New 18in wheels give Formula 1 teams even more to think about in 2022, and they will have six different tyre compounds to use in the final preseason Abu Dhabi test, including a black-walled prototype with no markings.
The larger wheels have been introduced along with revised technical regulations this season and Pirelli has said that it is pleased that its new tyres performed as expected during the first Barcelona test.
But the reformulated rubber faces a tougher test in Bahrain, with higher temperatures and faster laptimes as teams explore the limits of their new cars. Much of the previous test was spent correlating real-world performance with simulations and working on setups.
Each team has an allocation of 30 sets of tyres (120 in total), chosen from a pool of 35 sets of slicks in a range of five compounds from the hardest C1 to softest C5, as well as two intermediate sets and two wets. They also get two sets of the prototype.
This prototype isn’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, and carried out a similar test last year.
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.
When racing begins, you’ll see teams running the familiar white hard tyre, yellow medium and red soft, taken from the full range of compounds. But with all five available to teams during testing, some of them look a little different. Here is the Pirelli range in use in Bahrain for F1 pre-season testing:
2022 F1 Bahrain testing slick tyre compounds
Pirelli C1 compound
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. Pirelli has announced the compounds that it will bring to the first three races; the C1 compound will only feature for the first race weekend in Bahrain.
Pirelli C2 compound
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 in Saudi Arabia and Australia but it will be the medium tyre for the Bahrain Grand Prix because the C1 is also being used.
Pirelli C2 Proto compound
These prototype tyres will be unmarked, so are easily distinguishable from the rest of the range. They should be identical to the usual C2 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.
Pirelli C3 compound
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. It will carry those yellow markings as the medium tyre for the Saudi Arabian and Australian races, but only after a stint as the soft for the opening race.
Pirelli C4 compound
The first of the compounds to feature red tyre markings in testing, the C4 compound will also see action as the soft tyre for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.
Pirelli C5 compound
Like the C1 compound, the C5 will feature only a coloured Pirelli logo and no band alongside it which makes identifying it 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. They’ll be back on the cars as the soft tyre in Melbourne.