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Do F1 Tyres Have Anything in Common with Regular Tyres?

formula 1 tyres

With 2019’s Formula One World Championship now underway, marking the 70th overall, the team at Tyres Northampton felt it was time to answer a question that we get asked a lot: do F1 tyres have anything in common with regular tyres?

In this article, we’ll create a brief overview of F1 racing and the current state of F1 tyres, before comparing them to the tyres which we use on a daily basis.

F1: a brief overview

formula 1 tyres

First defined in 1946 by the Commission Sportive Internationale (CSI), Formula One is the premier single-seater, open-wheel racing category in international motorsport. For the past five years, Mercedes have dominated Constructors’ Championship, with Lewis Hamilton – Mercedes’ top driver and UK native – winning the Driver’s championship in 2018. The British Grand Prix will be taking place at Silverstone on 14th July; if you want tickets – you better hurry!

F1 tyres: what’s new this season?

With each passing year, Pirelli likes to tinker with their production process to make sure F1 vehicles push the boundaries of performance. This year, for example, they’ve introduced a new production method  which utilises a chrome mould, ironing out all of the imperfections relating to their softest tyres. It also makes them really shiny, too!

With their intermediate tyres, Pirelli have altered the compound slightly, ensuring a better working range to cover the full spectrum of dry to wet conditions, while also buffing resistance to aquaplaning in more extreme weather.

While it’s vital that F1 tyres perform once they’ve been fitted – how quickly they can be removed counts, too. Last season at the Brazilian Grand Prix, Ferrari managed a pit stop in just 1.97 seconds – that’s about as long as it takes someone to glance at their phone.

Watch a video of the fastest pit stops from the Brazilian Grand Prix as chosen by DHL:

How do F1 tyres compare to regular tyres?

Unfortunately, a modern F1 tyre doesn’t have much in common with today’s road tyres – even hypercar tyres from brands like Pagani and Bugatti don’t share many compositional similarities.

This is largely due to the differences in function. A ‘normal’ tyre has to cover a lot of bases: it has to be long-lasting, capable of adapting to different weather conditions, offer a firm yet comfortable ride and be able to operate in temperatures ranging from -5°C to +35°C. Formula One tyres, on the other hand, are not bound by any such restrictions, meaning that, compositionally, the tyre can be geared entirely towards performance.

Having said all that, there are some advancements in general motoring that we have F1 tyre technology to thank for.

If you’re at your local petrol station, inflating your tyres with normal air could see a pressure differential of as much as 10 PSI from a cold to hot reading, meaning that a tyre pressure set when cold could be over pressurised when hot, leading to premature wear or, worse, bad handling.

F1 tyres are inflated using a nitrogen-rich mixture, this has the advantage of increased pressure stability throughout a temperature variation; many garages and tyre fitters are now using a nitrogen mix for this reason. In theory, this should lead to increased tyre life and stable handling characteristics.

While, unfortunately, we don’t deal with F1 tyres, Tyres Northampton provide and install a huge spectrum of branded tyres for cars, vans and motorcycles alike. Our professionals deliver an efficient and thorough service, and are able to deliver many types of vehicle servicing, including MOTs and exhaust and brakes servicing. To arrange a visit, or to simply find out more about us, please don’t hesitate to get in contact with our friendly team.


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