Pirelli has reached an agreement with the FIA to run a slightly modified tyre at three races in the 2018 Formula 1 season.
The tyres, that have a thinner tread, will feature at the Spanish, French and British Grands Prix due to all three venues having undergone track resurfacing in the past year. Pirelli’s catalyst for change was because of data gathered in winter testing in Barcelona; the reasoning for the solution is that the reduced tread thickness will help counteract potential overheating problems.
Whilst being a seemingly minor alteration – just 0.4mm – Pirelli projects that the weight reduction will equate to as much as 1kg per set of tyres, which is good news for any teams currently battling with overweight cars.
Pirelli Motorsport chief Mario Isola detailed the request, adding that the Italian tyre giants say that they are expecting minimal degradation throughout the selected races. He said:
“We made a request to the FIA to have a slightly different tread thickness for three races. The reason for this request is that in general the new tarmac has a lot of grip, low wear, and low degradation. With a lot of grip, the lap time is improving a lot.
“But the point is that we keep a lot of rubber on the tyre, because with low wear, the tread is there, we are not wearing the tyre. And this means we have high temperatures in the compound.”
“So to try to reduce a little bit the temperature we asked for a small reduction in the tread thickness. We tested the solution already last year, and in terms of performance or other consequences, they are almost transparent. Obviously the reason we stayed on the standard tyre for this year was in normal circumstances you wear the tyre, and if you don’t have enough thickness, you wear the tyre too quickly.”
Isola added that the modifications were tested last year and their findings showed an almost unidentifiable change in performance and structural strength. This is not the first time Pirelli has requested such a change; it also suggested a thinner tread for the Italian and Belgian Grands Prix in both 2011 and 2012.