The first ten F1 races for the 2020 season were canceled due to the impact of COVID-19. However, plans are already underway to commence the crusade at the beginning of July. Two races will take place in Great Britain and Austria.
Pirelli intends to do away with the idea of having F1 groups make tire selections for each Grand Prix. Once the 2020 season starts, the tire manufacturer will instead issue standard mixes. This is because multiple sets of tires still remained after races were canceled.
It also means that F1 teams could lose the opportunity to select their sets of tires for races in 2020. According to Pirelli supervisor Mario Isola, the aim is to make sure that the process of tire production remains smooth. Normally, F1 groups are allowed to pick their allotments from a mix of three choices of tires that are available for each race.
But due to the coronavirus pandemic, F1 may be forced to run things a little faster than normal. This is to ensure that races get to fit into the already disrupted 2020 schedule. As such, teams may have to forego the luxury of picking their own tires.
Three out of the five dry mixes are typically accessible to F1 groups at every Grand Prix. Teams then pick 13 sets that are different from one team to another. This gives them a strategic edge ahead of the races. A 14 weeks’ notification is required by Pirelli once tire selections are made. For any European rounds, the teams have to also give a two months’ notice.
Speaking about the current situation, Isola added that if the season starts in Europe, then travels to Asia followed by America, the company would have to produce up to 35,000 Pirelli tires in a few months. That would be quite big and heavy on the production team.
Isola said that Pirelli was in communication with the teams and that the latter was quite flexible in finding a sensible solution. For example, they may decide to go with a standard allocation or create room for some flexibility when it comes to supplying tires in a short period of time. In any case, it’s highly unlikely that F1 groups will be worried about losing the ability to pick tires for themselves. Most of their strategies are often made during the race, anyway.