2021 downforce cut 'more than welcome' as Pirelli prepare for third season with current tyres
The British Grand Prix saw several dramatic tyre failures at the end of the race – an issue Pirelli partially attributed to “the biggest forces ever seen on tyres generated by the fastest Formula 1 cars in history.” And with the same generation of tyres set to carry over to next year, Pirelli boss Mario Isola has welcomed news that the rules for next season will reduce the downforce on the cars, and therefore the stress on the tyres.
Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas and Carlos Sainz all suffered sudden deflations in the last few laps of the race at Silverstone, which prompted Pirelli to investigate what had caused them. A long stint on the same rubber and the extreme forces generated by the current F1 cars were determined to be behind the issues.
Originally the current tyre compounds - which first ran in 2019 - were to be retired at the end of this year, replaced by 18 inch tyres for the new F1 regulations. But the coronavirus pandemic has delayed the new rules until 2022, meaning the current tyre generation will need to be used for an unexpected third year.
F1's governing body the FIA announced back in May that downforce would be reduced for 2021 - a move Isola says is to be welcomed to avoid further potential problems with the tyres.
“We have cars with the highest level of downforce we have ever seen," he explained.
"Having another step in the direction of reducing the level of downforce is for sure beneficial because with more downforce – and also considering [the construction will not have changed] for three years – the only reaction from our side is to increase the pressure, then we have side effects like overheating, blistering, for example, or additional degradation.
“And if we have a change in regulations that is helping that, it’s more than welcome,” he added.
The reduction in downforce for 2021 will be achieved by the reduction in the outer floor area. One concern is that less downforce could mean a higher level of slip as cars won’t be able to corner at such high speeds next season, but Isola dismissed this when asked after the Spanish Grand Prix.
“It’s a matter of balancing the car and making a proper set-up. In the past we had less downforce and we didn’t have any issues. It’s just that the teams have to work with a different car,” he concluded.