Pirelli’s tyre tests at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit finished just a few hours ago. After a rather unstable weekend from a weather standpoint, rain made another appearance on Tuesday and Wednesday, keeping the track consistently wet.
Pirelli’s work was therefore focused on comparing various intermediate and wet tyre solutions for next season.
This was an important session, allowing Pirelli to compare the current intermediate with the 2024 specification, which – like the full wets – will no longer require tyre warmers.
Both Aston Martin and Mclaren were on track, with the former team completing 123 laps. At the wheel were Lance Stroll and Stoffel Vandoorne, who returned to the wheel of a Formula 1 single-seater for the first time in almost three years.
Meanwhile, Mclaren completed a total of 87 laps with Oscar Piastri and Lando Norris.
Pirelli proposes the Super Intermediate tyre – But first, the FIA must decide what to run in extreme wet conditions
The extreme wet tyres were once again criticised by the riders after last weekend’s sprint race. George Russell reiterated that the wets are a “useless” tyre, with other drivers making similar complaints.
Wet tyres are generally only used when they are mandated by the regulations, such as in the starting stages behind the Safety Car in wet conditions. The real problem is linked to an intermediate/full wet performance delta that is still too large.
“When we tested the new wet tire without tyre warmers, we found that the performance at Fiorano and Paul Ricard was five or six seconds faster than the old tyre, and the warm-up was not a problem,” Mario Isola explained.
The fact that plenty of kilometres were covered on these two tracks – and not on more traditional tracks such as Spa or Silverstone – was significant.
This is because the tests took place in tracks where these tires tend to overheat, leading Pirelli astray in their evaluations.
As a result, there was a crossover in Belgium of about 120% compared to “115, 116%, which is a fair number considering the crossover between intermediate and wet”, according to the Italian manager himself.
However, Pirelli now wants to understand where the Federation wants to go in the wet with these F1 tyres.
Mercedes brought the first specification of splash guards to the track, designed to improve visibility significantly, but without any success.
“If the idea is to continue looking for a device capable of reducing spray, and therefore being able to run the cars in full wet conditions, we clearly have to still keep the full wet tyres,” said Mario Isola.
But if that device is abandoned because it can’t work, and therefore the cars can’t turn due to the visibility, Pirelli has publicly proposed a first solution, namely the introduction of a new tire positioned between the intermediate and the full wet.
“In this case, the solution is probably to develop an intermediate tyre, let’s call it super-intermediate, intermediate-plus, or whatever you want, that is, an intermediate more suitable for wet conditions,” concluded the Italian.
A decision that cannot be untied from the not-too-distant future, i.e. the tire supplier from the 2025 season onwards.
There is no deadline, but the decision on who will supply tires from 2025-2027 will likely be this month
Pirelli’s current contract will expire at the end of next season, with a tender already underway for the choice of the next supplier between the Italian-Chinese tyre maker (Pirelli) and Bridgestone.
From the latest rumours that have emerged, F1’s current tyre supplier has an element of certainty on its side.
This should not be underestimated in a sport where running is increasingly limited. Meanwhile, the main area that Bridgestone has pushed hard on is the economic offer.
No decision in this sense has been taken, and no deadline has been set by the Federation. However, it is believed that a choice will be made in August, barring delays, on which many others will depend in the following weeks.
Last week, the F1 Commission rejected the introduction of slicks without tire warmers as early as next season, therefore without anticipating their use given that the plans had been designed for their use only from the 2025 season.
At the meeting held in the late morning of Last Friday at Spa, Pirelli presented the state of the art of development and, as also recognised by the FIA press release, the July objectives have all been achieved.
However, the tyres are not fully ready yet, with Pirelli expected to finish development after a further 7-8000km of testing by the end of the year.
By achieving this, they should be prepared for the homologation date, set for December, with the finished product.
During the F1 Commission, by mutual agreement and without any vote, it was decided to maintain the current plans, postponing the removal of tyre warmers until the 2025 season.
There is now a need for Pirelli to understand whether to make changes for next year – largely by relying on the simulation data from the teams.
While the development program for slicks without tyre warmers will continue, even beyond next December, this will only be if Pirelli manufacturer remains the official F1 tyre supplier.
Author: Piergiuseppe Donadoni
Translation: Jaden Diaz-Ndisang