What’s changed in Pirelli’s new F1 tyre range for 2019 | 2019 F1 season

Formula 1 drivers are today having their first taste of Pirelli’s 2019 tyres which it is hoped will improve the standard of racing next year.

Pirelli faced criticism from drivers towards the end of the year over how high levels of tyre degradation shaped some races. However the sport’s official tyre supplier pointed out the degradation levels were set down in the ‘target letter’ given to it by F1.

For 2019 Pirelli has set out to improve the performance of the higher compounds, which were often considered too conservative, and to widen the performance gaps at the softer end of the range.

The naming convention for the tyres will also change. The three compounds chosen for each race will always be referred to as hard, medium and soft. But the full range of compounds, which will reduce from seven to either five or six, will be referred to by number. ‘One’ will refer to the hardest compound’.

“The compounds we are developing for next year have already a slightly bigger delta [performance gap] compared to this year,” said Pirelli motorsport director Mario Isola. The soft tyre, now known as ‘three’, is unchanged.

“The hard and the medium performance is a bit better [than in 2018]. They are a bit closer to the soft because this year nobody was going to use the hard because they believed the hard is not at the right level of performance. So we decided to move the medium a bit closer to the soft and the hard is a bit closer to the medium.”

The super-soft – which was nominated for 16 of the 21 races this year, the most of any compound along with the soft – has been deleted and does not have an equivalent in the new range. This means there is a bigger gap in performance between tyres ‘three’ and ‘four’.

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“We had the soft, super-soft and ultra-soft, they were too close,” said Isola. “So the super no [longer] exists.

Finally the softest tyre in the range, based on the hyper-soft which was introduced this year, has been overhauled. “The hyper-soft is a new compound for next year with the same performance of the current hyper-soft, because it’s in the right position, but we worked a bit more on the mechanical resistance of the compound in order to reduce the graining. That means that you keep the performance a bit longer.”

As next year’s Australian Grand Prix is being held a week earlier, Pirelli faces a tight deadline to make its nominations for the first race of the new season. These will be announced on December 6th, and teams must submit their first selections within a week of then.

“With this range of compounds we cover all the 21 races for next year but it’s important that selection is the right one. So one/two/three, two/three/four, two/three/five, we have different possibilities. Obviously all this is something that we can start planning when we have the result from the test.

“The result of the test is useful because the cars will have a lot of sensors to give us more data, because they can compare 2018 to 2019, because we have all the range available. We have a lot of numbers, we have to analyse the numbers and come back by December 6th with a sensible proposal for next year.”

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