With so many technical changes being made constantly in Formula 1, it can sometimes be hard to understand. While these technicalities are important, the simplicity of the tyres is an essential part of the sport we all love. Here’s an explanation of the tyres used in F1 in 2021.
Pirelli 2021 tyres
This year saw Pirelli introduce a new set of 13-inch tyres, with further development looking towards the new era of Formula 1, which was delayed to 2022. 5 slick tyre choices were set for 2021, as well as of course intermediate and wet tyres. Three sets of tyres are selected for each race, depending on the track, ranging soft to hard in compound order. They can range from C5-C3 at technical circuits and C3 to C1 on harsher, more abrasive tracks.
Hard – White
Medium – Yellow
Soft – Red
Intermediate – Green
Wet – Blue
C1* tyres are the hardest compound available in Formula 1. It is designed for track surfaces with high energy loadings, often those with high temperatures, fast corners or harsh, abrasive surfaces. It is often the tyre that is hardest to get warm but is best for low degradation and the best durability. These tyres are always white.
C2 tyres are still on the harder end of the spectrum, but are softer than the C1s. It is best for circuits with high speeds and temperatures. It has the ability to be used at a wider range of circuits as it is more adaptable. They can either be white or yellow depending on the choice of tyres at a certain track.
The tyres directly in the middle of the battle between durability and performance are C3s. It can be used as a red soft tyre at particularly severe tracks and a white hard tyre at more gentle tracks or street circuits, plus a yellow medium tyre for those circuits in between. It is the most common tyre to be used.
For tight and twisting circuits, C4s are best. They can be warmed up easily and are high in performance, but have a limited life. The new 2021 tyres are particularly consistently durable meaning they should last longer than we would have seen in previous years. They should therefore also be less susceptible to overheating. These tyres can be red or yellow, again depending on the track.
With hyper-soft and super-soft tyres now just a memory of previous Formula 1 seasons, the C5 option are the closest still allowed during an F1 weekend. They are best used at circuits that require high levels of grip but have a short lifespan as a result of their additional speed. These tyres are always red as they are the softest tyre ever used on a 2021 F1 car.
Wet and intermediate tyre
Green, intermediate tyres are used when there is no standing water on a wet, or drying, track. They can expel 30 litres of water per second at 300kph. They are used as a crossover tyre between a slick and a full wet tyre, usually as the track is drying after rainfall.
When there is standing water on the track or during heavy rainfall, full wets are required. They can expel 85 litres of water per second at 300kph, meaning visibility can often become a problem with so much spray coming off cars. They are used to prevent aquaplaning as they have so much grip in comparison to dry F1 tyre choices.
*C stands for compound