Ahead of the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Pirelli have announced two new tyre compounds for the 2018 Formula 1 season.
The pink-walled ‘hyper-soft’ and the orange decorated ‘super-hard’ compounds will join the five current options, with the regular hard tyre moving to a blue wall.
Furthermore, the Italian company said that every compound is a step softer compared to last year, after coming under criticism for the idleness of the hard tyres – they failed to complete a racing lap in the 2017 season, only appearing once outside winter testing, in Free Practice for May’s Spanish Grand Prix.
In a statement, Pirelli said that the changes have resulted in “the fastest tyres in Formula 1 history.”
The seven slick ‘P Zero’ compounds will be countered with the ‘Cinturato’ intermediate and wet compounds that are supplied at every race.
Pirelli said that the increase in compounds will allow choices “more specifically suited to each race next year,” allowing for “more flexibility and variation in the tyre choices, leading to extra opportunities when it comes to formulating creative race strategies.”
The hyper-soft was subject to public interest, as Pirelli asked F1’s global fanbase to choose a name for the compound a few weeks ago – an initiative that was endorsed by the sport’s leading names.
Pirelli’s Head of Racing Mario Isola said that despite the dimensions of the tyres not changing, the innovation has continued into the second year of F1’s new era.
“Compared to this year, when the tyres grew by 25% to fit a brand-new generation of cars, the changes for next year are less far-reaching.” said Isola.
“However, we’re pleased to present some important innovations with softer and faster compounds across the range: including the new hyper-soft.”
Isola addressed the criticisms of last year, admitting that Pirelli were too cautious last year in terms of wear on the harder compounds – owing it to the large changes required from 2016. The idea behind the rethink comes due to the number of one-stop races seen this year.
“We realised that, under the unique circumstances of this year, some of our 2017 compounds were perhaps conservative.”
“The tyres we have created for 2018 addresses this, in line with the objective of having around two pit stops at most races.”
But, Isola was keen to point out that the potential for more pitstops does not mean more conservative driving.
“However, the fundamental design concept of the tyres hasn’t changed next year, preserving the attributes that all drivers have appreciated this year and allowing them to push hard from the start to the finish of each stint.”
“The new range consists of faster tyres that should lead to even harder and more spectacular racing in 2018.”
The new compounds are set to be debuted after the Abu Dhabi weekend in the official two-day test at the Yas Marina Circuit; with the first appearance on 2018-spec cars coming on the first day of winter testing at the Circuit de Catalunya in February.