A mixture of new asphalt, higher tyre demands and changeable weather means teams will have to “be ready for anything” in this weekend’s British Grand Prix, says Pirelli‘s Head of Car Racing Mario Isola.
Siverstone, home of the British Grand Prix since 1987, is one of the fastest circuits on the calendar, with Lewis Hamilton‘s 2017 pole lap clocking in at an average speed of over 150mph. This race-long load puts immense demand on the tyres, and presents teams with a big gamble – do they pit and lose time, or risk pushing the tyres too far and maintain track position? This gamble was one we saw Scuderia Ferrari lose spectacularly last year, with both Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Räikkönen suffering tyre blowouts in the dying laps of the race – much to the pleasure of the British fans.
With this year’s cars sending lap records tumbling at almost every circuit they’ve visited, Pirelli are being careful not to issue tyres that aren’t up to the stress of the track. The three compounds available will be the Soft tyre, the Medium tyre and the Hard tyre, the latter of which is making its 2018 debut. The reason for this decision, Isola explains, is that Pirelli feel softer compound tyres simply won’t stand up to the demands of the track.
“Silverstone is always a big challenge for tyres, thanks to lateral loads that can amount to 5g or more,” Isola said. “Because of this, we have decided to give the hard tyre its debut at Silverstone, to come with some of the most significant demands of the season. Nonetheless, with the whole of the range going one step softer this year, this is effectively the equivalent of last year’s nomination.
“The new asphalt results in faster lap times, as we’ve already seen through data collected from our GT racing programme, putting more energy through the tyres. This is why we have not gone any softer than last year.
“But that’s without taking into account the notorious changeability of the British weather, which could give us bright sunshine or heavy rain, so teams will have to be ready for anything.”