Formula One tyre suppliers Pirelli have unveiled what they describe as a ‘revolutionised’ new range of tyres for the 2013 season, with the aim of producing more pit stops and increasing overtaking.
Both the dry and wet-weather tyre ranges have been revised with compounds becoming softer, the structure of the tyres more flexible and the shoulder of the tyres reinforced.
The Italian manufacturer has said that the object of these changes was to improve performance and to increase thermal degradation in order to ensure at least two pit stops per car, per race and to open up more strategic options for the teams.
“The 2013 season continues the philosophy adopted by Pirelli last year in evolving the original 2011 range of Formula One tyres,” explained Pirelli’s motorsport director Paul Hembery. “The goal is to continuously set new challenges for the drivers and to ensure that all the teams start the new season on a level playing field when it comes to the tyres.
“Through accumulating more information with each Grand Prix last year, the teams eventually fully understood the tyres, after a spectacular start with seven winners from the first seven races. The result at the end of the year was races with less competition and sometimes only one pit stop.
"This phenomenon was also observed in 2011, disappointing many fans and prompting some of the teams to ask us to continue developing our tyres further this year, in order to provide a fresh challenge with something different. Our 2013 range of tyres mixes up the cards once more to help overtaking and ensure two to three pit stops per race.”
The softer compounds mean that the new hard tyre is roughly equivalent to last year’s medium compound. Pirelli are anticipating lap times to be around 0.5 seconds faster than in 2012 as a result, with tyres also reaching peak operating temperature quicker and providing better traction than their predecessors.
Pirelli also say that the combination of softer sidewalls and a stronger shoulder to the tyre will speed up thermal degradation while extending the tyre’s peak performance window. Subsequently, the performance gap between the different compounds is now anticipated to be in excess of 0.5 seconds per lap, as opposed to last year when the difference was often smaller, particularly in the latter half of the season.
Visually, the tyre markings used to denote the different tyres are the same as in 2012, with the notable exception of the hard-compound tyre which, for 2013, will bear vivid orange markings instead of silver.
As before, each Formula One car will have 11 sets of tyres available for the weekend, made up of six sets of the harder and five sets of the softer compound. Each tyre has a barcode embedded into its sidewall before the vulcanization process, which effectively acts as the tyre’s ‘passport’, allowing Formula One racing’s governing body, the FIA, to keep track of which tyres have been used.