Pirelli boss Mario Isola has outlined the findings of last season’s rigorous testing of the 18-inch tires new for 2022, which he hopes will help improve the racing spectacle alongside the brand new breed of Formula 1 cars.
F1’s tire suppliers held 28 days of testing for the new, bigger tires in 2021 using mule cars from nine out of ten teams (Williams opted out) and Isola – Pirelli’s head of F1 and Car Racing – kicked off the effort in 2022 of his motorsport team.
He said: “In a busy season with all the restrictions and 22 races, I think it was a big achievement [to develop the 18-inch tyre]. Also because… this tire is designed in a different way, with different goals: our drivers are asking for less overheating, less degradation, they want to push tyres, they want to fight on the track, and it’s clear we decided and we were agree with the FIA, FOM and the teams to follow this direction.
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“So we had to design a new profile, a new construction, optimize the footprint, design a new set of connections. It is a completely new product with a new approach, and I think it will be very useful for other activities in the company as well.”
Isola not only praised the positives of Pirelli’s 18-inch F1 tires, but also stated that their characteristics lend themselves more to road relevance than the previous 13-inch tires, adding that the suppliers aim to achieve full CO2 emissions by 2030. to become neutral – a reflection of F1’s own sustainability strategy.
In addition to seasonal testing for the 18-inch tires, Pirelli also held a two-day test in Abu Dhabi after the season finale, which saw nine teams split up. Isola explained why the findings of the Yas Marina test also proved invaluable.
“Compared to the tire development tests we conducted during the season, I would say that we have confirmed that the new product has the features I mentioned earlier, so: less overheating, drivers have the opportunity to push more. That was important in Abu Dhabi because we also had some traffic in Abu Dhabi. We couldn’t simulate that in our tire development test, where we had one car on the track or a maximum of two cars,” continued Isola.
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“In terms of wear, it is difficult to make a prediction because we used mule cars, so we have to wait for the real performance of the new 2022 cars,” he added.
In addition, the tempo difference between cars on the 18-inch compounds and the 13-inch precursor compounds may not be as big as first expected: “We have simulations of the teams, simulations tell us the new cars are not much slower compared to last year’s cars.
“At the beginning we talked about more than three seconds per lap; now it’s half a second, a second, so if they start with just one second difference, it means they will probably reach the same level of performance during the season as we had in 2021,” said Isola.
Formula 1 also welcomed BBS Motorsport as the sole wheel suppliers for 2022, meaning Pirelli quickly formed a working group with the wheel manufacturers – a process Isola has detailed.
“Yes, we had a working group led by the FIA together with BBS, Pirelli and also the supplier of the [temperature and pressure] sensor that is also standard,” says Isola.
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“We started in 2020… together with BBS. We also did some testing with the 18-inch tires mounted on BBS rims. It was a very useful approach to have this working group, which met every week to monitor the progress of the activity,” explains Pirelli’s head of F1 and Car Racing.
The 18-inch Pirelli tires will be making their way onto the track very soon, while McLaren, Mercedes and Aston Martin have already announced their launch dates for the 2022 season – and with the race action starting in Bahrain on March 20 – 20.