In the wake of the first Grand Prix of the season, MotorLAT had the chance to interview Mario Isola, chief of Pirelli, and talk about this season expectations from this season and how the Italian tyre supplier is preparing for 2022, which will benefit of the brand new 18-inch tyres.
The adrenaline is going through the hot air of Bahrain, travelling through the desert to concentrate on the Sakhir track, the theatre of the main F1 action of the latest times. We wanted to know what the new updates are since the last season, considering that the new regulations do not allow to update their cars very much.
“Tyres are basically the same of the 2020 season – Isola explained – Keep in mind that during the last season the teams were already using 2019 cars. This year, we agreed to slightly change some details to make the new tyres more resistant, able to keep the pace with additional downforce. Teams were continuing to work, so at the beginning of the season they already had an improved downforce. In Portimao we organized some tests that teams took with 2020 cars and now they need to adjust a bit with their new single-seaters”.
Bahrain has turned into the new centre of recent F1 action but the Italian told us that what really makes the difference is the track. The asphalt has its characteristics and to define the winning allocations, these are more important than the weather. Speaking of that, Isola answered to the question: “How can you figure out the perfect allocation of tyres on a circuit that doesn’t exists (yet), just like Jeddah."
“We study the weather and the characteristics provided by the makers and ask them for some info, so that we can study which conditions will the teams find and give them the correct sets of tyres. It is very difficult to do it without actually testing the track. Cars are extremely sensitive, every small detail matters. We tried to simulate wet conditions but we have to make several tries to configure the actual rainy simulation of a given place.”
Another news deals with the choice to provide each teams eight sets of C4 on such an aggressive asphalt of a “Stop And Go” circuit, instead of a longer stint with harder compounds. “Soft (tyres) can work very well here with cooler temperatures, like the ones forecasted for tomorrow. – states he – For what it may concern the allocations, they are fixed. We decided them accordingly to teams and FIA. They liked how last season turned out with fixed allocations, this is what's behind the decision to keep the same procedure so we chose the average of the tyres made by the teams”.
Bahrain will host another important F1 event: on March 31st and April 1st, Alpine and Ferrari will test 18-inch tyres, which will be on track in 2022. We were curious to know what performances and feedbacks from the teams does Pirelli expect and why did the tyre supplier decided to change the actual tyres.
“The first time we started to think and plan about 18-inch tyres was back in 2015. Luckily in 2020 we asked for some tests in advance and they revealed very useful – Isola answered – Ferrari already tried them in Jerez and their feedback was good. Teams and drivers asked for different tyres, which suffer less wear and overheating. Moreover, the new cars use bigger tyres than these ones we’re using right now so it’s a great test for street cars too. It’s important for us to keep improving technology and innovation”
At the wake of Pirelli’s 400th Grand Prix in F1 we asked Mario what is his favourite memory in the Circus. “There have been many moments engraved in my memory both good and bad. – he said – I remember our first test back in 2010 in Abu Dhabi and above all the first race in 2011 in Melbourne. It was a troubled race, we had to be in Bahrain but then some riots forced F1 to move to Australia. Everything was new, the jetlag, we felt the pressure of providing a service… it was stressful at first but everything turned out fine and we could let go and feel happy and satisfied”.
400 Grands Prix and we're still going strong. 💪🏁#Fit4F1 #Pirelli #F1@fia @f1 @redbullracing @astonmartinf1 @mclarenf1 @mercedesamgf1 @alphataurif1 @alpinef1team @scuderiaferrari @haasf1team @alfaromeoracing @williamsracing @fondpirelli pic.twitter.com/edLc2hRyeM— Pirelli Motorsport (@pirellisport) March 25, 2021
We close our chat with Mario Isola asking him what are Pirelli’s goals for this season and what kind of tracks he would love to see again here.
“It seems that we’re going to have a less predictable championship, with more teams and drivers to compete and less Mercedes dominance. It is way too early to make predictions, though. The track I would love to see coming back to F1? Last season we saw many old-style tracks making their comeback and I liked to see them. As an Italian, I was happy to have Imola in the calendar again, I adore that circuit!”