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Driver: “I feel the need — the need for speed!” (“Top Gun,” 1986) 

Engineer: “But don’t wear down the tyres!”


This is an over exaggeration of the relationship between the driver and the race engineers when it comes to tyres. 


Drivers want to go as fast as they can, and the race engineers want the drivers to manage the tyres as best they can. Why? 


Unlike street car tyres, racing tyres have a short lifespan — by which I mean 125 miles to 20,000 miles difference. Even with the racing tyre being much stronger than a street tyre and way more complex, the weight that the racing tyres carry and the extreme temperatures don’t allow them to last long.


"The aim of a driver and his team in setting up the car is to ensure that the tyres operate in the best possible conditions. Only in this way will a tyre, which is one of the fundamental components of a Formula 1 car, perform to the limit of its potential."

McLaren Racing legend Ayrton Senna from his book "Principles of Race Driving"





If you’ve ever watched a race, you know that the cars must pit during the race and change tyres. When you see the tyre after it’s been pulled from the car, it looks completely different than when it was put on the car. The new tyres are light and slick. 


The drivers must weave back and forth to create heat in the tyres so they can improve their grip. This is why you’ll see cars, either on an outlap or during a yellow flag, weaving back and forth to get or keep temperature in the tyres. If the driver can get the right temperature in the tyre, the car will stick to the track like glue. It’s also why you don’t see treads on Formula 1 tyres. With more surface area touching the ground, the cars are able to have more grip on the track. Having grooves on the tyres like regular cars would make cornering much more difficult at high speeds.


To get grip, to make the tyres light, and to help them last as long as they can, the teams gather data from the cars and the tyres themselves. Teams analyze tyre wear through each of the practices to make sure that the car is handling the tyre. If the car seems to be running the tyre a little hard in certain sectors of the track, the engineers will make adjustments to the car to help retain the tyre’s length of use. 


Pirelli provides tyres for each Formula 1 team. The tyre compounds are adjusted for each track and are mostly made up of oil, carbon and sulfur. The tyres are so special that they don’t use air to keep them inflated; they use a nitrogen-rich mixture to keep the tyre inflated longer.  


Teams can choose from three tyre compounds for each race weekend. The compound range of the tyre is from C1 to C5, with C1 being the softest tyre and C5 the hardest tyre. The hardest tyre of the weekend will have a white color on the rim, the medium compound will have a yellow color, and the softest tyre will have a red color.


Formula 1 tyresFormula 1 tyres


There are also two other tyres teams can use in case the weather gets a little wet. These tyres do have treads on them in order to push the water away from the car, creating more grip. These tyres keep the cars from hydroplaning, which at 170 mph with no grip is probably no fun.


Tyres are so important to the race tactics, and they dictate how strategies can change as track condition and tyre conditions change throughout the race. The tyres are a variable that can be really hard to predict, even with all the data about how the tyres will actually perform. Makes life interesting for everyone involved!


Styrian Grand Prix

Red Bull Ring


The Styrian circuit is set in a beautiful landscape in Austria. The undulating hills tucked in between the mountain range make for quite a race track location and adds another set of elements the teams must deal with. Wind and possible rain is always a factor here in the mountains, but didn’t prove to be that significant in the first of two races here in Austria.


Free Practice Recap

How to read: session#, best lap time, (time behind first place time) number of laps in session, best place finish in session.


Lando Norris #4

FP1 1:06.861s (+0.951s) 35 laps 16th
1:05.994s (+0.582s) 39 laps 7th

FP3 1m06.654s (+2.285s) 19 laps 19th


Daniel Ricciardo #3

FP1 1:06.669s (+0.759s) 38 laps 12th
1:05.748s (+0.336s) 35 laps 2nd

FP3 1m06.116s (+1.747s) 20 laps 17th


Qualifying Recap

How to Read: session#, fastest lap time, (tyre compound) best place finish in session.


Lando Norris #4

Q1 1m04.584s (Softs) 3rd
Q2 1m04.298s (Softs) 2nd
Q3 1m04.120s (Softs) 4th (Starts P3 due to grid penalty for BOT)


Daniel Ricciardo #3

Q1 1m05.142s (Softs) 15th 
Q2 1m04.808s (Softs) 13th

2021StyrianGrandPrixSaturdayGP2108_124147_N3I6319 (1).jpg



McLaren started the weekend strong with both Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo having positive free practice sessions that saw Daniel set a 2nd best timing with Lando in 7th.


In qualifying, Lando pushed his McLaren MCL35M F1 car hard and qualified 4th, but then moved to 3rd for the start of the race due to a grid penalty taken by Mercedes. Daniel qualified 13th, but the team was confident that he could push to move up through the field during the race.


The start of the race was strong for McLaren. Lando showed that he can run near the front and held his 3rd place starting position through the opening laps. Daniel also started well and moved up into 8th. Unfortunately, Daniel had a loss of power early on, which was quickly dealt with, but by that time Daniel had dropped to 13th. He was then in a tight midfield, which made it difficult to overtake any of the cars ahead due to the amount of dirty air that happens in those situations, making it extremely difficult to pass. Lando was eventually overtaken by Sergio Perez and Valtteri Bottas to move back to 5th, he then had a substantial lead on the rest of the field and didn’t need to fight with the top 2 teams. This was a smart move, as Lando could focus on keeping McLaren’s rivals including Ferrari, Alpine and Aston Martin a comfortable distance behind him and help to keep his team 3rd in the Formula 1 Constructors World Championship.


Overall this was a positive weekend for McLaren. They’ll regroup this week and go racing again next weekend at the same circuit. It will be interesting to see if Lando and Daniel can continue to build as McLaren continues to push on its journey back towards the top.


Styrian 2021 Podium Points Drivers Championship Points Points Constructor Championship Points Points
Max Verstappen 25 Max Verstappen 156 Red Bull 252
Lewis Hamilton 18 Lewis Hamilton 138 Mercedes 212
Valtteri Bottas 15 Sergio Perez 96 McLaren 120

Full F1 results


Next Race: Austrian Grand Prix

Date: Sunday, July 4

Track: Red Bull Ring

Dan Menke
Community Analytics and Operations Manager

Dan is the Community Operations Manager at Alteryx. From optimizing moderation processes, to exploring new engagement techniques, Dan spends his days supporting clients by cultivating great Community experiences.

Dan is the Community Operations Manager at Alteryx. From optimizing moderation processes, to exploring new engagement techniques, Dan spends his days supporting clients by cultivating great Community experiences.