Why are F1 car tires smooth? Explaining how tires without treads work in the sport
Many F1 fans who are new to the sport must have wondered about the tires used in the cars. They look drastically different from regular road car tires due to a lack of treads. Dry compound tires that have no grooves on them might seem like a bad idea to most, but they work marvelously on these race cars.
In F1, teams always try to maximize their car's performance and achieve the most grip on every track. The primary reason for tires lacking tread is to provide better track surface grip. The overall surface area of the tire drastically increases when it has a smooth surface compared to having lots of tread.
However, when there is heavy rain, cars are usually on intermediate or wet tires that have lots of tread to disperse water and ensure better grip. The treads on wet tires act as a drainage network that removes water from the flat surfaces of the tire.
F1 tires have changed dramatically over the years. Back in the early 2000s, there was a rule that required tires to have at least four straight treads on them to slow the cars down. However, smooth tires were reintroduced in 2009.
Regular road tires often have a lot of tread so that they can tackle all kinds of weather conditions. Of course, regular cars and drivers will not need too much traction on roads simply because they are not driving at blazing-fast speeds, something that is normal and necessary for F1 cars.
In conclusion, these technically advanced cars that race at eye-watering speeds also need all the grip that they can get out of their tires. Hence, they use tires without tread on dry tracks to achieve maximum surface contact.
F1 to introduce new C1 tire compound in 2023
Right after the 2022 F1 season, all the teams remained in Abu Dhabi for the post-season tire tests. During the session, Pirelli confirmed a new C1 tire compound for the 2023 F1 season and changed the old C1 to C0. Hence, there will be a total of six dry compound tires in the sport next season.
Pirelli motorsport engineer Simone Berra explained how the C0 compound is based on the old C1, whereas the company will be bringing a new version of C1. He said:
"The new C1 was tested in Texas and it offers more grip, as the old version of that tyre wasn't as grippy. The current C2 to C5 tires remain exactly the same in terms of composition."
Apart from this, all the other dry compound tires will be the same as last year. The addition of a sixth compound to the tire line-up will greatly benefit the team and change their tire strategy next season.