Tyre Choices for Formula 1 2013

A tire (or tyre) is a ring-shaped covering that fits around a wheel’s rim to protect it and enable better vehicle performance. Most tires, such as those for automobiles and bicycles, provide traction (is an engineering word referring to the maximum frictional force that can be produced between surfaces without slipping) between the vehicle and the road while providing a flexible cushion that absorbs shock.

Since the 2007 season, Formula 1 has contracted a single supplier of tyres – Pirelli.

Pirelli & C. SpA is a diverse multinational company based in Milan, Italy. The company, the world’s fifth-largest tyre manufacturer behind Bridgestone (The Bridgestone Corporation; a multinational auto and truck parts manufacturer based in Japan), Michelin (SCA Compagnie Générale des Établissements Michelin, a tyre manufacturer based in France), Goodyear (The Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company based in Ohio; manufactures tires for automobiles, commercial trucks, light trucks, SUVs, race cars, airplanes, farm equipment and heavy earth-mover machinery), Continental (Continental AG, also called ‘Conti,’ a leading German auto and trucks parts manufacturing company specializing in tires, brake systems, vehicle stability control systems, engine injection systems, tachographs, and other parts or the automotive and transportation industries.

Pirelli, supplies four specifications of slick dry-weather tyres (super soft, soft, medium and hard), of which two compounds are provided at each race; these are referred to as the “Prime” and “Option” tyres. Generally, the Prime tyre is harder and therefore more durable than the Option tyre, while the Option tyre provides more grip and therefore allows faster lap times on fresh tyres. The combination of longer lasting and faster tyres adds an element to each car’s race strategy. At some events however the selection is reversed; with the Option tyre being harder than the Prime. The distinction between Prime and Option lies in the fact that the teams are supplied with more sets of the Prime tyre than the Option tyre for use throughout the weekend. Additionally, two wet-weather compounds are provided by the supplier; intermediate and full wet. Each compound is differentiated by a colour-coded band painted around the tyre’s sidewall and including the Pirelli logo; red for super-soft, yellow for soft, white for medium, silver for hard, green for intermediate and blue for full wet. Prior to this individual colour-coding of each compound, the Option tyre was differentiated by a white band painted around the edge of the tyre, with the Prime tyre carrying no band. This temporary solution was used in the 2011 Malaysian and Chinese Grands Prix, before the current solution was adopted for the rest of the season.

Competitors are allowed only a limited number of tyre sets during a race event: eleven dry, four intermediate, three wet. Each tyre must be marked with a unique identifier for tracking and scrutineering purposes during a race event. During the practice sessions drivers are limited to the use of three sets of dry tyres, and certain sets must be returned to the supplier before the second and third sessions. If qualifying and starting the race on dry tyres, drivers who complete a lap during the third period of qualifying (the top ten) must start the race on the tyre set with which they recorded their fastest time during that period. Any cars that qualified outside the top ten may start the race on any remaining set of tyres. Cars must race on both the Prime and Option dry compounds during a race unless intermediate or wet tyres have been used by that car in that race.

Prior to qualifying, wet and intermediate tyres may only be used if the track is judged wet by the race director. Starting the race behind the safety car due to heavy rain requires cars to be fitted with wet tyres until they pit.

Heaters may be applied only to the outside of tyres.

So we’ll see who’s team’s tyre will stand out! Let’s all tune in for that!


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