Who Makes Formula 1 Tires?

Pirelli, an Italian manufacturer, is the exclusive supplier of Formula 1 tires. Since 2011, Pirelli has held this prestigious role, taking over from Bridgestone, a Japanese company. Their contract with Formula 1 and the FIA continues until after the 2024 season​​.

Why Are Formula 1 Tires So Shiny?

Have you ever wondered why Formula 1 tires have such a distinctive shine? This gleam is thanks to the thin chrome-coated molds Pirelli uses in the manufacturing process. Importantly, this shine is purely cosmetic and has no impact on tire performance. In fact, this gleam fades quickly, often disappearing after the first lap or as soon as the car exits the pit lane​​​​​​.

When Did Formula 1 Tires Start Sporting Their Shiny Look?

In 2019, Pirelli introduced a new design for Formula 1 tires, featuring a glistening appearance. This change was the result of a new manufacturing technique aimed at eliminating defects in the rubber compound.

These molds were introduced to prevent the tires from sticking to the road, as the tire compounds are too soft to create irregularities on the tire’s tread. The chrome plating ensured a smooth, defect-free surface, enhancing both the appearance and the quality of the tires​​​​​​.

Moreover, the tires are also treated with chemical compounds like silicones or polymers, which add to the smooth look and provide benefits like increased grip and protection against ultraviolet rays. These treatments make the tires not only shinier but also more durable and efficient for racing.

Types of Slicks Used for Formula 1 Tires

Formula 1 tires come in a variety of slick types, each designed for specific racing conditions. The three main types are soft, medium, and hard slicks, distinguished by their levels of grip and durability.

Slick tires are essential for effective racing, requiring precise heat management. Excessive heat can lead to degradation and reduced grip, making tire choice a crucial aspect of the F1 strategy​​.

Does the Shiny Material Affect Formula 1 Performance?

The shiny appearance of Formula 1 tires, caused by the chrome-plated molds does not impact their performance. This shiny surface, which is a result of the production process and not a material feature, wears off quickly, usually disappearing after the first lap or as the car leaves the pit lane. The shine is purely aesthetic and has no bearing on the grip or consistency of the tire​​​​.

How Many Tire Compounds Are Used in F1 Tires?

Pirelli, the tire supplier for Formula 1, offers a range of tire compounds. In 2023, the range included six slick compounds, named C0 to C5 in order of hardness, along with intermediates and full wets for wet weather conditions.

Each weekend, only three of these compounds are available for use, and their selection can vary between races. This flexible approach allows for tailored tire strategies to suit different tracks and conditions​​​​.

What Is the Lifespan of Formula 1 Tires?

The lifespan of Formula 1 tires varies significantly based on track conditions and tire compound. On average, F1 tires last about 60 km or 37 miles. The most durable, like the C1 compound, can last between 30 to 50 laps (about 120 miles), while the softer compounds, like the C5, may only last 10 to 20 laps. This variability is a key factor in race strategy, as teams must balance the need for speed with tire longevity​.

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