Pirelli have insisted they do take on board the views of drivers when manufacturing their F1 tyres – after Lewis Hamilton suggested they don’t.
Tyres, along with Mercedes’ dominance, have become an even greater feature of the 2020 season, with teams having to manage their rubber carefully to avoid punctures such as those that littered the closing stages of the British Grand Prix.
After his recent Spanish Grand Prix victory, Hamilton had said “we really need to put a lot of pressure on Pirelli for the future” and that drivers had not in the past been “part of the discussion” in helping F1’s sole tyre provider to supply teams with the best possible product.
But Pirelli boss Mario Isola has refuted any implication that drivers are ignored in the process and stressed that their opinions will, in particular, contribute towards the 2022 tyres which he hopes prove to be “ideal”.
“We listen to the drivers,” said Isola, quoted by Motorsport.com. “I don’t want to give the message or to hear this message that we don’t listen to the drivers because every time the drivers are available, we are always available, and I’m talking not just for Pirelli but also for the FIA.
“We are very happy to follow what Lewis is asking for, but then we need to put first on paper, and then in reality, something that has to be a compromise.
“We cannot have 100% grip and 100% consistency and no degradation and all of that.”
Isola stressed that finding the right balance between the various factors outlined in the target letter that Pirelli has to follow – including the desire to have multiple pit-stops – is a major challenge.
“We had a lot of discussions about the target letter that was initially for 2021, for the 18-inch tyres, and that is now for 2022,” he said.
“We have a number of versions of the target letter, you cannot imagine, because any discussion was introducing something new. Drivers have been involved in the discussion.
“Also, in the latest version of the target letter, we decided to review it again in order to list the targets, giving priority to what the drivers feel, and have priorities like reducing overheating for example, reducing degradation.
“We had a lot of discussion about that because if you reduce degradation, there is no reason to have more than one stop. Basically, if you don’t have degradation for the tyre, why should you lose time to stop once more, and maybe lose position on track?
“So we had this discussion, the possibility to have a tyre that after a certain mileage degrades quicker. There are a lot of subjects in the target letter obviously, some of them difficult to achieve all together.
“Having a tyre with much higher grip but also a lot of consistency is really difficult. When you have a lot of grip usually you have high degradation – it’s the qualifying tyre idea.
“So I know drivers like the grip, I know drivers are asking for an ideal tyre. That is our effort and plan for 2022. For 2021, it’s difficult because we don’t have any option to upgrade the product. So we will focus on that for 2022.”