Pirelli Motorsport would have brought softer tyres to Intercity Istanbul Park for the Turkish Grand Prix, had it known sooner about the resurfacing work that had been done.
Formula 1’s lone tyre manufacturer opted to bring their three hardest compounds to Turkey, but after Friday’s running around a very low-grip Istanbul Park circuit, it was apparent quickly that they could have brought softer compounds instead.
Mario Isola, the Head of F1 and Car Racing at Pirelli, admitted they did not know until it was too late to change their plans about the resurfacing of the circuit and the characteristics of the new tarmac, and as a result, there was a lot of sliding about from all the drivers during Friday’s free practice sessions.
“Obviously we had the information about the resurfacing of the track quite late,” Isola is quoted as saying by Motorsport.com. “And we didn’t know about the characteristics of the Tarmac.
“And we have a tyre choice that is quite conservative considering the condition of the Tarmac, and the type of Tarmac we have now. I was expecting a Tarmac that was more similar to Portimao, where we had smooth tarmac, with bitumen on top, and tyres were able to develop some grip.
“Instead here we had no grip, probably a combination of the temperature, the fact that it was damp, the type of tarmac, and the selection that is quite hard, the hardest that we can have.
“This circuit was resurfaced with the support of [Hermann] Tilke I believe, while Portimao was resurfaced with the support of Dromo, they are two companies that are working around that. So they probably used a different material.”
Isola said it was a late decision from the circuit to resurface the track ahead of Formula 1’s return to Turkey, with the venue hosting its first race since 2011 after being added to the rescheduled calendar following the cancellation of a number of races due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“I believe it was quite a late decision also from the circuit,” said Isola. “We are well connected with the FIA in a normal situation, and on tracks where we used to go we have the information in advance. This year, it was a bit more difficult.
“New local promoters, and maybe the information was not so clear. But the result is that I got the information that the plan was to have a new Tarmac I believe four weeks ago, just before the start of the works at the track.
“It’s not a drama, in my opinion, because it’s an additional challenge for drivers. And it’s a bit of unpredictability for the engineers. So when you have this kind of situation, sometimes you have even better racing.”
Pirelli announced the tyre compounds for the Turkish Grand Prix back at the beginning of September, but the process in how the tyres are made and allocated meant it was far too late for them to change the allocation for the event once they knew about the track’s resurfacing.
“Four weeks were not enough for us to change the allocation, basically we already produced the tyres, and the tyres were travelling to Turkey,” insisted Isola. “The tyres are made in Romania, and then we have to go to Didcot for what we call the grading, because the allocation is made by the FIA.
“So we have to do this job before going on track, otherwise we don’t have the possibility to load the tyres on the trailer in a certain way to be quick in fitting, according to the FIA allocation. And then the trucks were travelling to Turkey.
“So even if we have the factory that is very close, half an hour from here, we didn’t get the information. What we did is our colleagues from the Turkish factory helped us to measure the tarmac, as soon as they finished the resurfacing of the circuit. We have a tarmac that is very smooth, both macro roughness, and micro roughness.
“We measured it again yesterday, slightly different numbers, but again, not an aggressive asphalt, like we used to know in Istanbul. Basically, our decision on the allocation was based on the circuit layout, the severity, Turn 8 and blah, blah, blah, but also on the type of tarmac.
“So, it is clear that now the selection is a bit too hard for this circuit.”