Pirelli prototype tyres unlikely to appear at races again

Jamie Woodhouse

Pirelli’s motorsport boss Mario Isola says they are unlikely to test prototype tyres on race weekends again.

F1’s tyre supplier made their prototype 2020 compounds available to teams to use during free practice at the United States Grand Prix last year, but they would attract criticism from much of the paddock.

Ultimately the proposed compounds were dropped and the 2019 tyres will remain for this year, and if Pirelli did want to test prototypes in the future, they probably wouldn’t do it in free practice sessions.

Speaking to Motorsport.com, Isola said that if Pirelli needs to test new compounds of the same tyre type, “that is probably feasible during the free practice, because with the same construction, you are going to test something that is not affecting the balance of the car and other parameters on the car in a heavy way”.

“The comparison of a new compound during free practice is possible,” he continued.

“If we have to test a completely new tyre it’s probably the wrong way to do that.”

Isola said that Pirelli learned from the tests in Austin that it’s “impossible” for teams to test prototype tyres effectively because their cars are already set up for the race weekend, while track evolution also plays a part.

“We supplied the prototypes to everybody, so it was a good opportunity [at Austin] to see how the prototype worked,” he said.

“The real, not mistake, but the important element of that test, [which] is why I believe that for the future it is not good to plan any test of validation during the race weekend, is that it is impossible for a team in three hours of free practice in total [excluding the FP3 session ahead of qualifying].

“When they are focused on their race weekends, they have to set up the cars for the race weekend, sometimes they have to test new parts.

“There is track evolution in every race. If we also had [to do] a comparison of a new tyre compared to the baseline, it is too much for three hours testing.

“So, it is a fact that they have to find a compromise to fit the additional tyre tests in a schedule that is already full of other stuff to do.

“And that means that in that condition it’s very unlikely that they can make a proper tyre test.

“That’s why we prefer to say ‘focus on tyre development tests where we have a whole day available’.

“The car is there, they can set up the car, we can make proper comparisons – long runs, short runs, different conditions, cambers calm, pressures calm, other stuff. We can have a proper evaluation.”

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