F1’s game changers

2013-02-03 10:00

With the 2013 F1 season about to kick-off Zwelethu Nondumo writes that Pirelli have released the tyre changes that will come into effect in time for the first race in Australia.

Formula 1’s official tyre supplier, Pirelli, set itself the goal of creating new challenges for drivers by using new rubber compounds to ensure all the teams start the new season on a more level playing field – when it comes to tyres at least.

The new sets of tyres are made from softer compounds and the goal of the tyre innovations is to improve lap times.

The tyres will, however, ensure a minimum of at least two pit stops per race and open up more strategic options for all the teams.

The drive to build a faster car is part of the essence of Formula?1, but ever-tightening rules, a freeze on engine development and the banning of competition between tyre suppliers has gone a long way towards slowing down advances in car performance.

Pirelli estimates the potential lap time gain at 0.5 seconds with the new changes, though inevitably that will vary on different tracks.

Pirelli softened the stiffness of the side walls of the tyres, but stiffened the tyre shoulders. The softer side walls will induce more heat in the tyres and generally softer compounds will heat up more quickly, thus producing more grip, but ultimately degrading faster than before.

Apart from the technical changes to the tyres, the hardest compound has also been given a new colour marking. The hardest tyre will be named PZero Orange, reflecting the orange marking on the side wall.

The drag reduction system (DRS) will also be controlled during practice and qualifying.

No longer will drivers be free to use DRS at any point on the circuit. Instead, DRS will only be allowed on designated zones

or straights.

There are few rule changes for 2013, although the new Pirelli tyres will give the teams enough to think about. The stability means that, once again, the car designers are looking to gain more seconds in every area.

There is one other cosmetic rule, which could make the 2013 cars less ugly. While the regulation that requires the front part of a car’s nose to be no more than 55cm high remains in place, teams are now allowed to fit a laminate “modesty panel” to smooth out the nose’s appearance.

But this is optional, as some teams feel weight will be added.

Under prior rules, teams could argue “force majeure” if their car stopped for reasons beyond driver or team control, but that phrase has now been deleted from 2013 regulations. Drivers now do not have to save 1 litre of fuel at the end of a qualifying session.

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