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After the first part of the tyre analysis of the 2017 Formula1 season it is time to look at the second part of the analysis. In this section, I will deal with a more detailed analysis of the tyre change strategy as well as the choice of race winner’s tyres on each race and the tyre choice strategy of the first five drivers. We will see precisely when particular driver has set the fastest race lap time. It will also show which tyre was the most used in past season, at least as far for those who won in one of the 2017 races. We will also see how the tyre strategy evolves in the 2018 season. I will also clarify why Pirelli finally decided to skip successive compounds in the race. And again, this analysis is intended only for “hardcore” Formula1 fans and experts.
The second table, which I have called the same last year, the 2017 F1 DETAILED TYRE STRATEGY FACTS very clearly depicts the most detailed facts about the tyre strategy during the 2017 F1 season. And I divided the table again into several quadrants, or more precisely, 5 of them. Let me remind you again that this analysis is quite complex and not easy to understand. But for those who are really interested in this kind of Formula1 issues this type of tyre analysis could be very interesting, because these types of analysis surely can’t be found on any other website that deals exclusively with Formula1. Of course, and again, I will try to explain to you all the hidden details, and I hope you will not have trouble understanding this pretty detailed and complex table.
In the first quadrant we see some basic informations about where the race took place, air pressures of the front and rear tyres, how many cars finished the race, the total number of pit stops in the race, the number of “pure” pit stops (only pit stops of the cars that finished the race), average number of going to the pits to change tyres on those cars that finished the race, the number of laps in the race under the safety car. The second part shows completely revised informations on individual tracks, and the notes from 1-5 for: tyre stress, lateral stress, the amount of down force, the asphalt grip and abrasiveness of the asphalt. These informations gives Pirelli based on measurements of their engineers for each track. I have added and the total sum of these values, which I will explain later more detailed . Further to the right, data about weather conditions (air and track temperatures) for 2016 and 2017. These data brings us the Pirelli,as well, so I have used them for my analysis.
So, Australia is rated as the track where the tyre stress is at the lowest level (1), lateral tyre stress unlike last year when that value was the lowest (1) has now grown to (2) (in the 2017 table I have marked the changed values comparing to the 2016 season), down force is quite high (4), the asphalt grip is very low, only (1) which means the tyre „grips“ in Australia very weakly, because the asphalt is very slippery, and at the end there is a value for the abrasiveness of the asphalt, which was slightly higher (3). For this last fact you might say that despite the slippery asphalt its “roughness” is relatively high, therefore the tyres wear relatively rapidly. I mean, the wear of the tyre thread itself. Unlike our school marks here (in Croatia) 5 is not the best, but the worst rating. Glancing at the other tracks of the F1 calendar, we see that 11 out of 20 tracks have a rating of 3 in terms of asphalt abrasiveness. This means that the tyres do not last much long on those tracks, but this year it is quite clear that Pirelli raised tyre durability, which you could see in the first part of the 2017 analysis. Furthermore, the sum of all five values for each track is very important when they determine which tyre compound will be used at each race. Low sum and low temperatures, as a rule tells us that the softest compound for this track has to be ultrasoft. On the other hand, high sum value of the track and the high air temperature and asphalt means that therefore it will be the soft as the softes compound. The yellow marked tyres there is the only possible choice given that Pirelli had 5 different types of slick tyres for the 2017season. In the previous season out of 20 tracks, on 7 tracks – parameters were changed, and in two more cases (at GP Azerbaijan’s Baku track), we did not have two data in 2016 because it was the first time in 2016 that F1 race was held at this track; these were the data of the asphalt grip, and the abrasion of asphalt. It’s good news, because it means that someone (Pirelli) takes care of such essential details. For those who are more closely following the tyre issues in Formula1, these data are of utmost importance when analyzing F1 tyres. You will see that all fields marked with „1“ are colored in green, indicating a low intensity in the range of 1 to 5. The fields with the mark „3“ are colored in yellow and the mark „5“ are colored in red. The fields were painted so that it would be visually easier to spot individual track characteristics.
