Pirelli wants talks with F1 and FIA over flawed wet tyre rule

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Pirelli is seeking talks with the FIA and Formula 1 to consider a change to the sport’s wet-tyre regulations following a wet FP2 in Japan that highlighted a deficiency in the updated rules.

Friday’s second practice session at Suzuka turned out to be a washout, but not due to the weather itself. A recent change in wet-weather tire allocation rules backfired spectacularly, leaving fans disappointed and drivers with minimal track time.

Formula 1 introduced a revised system for 2024 that aimed to optimize tyre usage. However, the new rules had an unintended consequence at Suzuka.

Last year, teams were allocated four sets of intermediates and three sets of full wets. Now they are allowed five inters and two wets over the course of the race weekend.

However, last season, an additional set of intermediates was made available on Fridays to any driver who used that compound in the session. But this rule was discarded for 2024.

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With a limited number of intermediate tyres allocated for the entire race weekend, teams were logically hesitant to use them in the damp FP2 session.

This reluctance to use the intermediate tyre resulted in a frustrating scenario. Drivers spent most of the session parked in their garages, waiting for the track to dry enough for slick tyres. The lack of on-track action left fans deprived of track action.

Seven-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton wasn't shy about voicing his disapproval of the new regulations, highlighting how they contributed to the unproductive session.

“It is shame we didn't get that session,” he said about FP2. “They have changed the tyre rule, so therefore no one goes out and runs on the intermediate, which just doesn't make sense, really. But there you go.”

Pirelli, recognizing the flaw in F1’s revised system, has called for urgent discussions with the FIA and F1 teams in a bid to consider another rule tweak to prevent a repeat of Friday’s situation and ensure a more action-packed FP2 session in the future, especially during unpredictable weather conditions.

“This [rule change] was obviously voted by all the teams together with FIA and F1,” explained Pirelli chief engineer Simone Berra.

“Obviously nowadays a team doesn't have to return one set of intermediates after it is used in free practice, like it was last year.

“So especially at this circuit, where you have, let's say, a high level of degradation, and considering that we could have some rain on Sunday, most of them decided to keep the five sets unused apart from RB and other teams that did an out- and in-lap.

“It is something that we will discuss further with the FIA and with the teams, to try to find a way to make them run in practice. It is not our decision in the end, but in the next weeks it will be a topic for discussion.”

To incentivize teams to run during damp practice sessions, Berra proposed a simple tweak to the regulations. He suggested mandating that all teams return one set of unused intermediate tyres after any session declared wet.

“They can keep the five sets from the start but, if a session is declared wet, then you have to return one set of intermediates,” he explained.

“It then makes no sense not to use it and [instead] return a new set. So that will be a way to encourage them to run.”

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