Pirelli’s Mario Isola believes that despite the aero regulations intended to reduce downforce levels this year the cars will still be as fast.
While the 2020 cars have been carried over to this season, despite the fact the rules face a massive overhaul for 2022, F1’s powers that be still opted to make a number of regulation changes.
The main changes – ostensibly made to reduce speeds, but in the eyes of many a bid to handicap the Mercedes juggernaut – relate to the simplification of the floor ahead of the rear tyres, and the diffuser, in a bid to moderate the increase of downforce between 2020 and 2021.
The fastest time posted in pre-season testing was a 1:28.960, set by Max Verstappen on the C4 compound, the compound that constitutes the soft in the forthcoming Grand Prix in Bahrain. This compares to the 1:27.264 that saw Lewis Hamilton grab pole in Bahrain in November, albeit in different conditions and Verstappen’s fuel load now known.
Pirelli’s Mario Isola believes that despite F1’s efforts to reduce lap speeds by reducing downforce – and despite the money the teams were forced to spend in the process – by the latter stages of the season there will be little difference.
“I’m not surprised at the amount of downforce they have been able to recover,” says the Italian, “even before the start of the season, as we are know they are very good.
“I’m happy we decided last year together with the FIA, FOM and the teams to work in the two directions,” he continued, “one to reduce downforce on the car and the other to fine tune the construction in order to have a construction that can cope with the additional loads that will probably happen in the second half of the season.
“Despite the difficult situation we had with COVID, we took the right decision,” he insists, “and working in parallel we have a product that is now more robust and cars that are probably as fast as last year.
“Looking at the lap times the difference compared to last year is very, very, very small,” he added, admitting that the teams have only lost “four to five per cent” of their 2020 downforce levels.
“If we consider that probably the track was not in perfect condition, the reduction in downforce, and the fuel corrected lap times, I believe we are not going to see a delta lap time that shows a difference in reduced performance compared to last year.”