Pirelli Motorsport’s Mario Isola revealed about testing the F1 2021 compounds in Silverstone and Barcelona as they eye to fix the few changes they have in mind from 2020.
2020 is a F1 season in which spare time is hard to come by due to COVID-19 restrictions, and as such, privatised tests – something crucial to the tyre manufacturer of the category – Pirelli – specifically, have become virtually impossible.
In response to this and to give Pirelli the opportunity to test the tyres for the 2021 season, F1 granted the tyre manufacturer the ability to block off 30 minutes of selected sessions to test the new prototypes and gather data.
The FIA changed the regulations likewise and added that Pirelli can ask teams to run the tyres during FP1 and or FP2 sessions of a race weekend. With 2020 season truly on, the Italian manufacturer will use the second Silverstone race and Barcelona to do so.
All 10 teams with 20 drivers will participate barring if anyone has car damage, as Pirelli boss Isola explained while he discussed the details of the tyres that they will be trialing. “We’ve sent to the teams the information that we intend to use the option of having the first 30 minutes of FP2 available for tyre development testing during the second race in Silverstone and during the race in Barcelona,” he said.
“The idea is to test different solutions with an improved integrity, which means these tyres can work at a lower pressure, and a few other solutions, with a target to reduce overheating. These prototypes are for 2021, and if we collect enough information the target is to freeze the construction and compounds for 2021 with these two validations. It is not a new tyre, it is not a complete new construction.
“It is impossible for us to have proper development during the season, it is not in our plans. But obviously we would like to test a few ideas to improve the integrity considering that the teams are going to develop their cars and add downforce to the cars for next year. The technical regulations will be modified to reduce downforce at the beginning of the season, but it is possible that we have at the end of 2021 an increased level of downforce, and therefore we would like to test these prototypes,” summed up Isola.
As the Pirelli chief mentioned, the prototypes will remain the same but with certain changes to improve durability. He also made the important distinction that they are not revisiting the previously-conceived tyres that were designed for 2020, only to be abandoned.
These tyres, instead, will be made to work with the higher-downforce cars that will inevitably come in the next year as development on the 2020 chassis’ continues through 2021. Should the two tests match the desired numbers, they may not run anymore later in the 2020 season apart from post-season testing.
“We are not planning to use the to-be 2020 profile, because as you know, teams need to modify the floor, and this is not possible in a test that will last – in total – 30 minutes, and obviously after these 30 minutes the teams will want to run their tests for free practice to collect information and data for the race weekend,” said Isola.
“We are exploring different solutions, obviously from the development from last year we learned something, and we want to apply concepts that were tested last year. We will not be revisiting the 2020 tyres that we tested in Abu Dhabi, I’m talking about different prototypes.”
As is the norm in tyre testing, Isola noted that the compound of each tyre will not be known by the teams, and that they will therefore all be coloured black. “All 20 cars will run in the thirty minutes to test our prototype tyres,” he said. “All the tyres will be black – the test will be blind, so they don’t know what they are testing.
“Obviously we will provide information if they need to make adjustments to the set-up, because, for example, we have different deformation, stiffness of the tyres. We are trying to minimize this, though, to avoid any change during the practice. All the teams will test different solutions, we are not obliged like we were in the past, to provide two types of prototypes of the same compound to the teams.
“Our plans will be decided by Pirelli, so we will give information to the teams on which is the plan they have to follow. Obviously, half an hour is not a lot, we can’t plan to have proper development, and the plan is not to have other tests after Barcelona, but it depends on the results of the test.
“If we are satisfied, with Barcelona we’ll end the development. Otherwise, there is the option to ask for a third opportunity, but this is not in the plan at the moment,” explained Isola. F1 had already announced that 13-inch will carry on to be tyres in 2021 with the plans for 18-inch shifted to 2022 due to COVID-19.
Here’s the changed F1 regulations for tyre test
The story was edited by Darshan Chokhani