F1 supplier Pirelli say new tyres will mean better racing in 2012
Formula 1 tyre supplier Pirelli hopes to produce even closer racing with a new range of tyres for 2012.
The Italian company has made all four dry-weather tyres softer, as well as reducing the differences between them.
Pirelli introduced faster-wearing tyres last year, leading to tight races, and now aim to improve overtaking.
Pirelli president Marco Tronchetti Provera said: "These changes will provide more opportunity for passes and help make a better show."
“Pirelli's decision to introduce softer tyres, and bring the compounds closer together should, in theory make the teams' strategy choices less predictable - with the races following suit. There are two big unknowns until the cars start to run on warm tracks at the start of the season. First is whether Pirelli have got their sums right. Second is what effect the new tyres will have on the drivers. Some got on better with the Pirellis than others - Mark Webber struggled compared to Red Bull team-mate Sebastian Vettel, for example. It remains to be seen how the new compounds - as well as a new rear tyre with more grip, which will alter the handling balance of the cars - will affect this dynamic”
The four dry-tyre choices will be identified by the same colour markings as in 2011 - red for super-soft, yellow for soft, white for medium and silver for hard - but the colours will be bolder to make them easier to see on television.
The markings on the wet-weather tyres have changed - the intermediates, for use in damp conditions, will have green markings, and the wet tyres blue.
Pirelli were widely praised for the impact their tyres had on creating more exciting racing in 2011, but the company felt it had been too cautious.
This led to teams generally choosing to use the softer of the two available tyre compounds at each race for most of the grand prix, saving the harder, slower one until the last stint and doing as few laps on it as possible. Drivers have to use both available compounds at some point during the race if it is dry.
The idea behind the new tyres is to make the strategy options less obvious.
Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery said: "We have had to make changes and the objective of those changes is to make the racing closer.
"There is a smaller gap in performance between the compounds. Last year the teams were making choices based on tyres that had a 1.5 seconds difference - we have tried to get that down below one second and the aim is to have it at around 0.8 seconds.
"We were going through races where teams would maximise use of the sets of the higher-performing compound, which were soft in 2011, and minimising use of the hard or medium.
Paul Hembery Pirelli motorsport director
“We want a lower gap between compounds, with the slower tyre degrading slightly less. Then teams will have to make a decision on which tyre to go with”
"From that point of view the second compound would not come into the strategy.
"We want a lower gap between compounds, with the slower tyre degrading slightly less. Then teams will have to make a decision on which tyre to go with.
"Last year we made it too easy for the teams by using soft compounds at each weekend, so they based their weekends around that. This year we want to mix it up more."