Imagine Formula 1 Blogs

Pirelli colour code this year's tyres

We look at the introduction of colour coded tyres and what they mean

Posted Mar 21, 2011 by Weekend Round-Up

Pirelli tyres

The season opener in Australia is fast approaching and the 2011 season marks the first in a three year agreement that Italian tyre manufacturer Pirelli will be the sole supplier of tyres to Formula One.

This weekend, Pirelli revealed the six different colours that will help to differentiate between the types of rubber used at different races throughout the season.

Each tyre type will have its own distinct colour Pirelli logos on the sidewall. The rules of the motorsport dictate that only two compounds of slick tyre – the prime and the option, can be used for each race with the ability to fit intermediate and wet tyres if it should rain during the race. The move is designed to help both live and television audiences to be able to distinguish which tyres the teams are using.

Here are the six colours and what they mean (so that you are fully ready for watching on Sunday).

  • Wet - orange
  • Intermediate - light blue
  • Super soft - red
  • Soft - yellow
  • Medium - white
  • Hard - silver

To help pronounce the differences between the prime and option tyre, Pirelli has said that it plans to offer a step of one or more compound between the tyres nominated for each of the races – if track conditions were to change though this will make it slightly more challenging.

Lookout for the silver and yellow tyres i.e. hard and soft compounds that will be making an appearance first in Australia and then further outings in Malaysia and China (the second and third races of the season). Pirelli have said that they are hugely excited to be coming back to Formula One – it will be the first time on the track in nearly 20 years with Bridgestone supplying the rubber for the intermittent years.

Pirelli’s Director of Motorsport Paul Hembery said that he believes tyres will be an instrumental part of a successful race strategy this year and that by creating brightly coloured tyres, it will allow audiences to have the same knowledge of the tyre types being used as the teams and experts.

This won’t be the first time that Pirelli has fitted brightly coloured tyres to cars as when the tyre manufacturer was involved in Formula One back in the ‘80s, they supplied the Benetton team with multi-coloured rubber as part of their United Colors marketing campaign in 1986.

Pirelli bringing colour tyres back to F1 is just one in a string of improvements that the motorsport is trying to accomplish in order to enhance and improve the viewing experience for both live spectators and the millions of fans around the globe that defy circadian rhythms most Sunday evenings just to watch the broadcast of their favourite drivers burning rubber.

I personally think it is great that the powers that be within F1 have finally realised that it isn’t just a technical sport, if you want to keep fans hooked then there need to be reference points and ‘easy access’ cues to help those who are perhaps first-time watchers. Improvements like this can only help to grow awareness and interest in the motorsport.

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