That is the question…
Pirelli has confirmed that its 2016 Formula 1 tyres will be constructed to produce a performance “cliff” similar to the characteristics experienced during the first years of its contract as the F1’s only tyre supplier.
When the Italian manufacturer began its supplier role in 2011, it was given an order to spice up the races with high-wear, thermal degradation tyres. The result was a steady criticism by drivers who felt they couldn’t push their cars to the limit lap after lap without wearing away the tyre’s surface compound too quickly.
Responding to this situation, Pirelli changed its tire performance profile midway through the 2013 season to provide a more durable compound.
Then, with the introduction of the hybrid turbo engines in 2014, a new front tire construction and compound were matched with stronger rear tyres to cope with the brutal high-torque of the power units. These were more conservative tyres that didn’t degrade to such a significant degree, so they required fewer pit stops. Mind you, because the tire’s grip faded away slowly, the drivers’ naturally reduced their pace to string “7/8” speed laps together, stretching out their stints. The result; races became somewhat monotonous parades.
Those days might be over. Pirelli has confirmed that its 2016 tyres, in all hardness ratings, will feature a second layer of rubber, below the initial layer of surface tread, that contains a different compound that will provide a much more pronounced performance drop-off.