It isn’t even 2019 yet but Pirelli have already nominated the tire compounds for the first four races of the season. Given the need for a 14-week advance notice for fly-away races, the announcement came this week.
You may recall that Pirelli are doing away with the complicated naming system and moving to a simple soft, medium, hard tire nomenclature but underneath that simplified veneer exists a more sophisticated tire compound range starting at C1 through C5 with the “5” being the softest in the range.
If Pirelli brought a C2, C4 and C5, they would still be termed, soft, medium and hard tire compounds. This will make it easier to identify for fans and it also represents a reduction in the total number of compound types on offer from 7 to 5 in total in 2019.
There will be Formula 1 fans who will be very keen to understand which of the “C” series tires Pirelli has brought and to be honest, it will be worth tracking because the teams will be tracking it very closely. To be honest, I think I could have followed the “C” naming convention much easier than the Hypers, Ultras and other creative names. A simple C2, C3 and C5 would have made more sense and told me that they are skipping a compound. It would have made it easier to identify which tire compounds a particular chassis may struggle with.
Going forward, if a car is struggling with a “Medium” compound, that it all well and good but a Medium at this track may be a different compound at another track and fans will have to dig deeper into the C1-C5 nomenclature to understand if the “medium” at this race is actually the compound their team loves or hates.
I think back to last year when Mercedes seemed to favor the medium tires and do better on them than their competition but in 2019, that may not be the case or it could ebb and flow depending on which C-series tires they bring.
For identification purposes, the three colors will remain constant and that’s good but if you’re an ardent fan, you’ll want to check the Pirelli press releases to understand which compounds they are actually bringing.
In Australia, China and Azerbaijan, it will be the C2, C3 and C4 compounds comprising of the soft, medium and hard choices while in Bahrain it will be the C1, C2 and C3 so you can see already that Bahrain’s “medium” tire is not the same in Australia. Just keep an eye on that if you’re keen to see how teams get on with each compound construction.