Although Pirelli is due to finalise the specification of its 2018 tyres by September, it has until December to decide on the compounds it will bring to the races. There are a few tests scattered about between now and then to aid it, but the Italian manufacturer is already eyeing up the possibility of adding a sixth compound to the current roster.
Pirelli’s F1 boss Mario Isola explained that it could add a sixth compound, but offered no real reason as to why – if it does introduce a new compound, it seems like it’ll be ‘because they can’.
“Depending on the results [of the tests], we will decide the number of compounds. My opinion is to go up to six, which is possible. If I look at the regulations the number of compounds is our proposal to the FIA, and usually the FIA accepts, because there is no reason to refuse. In fact this year we homologated 10 compounds – we had the five base compounds, and five back-up compounds. We don’t need the agreement of the teams.”
Of course it might not happen, as this year Pirelli have actually been able to test with representative cars and not the mules used last season, and once all the data comes though from the testing it might decide that five compounds is plenty after all.
Pirelli has gone a bit too conservative with the compounds this year to the point where teams massively prefer those at the softer end of the spectrum, even at tough circuits like Barcelona and Silverstone.
Therefore you’d expect any potential new compound to be another type of soft tyre, but surely that could be achieved just by making the current compounds a step softer rather than introducing a whole new type of tyre. What would it even be called? Mega-Soft? Maxi-Soft? Super-Medium? They’ll run out of colours to paint the sidewalls too!