You’ve seen a few races by this point, but you’re still confused by all the tyre talk. It wouldn’t be shocking to learn that commentary on Pirelli Tyres Henley On Thames accounted for 30% of all commentary. So what’s the big deal?
An F1 car uses highly engineered, complex tyres, which are very different from those found on passenger cars. It also needs to be carefully thought out and planned how they are used over the weekend. Although there is a lot to learn about tyres, let’s start with a brief introduction.
Wet And Dry Tyres
The two main categories of tyres are dry tyres and wet tyres. Their tread patterns are what distinguish them most from one another.
The area of the tyre that contacts the ground is referred to as the tread. In order to maximize the amount of rubber trying to make contact with the road, dry tyres have a “slick” tread, which is characterized by a smooth surface throughout. Maximum grip results from maximum rubber to road contact.
Conversely, wet tyres have a “grooved” tread. The grooves’ main function is to break any water’s surface tension so that it can be displaced from the road by breaking its surface tension. While the extremes are best for heavy rain, the intermediate tyre is appropriate for variable conditions with at least a certain amount moisture on the track. Extreme tyres have grooves that are more aggressive than intermediate tyres.
They can therefore displace up to 65 liters of water per second as opposed to an intermediate’s 30 litres.
Why Not Use a Single Tyre For All Circumstances?
The F1 championship, the pinnacle of motorsport, demands that its cars perform at their peak. Having a variety of tyres that can maximize performance under any circumstance makes this process easier. Let’s investigate what would occur if dry tyres were driven on wet surfaces.
The track is submerged in water from the rain. The dry tyres slide over the water layer with little to no resistance, unlike how they would normally grip the pavement.
In the worst case scenario, aquaplaning, the car rides entyrely on the water’s surface, and the driver ends up losing almost complete control of the vehicle.
On the other hand, using wet tyres on a dry track will lead to subpar levels of performance and grip. Typically, rain keeps the track’s temperature down and keeps the tyres cold. Wet tyres’ grooves help prevent this because of increased friction and let the tyre run at the right temperature. In the absence of water cooling, this has the reverse effect in the dry, where the increased friction overheats the tyre and quickens the wear and tear cycle.
Tyre degradation is the term used to describe the natural loss of grip and tyre wear. In either scenario, using the incorrect tyre in the incorrect circumstances leads to subpar results.
Tyre Use Guidelines on the Weekend
Each driver will have access to 13 sets of tyres over the course of a weekend. Typically, the driver has the choice of which set of red, yellow, and white tyres to use for that particular weekend. The ongoing global pandemic has had additional effects, though, such that this year every driver receives the same combination. This will ease Pirelli’s logistical burden.
Over the course of the weekend, drivers are allowed to use as many pairs of tyres as they like, but they must return them to Pirelli at various points. This is done to ensure that drivers take part in each session and prevent tyre hoarding for qualifying runs.
Each driver is required to return two sets of tyres at the conclusion of each practice between FP1 and Q2 inclusive. These are typically the most exhausted people. A few other guidelines that are essential for the race include:
Two tyres will be provided by Pirelli for the race. Each driver must use at least one of these tyres throughout the race. If it rains while the race is taking place, this rule is not applicable.
Any driver who advances to the third and final qualifying session (Q3) will be given a set of soft tyres.
Any driver who advances to Q3 must begin the race on the tyre that they used to record their fastest lap in Q2. Read this for a detailed explanation of qualifying. This rule does not apply if it is raining when the race is set to begin because intermediate or severe wet tyres will be used.
All drivers are able to choose any tyre to start the race on Sunday if it rains during the Q2 session.
Drivers who did not qualify for Q3 will be able to use the extra soft tyre when submitting their race strategy for the race on Sunday.
You have it now! a description of Tyres Henley On Thame. Although there is more to discuss, such as tyre wear and race tactic, this primer provides the essential background knowledge. We hope that this article has provided you with the information you need to understand all the tyre talk at the upcoming Grand Prix.