Pirelli F1 boss blames teams and FIA for ‘junk’ extreme wet tyres

Michelle Foster
Red Bull's Max Verstappen leads Ferrari's Charles Leclerc at the Japanese Grand Prix. Suzuka, October 2022. points

Red Bull's Max Verstappen leads Ferrari's Charles Leclerc at the Japanese Grand Prix. Suzuka, October 2022.

Mario Isola has clapped back at drivers criticising Pirelli’s “junk” extreme wet tyres, saying they cannot improve the rubber if the teams don’t test it.

As Sunday’s red flagged Japanese Grand Prix resumed behind the Safety Car, all 18 of the remaining drivers had to run Pirelli’s blue marked tyres.

The extreme wets are, according to the Italian tyre manufacturer’s website, the ‘most effective for heavy rain, capable of dispersing impressive quantities of water. The profile delivers increased resistance to aquaplaning, which gives the tyre more grip in heavy rain.’

The drivers disagree.

Sebastian Vettel shucked his as soon as possible, the Aston Martin driver diving into the pits at the first available opportunity to swap to the intermediates.

“We are forced to go to the intermediates because the rain tyres are junk – sorry, not so good – and so we push ourselves from one emergency to the other,” the four-time World Champion said as per F1-Insider.

He also reckons that the drivers started part one of the grand prix on the inters when they should have been on the full wets is a damning indictment of Pirelli’s extreme tyres.

“The whole field was driving on the wrong tyres,” he said. “We are all responsible for that, but somehow not because we are all under pressure.

“We have an intermediate that is much faster than the wet tyre. It [the wet tyre] is better for the conditions, but so slow that you’re forced to move onto the next tyre. That needs to be improved.”

Pirelli’s F1 boss Isola says that exactly what he wants to do, improve the tyre, but the teams aren’t helping.

“We don’t have many opportunities to test those tyres,” he said as per Motorsport.com.

“We are working with the FIA and the teams, but if we don’t have the option to study those compounds, we won’t be able to develop them.

“If you remember, in the pre-season tests in Barcelona, the track was wet for half a day, but the teams did not use the extreme wet tyres, instead they focused on the intermediate ones.”

That the full wets, like the intermediates, are also the exact same rubber for all the different grand prix circuits also doesn’t help.

“All we have is one extreme rain compound and one intermediate compound,” Isola added. “They have to work everywhere, on 22 different circuits, so we have to find the best balance.”

Read more: Carlos Sainz suggests F1 wanted to avoid a common criticism during wet weather