F1 entered its 13th season with Pirelli as the sole tyre supplier, but there were some key changes for the 2023 season.
First and foremost, Pirelli started 2023 with an evolution of the rubber used last year.
Although last year's major changes to the technical regulations meant that the tyres were unable to be tested ahead of the season with proper machinery, the manufacturer now has a full year of experience with which to remedy some of the complaints from teams, with the main one being that there was reduced grip at low speed, especially on the fronts, causing huge amounts of understeer.
So, what are the F1 tyre compounds, rules, and changes for the 2023 season? Let's find out.
F1 tyre colours
The Italian manufacturer has been the tyre supplier for F1 since 2011 and has done a lot to aid the viewing experience of the public during that timeframe.
As well as providing strategy predictions based on information gathered across the early stages of each weekend, Pirelli also introduced different colours to the sidewalls of its tyres.
Although commonplace now, this has massively improved the viewing experience, with fans clearly able to tell which tyre compound each driver was running at any given time.
This system has gone through a number of changes over the years, but the current system of white walls for the hardest compound on a given weekend, yellow for the medium, and red for the soft, is the best yet.
Another major change introduced in 2022 was the shift from 13-inch wheels to low-profile 18-inch iterations. This massively altered the way cars used their suspension, given the reduced travel in the tyre sidewalls.
F1 tyre changes for 2023
Pirelli has developed six types of tyres for Formula 1 in 2023. This varies from the softest tyre [C5] to the hardest rubber [C0].
The C0 is a new addition this term, adding an additional harder compound to what had previously been seen.
Teams will be able to pick from between 8 softs, 3 mediums, and 2 hards across a Grand Prix weekend.
Although there are six compounds of slick tyres in the range, as mentioned above, only three are available per weekend.
This means that while the C3 tyre could be nominated as the hard tyre one weekend and carry the white wall markings, it could become the soft or medium just one race later, depending on the allocation decided by Pirelli.
At the post-season test last year, where all six tyres were available, each carried individual markings. For the season itself, the standard red, yellow, and white will be back in operation.
On any given weekend, the way teams use each compound differs considerably.
The red tyre is the softest compound that Pirelli carries. The tyre is the fastest over one lap but also has the highest level of wear.
The medium tyres can be recognised by the yellow stripes. This is often viewed as the strongest tyre for a race due to its often-long lifespan and considerable pace advantage over the hard equivalent.
The white-walled hard tyres generally last longer than the other compounds.
Lacking the pace of the soft option, this compound puts a driver at a disadvantage over a single lap or a short stint but can yield benefits across a longer period.
The sport also needs tyres, which can be used when it is raining. The green-walled tyre, the intermediate tyre has grooves in the rubber.
This allows drivers to drive on a wet track, with the grooves draining the water. But if the track is too wet, the intermediate will also lose its grip.
That's when the rain tyre comes into play. The blue-walled tyre has far deeper treads and is designed to withstand the toughest and wettest conditions.
In recent years, however, when the conditions have required the wet tyre, the race has often been red-flagged due to the extreme lack of grip and visibility.
The rules for this season
During the race, a driver is required to use two different types of tyres. This rule is pushed aside if rain intervenes and wet or intermediate tyres are required.
After each free practice, the teams have to hand in two sets of tyres, leaving only seven for qualifying and the race.
Of those two sets, one will be returned for Q3. The advantage for the slower teams is that they have an extra set of rubber left over for the race. Each driver also has four sets of intermediates and three sets of rain tyres.
For a driver, keeping the tyres at the right temperature is one of the most important tasks during racing. If the right temperature is not reached, the car will lack grip, and this can result in a potentially race-ending crash.
To help the drivers get started, the tyres are placed in the heat blankets before a session.
However, as the sport wants to phase out blankets, the temperature has been lowered from 100 degrees Celsius to 70.
The intention was to drop this further to 50 degrees in 2023, but following a trial run in the United States, the teams did not think it was safe to drive on track at that temperature.
As a compromise, Pirelli has raised the limit to 70 degrees Celsius for the 2023 season. But where in the past the tyres were in the heat blankets for three hours before a session, this is only allowed for two hours for the relevant session next year.
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