After a 2015 season that many fans have described as among the dullest in years, Formula 1 has a tough job to attract new fans to its ranks unless it can – among a host of other initiatives it should explore – improve the quality of the wheel-to-wheel racing it offers to fans.
Pirelli has stepped up to the plate in response, and will introduce new rules regarding the allocation and number of tyres each team (and driver) can use over an entire race weekend. It is hoped that these new rules will encourage more on-track action in practice, in addition to opening up strategy options during the races.
Under the new rules, Pirelli will provide teams with three dry-weather compounds – from its wider range of five – at each Grand Prix, with teams able to pick 10 of the 13 sets provided.
Of the three sets in balance, those will be allocated by Pirelli. Two sets will be chosen for the race, of which only one must be used. A further set will be allocated from the softest nominated compound and it can only be used during the final Q3 phase in qualifying if a driver makes it through to that stage. Non-Q3 runners may use that tyre set during the race at their discretion.
Theoretically, a driver could run three different compounds during a race.
Here’s how the rules are explained by Pirelli:
Pirelli’s explanation of the 2016 F1 Tyre Rules:
Pirelli, in consultation with the FIA, will decide the three compounds in advance. Pirelli will nominate two mandatory race sets for each car, while one set of the softer compound will be kept aside for use in Q3 only.
The two mandatory sets chosen by Pirelli can be of two different compounds, from the three that have been nominated for the event. The remaining 10 sets can be chosen by each team, from the three compounds nominated.
The teams will make their choices within a deadline set by Pirelli. After the choices are communicated to the FIA, Pirelli will be told how many tyres to produce. Choices will remain secret until two weeks before each race. If a team fails to meet the deadline, the choice will be made by the FIA on its behalf.
The choices made by each team can vary for each of its cars, meaning that each driver within a team can have a different allocation.
The tyres will be distinguished by different coloured markings on the sidewalls, as is currently the case.
Teams will still have to give back tyres according to a certain schedule, but they can decide which tyres to give back at these prescribed points:
- One set after the first 40 minutes of FP1
- One set at the end of FP1
- Two sets at the end of FP2
- Two sets at the end of FP3
The two mandatory sets cannot be given back during practice and must be available for use in the race. At least one of these sets must be used during the race, but the teams can decide which one.
At the end of qualifying, the top 10 will still have to give back the set of the softer compound nominated for Q3, and start the race on the tyres with which they set their fastest time in Q2. All other drivers will be able to use the set that is saved for Q3 during the race.
Pirelli’s Super Soft, Soft, Medium and Hard dry compounds will be joined by an Ultra Soft tyre, which ran during the end-of-season Pirelli tyre test at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi.
Image via Fox Sports