Formula One tyres

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Formula One tyres play a significant role in the performance of a Formula One car. The tyres have undergone major changes throughout the history of Formula One, with different manufacturers and specifications used in the sport.


Formula One tyres bear only a superficial resemblance to a normal road tyre. Whereas the latter has a useful life of up to 80,000 km, the tyres used in Formula One are built to last less than one race distance. The purpose of the tyre determines the compound of the rubber to be used. In 2005, tyre changes were disallowed in Formula One, therefore the compounds were harder as the tyres had to last the full race distance (around 300 km). Tyre changes were re-instated in 2006, following the dramatic and highly political 2005 United States Grand Prix.

Reintroduced for the 2009 season, a set of slick F1 tyres.

In 1998 grooved tyres were introduced with three grooves in the front tyres and four grooves in the rear tyres.[1] Between 1999 and 2008, regulations required the tyres to feature a minimum of four grooves in them, with the intention of slowing the cars down (a slick tyre, with no indentations, is best in dry conditions). They could be no wider than 355 mm and 380 mm at the front and rear respectively and the maximum diameter was 660 mm (670 mm for wet tyre).[2] Slick tyres were reintroduced at the beginning of 2009, along with aerodynamic changes intended to shift the balance towards mechanical grip in an attempt to increase overtaking.

For 2007, Bridgestone became the sole tyre supplier in Formula One with the withdrawal of Michelin, and introduced four compounds of tyre, two of which are made available at each race. The harder tyre (referred to as the "prime" tyre) and is more durable but gives less grip, and the softer tyre (referred to as the "option" tyre) gives more grip but is less durable. Both compounds have to be used by each car during a race and the softer tyre had a painted white stripe in the second groove to distinguish between compounds. This was introduced after the first race of the season when confusion occurred because a small dot was put on the sidewall of the tyre, instead of the white stripe. Upon the reintroduction of slicks in 2009, the sidewalls of the softer tyres were painted green to indicate the difference in compound, as there were no longer any grooves in tyres. Each team must use each specification during the race, unless wet or intermediate tyres are used during the race, in which case this rule no longer applies.

In extremely wet weather, such as that seen in the 2007 European Grand Prix, the F1 cars are unable to keep up with the safety car in deep standing water due to the risk of aquaplaning. In very wet races such as the 2011 Canadian Grand Prix, the tyres are unable to provide a safe race due to the amount of water, and so the race can be red flagged. The race is either then stopped permanently, or suspended for any period of time until the cars can race safely again.

On 2 November 2009, Bridgestone announced their withdrawal from Formula One at the end of the 2010 season.[3][4] Michelin, Cooper Avon and Pirelli showed interest in taking over the role of tyre supplier. In June 2010, it was announced that Pirelli would be the sole tyre supplier for 2011 and would receive a three-year contract.[5] During August 2010, Pirelli commenced its test programme with the Toyota TF109 at the Mugello Circuit with Nick Heidfeld as the test driver.[6]

With the sole tyre supplier having been changed from Bridgestone to Pirelli, the rules were the same as the 2010 season rules concerning the tyres. All teams still were required to use each type of dry tyre compound supplied in the race, and drivers that made it through to Q3 still had to use the same tyres they used to set their fastest qualifying time with to start the race. However, the way of denoting different tyre specifications was changed. Rather than a green stripe denoting a softer compound, for each tyre specification, the lettering on the tyre would have a specific color. The hard compound would have silver lettering, the medium compound would have white lettering, the soft tyres would have yellow lettering and the super-soft tyres would have red lettering. For the wet tyres, the intermediate tyres would have light blue lettering and the full wet tyres would have orange lettering.[7]

At the 2011 Malaysian Grand Prix, Pirelli introduced a coloured band around the outside of the tyre on the softer of the two dry compounds. This was due to confusion during the first round of the season. This measure was said to be a stop gap, with a permanent solution due to be implemented at the first European race of the season. The coloured line featured at the Chinese Grand Prix too.[8] From the Turkish Grand Prix, the permanent solution was implemented; the option compound had a new marking.[9] The option tyre had two thick coloured lines between the Pirelli and P Zero logos of each tyre, which made it easier to see the colour of the marking when the tyre rotates. The prime tyre remained the same markings as previously, though later in the season had the sidewall updated with the new markings.

