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Pirelli pleased with positive COTA test

NEWS STORY
25/10/2022

Though it wasn't entirely popular with the teams and drivers, Pirelli insists that Friday's tyre testing session was positive.

Last Friday's extended second session was given over entirely to tyre testing, as Pirelli used all ten teams to test its prototypes for 2023, helping to fine-tune the compounds before the teams get to try the definitive versions after next month's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

A test had been planned for Suzuka, but due to the weather it was abandoned, even though it was decided to run the session for the scheduled ninety minutes - of which more later.

This weekend sees another test, and despite criticism from the teams and drivers the Italian manufacturer insists the results have been positive and worthwhile.

"It was a good test," said Mario Isola. All the cars, more or less all the cars completed the plan.

"We were focused on the hardest compounds of the range. We have lots of data.

"We didn't know what to expect," he admitted, all twenty drivers given the same specific run plans along with strict limits on such things as fuel in order that definitive comparisons could be made. "Because when you have traffic, you can have red flags, or the track not in good condition.

"They were testing a blind specification," he added. "So basically, they didn't know what they were testing. They had the baseline tyre versus a prototype. We got good feedback."

Ahead of the ban on tyre blankets in 2024, next year sees the maximum temperature reduced to 50 degrees C, following this year's drop from 100 to 70, and last Friday's revised temperature was not well received by the drivers who were already struggling with the bumps and the wind.

"I believe drivers were complaining a little bit about the warm-up phase," admitted Isola, "because we were already testing with 50 degrees of blanket temperature, that means 20 degrees less compared to this year. And obviously in this case, the difference in warm-up is something they can feel clearly.

"But for the rest, I had positive feedback. The new construction was, as I said, the 2023. The target is to reduce the understeer that they have in low-speed corners. And for the rest, we have to fine tune some of the compounds in order to have them better spaced across different levels."

This weekend's test will see the drivers try the softest tyres in the proposed range, "because Mexico is a completely different circuit, where you need grip from the tyre, so we are planning to test the softest part of the range.

"With this last test we are in a position to define the five compounds we want to homologate for next year. And the plan is to supply the 2023 tyres in their final version in Abu Dhabi at the post-season test, both for the cars that are testing our tyres with the race drivers and also to the cars that are using young drivers."

Given the changeability of the weather at Suzuka, many were surprised that Pirelli opted to run a test there, particularly a test aimed solely at slicks.

"To make a proper test plan, we have to select sessions during the year because we need to test, collect data, analyse data, prepare another loop of prototypes and this is the process," explained Isola. "That means that we started as soon as possible at the beginning of the season, using the option of the Tuesday and Wednesday after the European events.

"It is clear that when you have, for example, a back-to-back event Barcelona/Monaco we cannot test in Barcelona or this year we had Silverstone/Austria, if I'm not wrong, and it was not possible to test in Silverstone. So in some cases, even if a circuit is ideal for testing, we cannot do that because of the calendar.

"For the second part of the season, it was really, really difficult to find any room for testing. We were planning to stay in Suzuka for a couple of days, a couple of days means that, okay, maybe you have one day with rain, but maybe you also have one day in good weather conditions and you can actually run your test properly. With one hour or one hour and a half of testing, you must be lucky enough to find the good weather in that sweet spot to test the tyres. That is why when we discussed the opportunity to test in Suzuka, we came also with a proposal to have a backup event that is Mexico, because we were expecting some troubles in Suzuka. That is what happened and that's why we have this backup."

In the aftermath of the controversial race at Suzuka, and the FIA's subsequent investigation of certain aspects, the performance of the current wet weather tyres in extreme conditions was discussed, with talks between Pirelli and the sport's governing body ongoing.

However...

"There is very little we can do with the wet tyres to reduce the spray," admitted Isola. "I believe that most of the spray is also coming from the floor, from the diffuser so it's not the tyre that is spraying water... not just the tyre that is spraying water in the air.

"In addition, in 2017, we had to increase the width of the tyre that is obviously not helping the level of spray of the water.

"We can design a different wet tyre, obviously provided we can test because at the moment we struggled to find any room for testing on the wet tyres," he added. "That's why we are planning some winter testing on the wet tyre.

"We can change across, over time, we can change the ability of the tyre to disperse more water, less water but we are also trying to find some creative solutions to reduce the level of spray in the air but I believe that it's very little compared to the total of water that is creating visibility issues."

Asked if alternative floor designs might resolve the problem, Isola was quick to respond.

"It's not our job to design the floor," he replied, "so we can be involved in designing the... if you have to change the floor.. We're not going to change anything on the car and we just develop a different wet tyre.

"We will have discussions obviously with FIA and FOM," he continued. "We have a dedicated Tyre Working Group involving also all the teams and any suggestion is more than welcome.

"As I said, we have also to find room for testing wet tyres; it's not easy, you need to go on a specific circuit where you wet the track artificially. It's not just... you can wait for the rain and test when it's raining. So it's really complicated but before doing that we need to define together which are the targets for the wet weather tyres because as I said, we can make a different, extreme wet but how different? If you improve the aquaplaning resistance, probably you spray more water. If you decrease this ability, you evacuate less water, you reduce the spray, but then you can have a car aquaplaning. So which is the right compromise?

"In my opinion, looking at the current wet weather tyre, we should improve a little bit the warm-up phase and also give to the extreme wet a bit more performance and I was also listening to some drivers saying that in order to reduce the crossover time and to be closer to the intermediate so they are not pushed to change from extreme wet to intermediate too early. That's my personal opinion. Then obviously, we will discuss that in the meetings organised for that."

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by Max Noble, 26/10/2022 12:18

"@Everyone - Yup, a classic PitPass first. Let’s see if the FIA take this moment for themselves and introduce a “rain flap” or what ever they wish to call it “standing water mist diffuser limiter down thruster” or whatever…"

Rating: Neutral (0)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

2. Posted by alvarezh3, 26/10/2022 11:29

"The "weather flap" to limit the spray seems like a great idea, I suggest that the attachment be a "standard part", otherwise, the teams will start experimenting with different shapes in order to maximize efficiency, create downforce, or manipulate the airflow to gain an advantage while at the same time increasing costs."

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3. Posted by Max Noble, 26/10/2022 9:34

"@Bill Hopgood - agree with all your observations…. My mind goes back to the “streamliner” cars, or a fully enclosed Le Mans racer… which is where we might end up if we enclosed rear wheels in wet weather… But! Mandating some style of wet weather flap to limit spray would be a great idea… then just remove it (not unlike a front wing change) when returning to drys… Over to you FIA!"

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4. Posted by Bill Hopgood, 26/10/2022 6:34

"@Max Noble, you are not wrong in that the F1 cars could do with mud flaps for particularly wet conditions.
Perhaps the FIA and the Technical Working Group can come up something that clips on to the cars, these being the best minds around to do such things?
Then again, if one was to get knocked off in a collision then there would no doubt be a black and orange flag or not and a protest or two, plus and appeal."

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5. Posted by itc, 25/10/2022 22:59

"Max, I'd go further and fit upside-down doormats to the floor and diffuser as well as mudguards.
All in keeping with Formula Absurd!

"

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6. Posted by Max Noble, 25/10/2022 12:39

"When you’ve only got your own low water mark to beat from last season, a “positive” test is not difficult… I’ve seen Swans rubbed with washing up liquid do better in water than those wet tyres… They are specifically designed to lift water off the track and throw it in the air… that is the physics of how they work! The huge rooster tails are actually a sign that they are “working as designed”… I, like Daniel, could cry… what we need are mud flaps…"

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