How do Formula 1 teams choose their tires?

by whatsmind

When it comes to Formula 1 driving, the most important part of the car might be a surprise to you. It isn’t the engine or any of the fancy bells and whistles that come along with the car. The most important part is, in fact, the tires.

Tires are the only part that connects you and the vehicle to the ground. This makes them imperative when it comes to driving round the track – especially when thinking about safety. We’ll be taking a look at how important tires are and how Formula 1 tires have to differ from tires manufactured by the normal tire brands like Continental or General, that you or I have on our cars.  

Why tires are important?

The importance of car tires is not to be taken lightly. As we noted above, tires are the only thing that connect you and your vehicle to the ground. And cars do tend to move better when they are connected to the ground!

Although the steering wheel is what drives the steering, it’s the car tires that ensure this happens safely. If your car tires haven’t got enough tread or grip, then your steering could go awry, and you might end up in some trouble.

Equally, if you’re driving in bad weather, you tires are what will keep you safe from skidding about and ending up off the road.

Tires are also what makes your drive more comfortable. Car tires are what absorb any bumps and blips in the road that you might come across. Therefore, if your car tires aren’t functioning the way they should do, your drive might become considerably less comfortable. This is a particularly bad issue if you are susceptible to car sickness.

History of F1 tires

As Formula 1 cars travel at a much faster rate, the importance of choosing the right tires is even higher. This is not only for the safety of the driver but all the other drivers on the track as they are all travelling within inches of each other at a great speed.

There are also even more factors to consider such as: weather, the track that they’re travelling on and their opponents being in such close proximity. Every driver in the F1 will come across the same issues and face the same conditions.

It’s because of this that since 2007, the F1 decided it would be fairer for there to only be one single tire supplier. This also minimizes any performance gaps between drivers as well as keeping costs at a minimum.

Since 2011, Pirelli have been the sole tire supplier for the F1 races. Their predecessor was Bridgestone who had taken over from Michelin when they decided to quit the sport altogether back in 2007.  

When Pirelli first started out as the official tire brand of Formula 1, the company was asked to do something that might be considered out of the ordinary. They were told to deliberately make the tires not last the full race. This was suggested so that the race would be less predictable and therefore more exciting for viewers.

However, this idea was then thrown out in 2017 when new regulations were put in. Pirelli now make tires that are more durable and will therefore last longer. This is not only better for the drivers as they have one less thing to worry about, but better in terms of waste as well.

What kinds of tires can Formula 1 teams choose from?

There are five different car tires that Formula 1 drivers can choose from. They are all color coded and consist of: red, yellow, white, green and blue.

The green and blue tires are specifically designed for wet weather and are taken to every race, even those in the Middle East where rainfall is a rarity.

The red, yellow and white tires are specifically made for dry weather and are made up of different hardness. White tires are the hardest, red are the softest and yellow are somewhere in the middle. Which tires are chosen depends entirely on the driver and their team and what the weather is doing on race day.

No matter what tires are chosen on the day, Formula 1 is an exciting race from start to finish. And now you know the importance of making the right tire choice, you can drive safer too.

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