In the fast-paced world of Formula 1, even the rubber on the road can become a hot topic of discussion. Pirelli, the tire supplier for the pinnacle of motorsport, has been tinkering with its tire allocation strategy this season, known as the “ATA format,” and it’s creating quite a buzz in the paddock.
So, what exactly is this ATA format? Well, it’s not some high-tech acronym that stands for Accelerated Tire Advancement (though it could be). Instead, it refers to the new approach Pirelli has been testing at select races this year.
The experiment began in Hungary, with further trials at Monza, after the original plan to try it out in Imola was canceled due to the race’s unfortunate cancellation. What’s the goal? Pirelli is aiming to ship fewer tire sets, which aligns with their sustainability goals and adds an extra layer of strategy to the sport.
Here’s how it works: In qualifying, drivers are now mandated to use different tire compounds in each session. They start with the hardest tires (hards) in Q1, move to mediums in Q2, and finish with the softest (softs) in Q3. This means each car only gets a total of 11 tire sets for the entire weekend.
Now, you might be wondering, what’s the big deal? Well, it’s a balancing act. On one hand, this approach aligns with Pirelli’s sustainability objectives, reducing the number of tire sets transported to each race. On the other hand, it spices up the on-track action by forcing teams and drivers to adapt quickly to changing tire conditions.
This has sparked a debate in the paddock. Some drivers, like Carlos Sainz of Ferrari, relish the challenge, enjoying the need to improvise in qualifying. On the flip side, Max Verstappen of Red Bull argues that it puts teams at the back of the grid at a disadvantage, as the faster cars shine on the harder compounds.
But there’s another twist in this tire saga. Drivers, almost unanimously, believe that the ATA format limits their practice running. Pirelli, however, disagrees. Mario Isola, Racing Manager at Pirelli F1 Flow, suggests a solution: tweak the ATA format to free up one additional tire set for practice sessions, taken from the allocation earmarked for the race.
This adjustment aims to address the concern that disrupted practice sessions, due to factors like rain or crashes, can hamper teams’ data-gathering efforts. By making one extra tire set available for practice, teams could have more opportunities to fine-tune their setups.
Isola emphasizes that this change wouldn’t impact the overall tire allocation and believes that the ATA format has enhanced the excitement of qualifying. Drivers must adapt to varying grip levels quickly, pushing the boundaries and making for a more thrilling spectacle.
As for the future of Pirelli’s involvement in Formula 1, the tire manufacturer is still awaiting the outcome of the tire tender application competition for the 2025-28 seasons, with no set deadline for the decision. The hope is that the data and information provided will lead to a favorable verdict.
In the world of Formula 1, where even the smallest details can make a huge difference, Pirelli’s tire experiment is yet another example of how innovation and strategy play a pivotal role in this high-speed sport. Will the ATA format become the norm? That decision is still up in the air, much like the future of F1’s tire supply. Stay tuned, because in Formula 1, change is the only constant.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Formula 1 tire strategy
What is the ATA format in Formula 1 tire strategy?
The ATA format, short for “Adapted Tire Allocation,” is a new approach to tire allocation introduced by Pirelli in Formula 1. It involves mandating drivers to use different tire compounds in each qualifying session: hard tires (hards) in Q1, medium tires (mediums) in Q2, and soft tires (softs) in Q3. This format aims to reduce the number of tire sets used per car during the race weekend, aligning with Pirelli’s sustainability goals and adding a strategic element to the races.
Why is Pirelli implementing the ATA format?
Pirelli is implementing the ATA format to achieve two main objectives. First, it aligns with the company’s sustainability goals by reducing the number of tire sets transported to each race, thus reducing their environmental impact. Second, it adds an extra layer of strategy to Formula 1 races by forcing teams and drivers to adapt quickly to changing tire conditions, making the sport more exciting for fans.
How do drivers feel about the ATA format?
The ATA format has divided opinions among Formula 1 drivers. Some, like Carlos Sainz of Ferrari, enjoy the challenge it presents, as it requires them to adapt and improvise during qualifying. However, others, like Max Verstappen of Red Bull, argue that it disadvantages teams at the back of the grid, as the faster cars excel on the harder tire compounds.
What impact does the ATA format have on practice sessions?
Many drivers believe that the ATA format restricts their practice running. They argue that disrupted practice sessions, due to factors like rain or crashes, limit their data-gathering opportunities. To address this concern, Pirelli’s Mario Isola has suggested making one additional tire set available for practice, taken from the allocation set aside for the race. This tweak aims to provide teams with more chances to fine-tune their setups.
What is the future of Pirelli’s involvement in Formula 1?
Pirelli’s future involvement in Formula 1 is currently uncertain. The company has submitted a tender application for the 2025-28 seasons, but there is no set deadline for the decision. Pirelli hopes that the data and information provided will lead to a positive outcome, ensuring their continued presence in the sport.