Changes such as those seen this year won’t be a hallmark of the Formula 1 tyre range Pirelli offers teams in 2018, however the tyre maker says this doesn’t mean it hasn’t been busy. In line with its aim of ensuring an average of two pit stops at most races, two extra compounds and sidewall colours will join the Pirelli Formula 1 tyre range in 2018. The line-up previewed by the tyre maker at last weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix also includes fresh constructions, compounds and working ranges.
All 2018 compounds are a step softer than those used this year – Pirelli says this makes the “fastest tyres in Formula 1 history.” Compounds and constructions have been redesigned for each tyre, in keeping with Pirelli’s policy of renewing the range every year. In total, seven slick P Zero compounds will be available next year, which together with the new Cinturato intermediates and wets expand the 2018 range to nine.
Brand new for next season is a tyre that sits below the ultrasoft: Called the P Zero Pink hypersoft, this is the softest Formula 1 tyre that Pirelli has ever made. The compound used in this pink-sidewall tyre is suitable for circuits where maximum mechanical grip is required, such as Monaco. The tyre’s name was chosen based on the results of a poll held across Pirelli’s social media channels, endorsed by leading F1 personalities, who invited fans to choose a new name after the Brazilian Grand Prix.
A new hard compound will be introduced next year as well. This will now be coloured ice blue, while a new superhard tyre will be given the orange sidewall colouring worn by this year’s hard compound tyre to denote its status as the hardest choice available in the Pirelli F1 tyre range.
New working ranges come into play across the entire tyre family, which together with the increased number of compounds, will allow tyre nominations that are more specifically suited to each race next year. Pirelli sees this leading to greater flexibility and variation in tyre choices for both it and the teams, thereby offering extra opportunities when it comes to formulating creative race strategies.
“Compared to this year, when the tyres grew by 25 per cent to fit a brand-new generation of cars, the changes for next year are less far-reaching,” comments Mario Isola, head of car racing at Pirelli. “However, we’re pleased to present some important innovations with softer and faster compounds across the range: including the new hypersoft. We realised that, under the unique circumstances of this year, some of our 2017 compounds were perhaps conservative: The tyres we have created for 2018 addresses this, in line with the objective of having around two pit stops at most races. However, the fundamental design concept of the tyres hasn’t changed next year, preserving the attributes that all drivers have appreciated this year and allowing them to push hard from the start to the finish of each stint. The new range consists of faster tyres that should lead to even harder and more spectacular racing in 2018.”
Following the two days of testing that begins today in Abu Dhabi, the drivers will have the chance to sample the 2018 tyres on next season’s cars for the first time during the two official four-day pre-season tests in Barcelona from 26 February 26 to 1 March and 6 to 9 March. Further details on Pirelli’s testing plans for next season, in preparation for 2019, will be revealed at the start of next season.