Why is Pirelli’s full-wet tire not working?

After the Mexican Grand Prix, we reviewed the race on our podcast and asked the question, “what exactly is it that’s not working on these full-wet tires”? Was it the lack of grip or ability to generate enough heat for some sort of grip level or was it something more grievous such as they aren’t channeling enough water which is what rain tire is supposed to do?

James Allen did a nice piece on his website about this very question. It turns out that the efficacy of a Formula 1 rain tire used to be down to miles and miles of testing tread patterns and compounds and a lot more downforce. With the reduction in both testing and downforce, the tires aren’t channeling enough water and are prone to aquaplaning.

I won’t cut and paste James’s piece so go here and check it out, it’s a nice insight into why the teams and drivers and even Pirelli have a right to be concerned over the full-wet compounds. IT makes sense that a lack of downforce and testing would deliver this result but the bigger question may be the 2017 versions and James addresses that as well.

Hat Tip: James Allen on F1

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Why do we have to keep pretending like nothing is Pirelli’s fault? They’ve had several years to work on this tire and it’s still terrible. Can people finally face the facts and admit that Pirelli is not very good at their job?


How are Pirelli, or any other tyre manufacturer, supposed to develop a working full wet tyre when there is no opportunity to test in those conditions?

As Salvu Borg states above, with the front of the plank dragging on the ground thanks to the extreme rake that the cars run now, it is the underside of the car that is lifted by the standing water, not necessarily the tyres. Until something is done to increase the ride height, there is very little that improving the tyres will do to helping the drivers control the cars.

Salvu Borg

Pirelli intermediate “green” are designed to disperse 25 litres of water per second at full speed. Pirelli full wet “blue” are designed to disperse 65 litres of water per second at full speed.
Pirelli 2016 intermediate and full wet tyres can disperse as much water if not more than the tyres of 10 years ago.
Tyres can only disperse water from under their own footprint, and not from under the car floor.
In Brasil it was not the tyres which were aquaplaning but the car floor which was because of the low ride height used.

charlie white

I really think this issue over Pirelli tires will escalate in 2017. Pirelli wanted to do hot weather testing in Bahrain and most of the teams refused due to cost. So with new 2017 aero rules and 5-10mph increase in top speed, Pirelli tires might not be able to cope with the new stresses on some tracks.

#F1 'o^°o- @_canuck_

The tires are working, the cars are aquaplaning off because their ride height is too low.
No morning warm up because of Parc ferme rule so they cant change to wet settings as Q was dry.

Paul Riseborough

What makes do you say that? The rain tyres have a slightly larger radius to raise the cars.

Don Thorpe

Just curious. I know the maximum/standard width of the tire is mandated. Is a minimum width specified? Would it be possible to make a narrower rain tire to facilitate the removal of water from across the tread? As I said, just curious!