It should be noted that the tyre for wet track conditions: intermediates and full-wet tyres are not included in the basic preparation for the race. The next four columns are the air and track temperatures, the first two in 2016 and other two in 2017. The reason for the inclusion of these four columns is – so we could see which temperatures were on the single track in the year before, and on what basis Pirelli was preparing season 2017. If we compare this data we see that in 2017 all 20 races were in the F1 calendar 2016, as well. While in 2016 we had 3 wet races, and in 2017 we had two wet races (China and Singapore), at least they have started as the wet races.
In these 20 races in 2017 only in 5 races the temperature of air and track in 2016 matched the 2017 values (with a tolerance of +/- 3 ° C). It was at the races GP Australia, Hungary, Belgium, USA and Abu Dhabi. Furthermore, in a further two races matched only track temperature in 2016 and 2017 (Russia and Italy), and on three races coincided only air temperature (Spain, Singapore and Mexico). These fields I marked as the green ones. Wet races I marked in table in blue color. In the 2016 F1 calendar we had three wet races: Monaco, Great Britain and the famous Brazilian rainy race.
This quadrant begins with the choice of the softest rubber compounds for each race, so for 2017 GP Australia it was the ultrasoft. Let me remind you, in 2016 analysis I said (the softest compound was supersoft!) the Pirelli should have chosen ultrasoft in Australia already. They seemed to have listened to me in 2017 when they determined that ultrasoft would be the softest tyre for the GP of Australia, but that was just “visually” so, as I already said in the first part of the 2017 analysis that Pirelli have shifted 2017 ultrasoft on to the level of 2016 supersoft. They have gone one step harder with their tyre compounds in 2017. How did I come up with the ultrasoft for the first 2017 season race? Well, I’ve analyzed the column Interval in which I watched how the range of assessment of the value of a particular track went on each track.
Thus, in Australia 2016, the supersoft compound ranged within grades 1 to a maximum of 4. The note 1 earned in Australia the tyre stress, the lateral strain and the asphalt grip, while 3 on that track were asphalt abrasion and 4 down force. The sum in total for the GP Australia was 10 and if we compare all other tracks within the 2016 calendar the track parameters range was from the lowest 7 up to the highest 21. You will notice that when the softest mixture was supersoft this single values was really a bit varied (from 1 to 5), so I could say with certainty that in Australia, Pirelli could quite comfortably choose instead of supersoft tyres – the ultrasoft as the softest compound. In 2017, Albert Park changed the lateral (side) strain gradation from 1 to 2. This is due to the construction of the 2017 cars, which enterd the curves much faster than in 2016 and thus creating greater lateral forces on the tyre. The next column is a winner’s strategy on a single race, so in Australia, Sebastian Vettel wins with tyre strategy – only 1 tyre change. It should be said that the race winner in the last season on 15 of the 20 races went only once to change tyres during race. As for the winning strategy, in 4 races the winner went twice and in Azerbaijan 3 times (utmost chaotic race). The next 7 columns are the longest stints in a single race and on a single compound, to see clearly which tyres have been used for that GP weekend. There is also the column winner for each race.
Now comes quite interesting part of this table, and that is how many laps drove the race winner with each type of tyres sets. For the winner of the race we can fairly certain say that he had the best strategy of selection of tyres and timely departures in the box. So, in Australia the race winner Sebastian Vettel drove 23 laps on the used set of supersofts (used, because it was the tyre that Vettel had chosen when he scored the best lap time in Q2, therefore, on this particular set of tyres he had to start in the race). Furthermore, in his second stint he then drove 34 laps on the set of softs. The race lasted a total of 57 laps. Stint in the race I marked as 0th is the set of tyres on which the race is started, and so on. If you look at the race in Australia, it is clear that the drivers had not just one but two stints, but somehow I had to mark the 0th stint (although it was actually the first), but Vettel in Australia went only one time in the box to change tyres. The next four columns are: the percentage of mileage (in km) driven by the winner on a particular tyre compound. In Australia Vettel drove 40% of the race on used set of ultrasofts and 60% on the new set of softs. The shaded boxes are an indication that the driver drove on the used set of certain compounds (during the race not only the new sets of tyres were driven but the used sets of tyres as well, and of course at the start the first ten drivers which entered in Q3 if they have chosen the softest compound for their fastest lap in Q2). Here is the total mileage column on a particular race. So, Australia lasts 308 kilometers, and Monaco only 260 kilometers. Next column shows how many the individual race winner raced kilometers on which mix; in 2017 Australia the winner drove 124,3 km on used set of ultrasofts and then 183,7 km on the new set of softs.
