Pirelli’s Mario Isola: “The new package is working as expected. So, I’m happy.”

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Picture Credits Pirelli Motorsport

Pirelli Motorsport Director Mario Isola attended a 2023 FIA Press Conference for the first time this season during the weekend of the Australian Grand Prix. This provided an opportunity for the media to learn more about what is in the pipeline and also gave Isola an opportunity to reflect on the performance of the 2023 compounds so far.

Pirelli are more than capable of making a long lasting low degradation tyre but for the spectacle of ‘the show’ they have to provide teams with compounds that become worn away relatively quickly to give maximum speed and also more strategical options. It is very difficult in an F1 weekend for Pirelli to learn much about the tyre performances due to a lot of track evolution and teams being more focussed on the set-up of the car. Therefore, amid speculation about potentially reducing the number of practice sessions or changing the format, Mario Isola was asked, from a tyre perspective, how crucial those practice sessions are to help with development?’

“We collect useful data from the practice sessions, for the usage of the tyres, possible strategies. And we need a good balance, probably. I understand also, the position of Stefano, to try to encourage sessions that are interesting for our spectators. I believe the discussion started from the role of FP2 during the Sprint events, with the cars that are in parc fermé – so, very limited possibility for the teams to react to any change. That was still interesting for us, for the tyre, but it’s not enough. So I’m sure that we can find a good solution together with the teams, they have sporting directors that are very good and discussing any small detail to try to avoid any unintended consequences. So I’m sure that we can find a good balance between the two.” said Isola.

Following this, Pirelli’s Motorsport Director then shared his view on how the new compounds for this year are performing and if he was happy with them.

In remarks made on the Friday of the Australian Grand Prix, Isola said: “I’m happy because the targets were to obviously increase for the new construction the level of integrity, which we have done because they are using a lower pressure. The second point was about reducing the understeer and also in this case I believe the new construction is helping to balance the car. And the third one was to test this new C1 compound that was working quite well in Bahrain. We are also trying to understand if we can use it in more races. It’s close to the C2 to maybe sometimes we can also replace the C2 with the C1. We need to get a bit more data and to agree with the FIA the allocation. But yeah, the new package is working as expected. So, I’m happy.”

Pirelli has been the exclusive tyre supplier for F1 since 2011, and also provides compounds for the Formula 2 and Formula 3 support series. With Mario Isola ‘happy’ it seemed a perfect time for him to be reminded that the tyre tender has been launched for the 2025-27 seasons with an option for 2028 as well. Pirelli has confirmed its interest in continuing with the tyre supply. However, was that an easy decision for Pirelli to make? 

“It’s never an easy decision because we invest a lot of resources and money in Formula 1 but we are happy with the results so far. 13 years is a long period and to continue for another three, four years is also a bigger commitment, but the sport is very healthy, we are happy with the current situation. We are happy to play our part in the sport, as I said, and to follow the requests that are coming from drivers, teams, FIA and F1, to have a sport that is even better, if it is possible. So now we are in the process of analysing the document that is quite long. It’s different from the past with a lot more pages to analyse but, as I said, the general feeling is that we want to apply and to continue. It’s a process and we will wait for the end of the process.” explained Isola.

The document in question outlines technical characteristics that are broadly in line with the tyres used today and their relevance to technology transfer from track to road – putting a particular emphasis on sustainability. Isola has previously remarked that “The framework described by the FIA is closely aligned to Pirelli’s motorsport strategy and so is of great interest.”

One can imagine that Pirelli will take on the option and continue as supllied but should they not there will be many manufacturers waiting to swoop in. Hankook has already replaced Michelin as the new supplier for Formula E this season which is a reminder that the only constant in sport – is change itself.

Nevertheless, it is not always smooth sailing being a tyre supplier and seeing races abandoned due to cars unable to run in wet weather certainly does not put a company in a good place marketing wise. That may soon change though as Imola will see the unveiling of a new wet tyre. Mario Isola was asked to discuss the progress made in this area so far and his response also showed another new compound is on the way.

“The new Wet tyre is starting from Imola and we are now also developing the new Intermediate tyre that I hope we can introduce as soon as we can. Obviously, we have not many test sessions. The new Wet tyre is working quite well without blankets. It’s the first step in this journey, together with Formula 1 and the teams. There is a lot of talking about removing the blankets from Formula 1 cars. It’s a challenge, as I said. It’s a big challenge on the technical side. We will do everything possible to achieve this challenge. We know how important it is to go in this direction of sustainability, and we are also working on the slick tyres and after the race in Barcelona, we have the next test session where, for the first time, the baseline will be a tyre without blankets. So we are on this journey, as I said, and we have to wait a little bit and see what is going to happen on that.”


The issue of ‘tyre blankets or no tyre blankets’ is ironically a hot topic with some parties in favour while some drivers claim that it will be too dangerous. Time will tell as to what the final decision is but Isola announced that it there is a plan to have a meeting with all of the stakeholders after the test in Silverstone.

As for the Australian Grand Prix itself, Mario Isola used the post-race Pirelli press release to label it ‘a truly eventful Australian Grand Prix.’ He also reflected on the performance of the hard C2 tyre as it “showed itself to be a very consistent tyre in terms of degradation and not far from the pace of other nominated compounds, fulfilling all the demands placed on it.” Prior to this, due to the fact all three compounds were on the starting grid,  it further shows the good job Pirelli is doing and the alternative strategies which can be applied on Race Day. Should this continue in Azerbaijan when F1 resumes, it may be safe to assume Pirelli will be associated with Formula One for many more years to come.