New tyres, fewer pit stops in F1

LONDON • Formula One fans can expect to see fewer pit stops this year and faster, more aggressive-looking cars, according to tyre supplier Pirelli's motorsport head Paul Hembery.

"The (tyre) degradation (wear) levels will be reduced substantially compared to the past," he told Reuters at the Autosport International show on Thursday.

"And the gap between the (tyre) compound levels will be much reduced... so I think the strategy elements that we've seen in the last seasons will be greatly reduced - fewer pit stops.

"I'm quite sure we'll see a lot more one-stop races."

The wider 2017 specification tyres are expected to have around 25 per cent more grip, more thermal stability and last longer than their quick-wearing predecessors that forced drivers to pit as the performance tailed off.

The 22 drivers averaged two pit stops a race last year, with that number rising to three in China.

Hembery added that some of the prototype 2017 tyres used early on in testing last year were so conservative they could have lasted three grands prix, unlike the softer 2016 compounds that often barely made it into double figures on the lap count.

While such poor durability was a step too far, the Briton recognised there was still a risk that the new tyres would be criticised as much as the old ones.

"It'll probably go the other way and you'll be saying, 'How does Pirelli feel now that the racing is boring, there's no overtaking and no pit stops'," he said.

"I think we saw that coming, but I'm absolutely sure we'll see things we want to change during the year."

The 2017 tyres have yet to be run on the latest cars, which will be unveiled next month and could be five seconds a lap quicker than the ones Pirelli gathered data with last year.

The first pre-season test in Barcelona is eagerly awaited.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 14, 2017, with the headline 'New tyres, fewer pit stops in F1'. Print Edition | Subscribe