Pirelli has assured Formula 1 drivers that it is looking at making its tyres softer next year, following talks about the future direction of its products over the Spanish Grand Prix weekend.
In Barcelona, F1 drivers used their regular Friday night briefing with the FIA to discuss with Pirelli’s F1 racing manager Mario Isola their views on the 2017 rubber.
While one of the main items was a push by drivers to request Pirelli does not bring the hard tyre to future races, there were also talks about where the Italian tyre company should head with modifications for 2018.
Isola said that the discussions had been positive and that there was a consensus that Pirelli had been too conservative with its choices for this year – which had been based around uncertainty about just how quick 2017’s F1 cars would be.
Speaking exclusively to Motorsport.com, Isola said: “It was a very, very interesting conversation because I was meeting with the drivers to understand what they think about the new products, and what they think about the direction we are taking for the future.
“I have to say it was a very, very positive meeting. We also exchanged a lot of ideas, also beyond just the tyres. Plus, most of the drivers were involved, because sometimes there are silent drivers [in these meetings], but all the top drivers were talking with interesting ideas.”
While Isola thinks it’s too early in the development race to commit to a set plan for 2018, he reckons it is important that Pirelli improves in lots of areas next year, and possibly goes one step softer with its compound choices.
“In general everybody has the feeling that we are probably one step harder than we need to be, but don’t forget the rate of development of the cars will be huge, and we have to wait a little bit before taking decisions on the future.
“We have to freeze the construction by September 1 and freeze the compounds by December 1, so now we are working both on construction and compound.
“But the focus for now is more on the construction, because it is the first part of the product to freeze. Then after that we will start developing new compounds.
“But the final decision will be later in the year when we have some indication coming from other circuits like Spa, Suzuka and Sepang.”
Isola reckoned that one of the key targets for 2018 had to be in ensuring the gap between compounds was much more uniform.
“For next year we need a medium that is a bit quicker, closer to the soft, and a hard that is one step on the side of softer compounds, so we have to move a little bit the range.”