F1 drivers share their thoughts on trying the new 18-inches Pirelli tyres in the actual 2022 car which was a positive experience, but compounds difference surprising.

Pirelli’s brand new tyres have received varied responses from several drivers, with some more outspoken than others on the differences they can feel between previous iterations of the 13-inch tyres and the new 18-inch tyres, especially as they get their first feelings of the new tyres while driving the actual 2022 F1 car as opposed to a mule one.

As a significant part of F1’s all-new 2022 cars that have been designed to produce better quality racing and assist the championship’s sustainability target, the traditional 13-inch tyres have been replaced with 18-inch tyres with a thinner sidewall and profile.

The larger wheels and tyres will change the way F1 teams and drivers’ deal with tyre temperature and wear regulation. On top of that, Pirelli have also been tasked with changing the properties of the tyre compounds alongside changing the basic shape to accommodate the larger wheels.

F1 drivers had previously requested less overheating and degradation to allow them to push harder in races and potentially improve the racing spectacle in that way too. Pirelli agreed with the FIA, FOM and the teams to follow this new direction from 2022 in conjunction with the arguably more road relevant 18-inch wheels and tyres.

Ten-time F1 race winner and new Alfa Romeo recruit Valtteri Bottas is impressed with the new tyres in testing in comparison to “what I felt in the test in Abu Dhabi” last year. Whereas Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll likens the “very similar” tyres to previous Pirelli rubber.

Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz is “more encouraged” by the tyres than Stroll, noting how they suit the new cars well and possess “quite a big step” between the compounds provided by Pirelli, which has the potential to change how race strategies are dreamt up.

Although “aligned” to the other drivers’ opinions, Mick Schumacher picks out the mandatory changes to the temperature of the tyre blankets which he also thinks “will play a role choosing the strategy”, however Williams’ new recruit Alex Albon believes it’s “hard to say” without first testing the tyres in the more representative conditions in Bahrain.

Here’s what the drivers thought of the new tyres:

Valtteri Bottas: “I have to say they’ve been feeling a bit better than I was expecting based on what I felt in the test in Abu Dhabi at the end of last year. In Abu Dhabi we were experiencing quite a bit of graining but here that’s been actually a minimal issue, so with the limited amount of laps I’ve got so far they’ve been actually ok but we will see better in Bahrain.”

Lance Stroll: “For me the [tyres’] behaviour has been very similar to in the past. Definitely can’t see as well with these tyres, that’s something I think everyone’s picked up on, but behaviour-wise from what I’ve felt over the long run they overheat and degrade and do the things the tyres have been doing the previous years.”

Carlos Sainz: “I’m maybe a bit more encouraged by them just because I did quite a bit of testing last year, I think I did three or four days on those F1 compounds and it looked like they are suiting well these new generation of cars and they look to be at least allowing you to push a bit more on them compared to previous years, a bit less overheating, a bit less deg, but there’s still deg, its still a tyre that degrades and a tyre that overheats as Lance was mentioning.

“But the scale of it for me personally I feel like it’s a bit better and the work done by Pirelli last year and the development seems to start to pay off a bit, there looks to also be quite a big step from compounds, which is something that in the last few years for example the C2, C3 and C4 were all very close to each other and here there seems to be at least around Barcelona quite a big step in grip from one compound to another so it could maybe mix up a bit the things in races, in that sense there are some extra differences there to last year.”

Mick Schumacher: “I think obviously I can align with everything they said, obviously the tyre blankets being a bit cooler does do a difference. Personally I feel the tyres are a bit colder to start off with so I could imagine that will play a role choosing the strategy and everything so I think it will be interesting. The tyres feel all right so far, as I said I think also the visibility seems to be a bit lower but I guess you just have to guess or estimate the times where you are with the car but something you get used to.”

Alex Albon (to FormulaRapida.net): “The tyres are different, you know, not just the cars but the tyres are stiff and the sidewalls are small and you can feel that as well, [but] the tyres are still Pirellis, you can tell that. You can push them relatively hard but especially in the long runs there’s still some management required. There’s not much different, the only thing I would say is, you can see it in the lap times, there’s quite big jumps in the compounds which I think everyone’s been a little bit surprised by.

“The working ranges seem to be a little bit more forgiving but it’s hard to say obviously it’s quite cold out here right now and it always feels quite nice at this time of year around Barcelona. I think we’ll see how it is around Bahrain once the temperatures pick up but for now it’s pretty positive.”

The story was written by Danny Herbert

Here’s F1 team bosses on Andretti

Here’s F1 teams defending crypto