Formula 1’s tyre provider Pirelli have warned the teams to expect graining at the 2023 Las Vegas Grand Prix due to the cold conditions, long straights and lack of fast corners making it hard to maintain temperatures in tyres.
Graining is a form of blistering, and it happens when the temperature on the inside of the tyre differs from the surface of the temperature on the outside causing rapid tyre degradation restricting both overall speed and stint lengths.
In order to combat this, Pirelli have brought their softest range of tyres to Las Vegas. However, they do not expect it to be enough despite rejecting different methods of using the heat blankets to allow the tyres to leave the pits slightly warmer than usual.
“We have opted for the three softest tire compounds [C3 to C5] because the temperatures are expected to be very low,” said Mario Isola, Pirelli’s sporting director.
“As far as the track layout is concerned, we carried out simulations… and it has been confirmed that although the track has high speeds, it is not very demanding in terms of corners, because there are no high-speed corners like Silverstone where you have to put a lot of energy into.
“The asphalt is not quite roadworthy, but should have a low roughness. The roughness of the tarmac, the layout and the lower temperature mean that we won’t get much heat into the tire. That means you can cool the tire down on the long straight.
“Due to the cold, the expected ambient temperature and the long straights, we will probably measure a difference between the surface temperature, which cools down, and the temperature inside, and that could lead to some graining, but it’s not certain yet.”
Barcelona test temperatures limited in value
Pirelli collaborate with the F1 teams and their simulators to accumulate countless data points allowing them to predict what could happen and how the tyres will behave.
They also base their suspicions on races with similar climates, although the historical data has limited value. Thus, the previous preseason tests that took place in Barcelona, Spain cannot be relied on 100% to decipher what might happen at the Las Vegas GP.
“We had some pre-season testing in Barcelona with similar temperatures,” Isola continued. “But Barcelona is a different track where you put more energy into the tyres and the tarmac was quite aggressive at the time, as I remember.
“That was before the last resurfacing of the track. So I think we’re going to find a very different situation in Las Vegas than we’ve seen in the past.”