Teams may be caught out by new F1 tyre characteristics

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Williams technical director Pat Symonds believes new characteristics of the Pirelli tyres could catch a few teams out at the start of 2016.

Pirelli carried out work on its tyre compounds during a 12-hour day in Abu Dhabi following the final race of 2015, with all teams participating at the Yas Marina Circuit. Symonds says changes to the tyres were made after that test but not early enough for teams to be aware of before they had to make their compound selections for the opening flyaway of the season.

“The tyres are significantly different themselves this year,” Symonds said at the Autosport International Show. “At the end of the season we did a short tyre test in Abu Dhabi and we tried various types of tyres and various compounds - the ultrasoft compound is being brought in of course - as well as some different constructions.

“One thing that has been adopted from the construction work is the tread compound is now effectively two compounds - the top compound is the hard/medium/soft/supersoft/ultrasoft and then underneath that is a sort of wear compound, a compound you wear in to which is much lower grip.

“So we are going to see degradation where we get this sort of cliff-edge again. I don’t know whether it will necessarily be the same as it was in Pirelli’s first year, but it will be something like that. That will lead to a very different approach.

“Now, the interesting thing is in choosing our own compounds we had to do this very early on and in fact we were choosing the first compounds for Australia because it was a flyaway race and we had to send the tyres very early, we were choosing that before we even knew that we had these characteristics in the tyres.

“So you might see in the early races that the selections that some people have made is not what the would have made if they had understood the wear characteristics of the tyres.”

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