Power is nothing
without control

Power is nothing without Pirelli’s control 01

The big question this year, heading into the first grand prix of the season on March 17, is whether or not we’ll really see a Formula 1 that’s slower than it was in 2018. In theory, it should be. We’re coming off the back of two years that have got faster and faster. The wider tyres introduced in 2017 led to a notable increase in cornering speeds thanks to the extra grip on offer, and so lap records crumbled almost everywhere.

But this year, the latest aerodynamic rules could potentially detract from cornering speeds, added to an increase in overall weight of 10 kilograms. This added weight alone, on an average track with all other things being equal, would cost between three and four tenths of a second. And yet at the pre-season tests in Spain, held at the end of February going into March, the lap times were actually faster than they were at the same test one year ago. And in many ways that’s no real surprise. Formula 1’s principal mission is to go higher, faster and further. Technical development is too advanced and the sport’s DNA too purposeful for it to be any other way. Don’t forget: it will get quicker still.

Power is nothing without Pirelli’s control 02

As always, the true picture will only begin to emerge during the weekend of the first grand prix. One fact though is already certain: tyres play an increasingly important role when it comes to managing all that power. Or rather, harnessing it in a useable way. Because Formula 1 cars are always getting quicker, above all through corners, thanks to increasing lateral speeds – which can become critical for the necks and backs of the drivers.

Races are now often decided by just tenths of a second, meaning that race pace equates to a series of qualifying laps: extreme performance above all in corners, while carefully managing the optimal operating window for tyre temperature.

All this provides a challenge within a challenge. Pirelli is ready to rise to it this year with a completely renewed tyre range. New compounds and constructions give drivers a greater opportunity to manage the behaviour and degradation of their tyres – and so, performance. Never more than today, in an era of supreme F1 technology, has Pirelli’s famous slogan – power is nothing without control – been so relevant.

Minus Pirelli’s control, everything would be a lot more difficult.

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