since nailing a lap time is generally about efficiency fairly than endurance.

However the guidelines name for compromises whose penalties – when it comes to accessible tyres – would possibly solely grow to be obvious on the again finish of the race the next day.

Red bull Racing pitwall

Pink bull Racing pitwall

Photograph by: Erik Junius

What do the C1 – C5 scorings imply?

As we’ve already seen, every weekend sees Pirelli convey mushy, medium and exhausting compounds to the observe for dry-weather use.

Nevertheless, the vary of these tyres might be tailor-made to the circuit’s traits. That’s why the tyre provider really manufactures 5 dry compounds for the season.

They’re coded C1 (the toughest) to C5 (the softest). It will probably then nominate three of these compounds for every explicit Grand Prix weekend.

For instance, Pirelli could determine a more durable vary of tyres are referred to as for because of an abrasive observe and/or excessive temperatures. This can be a security and advertising resolution as a lot as something, as a result of blowouts are harmful and tyre failures ensuing from extreme put on don’t make for good publicity. On this instance, it could most likely convey the C1, C2 and C3 tyres.

On this manner, compounds in the midst of the size can really get a special marking on completely different weekends. The place C3 could be the mushy, red-marked tyre within the instance above, it may equally be

the exhausting, white-marked tyre on a weekend when Pirelli decides to convey the softest doable vary, C3-C5.

The wet-weather tyres don’t range when it comes to their softness or hardness, and easily carry the designated colors outlined above.

Why do some tyres have grooves and others don’t?

The first function of grooves on a tyre is to disperse water from a moist street floor. That’s the rationale on a regular basis shopper automobiles all have grooved tyres: they should work safely in all circumstances!

However grooves really additionally compromise dry-weather dealing with to a level, as a result of having them reduces the quantity of rubber touching the street. This isn’t vital in a street automotive, however within the shut and aggressive world of System 1, a totally ‘slick’ tyre is fascinating for getting round corners as quick as doable in dry climate. For race followers, a slick tyre is synonymous with final efficiency.

System 1 automobiles ran grooved tyres within the early a long time of the world championship, however slicks began appearing within the early 1970s. These caught on quick.

Nevertheless, groups had been as soon as once more compelled to run grooves from 1998 till the tip of 2008. This measure was launched in an try and sluggish the automobiles down – however few look again on that period’s tyres with fondness.

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren MP4-23 Mercedes, leads Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari F2008

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren MP4-23 Mercedes, leads Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari F2008

Photograph by: Glenn Dunbar / Motorsport Images

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