For years, tires have been one of the most important aspects in Formula 1, whose weight has progressively grown with the technological evolution that has distinguished the world-famous Circus since its inception. Since 2011, the supply of tires has been borne by the Italian Pirelli, whose products have supported the single-seaters of the last decade and will continue to do so until at least 2024.
On the occasion of the Austrian Grand Prix, FormulaPassion had the opportunity to interview exclusively Mario Isola, Pirelli manager for the Formula 1 and motorsport programs. In the first part of the interview some of the dominant themes of the current season are addressed, retracing the events that from the failures that occurred in Baku in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix led to the definition of new rules for the control of pressures. These are accompanied by the test that took place in the FP2 of the second weekend at the Red Bull Ring with the new rear tires, the possible debut of which is scheduled for Silverstone.
The Red Bull Ring was the scene of the test with the new rear tires. What were the findings after FP2?
“They were positive, because the goal was to have a tire that did not change the current state, by which we mean driveability and avoid forcing the teams to change the set-up, which has not happened, with the teams that have tested the tires in the back-to-back without touching anything. The comments were generally positive, some felt a little more support on the rear. It is possible that we have compensated for this greater vertical stiffness of the flank with a lower pressure, since they can be used at a lower pressure, requiring the crews to turn with two psi less than the current product. This obviously compensated for the different stiffness and it may be that some teams felt a little more rear support and more traction, but nothing significant ”.
So there is no influence of the different deformation for example on the aerodynamics of the diffuser …
“No, because the deformation in the end is very similar and we have kept the external profile the same to avoid an impact on the aerodynamics, given how aerodynamically sensitive these cars are. The reduced profile was not touched “
Will the risk of blistering be lower with the new tires when working with lower pressures?
“In theory, yes, because it clearly depends on how the tire rests on the ground. In reality I don’t think there will be a significant effect on the blister “.
Horner and the relief on the new Pirelli tires
Christian Horner praised our work with the new tires, pointing out that there is no influence on performance, as you just explained, while Max Verstappen implied that if changes were needed then there was some problem …
“After what happened in Baku and after finishing our analysis, the reasons for which there were tire problems emerged, reasons mainly related to the conditions of use. Our report first went to the FIA and there were all the analyzes carried out, the images, the test results and so on. The same report went to the two teams that had the problem and we also informed the others, to whom, however, obviously we cannot provide the confidential data of the two teams that encountered problems. In fact, the report did not include only an analysis of the tires that had broken, but of many others, as well as the telemetry that all the teams upload to our servers at the end of the race. By going into detail on all these aspects, we have identified the causes. At that point, the FIA’s desire to better control the conditions of use of tires emerged and they did so by adding a series of articles to a technical directive that already existed. This directive provided for and provides for the control of the starting pressure, the maximum temperature of the electric blankets, the end of straight camber [in fondo al rettilineo, n.d.r], to which other controls have been added precisely because, not having a standard sensor, we do not have an FIA instrument that allows us to check the running pressure [la pressione di marcia, n.d.r.]“
So the technical directive was a decision of the Federation without any push on your part …
“Yes, everything concerning the regulations are decisions of the Federation. From the report it emerged that there were conditions in which rubber was working which in the case of Baku went beyond our expectations. Consequently we passed this information to the Federation, which considered it necessary to work on the technical directive which, as I explained, already existed, to make it more complete and stringent, which was done immediately, since it was already operational by Paul Ricard. However, one point remains, namely that the sensors that are there are not those of the FIA. Until next year, when the standard sensor will be introduced with 18-inch wheels, these are the tools, we cannot change them in the middle of the year nor can we modify the system during the current season, so in fact there is still that point weak”.
Tire pressures: from confusion to countermeasures
How much can the use of non-standard sensors affect the measurement?
“The point is not so much this. If you do a check of any magnitude, the tool must be yours. For example, if a policeman checked the speed limit, he would not be able to ask the driver for the radar to measure his speed or stop him, ask him how long he was traveling and, if necessary, give him a fine. The policeman should have his own radar, his own system, take a picture, demonstrate to the driver how fast he was driving, and then give him a ticket. We, like Pirelli or the FIA, cannot fine a team because it uses its own sensor with which it provides data, it would not make sense. The engine flow meter is also an FIA sensor, just as the pressure gauges with which we measure pressure in static conditions are sealed and calibrated by the Federation. Measuring any quantity with an instrument that does not have certain characteristics is not serious and does not make sense. It is therefore not the FIA that does not have these values, we have them, but the issue is that we cannot set a rule on these data ”.
“There was already a construction that we developed at the end of last year, but which was not ready for the tests carried out in free practice in Portimao and which therefore we had not had time to test and homologate, but which had given extremely encouraging signals. in terms of integrity, improving the characteristics of the construction with the same profile, which we then went to homologate. We then reported that we had this construction, since we had made prototypes to be tested in the factory so that if they gave the results we expected in terms of integrity, which then happened, we would have used the concept for tires with 18-inch wheels for 2022. We then went ahead in this direction, but we had archived the 13-inch construction because it was done for study purposes, to see if the concept could be used on the 18-inch. Then when in Baku we realized the difficulties in controlling the driving pressures without a standard sensor, we informed of the availability of this construction that guarantees an additional margin, which we do not believe gives any differences either in performance or budget or of any other type. We then asked if we wanted to consider the possibility of trying it and possibly introducing it, a possibility that was discussed with everyone, with the FIA, the FOM, the teams and the drivers, who proposed us to build prototypes to test them and that’s what we did. We made the prototypes, we brought them here to Austria and for the debut at Silverstone the World Council will have to decide this week. However, we have sent a request to be able to use this construction starting from Silverstone and, if the World Council expresses itself favorably, there will be the new construction in England ”.
“Honestly, it would have seemed silly to us to have something that improves integrity, to keep it in your pocket and not use it. For this reason we decided to take the risk that someone could accuse us of having distorted the story of the facts, but that is exactly what we have told and shown to all the teams in an extremely transparent way. The causes of the Baku accidents have been identified and explained, there have been actions and in my opinion this is a professional way of behaving, on the part of everyone, I am not referring to Pirelli or FIA. Motorsport and Formula 1 are areas where we obviously continue to develop, while on our part as mono-suppliers there is a bit of the paradox of having to freeze construction a year earlier without being able to change a comma, while everyone continues to develop and the cars continue to improve performance. The teams have already recovered all the aerodynamics cut with last year’s famous regulation changes, so it’s a fast-paced world and the teams are here to run, not for a walk. It’s all understandable and it’s all in the DNA of Formula 1, but at some point we also need to move in this direction. In this specific case, the test carried out at the Red Bull Ring also showed that in terms of driveability there are no differences, so there are no reasons not to introduce the new tires ”.
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