Pirelli’s new addition to the wet tyre line-up will not be ready by the beginning of the 2018 F1 season and is hoping to get a delayed launch approval from the FIA.
Typically, all new tyres need to be introduced at the start of the season and no alterations are permitted in the middle of the season.
Pirelli ran two sets of wet tyre tests in 2017. Red Bull conducted the testing in June at the Paul Ricard circuit and McLaren did one at Magny-Cours in July. But even after these two rounds of testing, the Italian company says they will not be ready with a final the product in time ior the season start.
“We will keep two wet compounds for 2018,” said Pirelli F1 boss Mario Isola. “We have a softer version and a harder version, and we decided for each event which of the two compounds we want to bring. We will continue with this approach.
“We are developing a new wet tyre. We did a few tests this year, but we need to make some further development before changing the current one.
“So we have some ideas we are testing – more than testing, we are making some simulations. It’s not for next season because we have to homologate the tyre by December 1st.”
Pirelli is hoping that if they can finalise the product soon, and if it provides better safety in wet weather, they will approach FIA to ask for an exception.
“In my opinion, if we find during the season a wet-weather tyre that is a big improvement compared to the current one, I would ask Charlie [Whiting] to consider the introduction of a new wet tyre during the season.
“For me, it’s a nonsense that if you have a better product available for the wet, where it’s a matter of safety and so on, why we shouldn’t introduce it, considering that at the end of the day all the teams have the same problem? We’re not making a special tyre for anybody.
“I can understand the rule on the slick, on the dry tyre, because you can change the balance inside the championship, you can give an advantage to one team or the other.
“But if we are talking about wet tyres or intermediates, which we don’t use very often during the season, if we have a real improvement we should ask, at least, and then we’ll see what happens.”
Pirelli also trialled a prototype “black” intermediate tyre in FP1 at the US GP when it rained. But since the track dried up quickly, they could not get enough runs on the new tyre.
They were hoping to try again in Brazil and had installed the prototypes on all the cars for the open practice sessions. But since it did not rain on Friday, the idea was dropped.
“We were able to test the new intermediates in Austin,” said Isola. “It’s a softer compound, but same construction.
“It was in drying conditions, so not really on a wet track. The result was, let’s say, in line with our expectations – warm-up was better, grip was better, but the result is that the compound is much softer than we were expecting.
“The gap between the current intermediate and the prototype is bigger than what we expecting.
“In Mexico, we decided not to fit the tyre because there was no chance of rain on Friday. We fitted the tyre [in Brazil], but unfortunately FP1 and FP2 were dry.”