A lot is being made of the FiA’s recent decision to allow Formula One teams choice among three available compounds of Pirelli tires. It’s a huge change, no matter how you slice it, but on that I like. OK, I don’t advocate slicing tires, but I do advocate options that result in differing team strategies and, ideally, better racing on track.
I even appreciate the idea of keeping teams’ compound selection secret, at least from other teams. If a team knew another teams strategy, they could counter it, and it would be as effective as tic-tac-toe. Although the idea of some reveal ceremony is over-the-top, it gives the motorsports media something to talk about, I guess.
There are two parts of this. The first is the introduction of the purple-banded Super Super Soft tire compound. Frankly, if entertainment is the ultimate goal, then naming it Super Duper Soft or Ultra Soft would be better. Ultra Soft has the added connection to the sidewall color: Ultra Soft… Ultra Violet…
As the name implies, the purple tires are the softest compound Pirelli will offer the teams, and are expected to provide lots of grip, but give up after a lap or two, almost like a qualifying tire.
The other part of this is that Pirelli will brig three compounds to the each race. The FiA mandates that all the teams have to use one of those three. The teams get to choose which of the others they will use. So the teams could choose a compound that better suits their chassis or perhaps even a driver.
A couple ways I can see this playing out:
FiA mandates the Yellow soft tires and the teas can chose between the White medium and Orange hard compounds. If a team can make the super-durable hard tires work and go with a single-stop strategy over a two-stop.
FiA mandates the White medium compound and gives teams the choice between the Yellow soft and Red super soft compounds. A team may elect to give a driver who is gentler on the tires the red compound for faster lap times.
Is this going to make a huge difference in Formula 1 or bring Mercedes off their throne of dominance? No, but it will give teams a means o making strategy calls that could put a backmarker team into the points or a mid-pack drive on the podium. Ideally, it could create battles between the drivers of a dominating team.
So bring the Purple, Pirelli. And your Oranges, Whites, Yellows and Reds. Bring the teams choice. The results will prove themselves on track. Hopefully.