According to regulations, at least two different compounds must be used in a dry race, failing which a driver will be disqualified. If a race is suspended without both tyres being used, a 30-second penalty will be imposed. This requirement is waived should drivers need to use wet weather tyres.[10]

2005 United States Grand Prix controversy

On Friday, 17 June 2005, during the afternoon's practice session, Ralf Schumacher, who was driving for Toyota, crashed heavily in Turn 13 of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, apparently as a result of a left-rear tyre failure. Turn 13 on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course is a high-speed banked turn (it is turn one of the oval run in the opposite direction), unique to Formula One racing, that causes a greater than usual lateral (horizontal) load.[11] This pressure can cause the side walls of the tyre to bow and wear in abnormal places.[12]

The 2005 United States Grand Prix was plagued by tyre issues. This caused the race to be run with only six competitors

The following day, Michelin reported that the tyres it had provided for its seven customer teams – BAR, McLaren, Red Bull, Renault, Toyota, Sauber, and Williams – were unsafe for extended high-speed use on this turn, and announced its intention to fly in another set of tyres from its Clermont-Ferrand headquarters.[13] However, the replacement tyres flown in, which were of the type used in the Spanish Grand Prix earlier that year, turned out to have the same problem when tested.[14]

In a letter to FIA Race Director Charlie Whiting, Michelin representatives Pierre Dupasquier and Nick Shorrock revealed that they did not know the cause of Schumacher's tyre failure, and unless the cars could be slowed down in Turn 13, Michelin's tyres would be unsafe and unsuitable for use during the race.[15] Whiting replied, expressing his surprise that Michelin had not brought along a second set of tyres, suggesting that the teams be informed of the maximum safe speed in Turn 13, and offered to monitor the turn by penalising any excess speed on the Michelin cars. He also addressed several solutions which had been proposed by the teams, insisting that use of the tyres flown in overnight would result in penalties, and the placement of a chicane in the turn was "out of the question" – the race would not be sanctioned by the FIA (making it a non-championship race) if the track layout was changed. He deemed the Michelin teams' proposals to be "grossly unfair" to the Bridgestone teams.[15] In a second letter Dupasquier and Shorrock announced that they would not permit their teams to race on Michelin's tyres. The race then took place with only the three Bridgestone teams (Ferrari, Jordan and Minardi) taking part. The race was won by Michael Schumacher.

Make Cars Green campaign

Bridgestone used tyres with green grooves for the 2008 Japanese Grand Prix. Rubens Barrichello (top) demonstrates the "prime" compound, whilst Nick Heidfeld (bottom) is running on the "option" compound, distinguished by the fact that one of the grooves is white.

At the 2008 Japanese Grand Prix the tyres had the grooves painted green, as part of a promotion by the FIA to reduce the impact of motoring on the environment, called Make Cars Green. The softer of the two types of tyre still had the second innermost groove painted white, as per normal.[16]

Upon the return of slicks at the beginning of the 2009 season the white stripe to indicate differences between the tyres was no longer possible due to the lack of grooves on the tyres. Subsequently, in a continuation of the Make Cars Green tyres in Japan, Bridgestone painted the sidewalls of the option tyre green instead.

Tyre summary

These are the seven F1 tyre compounds supplied by Pirelli for the 2016 season.[17][18]
Compound name Colour Tread Driving conditions Dry type* Grip Durability
Ultra soft Purple 55px Slick Dry Option 5 – Most grip 1 – Least durable
Super soft Red 55px Slick Dry Option 4 2
Soft Yellow 55px Slick Dry Prime/Option 3 3
Medium White 55px Slick Dry Prime/Option 2 4
Hard Orange 55px Slick Dry Prime 1 – Least grip 5 – Most durable
Intermediate Green 55px Treaded Wet (no standing water) N/A N/A N/A
Wet Blue 55px Treaded Wet (standing water) N/A N/A N/A
* Pirelli designates three dry types of tyres to be used for each Grand Prix based on the circuit. Drivers are to use at least two of the dry weather compound tyres.[19]


From 2011 onwards, the Italian manufacturer Pirelli is the sole tyre supplier.

