Mario Isola, Pirelli’s CEO says it would have been a bad decision from Pirelli not to introduce their latest tire line that should be more robust than last year’s.
With the incredible levels of downforce Formula One cars are able to reach nowadays, it is an everyday race for Pirelli to design more reliable tires that will remain in one piece long enough to allow on-track competitiveness and of course safety.
Indeed, seeing your tires explode while you are driving at almost 200 miles per hour is probably something you would like to avoid as a racing driver. However, this is basically what happened last year at Silverstone, where Lewis Hamilton won his home Grand Prix with a flat tire. Valtteri Bottas was not as lucky as he had to retire one lap before the end of the race for the same reason.
To increase safety and to allow better prediction of how the tires are going to behave in a Grand Prix, Pirelli introduced a fresh new line of tires that should be more robust than their previous generation.
Mario Isola specified he is content with Pirelli’s decision of introducing these new rubbers in 2021 as he says:
“The decision to introduce it was the right one because it’s stupid if you have a better product in your pocket not to use it. Obviously, we have the obligation to freeze the tire once the season starts, and that’s in the agreement, we know that.”
Pirelli’s CEO also believes the Italian brand achieved its goals in terms of usability as they are allowing the teams to lower the air pressure inside the tires to allow better road handling and traction, thanks to their harder nature.
“If you look at our prescriptions, we are 1.5 psi lower on the front and 2 psi lower on the rear, talking about the starting pressure, (…) That was one of the targets of the introduction of the new construction because the new construction is more robust. And so we can use it at a lower pressure, so I will say that we are in line with the targets,” says Isola.
Speculating on the tire strategies for this first Grand Prix weekend, the Italian CEO thinks that most of the teams are going to go for a two-stop strategy, alternating between medium and soft tires, depending on the track temperature and the rear tires degradation.
“The number of pit stops and the length of the stint in Bahrain is dictated by the rear overheating and degradation. In terms of strategy, it can be two-stop, using soft medium, or two sets of soft and one set of medium probably.”