Further on, just as in 2016, follows a very interesting quadrant, where you can see what kind of tyre strategy had five of the best placed drivers in each race. To explain a little better; Vettel was the winner in 2017 GP Australia with the strategy 1A. This means that he was only 1 time in the pits to change the tyres, and his combination of choosed tyres is designated as a combination of A (23 laps on used set of ultrasoft tyres, then 34 laps on new soft). I put a mark A in case where more than one driver was only 1 time in the box, but with different combination of compounds. More precisely, the fifth driver in Australia, Verstappen was also only once in the box, but decided first to use set of used ultrasoftsoft tyres (understandably, since he in Q2 scored his fastest lap on the ultrasoft tyres, and on this set he had to start the race). He drove them for 25 laps, then mounted the new set of red supersoft tyres snd drove them for 32 laps till the finish line. His tyre strategy I have marked as 1B, because his choice was indeed different from Vettel’s (beside Vettel, the second, third and forth placed were also on the strategy 1A).
In Australia, Kimi Raikkonen finished fourth at the finish line, and his “box” was in the green because he drove the fastest race lap. In this marking strategy I did not consider (except for the winner) how many laps the drivers were driving on which set of tyres. My flagging strategy for a particular driver applies only to a particular race, so a combination of 1A does not mean that on another race the combination of 1A was made up of the identical combination of tyre sets as in Australia, but quite accurately shows that the driver during the race was exactly 1 time in the box for tyre changing. Those who carefully analyze this table will notice that the first five drivers in the 2017 season had the identical tyre strategy 1A at only three races (in the two races it was a combination of ultrasoft/supersoft and in Hungary supersoft/soft).
In the previous 2016 season this was also the case in three races (Baku, Silverstone and Hungaroring) when the first five drivers had decided (or it had accidentally turned out because of the circumstances) to go for the identical tyre changing strategy. Not necessarily they went to the box in the same laps. If I took into account all those drivers who finished the race tyre strategy would be even more different, I would say, there is a myriad of combinations! Specifically for the 2017 Australia race, 13 of the 20 drivers finished the entire race, and they had 5 combinations of tyre changes: 8 drivers had a 1A (ultrasoft/soft) strategy, it should be said that out of those 8 only three drivers had chosen the new set of ultrasofts in the first stint, then new softs for the second stint). These three; Perez (11th in qualifying), Ocon (14th) and Vandoorne (18th) were not required to use particular set of ultrasofts at the start with whom they have set the fastest time in Q2 because they did not enter among the top 10 qualifiers. After all, Vandoorne did not even reach Q2, he dropped out in the first qualifying round.Ricciardo lost his spot on the starting grid because he earned 5 places penalty so Perez and Ocon went in front, and Perez had the freedom to chose a new set of ultrasofts for the start, and that was his choice.
