Pirelli is developing a new wet Formula 1 tyre it would need to lobby the FIA to introduce midway through 2018, as it will not be homologated in time for the opening grand prix.
Normally, the rules prevent the official tyre supplier from modifying its products within a season.
Pirelli held two dedicated wet tyre tests in 2017, with Red Bull running at Paul Ricard in June, and McLaren at Magny-Cours in July – but it has nevertheless had limited opportunity to develop its products.
“We will keep two wet compounds for 2018,” said Pirelli F1 boss Mario Isola. “We have a softer version and a harder version, and we decided for each event which of the two compounds we want to bring. We will continue with this approach.
“We are developing a new wet tyre. We did a few tests this year, but we need to make some further development before changing the current one.
“So we have some ideas we are testing – more than testing, we are making some simulations. It’s not for next season, because we have to homologate the tyre by December 1st.”
Isola is hoping that, if the tyre is proven in the course of 2018, the FIA will allow its introduction on safety grounds.
“In my opinion, if we find during the season a wet-weather tyre that is a big improvement compared to the current one, I would ask Charlie [Whiting] to consider the introduction of a new wet tyre during the season.
“For me, it’s a nonsense that if you have a better product available for the wet, where it’s a matter of safety and so on, why we shouldn’t introduce it, considering that at the end of the day all the teams have the same problem? We’re not making a special tyre for anybody.
“I can understand the rule on the slick, on the dry tyre, because you can change the balance inside the championship, you can give an advantage to one team or the other.
“But if we are talking about wet tyres or intermediates, which we don’t use very often during the season, if we have a real improvement we should ask, at least, and then we’ll see what happens.”
Pirelli was able to try a 2018 prototype “black” intermediate tyre in FP1 at the US GP, although the track dried quickly.
The company was hoping to get more running with it in Brazil, and prototypes were mounted for all cars in anticipation of rain. However, Friday turned out to be dry – so the tyres had to be scrapped.
“We were able to test the new intermediates in Austin,” said Isola. “It’s a softer compound, but same construction.
“It was in drying conditions, so not really on a wet track. The result was, let’s say, in line with our expectations – warm-up was better, grip was better, but the result is that the compound is much softer than we were expecting.
“The gap between the current intermediate and the prototype is bigger than what we expecting.
“In Mexico we decided not to fit the tyre because there was no chance of rain on Friday. We fitted the tyre [in Brazil], but unfortunately FP1 and FP2 were dry.”