Formula 1

Stella Admits McLaren Struggled with Introduction of Eighteen-Inch Pirelli Tyres in 2022

2 Mins read
Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd

Andrea Stella believes his McLaren F1 Team failed to adapt sufficiently to the new-for-2022 eighteen-inch Pirelli tyres compared to their rivals, which made for a much more difficult FIA Formula 1 World Championship season than anticipated.

The behaviours of the eighteen-inch tyres differed compared to the thirteen-inch tyres they replaced, and the problems that all teams faced with the new tyres, which came in alongside new aerodynamic regulations in 2022, were seemingly more extreme for McLaren and required more focus than they were hoping was needed.

It was the front tyres in particular that stood out as being problematic, and it was the fundamental behaviour of them that brought out multiple conversations between drivers and engineers throughout the season.

Stella, the new Team Principal at McLaren following the departure of Andreas Seidl, says the team failed to get the best out of the tyres throughout the season, which meant they were unable to get the best out of the MCL36, which in turn meant they slipped to fifth in the Constructors’ Championship.

“Since their introduction, they gave relatively sharp behaviour of the car with the strong front tyres when the car is in a straight line,” Stella is quoted as saying by Motorsport.com. 

“Because the front tyres are so powerful. But then the more you kind of add the steering angle on the front tyres, the more they decay, and at some stage, they decay quite rapidly.

“So this is the same for everyone. I think even when you see the Pirelli reports, which talk about the balance for everyone, they normally resemble the same balance that is commented by our drivers.

“Then on top of the tyres, you add the car characteristics that kind of mitigate the underlying fundamental behaviour of the tyres. And depending on how strong this mitigation element is coming from the car, the more you can be able to exploit the available grip.

“I think, definitely, there’s some aspects of our car that don’t mitigate well this underlying behaviour of the tyres. But ultimately, I think it’s the same for everyone.”

Stella says the drivers adapted differently with the tyres, and Lando Norris was able to adapt to them better than Daniel Ricciardo was able to.  And he feels some of Ricciardo’s problems can be linked to his failure to adapt better to the bigger tyres.

“There’s a point at which there’s the drivers as well, they play a role in adapting to this,” added Stella.  “And we have seen in this couple of years that certainly for Daniel, the window in which he is comfortable, is slightly narrower than Lando, let’s say.

“So these characteristics that I described before, affected his performance. When they don’t show up that much I think Daniel is actually quite okay, from a performance point of view. While when these characteristics are pronounced, for whatever reasons, then I think this affects his performance.

“And what we have seen is that Lando is a slightly more capable of sort of dealing with that. So the fundamental element is tyres, the car characteristic mitigate it, and then you have the drivers on top of it that play a further role.”

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