Then follows the combination 1B made of used set of ultrasofts and then new set of supersofts. Two drivers had this strategy; Verstappen and Massa, who finished the race at the 5th and 6th place. From the strategy of one stop in box we had another combination (1C); soft / supersoft. It tried out Giovinaszi with Sauber (replacing injured Wehrlein) and finished the race as the 12th in the lineup. The fourth combination in Australia was 2A, a combination of used set of ultrasofts, then a new set of supersoft and finally a set of used ultrasofts. This tactic has Kvyat, who finished the race in 9th place. The last combination was 2B which consisted of a new set of ultrasofts, a new set of softs, and finally a used set of ultrasofts. It was Hülkenberg in Renault with this strategy and ended up as 11th. For these sets of used ultrasofts in the last stint, drivers have use the used tyres driven only a few laps in qualifying or in free practices. We could have another combination in Australia, and on the best path were Ericsson, who started race on a new set of supersofts. Then Magnussen on a new set of softs, then Stroll on a new set of supersofts, and two stints on new ultrasofts. But these three drivers dropped out of the race, just like Alonso, Ricciardo, Palmer and Grosjean did. It should be said that even in this tactic a relatively straightforward race (the winner only went once for a tyre change) we had clean 5 tyre change strategies counting only the drivers who finished the whole race. And you can imagine how it looked in that chaotic race in Azerbaijan (13 drivers finished the race) if we knew that only two types of tyres were used in the race; supersoft and soft without any driver using the third type of tyre – medium. So we had 6 basic combinations, and the race winner went 3 times to the box to change the tyres, and we also had Grosjean who used 5 sets in 4 tyre changes; new soft / used supersoft / used supersoft / new supersoft / new supersoft! Interesting, isn’t it?
The image above is a Pirelli’s pit stop report for the 2017 Australia race, which shows us the strategy of each driver in the race, and even those who did not finish the race.
I have already said that the green color in my table indicates which drivers drove the fastest race lap and their tyre strategy, and it’s interesting that in the past 2017 season in just two cases it was a driver outside the first five placed drivers; Perez in Monaco and Alonso in Hungary. In 2016 at 4 out of 21 races we had such case. And, of course, the most fastest laps were driven by the driver who won this race; in 6 out of 20 races (Hamilton 5 times, and Bottas 1). In 2017, 7 times the fastest lap was driven by a driver who eventually finished fourth, while in 2016 we had five times the driver who finished third in the race.
The next column contains the names of those drivers who have run the fastest lap in a particular race. The next column again will not be a surprise as it was in 2016, but in each of the 20 races drivers have run the fastest lap of the race in their last stint on the last set of tyres in the race without exception! Then there are columns that shows us on which compound, how many laps lasted the race, in which race lap was driven the fastest lap. Furthermore, there is a column showing how much it is in percentage of the total number of laps when the fastest time has been set. Interestingly, unlike in 2016, when this percentage was 85% (all races, including rainy ones) during the past season it was at 91.5% of the race length.
Then follows the column that indicates in which lap came in the safety car at the track, that caused massive departures in the box to change the tyres, I would add that this is a moment in which many have been waiting to get rid of “bad” rubber compounds.
In the last two columns are for me the ideal mixture of tyres for each race. However, this claim still needs to be taken again with „a grain of salt“ because we need to choose the best of what the tyre manufacturer nominated for each of the races. Sometime two out of three mixtures, and sometime only one compound. This is because, for example, in GP China soft tyres were driven for 52 out of the total 56 race laps, or 93% of the race. On the other hand, due to the wet track at the start, Hamilton went on a set of intermediates and beside the softs he did not use any other slicks in the race. So for that race I wrote that the ideal tyre in 2017 was a yellow soft tyre.
In this section, for the sake of greater clarity, it is shown graphically how the winner (or his team) determined his strategy and how many kilometers he was driving on which tyres. From this graphic view it is quite clear that in the 2017 season the winning strategy included the most kilometers driven on yellow soft tyres (again, as in 2016). Yellow Soft was used in 14 of the 20 races. I’m just talking about the strategy of a race winner. But unlike in 2016 when the softs were the “avoidance” tyre, in 2017 season, softs were a reality and there was no better choice. Overall, in 14 out of 20 racing softs were the right solution. And what about a white medium or orange hard tyre? Only in Spain the white mediums were used in the winner’s strategy, but only for 23% of the race. Hard compound in 2017 was not used at all, but I have already mentioned that fact in the first part of this analysis; None of 20 drivers (not the winner, none of the drivers at all!) did not decide to use the hardest compound of slick tyres – at 12 out of 20 races. And it was 8 times the medium (white) tyres, three times the soft (yellow), and once the hard (orange). Too hard, even for the Pirelli!
