Pirelli boss outlines impact new F1 qualifying tyre rules will have on grid

Formula 1 will introduce new qualifying tyre regulations at the 2023 Monaco GP


Pirelli’s Motorsport Director Mario Isola believes the new qualifying format where teams are designated tyre compounds will not dramatically shake up the F1 starting grid.

Formula 1 had planned to use a new qualifying format at Imola before the race’s cancellation, with drivers set to start Q1 on the hard compound tyres only, Q2 on mediums and the Q3 top 10 shootout on the faster softs.

With teams obliged to use all three Pirelli compounds, the number of sets used during a weekend will drop from 13 to 11, potentially shaking up the look of the grid for Sunday’s Grand Prix.

“It could happen because the qualifying [format] is new,” Isola exclusively told Total-Motorsport.com, when asked if the new format could shake up the F1 grid. “But to be honest, I don’t think it will happen because it’s the same for everybody.

“So it is not because you run Q1 with a hard compound. The faster car is no more the fastest. In the past, there was the obligation to start the race with a tire using Q2.

“Now, they are obliged to come to the qualifying with several sets of tyres is quite high compared to what you need for the race. 

“That means you may have only one set of medium or hards. I want to go with more sets of softs in qualifying, or I save a set for the race, and that’s not the right approach.”

Reintroduction of refuelling consequences

Since 2021, F1 has been looking at various ways of improving the spectacle of a Grand Prix weekend, from doubling the number of sprint races from three six and potentially 12 in the 2024 season, to cutting down on practice sessions.

One idea which had been discussed was the return of refuelling with former FIA president Jean Todt, asking F1 to reconsider it for 2021 before plans were scrapped.

“If you reintroduce, refuelling [it’s] a completely different situation, we have to redesign the tire,” said Isola. “Because with the refuelling, you have a car that is lighter, always. 

“So instead of carrying 110kg of fuel at the beginning of the race, which obviously has a big impact on performance or degradation of the tire. You have a car that is 40kg or something like that. 

“That means that we have to redesign all the range, which softer compounds. So it’s difficult to compare a situation where refuelling is not there with a situation with fuel.”

Ed Spencer
Ed Spencer
FIA accredited journalist
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