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How do the 'tyres' make a Formula 1 car fast?

In Formula 1 there are two types of tyres: Dry (slick) and Wet.

There are 5 compounds of 'dry' tyres: C1, C2, C3, C4, C5.

C1 (white) being the hardest and C5 (red) being the softest. This also means that, softer the tire the faster it is but at the cost of durability. Medium and hard tyres last longer than softs but are significantly slower. The difference ranges from 0.8-1.4 seconds and that matters a LOT in F1.

Each race weekend, 3 compounds are selected and they are classified into HARD, MEDIUM, SOFT according to the type of compound used.

Then comes two 'wet' (rainy) weather compounds: Intermediates and Wet.

The intermediates (Green) are the most versatile of the rain tires. They can be used on a wet track with no standing water, as well as a drying surface. This tire evacuates upto 30 litres of water per second 300kph from the track. There’s a new compound that is designed to expand the working range, guaranteeing a proper crossover between the slicks and the full wets.

The full wet tires (Blue) are the most effective solution for heavy rain. These tyres can evacuate upto 85 litres of water per second at 300kph from the track. The diameter of the full wet tire is 10mm wider than the slick tire.

The different characteristics of different tracks can affect tyre degradation in different ways. For eg: at the Monaco GP the never ending corners would put a lot of strain on the tyres leading to higher degradation unlike Monza(Italian GP) where the driver has very less corners to tend to.

In the end, it all depends on the team, their car, the weather, the strategy (no. of pitstops and choice of tyres) and the drivers who can bring the most out of the tyres and the car. For many years, F1 have tried to make races more exciting by forcing teams to be more strategic over their tyre use. The different compounds allow F1 to manufacture greater on-track uncertainty, which - in theory - leads to more exciting races.


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