There are five tire compounds used in F1 2021 this season. Soft, Medium, Hard, Intermediate, and Wet. The Soft, Medium and Hard compound tires are called slick tires which are used on a dry track, whereas during a rainy race, Intermediate and Wet compounds are used. So what is the difference between these F1 tires compounds and how is the tire strategy important with respect to the race? After the tire failure in the British GP, Pirelli have a huge responsibility with the tire standards for this F1 season.
F1 Tire Compound: Slick Tire
Soft tires are the fastest tires available F1 tires in the race. However, they wear out quickly as compared to other tires. On average, these tires can give 1.3 seconds of advantages on every lap. However, they do not last very long and could wear out after 20 to 25 laps, or around 50 kilometers depending on the track and the track temperature. The soft tires come in three compounds: C3, C4, and C5. C3 is the hardest compound soft tire, whereas C5 is the softest compound tire. The soft compound tire has a greater friction coefficient compared to that of the hard compound tire. As a result it gets heated up more quickly and hence wears out faster. The Soft compound tires are marked with Red color.
The medium tires are well balanced between durability and speed. These tires do not wear out as fast as soft tires, however, they are also not as fast as soft compound tires. The medium compound tires can last 30 to 35 laps. These tires have a balanced amount of friction which helps in the grip of the tire with the surface. The medium compound tires are used when the track temperature is on the slightly higher side. The medium tires also come in three different compounds: C2, C3, and C4. Similar to the soft tires, the C2 is the hardest available compound and C4 the softest. The Medium compound tires are marked with Yellow color.
The hardest compound F1 tire is the hard tire. They are also available in three different kinds of compounds similar to that of soft and medium tires. C1, C2, and C3, where C1 the hardest and C3 the softest. The hard compound tires are used during fast corner tracks and during high-temperature tracks. They last longer than the soft and medium tires, however, they are slower. The hard compound tire does not yield much grip on the track surface and hence does not produce friction. Less grip means slower during the race whereas less friction means less heat produced. Hence, they do not wear out quicker. The Hard compound tires are marked with White color.
F1 Tire Compound: Rain Tires
Along with the Slick compound tires, there are two types of Wet Tires, namely, the Intermediate and the Wet tire. The intermediate and the wet tires are used according to the track and the weather conditions. In case of heavy rains, Wet Tires are preferred over the Intermediate ones. There are no different compounds in the Wet tires, unlike the Slick Tires.
The intermediate tires are used during a wet race track or when there is slight rain. They are made with rubber compounds slightly softer than slick tires and are cut with grooves like the rain tire but shallower to prevent excessive heat build up. This tire is very versatile as it can be used on a wet track with no standing water as well as on the drying race surface. These f1 tire compound can evacuate 30 liters of water per second per tire at a speed of 300 kmph. The Intermediate tires can last up to 30 to 35 laps on average. The tires are green colored to distinguish between the different tires in the F1.
Wet tires are used when the rain is heavy and more water is settled on the race track. The Wet tires are the most useful in the heavy rain as they can evacuate upto 85 liters of water per second per tire at a speed of 300 kmph. The profile has been designed to increase resistance to aquaplaning, which gives the tire more grip in heavy rain. The diameter of the full wet tire is 10mm wider than the slick tire. The Wet tores have full tread patterns which is necessary to expel the water. These are marked with the blue color to distinguish between its treaded partner Intermediate tire.
In 2018, Pirelli had seven different types of Slick Tires. These included: Hypersoft, Ultrasoft, Supersoft, Soft, Medium, Hard and Superhard. Along with these Slick tires the two different types of Rain Tires also included: Intermediate and Wet tires.