Teams can split drivers on tyre choice in 2016, Pirelli confirms

Pirelli has issued more information about how the 2016 tyre rules will work after the FIA World Motor Sport Council approved the new system.

From next year there will be five compounds, with the purple-marked ultrasoft joining the range. Teams can choose three of the compounds for each race weekend, within certain guidelines.

The choices will be made to a deadline set by Pirelli – before the tyres are made and shipped – and the selections will only be made public two weeks before the race. Intriguingly drivers within teams can have different choices.

Pirelli explains the full rules as follows:

In consultation with the FIA, Pirelli will decide in advance which three compounds can be used at each race, and communicate this information to the teams.

The total number of sets that can be used during practice, qualifying and racing remains the same as it is currently: 13.

Pirelli will nominate two mandatory race sets for each car. Furthermore, one set of the softer compound will have to be kept for use in Q3 only.

The two mandatory sets chosen by Pirelli can be of two different compounds, from the three that have been nominated for the race weekend. These sets will obviously be identical for each team.

The remaining 10 sets can be chosen by each team, from the three compounds nominated for the race weekend.

The teams will make their choices within a deadline set by Pirelli. They will communicate their choices to the FIA, which will in turn tell Pirelli how many tyres to produce. The choices for each car will remain secret until 2 weeks before the race. If a team does not meet the deadline, the choice will be made by the FIA.

Once the choices for each car have been made, the FIA will continue to assign the tyres randomly via a barcode, as is the case currently.

The choices made by each team can vary for each of its cars: so each driver within a team can have a different allocation.

The tyres will be distinguished by different coloured markings on the sidewalls, as is currently the case.

Teams will still have to give back tyres according to a certain schedule, but they can decide which tyres to give back at the following times:

One set after the first 40 minutes of FP1

One set at the end of FP1

Two sets at the end of FP2

Two sets at the end of FP3

The two mandatory sets nominated by Pirelli cannot be given back during practice and must be available for use in the race. At least one of these two sets must be used during the race – but the teams can decide which one.

The top 10 at the end of qualifying will still have to give back the set of the softer compound nominated for Q3, and start the race on the tyres with which they set their fastest time in Q2 (the same rule as is the case currently). All other drivers will be able to use the set that is saved for Q3 during the race.”


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11 responses to “Teams can split drivers on tyre choice in 2016, Pirelli confirms

  1. Mick

    I really hope this will break teams out of the cycle of most of the field running very similar strategies, but I wonder if after a while a pattern will emerge again and the third compound will be used & ditched during practice. Will need a smarter head than mine to work out what the pro’s & cons of all this are!

    • GeorgeK

      I think you nailed it Mick. While a theoretical attempt to give drivers – teams a competitive edge, it will rapidly boil down to a formula that will vary little driver to driver or team to team.

      It does give me pause to imagine the machiavellian strategy discussions between Lewis-Nico teams, and if tire selections will be openly discussed and shared.

      • Peterg

        While I have an open mind to the new system, I can see a scenario where one team can run a “tortoise and hare” strategy.

        This would come in real handy if one of a team’s drivers was competing for the championship in the final races of the season. The number two driver could run interference for his teammate. How that all plays out with the ban on team orders? Don’t know.

        Actually, now that I think about it, there some intriguing Machiavellian strategies that could be adopted, and not just by the leaders, the points are allocated all the way back to 10th position.

  2. What happens if Pirelli nominates two sets of soft tires for a race, a car sets its fastest Q2 time on a set of supersofts and the race ends up being a one stop affair? The car will have to use the supersoft from Q2 and the mandatory soft. No strategy value here..

  3. Scott

    This could benefit teams with a chassis that is ‘easy’ on the tires. We have seen some cars struggle to put enough heat into the hard compound. So at some tracks you could get split between those that can get the hard up to speed on a one stop, and those that can’t opting for a two stop on the softer choices.

    But most of the time I would agree, and expect the same two compounds to be run by the vast majority of the drivers. The choices will be determined by the teams simulations, not the drivers.

    • DW

      Agreed, but I think this is a much fairer system.

      Stupid system where a team spends millions to design a fantastic car that looks after it’s tyres, and then Pirelli determine the outcome of races or the championship by selecting compounds that don’t suit that car but favour others.

      Same with drivers … guys like Perez who are good on their tyre’s were either penalised or had to change the way the drove to try switch on a Pirelli chosen tyre during qualifying.

      Pirelli & FOM have made it all a bit complicated with the rules, but you can see the reasoning behind those … with the teams attitudes towards rules leading to a situation where you need to treat them like children..

  4. Ihsan

    This is almost getting to be as confusing as the “Lotus vs. Lotus” debate of years gone by when there were the possibility of having two Lotii(?) on the grid. I’ve gone cross eyed trying to figure that one out and am not attempting to make sense of such a conundrum again.

  5. Glen

    So do they still need to use two compounds during the race? The description “The two mandatory sets nominated by Pirelli cannot be given back during practice and must be available for use in the race. At least one of these two sets must be used during the race – but the teams can decide which one” suggests not.

    Also, it appears they need to make their choices before they get to test at the track. Is that the same as it has been?

    • I luv chicken

      You forgot the line where Pirelli decides on which is the prime tire, and then the teams decide on the other 2.

    • peterg

      Well I would think using ultra soft in qualifying would be a must for the front runners. However, would a mid-field team (who cant get to Q3) choose a harder compound for Q2, and then try to gain an advantage with an out of synch tyre/pit stop strategy? A lucky break with a safety car could see a mid-field car jump up the order.

      I guess were going to have to wait to see how the guys on the pit wall (who are infinitely smarter that I) utilize this new offering.

  6. Er… Eh? Head spinning! How is the casual follower supposes to get to grips with this? F1 is already to complicated.

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