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What are Formula 1's tyre rules?

Jake Nichol March 18, 2022
F1 Winter Testing In Barcelona - Day Four
Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images

They one of few common parts between every car, but what are the tyre rules in F1? How many different tyres are there and when can teams use them?

Since 2011, F1 has had its tyres supplied exclusively by Italian firm Pirelli – who try to strike a balance between tyres that will allow drivers to race hard and ones that are durable.

Pirelli brings five different types of tyre to every F1 race, where teams must closely follow the rules around the use of each.

But what are the F1 tyre rules, and how does qualifying affect which tyres teams can start on?

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How many types of tyre are there?

Pirelli recently simplified their range of tyres in F1 from seven types of dry tyres down to just three.

Previously, the tyres had names such as hypersoft, ultrasoft, supersoft and hard.

Each tyre was represented by its own unique colour from pink for hypersofts to red for supersofts.

However, to simplify things for fans, this was all done away with.

Now there are five different types of tyre compound – from C1 being the hardest to C5 being the softest.

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Street tracks or low grip venues will edge towards the softer end of the scale.

Pirelli brings three compounds to each race on its C1-C5 scale.

  • The hardest tyre is marked white
  • The medium tyre is marked yellow
  • The softest tyre is marked red

Dry tyres that are brand-new will often have a shiny look to them.

It is because of the chrome molds used by Pirelli to make the tyres.

Teams are assigned 13 sets of dry tyres to use throughout the race weekend, although must hand some back as the weekend goes on.

Pirelli also cart green-walled intermediate tyres and blue-walled full wet tyres to every race.

Intermediates are generally used in light rain, with full wets for heavy rain conditions.

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F1 tyre rules explained

Teams must run their tyres at pressures ordered by Pirelli.

This is to maintain the integrity of the tyre, although teams are sometimes unhappy at some of the pressures.

In qualifying and the race, the F1 tyre rules are simple to understand.

If a driver gets throughout to the final part of qualifying on a Saturday, they must start the race on the exact set of tyres they got through to Q3 on.

In 2022, the tyres have been changed from 13 inch to 18 inches in diameter.

Pirelli is still the supplier and the compounds have stayed the same.

The idea is with the new tyres and wheels, complete with wheel covers, overtaking can be made slightly easier.

Photo by Clive Mason – Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images

Those drivers who did not make Q3 can start on whatever tyre they want.

During a race, a driver must use two different types of dry tyres.

They can do this in any order- i.e: going from medium to hard or hard to soft but the F1 tyre rules make it mandatory.

The only exception is if it rains and a driver fits either intermediate or wet tyres.

The F1 tyre rules also stipulate that teams cannot put two different types of tyre on at the same time.

Williams did this to Valtteri Bottas at the 2016 Belgian GP, forcing him to pit to rectify the issue.

Photo by Charles Coates/Getty Images

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Jake can usually be found writing about or watching anything to do with motorsport – from Formula 1 to NASCAR to British Truck Racing. His work as a motorsport journalist has been published by the likes of Autosport, and Motorsport News – all highly respected names. Away from racing he is a keen amateur astronomer, podcast listener and enjoys long walks in the park with his three dogs.