Formula 1 has played around with several rules and features of a race weekend during the first five rounds of 2023, and another change will debut at the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix.
This weekend will be the first ‘Alternative Tyre Allocation’ event. Drivers will only be allowed to use 11 sets of slick tyres rather than the usual limit of 13 at rounds that do not feature a sprint race or evaluation tyre compounds.
Each driver can use three sets of the designated hard compound, four sets of the medium and four sets of the soft. That is half the number of soft tyres available on a standard weekend, and one more set each of the hard and the medium.
Pirelli has nominated its three softest slick compounds for use at Imola, meaning the C3, C4 and C5 tyres will be available, which is one stage softer than the teams had last year.
The intermediate and wet tyre allocation remains unchanged, with four sets of the former and three of the latter for the weekend. However Pirelli is bringing a new specification of wet weather tyre this weekend, and the weather forecast indicates teams are likely to need them.
Pirelli’s motorsport director Mario Isola said the changes are “both aimed at improving the environmental sustainability of our sport.”
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On top of the restriction on how many tyres can be used, drivers also have new limits on when they are allowed to use them.
“At Imola we will be testing a new regulation that requires teams to use a different type of compound for each of the three sessions, with the hards fitted for Q1, the mediums for Q2, and the softs for Q3,” Isola explained.
“This means a reduction – from 13 to 11 – of the sets of dry tyres that each driver has available for the entire event, therefore decreasing the environmental impact generated by the production and transport of the tyres.”
The introduction of the new wet weather tyre this weekend is also part of a drive to reduce F1’s environmental impact.
“Starting from this grand prix a new compound of full wet tyre will be introduced which will not require the use of tyre warmers beforehand. Track tests have shown even better performance than the previous Cinturato Blue full wet, even without the electric heating of the tyre. The result of studies carried out by Pirelli, it is the first concrete step towards the use of dry tyres without preheating.”
While the new wet compound is designed to bypass the need for heated tyre warmers, before it becomes a planned regulatory requirement for 2024, teams will still be free to use them at Imola and the cool conditions that are forecast would make that the more sensible strategy. Having the softer slick compounds available in cold conditions will make tyre warm-up crucial in the dry too.
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Should any of the segments of qualifying be declared wet, then the rule determining which compound has to be used is dropped and drivers are free to choose from any of the slick or grooved options.
In total each driver will have seven sets of tyres to choose from for the race, which will have to include the C3s and C4s. They will need to return one set of tyres to Pirelli after both Friday practice sessions (unless a session is wet) and then return two sets following third practice on Saturday (three sets if Friday is wet).
Should it remain dry, every driver who qualifies in the top ten is guaranteed to go into the race having tried all three slick compounds on the track. That could provide a strategic advantage, but may prompt drivers to do less running in practice to save tyres for later in the weekend – particularly with fewer sets of the soft compound than usual.
Although the Emilia-Romagna GP is Pirelli’s home race, it still has to ship in its race tyres to Italy due to its manufacturing facilities being in Romania and Turkey, which is why restricting tyre usage for Imola will lead to a reduced environmental footprint. The potential gains at further-flung races are even greater.
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