F1 using 2019 tyres may be great news for the racing in 2020

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In a year of stable regulations in Formula 1, teams actually took that a step further by voting to continue using 2019-spec tyres in 2020.

It may seem a little weird but as the cars get faster and lessons are learnt from trends during races, Pirelli always introduces new compounds each year designed to cope with the additional stresses and meet criteria set out on degradation levels etc.

When teams tested the proposed new rubber for 2020 for the first time during Friday practice at the United States GP, however, the feedback was largely negative.

Then, after two days of further testing in Abu Dhabi following the season finale, a unanimous vote saw Pirelli's new product rejected in favour of retaining last year's construction and compounds.

Since then, however, it has been revealed that the motivating factor wasn't the tyre itself, but the impact it was having on cars aerodynamically.

“The test on the 2020 tyres came quite late in the season, and the fact that the 2020 tyres have different characteristics in terms of profile, being so different in the rear profile, it affects the downforce,” Pirelli motorsport boss Mario Isola explained via Crash.net.

“It meant the teams would have had to re-open the development of the 2020 car in order to adjust the design to the new profile and the new tyre.

"Now they are busy with finalising the 2020 car and starting the development of the 2021 car that is a completely new project with the 18-inch tyres and so on.

“They said OK, we have a good tyre that is valuable. We should continue with the same.”

But that presents new challenges of its own, notably, how Pirelli will ensure the safety of the tyres under the loads on cars that are perhaps slightly faster than they were originally designed for.

“It is possible – it is almost sure – that we have to raise a little bit the starting pressure to balance the increase in performance because the product is the same as last year,” Isola continued.

“Our prescriptions are based on the simulation that we received from the teams. If we see an increase in performance, the only reaction we can have is to increase the starting pressure to achieve a running pressure that is slightly higher.

“They cannot expect to have a reduction in overheating or a reduction in degradation in 2020, that is not possible.”

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While the situation may not be ideal for teams then, it may, in fact, be good for the spectacle as races where the tyres would degrade or not behave exactly as engineers expected often produced the most excitement.

Also with higher pressures comes a smaller contact patch and therefore less grip, which may make the cars slightly trickier to drive and increase degradation further, meaning more pit-stops and more strategy in races.

At the same time, because teams already have a year of experience with these tyres, the situation from 2019, where Mercedes adapted to the new thinner-treaded design much faster than their rivals shouldn't be repeated.

“If you remember at the beginning of the [2019] season, some teams were complaining about warm-up and in some occasions, it was a bit difficult to warm up the tyres,” Isola reflected, this time speaking at the Autosport International show in the UK.

“That is not going to be an issue for this year. They know the tyres, so the advantage compared to last year is that the learning curve on how to use a new product is already there.

“So there is no learning curve for the tyres this year.”

Of course, the fear is, as the cars are developed, the loads could become too much and punctures may become more frequent which is certainly not what F1 needs but will hopefully not be a bridge that needs to be crossed.