F1 teams positive about Pirelli's new tyres: 'They are very satisfied'


Pirelli's Mario Isola on developments for 2023
9 March 2023 at 10:13
Last update 9 March 2023 at 13:03
  • GPblog.com

A new compound, a new construction of all dry weather tyres and a new rain tyre. Pirelli have not been idle ahead of the new season and a big plus: teams and drivers are happy with the Italian tyre manufacturer's work. GPblog spoke to Pirelli chief Mario Isola about this in Bahrain during an exclusive interview.

Busy winter for Pirelli

For Isola, it has been a short winter break after the 2022 Formula 1 season. The Italian celebrated the holidays, but there was not much time to rest. Pirelli already conducted several tests in December and new tyres were also tested in February. A busy period for Pirelli's motorsport director, but not one without success.

"It is clearly difficult to organise the test sessions during the season. When you have 23 races to run. It's difficult to find the space. And so this was a good opportunity," Isola said in a conversation with GPblog. Because the F1 season had ended earlier, there was plenty of time for tests that Pirelli does not normally get around to. "And thanks to this opportunity we have been able to find a new wet tyre."

The new rain tyre will be introduced by Pirelli from the Imola Grand Prix onwards. "They can use the new tyre without blankets. The new tyre will be introduced from Imola onwards. We have been authorised by the FIA. And we are going to use it without blankets. The level of warm-up and grip is much better compared to the old one. I'm very positive on that," Isola said about the new rain tyre. In 2022, it was hardly used. Then drivers only drove on that tyre behind the safety car, only to change to intermediates as soon as possible when racing really started.

Although the grip is better and thus the tyre stays at the required temperature more easily, the biggest problem does not seem to have been solved yet. The spray coming off the tyres remains the same with this tyre. It remains to be seen whether racing will take place when it rains in 2023. However, Isola believes there is nothing Pirelli can do about the spray: "No, that's not something we can control. If the target is to have a tyre that is able to work with a good amount of water, the water has to go somewhere."

New C1 tested in Bahrain

Still, the collaboration between F1 and Pirelli has rarely been this good. The new 18-inch tyres contributed to extra overtaking in 2022 and teams were also very happy with the new tyres. Drivers can follow each other more easily because of the new tyre, although understeer was still an issue in 2022. That should be solved in 2023 with the new structure of the tyres.

"We had a very successful year in Formula 1, with the new regulations. The new cars give the drivers the possibility to follow each other closely without losing the grip. Clearly, they help the tyres because when you follow another car you don't lose the downforce so you don't start sliding and you don't overheat the tyre. All this is creating a better show, it's creating more action on track, more overtaking. I believe this is exactly what spectators want to see."

Max Verstappen and other drivers complained of problems with understeer. Especially the front tyre often did not want to turn in. "That was not possible for us to predict because with the new cars in 2021, we didn't see this effect. The cars were balanced, both in high-speed and low-speed. With the new aero package, we discovered that this tendency to understeer in low-speed was common across the paddock. That's why we decided to introduce a new tyre in 2023 with a stronger front, with a more balanced front-to-rear tyre

This did not stop there, as an additional compound was also added for 2023. In 2022, Pirelli had C1 to C5 available, but in 2023 it will be C0 to C5. Here, the C0 is the old C1 and the current C1 is the new tyre. This band should narrow the gap between last year's C1 and C2. In fact, the C1 was rarely used in 2022. However, Pirelli wanted to keep that tyre, as it is usable for circuits like Zandvoort and Silverstone.

Drivers and teams satisfied with Pirelli

The C1 had an immediate baptism of fire during the winter test and Grand Prix weekend in Bahrain and Isola already heard a lot of good things about the new tyre from teams and drivers. ''On the C1 it was positive. Across the paddock on all the teams, they came back to me  saying they were happy of the new compound." However, teams could not yet say much about the construction of all the new front tyres.

"It was a bit difficult especially on day 1 of testing, day 1 day 2 because they have a new car and probably they also designed a new car to reduce the understeer. We gave them a tyre designed to reduce the understeer and they had to match the new car with a new tyre in order to balance the car. It was not easy in the first and second day. The wind was also disturbing a little bit the setup of the car. But on day 3 the general feedback was positive.  Cars are more balanced, they are quicker wear profile is better. They can run 2 psi less pressure in the front 2.5 psi less pressure in the rear. That's obviously helping also the traction," Isola concludes.

Further testing with Pirelli's new tyres will take place in Saudi Arabia at the next Grand Prix. However, the new C1 will not be included then. For the race at the Jeddah street circuit, and also for the race in Melbourne, the C2 to C4 will be included.