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2020 F1 Tires Will Remain the Same

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Closeup of Red Bull F1 and tire
Photo: Patrick Robert Doyle | Unsplash

The FIA and Pirelli have announced that the tire specification for the 2020 Formula 1 season will remain the same as in 2019.

This may seem like little news, but tires are a big deal in Formula 1. No matter the engine power, complex aerodynamics, and various other tricks the engineers get up to, the cars are ultimately limited by the tires. After all, at any given time, the cars only make contact with the track on four relatively small rubber contact patches where a tremendous amount of energy is exerted.

In other words, tire specification matters a lot, and over the past few years in F1, it has changed regularly. The teams — and fans — never seem quite sure what they really want. Durable tires allow the drivers to push harder for longer, but tend to lead to predictable pit strategies. Less durable tires force the teams to be more creative with the compounds they use as a race progresses, but force the drivers to manage wear, which is not all that exciting either.

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For 2019, Pirelli had introduced a new tires with a thinner gauge that were, to say the least, controversially received. The new specification was, at first, not popular with most of the teams, who found the optimal operating window of the tires too small and difficult to exploit.

In Austria, the teams even voted on whether to revert back to 2018 specifications. It’s notable that the vote led by Red Bull Racing, who then went on to win the race and stopped complaining about the tires from then on.

By the end of the season, most teams seemed to have come to grips with the 2019-spec tires, though not all. And despite mixed results during post-season tests in Abu Dhabi, all 10 teams voted in favor of keeping the current compounds.

The 2021 season is already known to come with major changes, including in the tire department, so keeping the 2020 spec the same should allow teams to save some time and effort to invest toward other aspects of car development.

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