Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Circuit de Catalunya, 2017

What they say about… F1’s new, wider tyres

2017 F1 season previewPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

They’re wider and should last longer. And all the other changes Formula One has lined up for 2017 won’t achieve much if its new tyres aren’t up to scratch.

Fernando Alonso, McLaren, Circuit de Catalunya, 2017
Drivers can push harder – Alonso
Sometimes last year the slower you drove the better lap time you could do because you were saving the tyres, or maximise the stint.

This year it seems you are able to push the car a little bit more and use your own driving style a bit to maximise the timed lap.
Fernando Alonso

The degradation’s very low. Obviously the tyre’s completely different. Pirelli wanted to have a very insensitive tyre thermal degradation and they’ve done it because you can keep pushing and the tyre keeps hanging on.
Jolyon Palmer

Obviously you’ve got wider tyres, I had a feel of them last year already with the tyre testing, helping to develop [them].

It was already a step forward on the mechanical side, obviously the tyres are quite a bit wider and more draggy so slower down the straights. But faster in the corners which is always more enjoyable for us. If the straight is a bit longer, doesn’t really matter, but if the corner is faster then it’s more fun.
Sebastian Vettel

Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Circuit de Catalunya, 2017
Slow corner traction better – Verstappen
[In slow corners] you have a lot more traction. That was very difficult last year, you had to find a good compromise for that, a good exit out of the corner. But with such wide tyres and such big cars that’s a lot better now.
Max Verstappen

It’s much better [the tyres]. I think with the width of the tyre we could get more grip from them. But again it’s a good step and they’ve made some progress on a lot of things we’ve been asking for.

I think overheating was an issue going into qualifying but it was mainly an issue when you were following another car and you wanted to go for an overtaking manoeuvre. You lose downforce, that’s a fact. But if you lose downforce and then you slide more and if you slide more you wreck more your tyres then there was no chance you could try to go for an overtaking manoeuvre. Right now you’re going to lose a big chunk of downforce but if the tyres at least doesn’t overheat then it gives you a chance to make up for it.

I think there’s been some work done, it’s a step better, that’s what they wanted, I’m sure there’s always room for improvement. But the lock-up thing is one thing because in testing, in first practice, you get a front lock-up into turn one, and then the whole session was gone. Right now that looks much better.

We had a lot of graining last year in winter testing, we don’t have graining here. The super-soft is capable of doing two or three laps. It’s a very good step.
Romain Grosjean

Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Circuit de Catalunya, 2017
Snap oversteer comes suddenly – Bottas
I think in terms of tyres from my feeling it is not a massive difference in terms of how sudden the loss of grip is. Only the case if the tyre is not hot enough which is easy in these kind of conditions, especially with the harder compounds, it is sometimes quite tricky to get them to work.

Then they are quite snappy, if you have oversteer it’s very sudden. But if you have the softer compounds and once you get them into the temperature it feels like very much the same rate of sliding or losing the grip than last year’s.
Valtteri Bottas

It’s pretty good. Considering it’s the soft it’s still pretty consistent. Probably the compound is not really that soft. But it offers good grip and it’s still pretty consistent and allows the driver to push.
Nico Hulkenberg

2017 F1 season

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17 comments on “What they say about… F1’s new, wider tyres”

  1. Thankfully pretty much all of the comments are positive. I think that these tires will fix drivers not being able to push. And that will add so much to the racing. If drivers can use the extra grip and lower thermal degradation they will be able to follow closely for longer. Giving them more time to fine an opportunity to pass. So far so good.

  2. The big positive is that we won’t hear drivers being told to back off due to dirty air. The only times we’ll hear this is if the car is overheating on the hotter tracks, I guess.

    But that should be a big positive.

    Strategy wise, it’ll be a bit of a bore. Can’t imagine there being any real variation, and in that sense, it’s not so much of a positive. People seem to have rose tints about the Bridgestone days, and to my recollection, they were some seriously dull races. Watching guys pit on the final lap is not my idea of an interesting, strategic race, but we can’t have it all.

    I just wish they’d abolish the mandatory pit stop rule, and allow drivers/teams to do whatever they like. I’d really like to see someone try and go the whole way vs. someone absolutely driving the thing at ten 10ths the entire way, and doing one quick stop on the softest tyre.

  3. The one thing I wonder about the tires is degradation. Call me simple, but surely there is a sweet spot that tire manufacturers can quite easily find whereby the tires degrade but gradually and naturally, not the sudden, cliff-like drop-off of recent seasons nor the rock-hard tires of this season? I understand there is *some* degradation, but surely gradual, normal degradation, governed by the amount of stress on the tires and the temperature, shouldn’t be that hard to engineer?

    1. Not sure why you assume the tires are rock hard this season and won’t be as you wish for in your last sentence. Let’s see then racing in anger in real life conditions that aren’t cool temps of testing where teams are sandbagging, before we judge the tires completely.