This year I compiled a new graphical chart: WINNER’S TIRE COMPOUNDS USAGE from which is visible a comparison of the usage of the tyre compounds (only the race winners) for 2016 and 2017. The best indicator, at least as far as the winner’s strategy is concerned, is that in 2017, the total sum of kilometers of all 20 races in the calendar (6.093 km) race winner used the yellow soft tyre (in 14 races) 2.608,3 km (42,8%), followed by supersoft (11 races) with 1.944,2 km (31.9%), and ultrasoft (10 races) with 1.294,1 km (21.2%). Followed by intermediates in two races (China and Singapore) with 176,3 km (2.9%), and the white medium tyre in only one race with 69,8 km (1.1%).
It should be said that the purple (or pink in the United States) ultrasoft tyre was the softest tyre on 10 out of 20 races, so the number of races in which this compound was used is understandable since this was the tyre (as the softtest compound) to be used for qualifying (it must be used by the fastest ten drivers who entered the Q3) and then accordingly they had to start on them the race if it was dry (only those drivers who used it in their fastest lap in Q2 – the first ten drivers who entered Q3.) Here I did not take in consideration the penalties (unscheduled gearbox changes, engine compounds or driving (or team’s) infrigements) for drivers on the starting grid of the race, which in the meantime were punished for any reason. Red supersoft was the softest mix in 9 out of 20 races, and yellow soft in just one race (Spain).
In the last quadrant of this table it is shown in the top left corner in what intervals ranged particular type of tyre, taking into account the value of the individual tracks in 2017 F1 calendar. It is evident that ultrasoft was the tyre for wide working temperatures, for the track temperatures between 24 and 50 °C.
Also, it is evident that the average winner’s pit stop strategy when a compound was determined for each race as the softest compound. Thus, on the ultrasoft as the softest compound the race winner went 1 to 2 times in the box to change tyres. On soft also twice, while on the supersoft tyre that has had many oscillations about the average of the departures into the box, between 1 and 3 times. And, look at this table for 2017 and compare it to 2016! We see that in 2017 out of 21 “boxes” in 15 of them the changes occured compared to 2016. And from this data it is quite clear that ultrasoft tyre became supersoft from 2016.
To the right, there is the table Tyre compounds that nicely shows that the softest rubber mixture ultrasoft has the best grip, but it’s also the least durable, and quickly consumed. On the other hand, orange hard rubber has the lowest grip, but they are the most enduring. For the rain tyres we have no such data.
At the bottom there is a diagram 2016/2017 Race distance & Fastest lap that shows really nice at which race kilometer was achieved the fastest lap in race. This year I took into consideration in 2016 and 2017, so we can see the relationship between the two seasons. Of course, I took only the absolute fastest lap, and not the fastest laps that drivers came up to as the race was developing. We had the fastest laps during the race until the fastest time had begun to fall. It is quite understandable that the cars reached the optimum ratio between the minimum weight, the optimum rubberised track, the traffic, and the driver’s interest in pushing the “pedal to the metal” at the end of the race. By contrast, unlike in 2016, when in Japan race it was the biggest difference since the fastest lap was set compared to the overall length of the race; at the 209th kilometer of a total of 307 kilometers of race (68% of the race lenght), in 2017 it was the race in Malaysia at 227th km (73% of the race lenght). To compare these two races this year, Japan’s fastest lap was set in 290th kilometer (94% of the race) and in Malaysia last year at 245th km (79% of the race). On average with two rainy races in 2017 (China and Singapore) there wasn’t a big deviation from the average time to achieve the fastest lap times in the race compared to other races; 92,3% without and 91,5% with wet races.
Tyres in the season 2018
In the first part of this tyre analysis for 2017, I have said that I will say something about next season in this section of the text. Well, let’s go!!
