Formula One racing features a single tyre supplier, with all teams using identical Pirelli rubber. The advantages of this (over multiple tyre suppliers) include closer racing and reduced testing and development costs.
At each Grand Prix every team is given access to two specifications of dry-weather tyre. Unless conditions are wet, drivers must use both specifications during the race. The specifications can be visually differentiated by the colouring of the sidewall lettering: super soft - red; soft - yellow; medium - white; hard - orange (previously silver).
Over the race weekend, each driver has access to 11 sets of dry-weather tyres (six of the harder prime specification and five of the softer option specification), four sets of intermediate tyres and three sets of wet tyres.
One set of prime tyres must be returned to the tyre supplier before Practice Two, and one set of each specification before the start of Practice Three.
This leaves a driver with eight sets of dry-weather tyres (four of each specification) for the rest of the event, but one set of each spec must be returned to the tyre supplier before the start of Saturdays qualifying session. At the start of the race the cars that took part in Q3 must be fitted with the tyres the driver used to set his grid time.
At certain events, teams may be given an extra set of 'primes' or 'options' for use in P1 and P2 for evaluation purposes. Teams will be given at least a weeks notice when either of these scenarios is to occur.
Teams are free to use wet tyres as they see fit during qualifying and the race. However, during the preceding practice sessions, they may only be used if the track has been declared wet by the race director. If P1 and P2 are both declared wet one set of the tyres normally returned before the start of P3 may be retained by each driver but must be returned to the tyre supplier before the start of qualifying. If a race is started behind the safety car due to heavy rain, the use of wet tyres is compulsory. Wet tyres are denoted by blue sidewall lettering, with green for intermediates.
Unless wet tyres have been used, drivers must use both dry tyre compounds during a race and failure to do so will see them excluded from the results. Or if the race is suspended and can't be restarted, 30 seconds will be added to the elapsed race time of any driver who hasn't used both compounds.
All tyres are given a bar code at the start of the weekend so that the FIA can closely monitor their use and ensure that no team is breaking regulations.
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