After several drivers, including triple world champion Lewis Hamilton, complaining of grip issues during the season opening Australian Grand Prix a week ago, all eyes will be on how the new Pirelli rubber performs at the Shanghai International Circuit next weekend.
The sport’s sole tyre supplier will be bringing the following three tyre compounds to China:
P Zero White medium – less grip, less wear (used for long-race stints)
This is Pirelli’s most balanced tire, with an ideal compromise between performance and durability. It is extremely versatile, but it often comes into its own on circuits that tend toward high speeds, high temperatures and high-energy loadings. It is a low working-range compound.
P Zero Yellow soft – more grip, medium wear (used for shorter-race stints and for initial portion of qualifying)
This is one of the most frequently used tires in Pirelli’s range, as it strikes a balance between performance and durability, with the accent on performance. It is still geared toward speed rather than long distances, but it remains capable of providing teams with a competitive advantage at the beginning of the race where cars are carrying a full fuel load, and at the end of the race where the fuel load is much lighter and the race effectively becomes a sprint. It is a high working-range compound.
P Zero Red supersoft – highest amount of grip, highest amount of wear (used for qualifying and select race situations)
This is the second softest tire in Pirelli’s range, and it is ideal for tight and twisting circuits, especially in cold weather when maximum grip is needed. The supersofts warm up rapidly, which has made it a stalwart choice for qualifying. But with increased grip comes increased degradation. It is a low working-range compound.
Two of the three available compounds must be used during the race. Teams are able to decide when they want to run which compound, adding an element of strategy to the race. A driver can also use all three sets of Pirelli tires in the race, if they so desire. (If there are wet track conditions, the Cinturato Blue full wet tire and the Cinturato Green intermediate tire will be made available.)
Pirelli provides each driver 13 sets of dry tires for the race weekend. And for the first five grands prix of 2017, Pirelli sets the allotments – two sets of the hardest tire available, four sets of the medium compound and seven sets of the softest tire. Come the sixth race of the year at Monaco, teams will be able to choose the specifications of 10 of its 13 sets from the three compounds Pirelli selec