Past manufacturers include:

Tyre manufacturers by season

Season Manufacturer 1 Wins Manufacturer 2 Wins Manufacturer 3 Wins Manufacturer 4 Wins Manufacturer 5 Wins Manufacturer 6 Wins
1950 Italy Pirelli 6 United States Firestone 1 United Kingdom Dunlop 0 Belgium Englebert 0
1951 Italy Pirelli 7 United States Firestone 1 United Kingdom Dunlop 0 Belgium Englebert 0
1952 Italy Pirelli 7 United States Firestone 1 United Kingdom Dunlop 0 Belgium Englebert 0
1953 Italy Pirelli 8 United States Firestone 1 United Kingdom Dunlop 0 Belgium Englebert 0
1954 Italy Pirelli 4 Germany Continental 4 United States Firestone 1 Belgium Englebert 0 United Kingdom Dunlop 0 United Kingdom Avon 0
1955 Germany Continental 5 Belgium Englebert 1 United States Firestone 1 Italy Pirelli 0 United Kingdom Dunlop 0
1956 Belgium Englebert 5 Italy Pirelli 2 United States Firestone 1 United Kingdom Dunlop 0 United Kingdom Avon 0
1957 Italy Pirelli 7 United States Firestone 1 Belgium Englebert 0 United Kingdom Dunlop 0 United Kingdom Avon 0
1958 United Kingdom Dunlop 7 Belgium Englebert 2 Germany Continental 1 United States Firestone 1 Italy Pirelli 0 United Kingdom Avon 0
1959 United Kingdom Dunlop 8 United States Firestone 1 United Kingdom Avon 0
1960 United Kingdom Dunlop 9 United States Firestone 1
1961 United Kingdom Dunlop 8
1962 United Kingdom Dunlop 9
1963 United Kingdom Dunlop 10
1964 United Kingdom Dunlop 10 United States Goodyear 0
1965 United Kingdom Dunlop 9 United States Goodyear 1
1966 United States Goodyear 4 United Kingdom Dunlop 3 United States Firestone 2
1967 United States Firestone 6 United States Goodyear 5 United Kingdom Dunlop 0
1968 United States Firestone 6 United States Goodyear 3 United Kingdom Dunlop 3
1969 United Kingdom Dunlop 6 United States Goodyear 3 United States Firestone 2
1970 United States Firestone 10 United Kingdom Dunlop 2 United States Goodyear 1
1971 United States Goodyear 7 United States Firestone 4
1972 United States Firestone 7 United States Goodyear 5
1973 United States Goodyear 15 United States Firestone 0
1974 United States Goodyear 15 United States Firestone 0
1975 United States Goodyear 14 United States Firestone 0
1976 United States Goodyear 16 United Kingdom Dunlop 0 Japan Bridgestone 0
1977 United States Goodyear 17 United Kingdom Dunlop 0 Japan Bridgestone 0 France Michelin 0
1978 United States Goodyear 11 France Michelin 5
1979 United States Goodyear 8 France Michelin 7
1980 United States Goodyear 11 France Michelin 3
1981 France Michelin 13 United States Goodyear 2 United Kingdom Avon 0 Italy Pirelli 0
1982 United States Goodyear 8 France Michelin 8 Italy Pirelli 0 United Kingdom Avon 0
1983 France Michelin 9 United States Goodyear 6 Italy Pirelli 0
1984 France Michelin 14 United States Goodyear 2 Italy Pirelli 0
1985 United States Goodyear 15 Italy Pirelli 1
1986 United States Goodyear 15 Italy Pirelli 1
1987 United States Goodyear 16
1988 United States Goodyear 16
1989 United States Goodyear 16 Italy Pirelli 0
1990 United States Goodyear 16 Italy Pirelli 0
1991 United States Goodyear 15 Italy Pirelli 1
1992 United States Goodyear 16
1993 United States Goodyear 16
1994 United States Goodyear 16
1995 United States Goodyear 17
1996 United States Goodyear 16
1997 United States Goodyear 17 Japan Bridgestone 0
1998 Japan Bridgestone 9 United States Goodyear 7
1999 Japan Bridgestone 16
2000 Japan Bridgestone 17
2001 Japan Bridgestone 13 France Michelin 4
2002 Japan Bridgestone 15 France Michelin 2
2003 Japan Bridgestone 9 France Michelin 7
2004 Japan Bridgestone 15 France Michelin 3
2005 France Michelin 18 Japan Bridgestone 1
2006 France Michelin 9 Japan Bridgestone 9
2007 Japan Bridgestone 17
2008 Japan Bridgestone 18
2009 Japan Bridgestone 17
2010 Japan Bridgestone 19
2011 Italy Pirelli 19
2012 Italy Pirelli 20
2013 Italy Pirelli 19
2014 Italy Pirelli 19
2015 Italy Pirelli 19
2016 Italy Pirelli 6


