Formula 1 looks set to abandon high degradation tyres from 2021, as its bosses now admit it was “not the way” for the championship to go
The FIA and F1 owner Liberty Media are working on a revamp of the rules for 2021 that they hope will make the racing better and boost F1’s popularity.
Earlier this week, a blueprint for the new 2021 car was revealed, with F1 chiefs committed to implementing a ground effect concept that should allow cars to follow each other more closely.
It has also emerged that F1 is looking at a whole new approach to tyres, as it prepares for a switch to using 18-inch wheels in 2021.
Rather than pursuing the push for high-degrading tyres, which has dominated the Pirelli era, F1 wants to head down a route that will allow drivers to push harder for longer.
“We want to have tyres that enable people to fight each other without degrading or only giving a short interval for the person attacking to attack,” said the FIA’s head of single seater technical matters Nikolas Tomazis.
“The current tyres are a product of what has been asked of [Pirelli], and I think we need to ask them to do different things to what they have been asked in the past.”
F1’s chief technical officer Pat Symonds said discussions were underway with teams and Pirelli to settle on a plan that will deliver better tyres for racing.
“In the past we have maybe asked for the wrong things,” he said. “It is a very complex problem, but it is something that we don’t have a clear idea on yet.
“We are doing a lot of simulation and there are many things you can do, but we do believe that pitstops are important in F1.
“We know our fans enjoy these two/three second pitstops so we do want to have a level of pitstops.
“Perhaps an easy thing to do would be to have a Le Mans tyre that would go on and on and on, but then we would lose the pit stops.
“I have spent a lot of time talking to some of the teams who are going to help us with this task through simulation, but it is a difficult one.
“I completely agree with Nikolas: we were asking completely the wrong things of Pirelli over the last few years. The high degradation target was not the way to go, I think.”
Degrading tyres are intended to produce a big enough variation in lap time that they increase overtaking opportunities, but they are prone to overheating when a driver is attacking, and this can hurt racing.
Pirelli has long been clear that its approach to tyre characteristics is based on what it has been asked to do.
Mario Isola, Pirelli’s head of car racing, told Autosport: “If we have to modify the targets for 2021 we need to know quite soon because we are going to start the development of those tyres.
“If F1 wants to go to low degradation tyres, or to have bigger delta or any other idea, if it is feasible we are happy to go in this direction.”