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Tyres in Formula 1

Tyres have been a pivotal part of Formula 1 races this year. This years races have all been about pit strategy,  when will the tyres “fall off the cliff” and what tyre to change to.

Ever since Slick tyres were re-introduced back in 2009, lap times have decreased dramatically.

After the longevity of the Bridgestone era tyres, Pirelli were given a simple brief; Soft, quick Short lived Tyre, and Hard Slow Long Living Tyre. And Boy did they deliver.

SO, what have they done. Above are the 6 compounds Pirelli presented this year. The wet weather tyres; Orange Marked Full-Wet and the Blue Marked Inter Mediate, and the Dry Weather Tyres; Silver marked hard compund, White marked Medium compound, Yellow marked Soft compound and the Fastest tyre, The Super Soft Red marked Tyre.

Taken from the Official Formula 1 website: “A Formula One tyre is designed to last for, at most, 200 kilometres and – like everything else on a the car – is constructed to be as light and strong as possible. That means an underlying nylon and polyester structure in a complicated weave pattern designed to withstand far larger forces than road car tyres. In Formula One racing that means anything up to a tonne of downforce, 4g lateral loadings and 5g longitudinal loadings.”

The life of the tyre has been a huge tipping point of races. They have been won and lost on tyre choice and race strategy.And with the drop off in grip when the tyre runs out of compound being so massive, its even more crucial to not over run the tyre. A by product of this are what the driver call marbles.

These marbles are the compound of the tyre literally ripping themselves from the tyre it self. This led to a very interesting development in the famous T8 in Turkey, where on the inside of Apex 4 there was hundreds of marbles. On these parts of the track, it is really hard to find any grip.


With the tyres bing the only contact of the car to the track, Camber and Toe play a pivitol role in the cars handling. This was most controversial 2 weeks ago at Spa, where the top teams went over the camber reccomendation given by Pirelli. This led to the tyres blistering on the inside of the tyre, just above the shoulder on the front tyres. Most concerned was Adrian Newey, Chief Technical Director at Red Bull Racing.

There have been quite alot of Wet sessions this year, which has led to alot of data about the Wets and Inters being discovered.

But, have you ever wondered what would happen if you ran a wet tyre on a bone dry track? Well the BBC did, and they sent Lead Commentator and former Racer Martin Brundle to Pirelli, and had a go in the Test car, the Toyota TF109

Tyres have been one of the massive changes of this years Formula 1, and it dosen’t seem to be ending yet, with Pirelli developing next years tyres, its sure to be another corker of a season.

But till then, we’ve still got 7 more races to go.

Bring on Monza and Bring on 2012!

Categories: Formula 1 Tags: , , ,
  1. January 3, 2012 at 7:07 pm

    Perfectly pent subject material, Really enjoyed looking at.

  1. September 16, 2011 at 6:07 pm

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