      1. I’m assuming that because the majority of the statements after testing suggested the tires would degrade very slowly and we’d get one stoppers almost regardless of the tire?

        1. Right…so there’s your gradual, normal degradation, governed by the amount of stress on the tires and the temperatures, that you have asked for them to engineer. And I suggest the tires will be even more as you ask once they are in hotter climes, driving in racing conditions, following cars in dirty air at racing speeds etc etc. ie. After hearing time after time about teams sandbagging in testing through March, I think the jury is still out on tires and they will only be taxing them more than we have seen so far, once the season starts, so let’s wait and see. If the teams have sandbagged, then the commentary on tires is shaded too.

  4. They won’t be able to go flat out for lack of fuel. More time on throttle due to more grip is the additional 5kg of fuel enough to cover for this. For all the aero and tyres a step over your rivals on fuel efficiency from the engine per given amount of power will possibly make a huge difference over a race.

    1. I strongly suspect that just because they have more downforce now, that doesn’t mean they will always need or want to use it to it’s fullest. If they did, well, even before these reg changes the teams could have chosen Monaco setups for Monza, but they wouldn’t even think of it, would they?

      There will continue to be, as always, compromises as to how much aero to use with respect to fuel economy, straight line speeds, and cornering speeds, depending on the track.

      Sure they have more downforce available now. But they also have more mechanical grip from differently behaving and bigger tires. And the amount of downforce they use will affect how the tires behave too.

      It is my hope, and a strong suspicion of mine, that in order to not be sitting ducks on straights, teams will not nearly be using all the downforce now available, especially while they will have more mechanical grip to rely on for the corners. By running an amount of aero that leans toward the minimum necessary, cars will also be less negatively affected in dirty air while relying on said new tires for confidence in corners. But also while in dirty air these new front tires should move around much less and not be so disrupted in their performance window as a result.

      Bottom line for me…I think tires and aero go hand in hand and can’t really be segregated from each other, and what the racing will be like will depend on the degree to which teams choose the balance of amount of aero to speeds, fuel economy, tire behaviour, and passing ability.

      1. which creates interesting tactical variants between teams @robbie

        taking into account the strength of their cars, some will choose to use more or less downforce, this will be particularly interesting in circuits like Spa, which is high speed but also as a lot of section that depend on downforce. I will probably see cars being fast in some sectors and struggle in others. This was harder to happen last year, as everybody as using pretty much the same setup regarding downforce.

        1. @johnmilk Agreed. They all had to keep their tires in pretty specific and fleeting temp windows, and now they’ll be able to lean on their tires moreso which should open up various tactics. We were seeing some of that as indicated by some teams regularly not topping the speed trap times when we know they could have if they wanted, but for this season there should be far more options for the drivers, who may also want to differentiate themselves from their own teammates more than they have been able to do.

          1. Exactly, and they told us exactly that, this cars will allow them to showcase better their driving styles without harming the tyres.

            Btw sorry for my terrible english in my previous comment, mobile writing…

  5. I wonder if Ferrari’s progress comes from having a sufficient number of sufficiently aged advisers who have worked on wide cars with fat tires.

  6. Racecarisracecarbackwards
    20th March 2017, 15:01

    Will using these tires reduce the ‘marbles’ that pretty much cover all but the racing line by the end of the race? They are also a big cause of loss of grip when attempting a overtake late in the race.

    1. Good question.

    2. most likely they will as the tyres are harder and don’t worn as much.

      with that said we might still see a lot of marbles in some circuits and with specific tyres. I remember asking that same question during test in a live feed somewhere, but nobody responded with proper insight over at Catalunia. However from the pictures that we saw until now I didn’t see a lot of tyre debris on the track (but it was “washed” in the middle of the test)

  7. Estaban de los Casas
    20th March 2017, 15:40

    Regardless of how they perform the simple fact is that this new generation of car looks so much better. Its the big tires. Infact they look Vcool and l am curious watch them corner, to see them battle for position and to see what donuts look like from those who win. Donuts are good.

  8. When most of the drop off comes from wear (ie the rubber literally wearing down over a stint), as was the case with Bridgestone and Michelin, you get the type of more linear drop-off you’re describing. The only cliff comes if they actually get down the very hard safety layer of rubber just before the canvass, rather than from a chemical process that seems can easily run away from the drivers when too much heat is put into the tyres too quickly.

    I don’t mind softer compounds that give a lot more performance while wearing quite a bit faster, but but still in a more linear way that rewards, rather than punishes drivers that push as hard as they can. That still leaves strategy options between quicker, but also faster wearing tyres, versus slower, longer lasting. That difference actually hasn’t seemed clear enough for me since 2011, given that wear has been secondary to thermal degradation.

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