Pirelli worried Turkish GP tyre choices are ‘too aggressive’

Jamie Woodhouse
Lewis Hamilton in FP2 in Turkey. October 2021.

Lewis Hamilton runs in his Mercedes in FP2 in Turkey. October 2021.

After late notice of grip-boosting work at Istanbul Park, Pirelli fear they have made a misjudgement on their Turkish GP tyre compounds.

Formula 1 returned to Istanbul Park in 2020, though the wet conditions and extremely low-grip tarmac meant drivers were not able to experience a lap of the circuit in all its glory.

This time around though there is plenty more grip on offer following some much-needed treatment on the surface, while Pirelli have even brought softer rubber.

After bringing the C1, C2 and C3 tyres for 2020, those selections shifted up one notch to the C2, C3 and C4s for the 2021 Turkish GP, but the soft C4 tyre was graining badly during Friday practice.

Pirelli were actually informed very late of the water-blast treatment which the tarmac was going to receive, and so they fear their “aggressive” choice of the C4 will lead to many drivers avoiding it in qualifying.

“I believe that the soft is quite an aggressive choice,” said Pirelli’s F1 boss Mario Isola, as quoted by Motorsport.com.

“Consider that when we selected the tyres, the three compounds for this race, we were not aware of this superficial treatment that they were planning. So looking at the data from last year, we decided to go one step softer.

“The soft is quite an aggressive choice. And I believe that some teams were using the soft today [Friday] just to get rid of them, and focus on the medium and hard for the race, if they want to plan a one-stop strategy.

“I believe that we will see more than two or three cars trying to qualify on the soft, because the delta lap time between the soft and the medium is very small.

“So it’s not like one second, where you take a big risk to go through Q2 with a medium instead of the soft, with this small difference, probably more cars are trying to qualify on the medium compound.

“We were expecting some graining, and the graining is visible on all the three compounds, especially on the softer one, and especially on the front right. The graining on the inside shoulder is accelerating the wear.

“And so it will be very important for the teams to measure and analyse the data from FP2 to understand what is the wear life of the tyres, because this is information that we don’t have from last year, last year, as both quali and the race were wet.

“As I said that tarmac was completely different compared to this year. And we were one step harder. So the data in terms of wear and wear profiles that we measured last year are not relevant.”

Max Verstappen ahead of Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez. Turkey, October 2021.

Check all the latest 2021 teamwear via the official Formula 1 store

By the time that the FIA informed Pirelli of the on-track treatment being carried out to boost grip, Isola said their tyre selections were locked in with no time to change them.

“Usually we are informed by the FIA if there is any change in tarmac, or if the circuit decides to resurface, or make any special treatment. In that case, probably it was a late decision from the promoter, I suspect,” Isola stated.


“When they decided to make this treatment, we have been informed. So we had that information. But it was too late because we already produced the tyres, and they were already available for the race.

“It’s not an easy period also for production and logistics. So we made the tyres and then after that we were made aware of this change.”