The 2016 F1 season will, as expected, feature mildly revised tyre regulations designed to introduce another layer of strategy to the sport.
The FIA World Motor Sport Council formally approved the new regulations at its December meeting in Paris, confirming changes to the rules governing the range and use of slick tyres, following the adoption of a fifth – ultrasoft - compound. The rules regarding intermediate and wet tyres remain unchanged.
Teams will also have more freedom to choose which compounds they run at each race, although Pirelli will still have control over the options on offer. In consultation with the FIA, the tyre company will decide in advance which three compounds can be used at each race, with the total number of sets that can be used during practice, qualifying and racing remaining at 13.
Pirelli will nominate two mandatory race sets for each car, with one set of the softer compound also having to be kept for use in Q3 only. The two mandatory sets chosen by Pirelli can be of two different compounds, from the three that have been nominated for the race weekend. These sets will obviously be identical for each team, but the remaining ten sets can be chosen by each team, again from the three compounds nominated for the race weekend. The two mandatory sets nominated by Pirelli cannot be given back during practice and must be available for use in the race. At least one of these two sets must be used during the race, but the teams can decide which one.
The teams will make their choices within a deadline set by Pirelli, and communicate their choices to the FIA which will, in turn, tell Pirelli how many tyres to produce. The choices for each car will remain secret until two weeks before the race. If a team does not meet the deadline, the choice will be made by the FIA.
Once the choices for each car have been made, the FIA will continue to assign the tyres randomly via a barcode, as is the case currently. The choices made by each team can vary across its cars, so each driver within a team can have a different allocation.
Teams will still have to give back tyres according to a certain schedule, but they can decide which tyres to give back, with one set to be returned after the first 40 minutes of FP1, another at the end of FP1, two at the end of FP2 and another two at the end of FP3.
The top ten at the end of qualifying will still have to give back the set of the softer compound nominated for Q3, and start the race on the tyres with which they set their fastest time in Q2, as is the case currently. All other drivers will be able to use the set that is saved for Q3 during the race.
The different compounds will continue to carry individual colour markings on their sidewalls, with the new purple hue coming it at the softest end of the scale as Pirelli looks to go aggressive with its options.