So, Pirelli (Mario Isola, the head of the car racing), presented on the last GP weekend in Abu Dhabi (Thursday, 23.11.2017) their “rainbow” tyre range for 2018 Formula1 with two more compounds and colors next year, as well as fresh constructions, compounds and working ranges across the renewed family. The hardest tyre will be superhard colored with orange mark on the sidewall and the softest tyre hypersoft (Pirelli officially called it P Zero Pink hypersoft) colored in pink. Anyway, next year we will have not one category softer tyres, but two, because the new hypersoft will be a two-step softer compound than 2017’s ultrasoft. In addition to the pink color, and one such colored tyre we have seen already (solidarity in the fight against breast cancer) at the US GP in Austin in 2017, but it was just a painted ultrasoft tyre and the other new color will be ice blue and it denotes hard tyre. Pirelli’s main task was to prevent the overheating of the 2017 tyres (especially the rear tyres because they are larger and the drive is only on the rear axle) because the fact that Formula1 weighs surely over the minimum 728 kg (with driver and no fuel) due to increased down force generates the weight of the car approximately 1.400 up to 1.500 kilograms. The tyres can still handle it, but when the car is behind a car in front, then the down force is smaller, and the cars (tyres) lose the grip in contact with the ground and the wheels begin to slip and overheat. The task was to produce a compound that in case of overheating would be losing less on performance and thus keeping the “working window” more stable or wider. According to Pirelli’s simulation in 2018, cars should be faster (whether it is because of car design or engine power) compared to 2017, approximately 1 second per lap. So it will be at the beginning of the 2018 season, but as the season goes to the end, cars are expected to develop, that is, they will “accelerate” for some more 1 to 1,5 seconds, which will eventually bring a little over 2 seconds per lap. Of course, with the softer compound this will be easier to achieve and easier to transfer to the track itself. After testing in Abu Dhabi right after the last race in 2017 Hamilton for this softest rubber hypersoft said it was the best tyre Pirelli ever produced. If indeed he said so – we must believe him! As far as hypersoft tyres are concerned, it is 1.3 seconds per lap faster than the softest, ultrasoft tyre for 2017 (2018 supersoft), so it is quite realistic to expect that time will be faster than more than 3 seconds per lap. This is of course an average value, as the tracks vary considerably, so it is not really realistic to expect that the faster times will be set on each track. It is not quite clear how much the cockpit head protection system HALO (or how it will be called in the future!) will affect the speed of the car itself due to aerodynamic turbulence, but I’m quite certain that the cars with this system will be somewhat slower than without the system. In addition, the minimum weight of the car will be raised from 728 to 733 kg, and the HALO system itself will be heavier than that 5 kg difference, but we still do not know how much exactly. However, Mario Isola predicts that this loss will be approximately 0.5 seconds per lap.
Well, it’s clear to me why Pirelli designed a new softest tyre, but there is a justifiable question of what about the superhard tyre, when it is clear that in 2017 we did not … let’s repeat what I wrote in the upper part of this analysis: “Hard tyre in 2017 was not used at all in any race; none of 20 drivers (not the winner, none of the drivers at all!) did not decide to use the hardest compound of slick tyres – at 12 out of 20 races. And it was 8 times the medium (white) tyres, three times the soft (yellow), and once the hard (orange).” So it’s clear that Pirelli has not gone harder with compounds than in 2017, so it will be next year’s superhard to match hard from 2017. Here a nice illustration seen on the Reddit, which best describes how the new 2018 tyre range will refer to 2017 tyre hardness.
And here we come to my assertion that the new hypersoft will be two-step softer rubber than last year’s ultrasoft (or the supersoft from 2016). After two days of testing in Abu Dhabi, Pirelli tried to explain it a bit: “Hypersoft showed that there will be a tyre with a higher grip, which will make a difference of 0,9 seconds per lap of present tyres, and that’s a pretty big difference. This means that it is 2,7 seconds faster than a 2017 white medium tyre. To remind, ultrasoft 2017 will become a 2018 supersoft tyre, which is 1,3 seconds slower than a hypersoft.” It is not yet clear for which race Pirelli will nominate hypersoft as the softest tyre, but if we pull the parallel 2016/2017 then it is expected that this will be as soonest as in Monaco at the 6th race. Well, after that in Canada and certainly in Singapore, because those races according to my analysis were the ones with the smallest total value of the track parameters (between 7 and 11), and probably on the last race in Abu Dhabi, because it is almost a night race where the temperature of the track is lower. As Pirelli says: “It’s not just about delta (time difference) but it’s a combination of delta and tyre wear,” because it will surely wear very, very quickly. I would say, hypersoft will be a pole position tyre, but in the race it will last very short.
