Pirelli, which has been the official tyre supplier for the coveted Formula One racing since 2011, has a mammoth-like task staring at it. Regulations for the 2017 F1 championship would make the teams compete on wider tyres and Pirelli just has 4 months to develop them.
While the front tyres would increase in width from 245 mm to a 305 mm, the rear tyres would see an increase of 80mm, going from 325 mm to 405 mm. But this is just the tip of the iceberg.
This increase in width would be accompanied with a subsequent change in tread pattern and construction, including creation of a new compound.
In order to meet the challenge, Pirelli would conduct 10 test sessions stretching across August to November, 2016. While participation was open to all the teams, considering the resources like time and money involved, only Mercedes, Ferrari and Renault (Red Bull) have volunteered.
The cars provided for testing are of 2015 version but have been fine tuned to suit the wider set of tyres. Pirelli aims to finish testing by 29th of November and have a set of final tyre specifications ready by then to be used in 2017. In order to ensure that participating teams get no added advantage, Pirelli would enforce blind testing, where only the tyre maker would know the type of tyre being tested on a particular vehicle.
While the top-speed of the cars is expected to remain same, the new regulations might see an increase in the pick-up of the vehicles. Considering this, there is expected to be a substantial change in the load exerted on tyres, especially while cornering. To meet this requirement, the three teams are working in tandem with Pirelli to provide simulations of the vehicles to be used in 2017.
This is going to help the Italian tyre maker to come up with a much suited type of tyre. This is essential in the wake of flak that they tyres are drawing in the current racing season. On top of it, the teams have asked Pirelli to make more durable tyres, which, is in striking contrast to the request made by FIA in 2011, where the tyre maker was asked to make tyres that degrade quickly and necessitate frequent pit-stops to make the race more exciting.