Ordered by number of races won. The manufacturer which competes in the 2016 season is shown in bold. These results are correct as of the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix.

Pos Manufacturer Seasons [20] Starts Wins Sole
First win Last win World Championships
Drivers Constr.
1 United States Goodyear 19591998 494 368 113[21] 1965 Mexican Grand Prix 1998 Italian Grand Prix 24 26
2 Japan Bridgestone 19761977
244 175 116[23] 1998 Australian Grand Prix 2010 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix 11 11
3 Italy Pirelli 19501958
2011 – Present
300 146 101[24] 1950 British Grand Prix 2016 Spanish Grand Prix 11 5
4 France Michelin 19771984
215 102 0 1978 Brazilian Grand Prix 2006 Japanese Grand Prix 6 4
5 United Kingdom Dunlop 19501970
175 83 0 1958 Monaco Grand Prix 1970 Belgian Grand Prix 8 9
6 United States Firestone 19501975 121 49 11[25] 1950 Indianapolis 500 1972 Italian Grand Prix 4 3
7 Germany Continental 19541958 13 10 0 1954 French Grand Prix 1958 Argentine Grand Prix 2 0
8 Belgium Englebert 19501958 61 8 0 1955 Monaco Grand Prix 1958 British Grand Prix 2 0
9 United Kingdom Avon 19541958
29 0 0 N/A N/A 0 0


  2. "Formula One 2009 Technical Regulations" (PDF). Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile. 11 July 2008. Retrieved 21 November 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Tejada, Carlos (3 November 2009). "Bridgestone to Drop Formula One Pact". The Wall Street Journal. p. B8. Retrieved 3 November 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>[dead link]
  4. "Bridgestone to quit F1 after 2010". Autosport. 2 November 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. confirming Pirelli for 2011
  6. Pirelli commence tyre testing
  7. Pirelli tyres to have six different colours for 2011 Formula 1 season [1]. Retrieved 28 March 2011
  8. Pirelli tweak ahead of Malaysia [2] 7 April 2011
  11. Michelin: Tyres not flawed, just unsuitable. Retrieved 2 December 2006
  12. Bridgestone take pop at Michelin over USGP '05. Retrieved 2 December 2006
  13. Michelin looking to fly in new tyres Retrieved 5 August 2006
  14. Stoddart comments on US Grand Prix Retrieved 5 August 2006
  15. 15.0 15.1 Letters between representatives of Michelin and Charlie Whiting, the FIA Formula One Race Director Retrieved 5 August 2006
  16. F1 tyres to promote 'green' push. Retrieved 8 October 2008
  17. "Pirelli tweaks tyre markings for 2012 F1 season". Autosport. 25 January 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. "Pirelli announce tyre choices for remaining races". Formula One Group. 7 October 2011. Retrieved 26 January 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. In depth tyre manufacturers history in F1 Retrieved 17 August 2007
  21. Goodyear was sole tyre supplier in F1 in 19871988 and 19921996.
  22. Bridgestone provided tyres in a limited capacity at the 1976 and 1977 Japanese Grand Prix, then for the full season from 1997 through 2010.
  23. Bridgestone was sole tyre supplier in F1 in 19992000 and 20072010.
  24. Pirelli is the sole tyre supplier in F1 from the start of the 2011 season.
  25. Firestone was sole tyre supplier at the Indianapolis 500 races in 19501960.

External links