Tire summit set to determine direction of F1

The Grand Prix Drivers Association (GPDA), Formula One Management (FOM) and the FIA are set to meet with Pirelli in Milan on February 2, 2016. The reason for the meeting is to discuss the tires in F1 and what changes need to be made, if any, going forward.

There is no mystery that the drivers, represented by GPDA president Alex Wurz, would like a more durable tire that allows them to press harder with little degradation. This is something we’ve been asking for for over two years now so no surprise there.

FOM is working with the FIA on making changes for the 2017 season and beyond to improve the sport and the tires are a key factor as Pirelli’s sole-supplier contract ends in 2016. Changing to a more durable tire or ditching the high degradation tire format seems like something Pirelli would be keen to do. Pirelli’s motorsport director, Paul Hembery, said:

“Pirelli welcomes any tyre regulation review, the drivers’ comments, together with the requirements of the promoter, the FIA and the teams,” Hembery said.

“If they get together and agree on what they want from us, then we can only be happy with that.

“We welcome that with open arms because it is very important you know what the target is you are aiming for.

“But we need to have a very clear target letter, agreed by all the interested parties, to describe what it is the sport does want from us going forward.”

The thing I like about Pirelli is that they are always relatively measured in their position. It’s diplomatic and to be honest, Hembery does a really nice job at that publicly. Pirelli have maintained that any issues the drivers may have with their tires is really down to testing because the testing ban and inability to test tire construction with current spec race cars is the real bugbear in making the perfect tire for the series:

“I know it sounds like we are beating a drum, but people need to understand we’re prohibited from running with any historical Formula 1 car, which has impeded us from doing our work,” said Hembery.

“We’ve had some drivers suggest we get a 2012 V8 and run around with that as it’s not relevant to today’s technology and so surely good enough, to give us a good baseline, for the downforce levels.

“The problem is we can’t do that. We’re prohibited from that, which is a great shame. The sport has missed an opportunity there to assist us.

“The sport needs to give us the tools and the ability to go testing to be able to deliver what they are asking. It would be the same for any other tyre company.”

He’s right, of course, in that you can’t fine tune anything very rapidly if you can’t test it in real conditions. Once again, it is a testament to Pirelli’s performance in F1 given little or no testing and the creation of a tire that is the antithesis of what a tire company would want which is a durable. Long-lasting tire with great performance.

Ultimately the meeting could help set the direction forward and put the foundational changes in place for the 2017 season and beyond. Tires are a huge part of the car design and it is important to get the tires specs set prior to moving forward. Will they be 19 inch, fat and wide tires or still the construct of HD tires?

As much as F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone says that the manufacturers have too much power and are trying to set the direction of F1, it would be important that the tire supplier not be in the same position. F1 needs to determine what it wants to be and then let Pirelli know what they need to make. Pirelli have said that in multiple articles as well.


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Paul KieferJr

A stronger sidewall comes to mind (images of the 2014 British GP flash through my head).


I’m surprised that the the safety trump card doesn’t trump the keep-cost-down trump card. Shouldn’t testing the tires, so that they’re safe and don’t blow up unexpectedly be more important than a test ban aimed at reducing expense?

Not that I agree with the ban on testing for any reason, but the FIA is so damned capricious and inconsistent it’s maddening.

John The Race Fan

The only thing that was settled at the Tire Summit was the bar tab.