2017 is the year of new regulations and new tyre compounds. The longer lasting, slow degrading rubber has been created following the requests of teams. But Pirelli are covering all bases by producing a range of back-up tyres that will display similar characteristics to those used since 2011, most notably their degradation and quick decline in grip through use.
The wider tyres will hopefully allow for drivers to push harder on the track, but concerns remain that the compound will instead result in stagnant races with next to no pit stops or changes in position.
However, Mario Isola, Pirelli F1 racing manager, was quick to state that they have no intention on using the back-up range, and to do so would require the agreement of the teams and FIA. Their existence is merely as a precaution should the cars fail to match the performance estimated through simulated data.
“We decided to start the season with compounds that are completely new – a new philosophy which was in line with what’s required, less degradation,” he told Motorsport.com. “We made our assumption on the fact that the new cars are achieving the level of performance seen in the simulations.
“If for any reason we don’t reach this level of performance, less energy going into the tyre, we’ll need to go back to tyres with more of a classical philosophy. We have one range of back-up compounds homologated that we can use to replace the base compounds. This would be a discussion we would need to have with the teams and the FIA to agree the process to introduce these.
“But we have no intention to use these at the moment.”
Isola added that the back-ups will have a hardness similar to those being introduced this year, and it is only their longevity that differs.
“[T]he back-up compounds are more similar to the old generation – more degradation, faster warm-up.
“They are not harder or softer, the hardness is similar. But with the new compounds we try to have a wider working range, a completely different philosophy.”
Isola also informed Motorsport.com that the company has taken into account the increase of downforce expected towards the end of the season compared to the start, owing to the continuation of development teams undertake.
“We asked the teams for their simulations not only for the beginning of the year, but the end of the year.
“If I look at the simulations for the start of the year, the values coming from different teams are quite close [to each other].
“Looking at the values for the end of the year that take into account the rate of development, it’s a bit wider. But we keep this communication [with the teams], we have an idea.”