There’s a window looking onto Formula 1®, in two senses of the word. The first vista is of the battle between Ferrari and Mercedes – or rather Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel, as they fight for the world titles. The other window is to do more specifically with tyres. We’re talking of course about the working range: the area in which each compound is operating at its best.
The right working range has been key to performance pretty much since tyres were invented. Tapping into the ideal working range means accessing the very best that a tyre can offer: maximum performance, therefore optimal grip and better balance, wear and degradation. Operating a tyre below its working range means not getting the best out of it; above its ideal working range means that performance drops off and tyre wear can become critical.
This year, the new generation of tyres that are 25% wider can guarantee considerably enhanced performance if used properly, and this means that getting into the right working range is more important than ever.
That’s why, in Monaco where Vettel and Ferrari dominated the sixth grand prix of the year, there was little talk of anything other than the working range of the tyres. The streets of the Principality are characterised by asphalt with a traditionally low level of abrasion, generating little by way of downforce thanks to the low average lap speed. All this together tends to make for slippery conditions.
For Monaco – and only for Monaco – it would be useful to have a compound considerably softer than the ultrasoft: currently the softest compound available in the F1® range. And for now, that’s clearly impossible, with the same five compounds (ultrasoft, supersoft, soft, medium and hard) chosen during the winter for all the races on the calendar.