A Formula 1 car is the absolute benchmark in what a four-wheeled vehicle can do, and F1 tyres play a crucial rule in that. Today we take a look at why F1 tyres only last for such short distances.
Formula 1 is the absolute top level at which a four-wheeled vehicle performs. F1 cars come with the most cutting-edge and radical tech to help them become winners, and some of these innovations trickle down eventually to road-going cars. Case in point, the paddle-shift automatic gearbox was pioneered by the Ferrari F1 team in 1989, and today it can be found in a variety of road-going cars, even the humble Honda City. But what about F1 tyres? If it is at the forefront of four-wheel development why do the hardest of tyres only last for around 60-120 kms at the max compared to the thousands you can cover in a cheap road tyre? Today we have this video which takes a look at F1 tyres and their short lifespan.
The video has been uploaded by Donut Media in which we undertstand how a Formula 1 tyre works. A tyre is the only part of a vehicle that is in contact with the tarmac surface. No matter how much power an F1 power unit makes, it is no use if there is no grip to move forward. Grip is one of the most important factors of racing as it determines how quickly an F1 car can go through a corner without losing control. This is why F1 tyres are built for maximum grip performance than longevity. A usual road tyre will last around 15,000 kms, an F1 tyre’s lifespan is barely over 100 kms at most as the extreme high-speed forces make the rubber wear off rapidly. Over the course of a full race distance, an F1 car will need at least one pitstop to change tyres, and team personnel go through multiple scenarios and calculations to get the perfect pitstop timings.
Formula 1 tyres also have a different construction, being made of a nylon and polyester base structure compared to steel reinforced rubber for normal road tyres. This gives an F1 tyre the ability to handle heavier forces and loads which also leads to the rubber getting lodged on the track surface as it wears off of the tyre. But this is actually a positive as it coats the track with a layer of layer, giving more grip than a new track. F1 tyres are also wrapped special covers which preheats the tyres as they have next to no grip when cold.
Formula 1 tyres also have no grooves for dry races as it gives the maximum contact patch from each individual tyre, and are known as slick tyres. Grooved tyres were used from 1998 to 2009 to slow down the cars, but tyre manufacturers and constructors found a way around that. Now grooved tyres are only available during the wet or damp session as a slick tyre won’t be able to disperse the water on the track, and slide on straight instead.
Pirelli is the current sole tyre supplier for Formula 1, and tyres are marked with different colours for different compounds. During earlier years there were multiple colours, but it soon became confusing and since 2019 Pirelli as resorted to a white-marked hard tyre, yellow-marked medium, and red-marked soft with all of them having different compounds rated C1(hardest) to C5(softest) depending on the location of the track. F1 tyres for damp conditions green-marked intermediates, while wet tyres are marked with a blue stripe.
This is why a Formula 1 tyre can only do a 1/100th of a road tyre, and we hope this came in handy for you to understand.