Pirelli will be able to carry out a three-day tire test at the end of this year to finalize its 2021 product, with all 10 teams providing mule cars for the 18-inch tires.
Formula 1 is switching from 13-inch tires to 18 inches for the 2021 season, with initial testing having already been taking place during 2019 as part of Pirelli’s development program. A three-day test following this year’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was targeted as a time to have all teams running modified cars to allow testing of the new tires, and Pirelli head of car racing Mario Isola confirms the whole grid has now committed to taking part.
“We are now focused on the 18-inch tire,” Isola told RACER. “We already started our tests but we just finalized before Christmas the whole test plan for 2020. I’m happy that all 10 teams are providing a mule car for testing, not just because we can test and develop our tires with all the teams, but also because in Abu Dhabi 2020 we have the opportunity to have all 10 teams with mule cars testing 18-inch tires.
“So we will have three days of testing with the 18-inch tires — that is a good validation of the product before starting the 2021 season, in that case also with new cars, because we will have mule cars and not the 2021 cars.”
While modified cars are also being used by teams carrying out tests during the season for Pirelli — the next being with Ferrari at Jerez next month — Isola says having all 10 teams and confirmed 2021 regulations provides more accurate running for the tire manufacturer.
“During the season they just provide mule cars. They have the option to use a 2018, 2019 or 2020 car modified in order to fit the 18-inch tires. The other positive point is that due to the fact that in October they finalized the 2021 regulations, now we have an idea and the teams have an idea of the level of performance expected for 2021.
“That means that they can tune the mule car in order to be representative of the 2021 performance and characteristics like weight distribution and other elements that are important for us. We need to test with a car that is as close as possible to the future car, even if it’s different in terms of performance, downforce and weight distribution.”
This winter, the teams unanimously voted to retain the 2019 tires for the upcoming season after two days of testing 2020 compounds in Abu Dhabi.