However, though, hypersoft will not be nominated for a lot of races (max 4), it is expected that ultrasoft will last a bit longer, and will be the softest tyres on more races, but it will not last too long, as well. Accordingly, we will have more pit stops, in any case more than in 2017. As for wet tyres, in 2018 we will see intermediate (green) and full wet tyres. We, who comment on the F1 races in TV might initially have some problems with determining whether it is a new hard tyre for 2018 or a full wet because of the color on the sidewall, but that it will be questionable only when it comes to a wet weekend, but for full wet it is necessary that the track is thick soaked (and hard to be nominated for this particular race, as well) but we will notice it in time. It still stands that the intermediate must evacuate 25 liters of water per second between the tyre thread surface and the asphalt, and full wet 65 liters/second.
There was a question as to whether Pirelli could only have three tyre colors throughout the entire season and whether they could keep the red color for the softest race tyres (no matter what the compound it’s really), middle compound yellow and white for the hardest compound for GP weekend, but that idea was rejected. And this is already certain that fans will be very upset because of seven different slick dry tyres.
As for skipping a consecutive compound for the particular GP weekend in 2018 things are as it follows: Pirelli could theoretically decide for one of the races to nominate hypersoft as the softest, ultrasoft as medium compound and soft as the hardest (so not supersoft!).
Why? The difference in the times per lap between the soft and the supersoft (0.6 seconds soft is slower), while the difference between supersoft and ultrasoft is less (0.4 seconds), which is less than what Pirelli expected. They say that teams need to have possibility of different tyre strategies, but on average two tyre changes per race (3 stints), so it is important that the difference between the compounds is not too small! An example of this is the third race in 2018, GP China, although the combination is somewhat different than the one mentioned above: at 2018 GP China, the hardest tyre will be medium, the medium tyre is soft and the ultrasoft as the softest compound. So there will be no supersoft. However, this is not the first time that Pirelli skips some of the compounds in a row (regarding its hardness!).
I have to say that in the recent Formula1 history (since Pirelli became the only tyre supplier) at GP Australia in 2013, it was recorded that two slick tyres were nominated for the race; supersoft (red) and medium (white). The soft (yellow) tyre was skipped for that weekend. To remind you what the tyre rules were in 2013; we had for the whole season four types of dry tyres available – as the hardest tyre hard (orange), medium (white), soft (yellow) and supersoft (red) as the softest tyre. The winner of this race was Kimi Raikkonen with Lotus-Renault with a two-stop strategy for the tyre change; he started at supersoft, then he switched to medium in the 14th lap, and eventually in the 34th lap he changed the tyre for the second time choosing medium again.
The question is whether the hardest superhard tyre will even be used in 2018, but they are more as a back-up variant, so theoretically we only have 6 out of 7 compounds available in 2018. We will see how this safety option will work in reality, but it is clear that Pirelli will assess the development of the situation on the track in 2018. However, if they did not announce this extremely hard tyre before the next season begins, any change in the tyre type, construction, dimension or even compound of tyres would require all the teams to agree unanimously. Knowing the Formula1 reality it’s very clearly – mission impossible. Everyone have something to object! See the intention of the strategic group to keep large shark fin on the engine cover in 2018 and McLaren who disagreed with the rest of the members. They believe that due to the large fin it’s not enough visible the rear wing that is currently present on F1 cars, they wanted a slightly smaller dimension of the shark fin. And, that’s the reason for it! So, to make the decision, everyone has to agree, just because of McLaren, who of course disagreed with the rest, we will not have more fin on 2018 cars, which opens new problems for car designers, but we are not all unanimous; some like it, while others – don’t.
At the end, it is not easy to get into all of this data, but this is the simplest way to understand what Pirelli wanted to do for 2017 season because of such huge structural changes on the cars themselves, as well as tyres. Likewise, I believe that now everyone can clearly see in what direction they will go with tyres in the next season of Formula1. We will monitor how the situation will develop and then re-analyze it all.
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