In an attempt to increase ecological friendliness and preserve strategic variation within races, Pirelli has been testing shipping smaller quantities of tyres to two Formula 1 events this year – Hungary and Monza. The original trial scheduled for Imola was cancelled due to the abandonment of the race.
The newly imposed rule stating that drivers run hard tyres in Q1, medium tyres in Q2, and soft tyres in Q3 reduces the tyre requirement to just 11 sets per car. Apart from contributing to sustainability goals, this method also retains the aspect of strategic variation within races.
The implementation of these rules, also known as the ATA format, makes an interesting argument. It spurs the discussion that it could increase teams’ race tyre options since hard compounds typically used in elongated stints are made available in larger quantities. It removes the lure of hoarding softer tyres for use during qualifying.
When motor racing website F1 Initiative enquired about the likelihood of ATA becoming the baseline of F1‘s tyre rules, Isola expressed the need for a thorough investigation over the strengths and weaknesses of the new pattern before formulating any decisions.
The ATA format has evoked mixed reactions among the drivers, but a majority seem to feel that it restricts their practice runs, a claim that Pirelli contests. Carlos Sainz of Ferrari captures this sentiment well appreciating the need to adjust and discover grip, which introduces a sense of impromptu action during qualifying at Monza. However, Red Bull‘s Max Verstappen thinks otherwise. He believes it puts the slower teams at a disadvantage since the faster cars seem even better on the tougher compounds.
The ATA format limits the number of laps drivers can push ahead of qualifying. During practice sessions that get interrupted by rainfall or crashes, like it happened in Hungary and Monza, could minimize their training. To mitigate this issue, Isola proposed slight modifications to the ATA format to make an additional tyre set available for practice, deducted from the tyres set aside for the race.
Isola’s data shows that despite the changes in tyre allocation, teams’ lap counts have remained consistent compared to last year. The analysis came out very similar when comparing the numbers of laps ran in FP1, FP2, and FP3 of this year to those of the previous year at Monza. Despite the red flag interruption in FP2 which might have led to running additional laps, the counts remained at par.
In his personal opinion, Isola expressed his liking of the ATA format, crediting the variability in grip at different levels it introduces. According to him, it not only adds to the thrill but also cuts down on the number of tyres used without affecting the course strategy.
On the subject of whether Pirelli would secure the 2025-28 tyre tender application against Bridgestone, Isola commented that there was no set deadline and that he hoped a decision was close. He believed that Formula 1 and the FIA have received all the necessary data and information for their decision-making process.