2021 F1 testing tyres: why Pirelli has brought a prototype to Bahrain


Formula 1 testing can be tricky to navigate, so here's a lowdown of what tyres teams are running

Pirelli tyres, 2021 Bahrain pre season testing F1

Pirelli has all of its compounds in Bahrain for the teams to use

Antonin Vincent / DPPI

F1 testing is well underway and teams will be getting to grips with new cars as well as the 2021 Pirelli tyres.

For testing, all five compounds of tyre are available for teams to use, with the full range of C1 to C5 handed over for the three-day event.

In addition, there’s a prototype tyre for teams to use. These aren’t a new compound but a familiar one, made in Pirelli’s back-up factory. The company is looking to benchmark these tyres against those made in its primary plant.

Teams will be disguising their true pace but we can begin to glean one or two details from the timing sheets by taking into account lap counts and importantly, tyre compounds used for those laps.

30 sets of tyres are supplied to teams for the three days of running. Here is the Pirelli range in use in Bahrain for F1 pre-season testing:

C1:  The hardest compound in Pirelli’s range, the C1 tyre features white markings on the tyre wall but does not have the usual band of colour along with it. The C1 compound won’t feature during the Bahrain race weekend at the end of the month, only seeing action at four races: Spanish, Portuguese, British and Dutch Grands Prix.

C2: White tyre markings again but this time with the usual colour band along with the Pirelli logo, the C2 tyre is the second hardest compound available at the test. This compound will be the hard tyre at most of the races this season.

C3: Pirelli’s middle compound can act as the softest or hardest compound at a race weekend depending on the selection available to teams. During testing, the tyre will be the only compound with yellow markings in pre-season in Bahrain.

C3 Proto: These prototype tyres will be unmarked, so are easily distinguishable from the rest of the range. They are identical to the usual C3 compound but are manufactured at Pirelli’s Turkish base rather than Romania. They are run to benchmark production quality.  Teams will be supplied with two sets of these tyres for testing.

C4: The first of the compounds to feature red tyre markings in Bahrain, the C4 compound will be the most common soft compound choice available to teams across the season.

C5: Like the C1 compound, the C5 will feature only a coloured Pirelli logo and no band alongside it which makes identifying them a little easier. The C5 is the softest compound of tyre in the Pirelli range. If you see cars flying on these tyres, take the lap time with a pinch of salt.