Pirelli Motorsport’s Mario Isola is banking on the upcoming Abu Dhabi F1 test for official word on the 2020 tyres while he feels positive on the 2021’s 18-inch compound.
As the 2019 F1 season draws to a close, preparations for next year has kick-started, not just for the teams and drivers but also for Pirelli, who has to cook up some new rubber compounds, which they have been working on all-through this year.
The new 2020 F1 compound was publicly tested at the Circuit of the Americas during the US GP’s Friday sessions, with the teams providing additional feedback to the tyre manufacturer after the private sessions earlier in the season.
The checklist of things to fix, though, appears to have been longer than Pirelli would have liked, after getting a mixed response from up and down the paddock – more towards ‘lack of improvement and or grip’ from the 2019 compounds they are running.
The teams and drivers agreed to explore it further in the post-season Abu Dhabi two-day F1 test at Yas Marina Circuit. At the same time, Pirelli head Isola put the reviews down to the colder conditions at COTA and feels that Abu Dhabi run will be better for them.
“The feedback was mixed,” said Isola. “I believed that we had quite difficult conditions in Austin. It was very cold and the new tyres are designed with a different philosophy. So the plan now is to test them again in Abu Dhabi where we have a two-day test planned specifically for testing the new construction and new compounds.
“We will have a comparison that is more reliable compared to Austin. We tested this new construction during the year with the teams and with their cars and we found an improvement in terms of overheating, in terms of compounds with a wider working range – but mainly the new construction was designed because every year the performance of the cars is increasing and obviously we have to follow this increase in performance.
“If we don’t change the construction, the only possibility is to raise the starting pressure and raising it, is making the overheating worse and the behaviour of the tyre in general worse. So, the new construction has been designed with the target to keep the pressure as low as possible, according to the improvement in the performance of the cars.
“So, I hope that we can have a test in Abu Dhabi that is more representative. I fully understand during the race weekend all the teams are focussed on the race weekend itself, so they cannot adjust the set-up of the car – the aero-balance of the car – and the new tyres have a different profile.
“They are wider, especially on the rear, and this has an impact on the downforce of the car, as well as the balance of the car. So, we need a bit more time to test them properly on long runs, to understand if we achieve this target. After that, obviously we are very happy to discuss the result of the test and to see what is better for the sport.”
Past 2020, Pirelli have also begun planning for 2021, as the revolutionary change of 18″ rims will be implemented. So far, Renault and McLaren has tested the tyres at Paul Ricard. Mercedes is also to run them in 2019 which could be at Yas Marina.
Pirelli, though, provided an update on the two tests, revealing that the new tyre-and-wheel do provide on-track performance gains, even when fitted to mule cars. “It was positive feedback [from both Renault and McLaren],” said Isola.
“They [the teams and drivers] said that the 18-inch tyres were better than expected. They are more reactive, we confirmed some results that we had with Renault at Paul Ricard in September. So now we are finalising the 2020 test plan.
“Obviously we will have another 25 car-days of tests [in 2020] but I’m very positive. And in any case, what we have developed for the 2020 tyres, we have some concepts that we can transfer to the 18-inch tyres. So, it’s useful to keep this direction for the future.”
Here’s details of last F1 2020 Pirelli test
Here’s details of last F1 2021 Pirelli test
The is story was written by Duncan Leahy and edited by Darshan Chokhani