This year will be the ninth season of the current Pirelli era, and during each of those years the tire range has always been different from one season to the next. So, what can we expect that’s new from the latest range of tires – which make their debut on the 2019 cars in Barcelona this week?
THREE COLOURS, FIVE COMPOUNDS
There will be only three colors at each 2019 race: white for the hardest compound of the weekend, yellow for the medium one, and red for the softest compound. In total, there will be five compounds available for the year: they are numbered from 1 to 5, going from hardest to softest. As all five compounds are on track at the pre-season test in Barcelona, the hardest (C1) and the softest (C5) compounds won’t carry the usual stripes during the test. Compounds C2, C3 and C4 will instead carry the usual branding with stripes: colored white, yellow and red respectively. This will only happen during tests: for grand prix weekends there will be just three compounds at each race.
PROTOTYPES FOR TESTING
There will also be some tires that don’t carry any markings at all: these will be prototype tires that will be seen during tests only to assess potential evolutions for the future. There is a bespoke test schedule currently being finalised for 2020, which will involve all the teams in a series of sessions this year. Details of this schedule will be released shortly.
DIFFERENT TEMPERATURES AND PRESSURES
A new move for this year is to reduce the maximum temperature of the tire blankets at the rear to 80 degrees centigrade, while the front tire blanket temperature will remain at the current 100 degrees centigrade. This will help front tire warm-up, and also reduce the risk of graining: especially in low ambient temperatures. As a result, the starting pressures of the rear tires have been reduced accordingly.
There was a thinner tread used at selected races last year, which featured new asphalt. This was designed to prevent overheating, with the objective successfully achieved. As a result, a similar tread reduction has been adopted for all the 2019 tires. The tire constructions will therefore be exactly the same at every race this year.
NEW INTERMEDIATE AND WET
There’s a brand new intermediate tire for this year, which is designed to cover a wider range of conditions than its predecessor. This makes for a much more effective crossover point with both the slick and the full wet tires, as well as improved performance in the wet. The full wet tire is also entirely new, with a redesigned profile that offers greater resistance to aquaplaning and better drivability in heavy rain.
NO WET BACK-UPS
Last year, two parallel ranges of wet and intermediate tires were homologated: one for higher temperatures and one for lower temperatures. This year, the tires have been made more versatile so there is no need to have two ranges: there’s only one intermediate tire and one full wet tire for the whole year.
WIDER WORKING RANGES
The working ranges are a bit higher for this year in order to reduce the potential for overheating. This ensures that overall there is a wider operating window as well.
(C1 the hardest compound, C5 the softest)