Pirelli head of the F1 program Mario Isola claims that the new F1 cars for 2021 will be as fast as their predecessors despite a significant reduction in downforce and new more robust tires that are slower than last year. On the eve of the F1 season of 2021, the FIA enacted several rules limiting the dimensions of the floor, diffusers, and wings around the brake cooling suction to reduce downforce levels by about 10%.
The changes were voted to slow down developments that have brought Pirelli tires to the endurance limit, which was especially evident at the UK GP, ahead of a major rule change for 2022 that will significantly reduce downforce to improve racing.
Also, for 2021, Pirelli has prepared new tires that are heavier and firmer in construction to cope better with heavy loads and so that drivers can put more pressure on them without the risk of cracking. But thanks to the great resources and knowledge of F1 experts, most teams managed to make up for a significant part of the lost downforce, and despite the losses and slower tires, Pirelli expects similar times per lap as in 2020.
"The difference compared to last year is very, very small," Isola said. "When you consider a track that wasn't in perfect condition, a reduction in downforce, and more fuel [compared to last year's qualifiers], I don't think we'll see any difference in lap times."
“Instead of the original 10% downforce loss, I think they lost between 4 and 5%. I'm not surprised how many downforces they managed to get back before the start of the season because we know how good they are at it.
” "For three days, all the components behaved well and we had no problems with peeling, only with a slight abrasion on the softest components [C4 and C5]." "The times around the lap were influenced by the weather conditions and different amounts of fuel, which makes it difficult to compare with last year's race and free practice."
“Also, it’s hard to say exactly what the difference is between the components due to the evolution of the track. The easiest thing to say is that the distance between the C2 and C3 components is probably about half a second, while the distance between the C3 and C4 components is bigger than expected.
” "We are now looking forward to the start of the season, which will be the last on 13-inch tires before switching to 18-inch tires in 2022, for which we have prepared a series of development tests this year."