Formula 1 tyre supplier Pirelli says it will ask teams and drivers for their “expert” input when it comes to making compound choices for 2019 Grands Prix.
Sole supplier Pirelli came in for criticism at stages through 2018 in the wake of introducing softer compounds that were prone to blistering and overheating.
Teams tried to avoid using the pink-banded Hypersoft compound where possible while an overall push for softer rubber led to a slow pace at some Grands Prix as drivers eked out a one-stop strategy.
Pirelli has revised its approach for 2019 and will choose three compounds for each Grand Prix from a reduced range of five, with the Supersoft in effect abandoned.
A Hard, Medium and Soft tyre will be employed at each event – the naming system having been tweaked and simplified – with Pirelli choosing from Compound 1 to Compound 5.
Compound 1 will be a slightly softer version of the almost-unused 2018-spec Hard tyre, while likewise Compound 2 will be softer than the 2018-spec Medium.
Compound 3 will be the same as this year’s Soft, while Compound 5 is similar to the current Hypersoft, albeit with reduced graining and without other negative elements that drivers encountered this season.
The current deliberation is over Compound 4 – in effect the Ultrasoft – with Pirelli evaluating whether it is too close to Compound 5 in terms of overall pace and wear.
It has a harder back-up Compound 4 available should it wish to take such an approach when it comes to the final homologation, which must take place before Saturday (December 1).
Under Formula 1 regulations Pirelli must nominate its compound choices for the Australian Grand Prix by next Thursday (December 6) while teams must choose their allocation of sets by the following week.
Pirelli has traditionally used its own simulations to put forward three compounds that are then approved by governing body the FIA.
But it wants to involve more parties – including teams and drivers – going forward, in a bid to have greater input over the compounds, following criticism at stages this year.
“They [teams] want to know which is the plan for Barcelona in order to select the tyres for the winter test, in line with our compound selection for Barcelona [Grand Prix],” said Pirelli chief Mario Isola.
“That decision for the selection, we are trying to involve teams and drivers. Obviously the FIA and FOM are part of the process, we would like to have also the expert opinion of teams and drivers.
“It will be a bit more complicated but we will try to do our best to make the best selection.
“I’m sure we will have different feedback.
“My question was not just ‘give me feedback on what you believe is the best choice, but also why’.
“It’s important to understand if you are Team A and come back to me saying ‘for Australia I suggest [Compound] 2, 3, and 4’, then [I will say] ‘okay tell me why. What is the reason behind that? Is it because you believe you are stronger [on those tyres], or because you believe you have more strategies, or what?’
“I think it will be very interesting to get, I hope to have feedback.
“They [teams] are free to do what they want. It’s not an obligation. It was just a way to work together and see which way is the result.”
Isola also asserted that, while Pirelli is seeking input from teams and drivers, “any decision is agreed with the FIA, so it’s not just Pirelli,” alleviating concern that teams and drivers could have undue influence.
Formula 1 teams and drivers had their first taste of 2019-spec tyres at last week's two-day test at Yas Marina.
The nature of the track meant Pirelli made 2019-spec Compounds 2 to 5 available, as well as their 2018 counterparts, in order for squads to make comparisons on both low- and high-fuel runs.