Intermediate Tires: When they are used in F1

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Intermediate tyres are a crucial element in Formula One racing. They are designed to provide the right balance of grip and durability in changing weather conditions. Conditions such as a wet track that is not fully saturated. 

These tyres have a unique tread pattern and compound that allow them to perform optimally in these specific conditions. They are a popular choice for drivers when the track is damp, but not wet enough for full wet tyres. Teams might also chose them when rain is expected but hasn’t yet started to fall. In such scenarios, intermediate tyres can offer an advantage over slick or full wet tyres, giving drivers better grip and more control over their cars. 

Understanding intermediate tyres and when to use them is an important part of a driver’s strategy in Formula One racing.

Table of Contents

Watch this video to learn more about intermediate tyres.

What kind of tires are Intermediate?

Intermediate tyres are a unique type of tyre used in Formula One racing. They are designed to provide the best performance on damp or drying tracks. It’s the perfect choice when full wet tyres may provide too much grip and slick tyres may provide too little. The tread pattern of intermediate tyres is shallower than that of wet tyres, but deeper than that of slick tyres. Intermediate have grooves that allow for water dispersion while maintaining a firm grip on the track. 

The compound used in intermediate tyres is also different, providing more durability and heat resistance than full wet tyres but less than slick tyres. Overall, intermediate tyres are a balance between the extreme wet and dry tyres, providing drivers with better handling and performance in variable weather conditions.

Design

Intermediate tyres have a unique design that allows them to perform optimally in damp or drying track conditions. The tread pattern of intermediate tyres is shallower than that of wet tyres but deeper than that of slick tyres. 

This allows for better water dispersion while maintaining sufficient grip on the track. Intermediate tyres’ sidewalls are also stiffer than those of wet tyres, providing better stability when driving at high speeds.

Compound and Tread

The compound and tread of intermediate tyres are specifically designed to provide better performance on damp or drying tracks. The compound used in intermediate tyres is a softer version of the compound used in slick tyres, providing better grip and durability. 

Intermediate tyres tread pattern features grooves that are wider and shallower than those of wet tyres, allowing for better water dispersion while maintaining good grip on the track. This unique combination of compound and tread design makes intermediate tyres the best choice for drivers in variable weather conditions.

Ideal Track Conditions

Intermediate tyres are designed to perform best in damp or drying track conditions, where the track is not fully saturated but there is still water on the surface. This can happen when it is raining lightly or when rain has recently stopped. The ideal track temperature for intermediate tyres is between 20°C and 30°C, which is cooler than the ideal temperature for slick tyres but warmer than the ideal temperature for wet tyres. 

In general, intermediate tyres are used when full wet tyres provide too much grip and slick tyres provide too little. It makes them a popular choice for drivers in variable weather conditions.

Key Takeaways

  • Intermediate tyres are designed to provide optimal performance on damp or drying tracks.
  • They have a shallower tread pattern than wet tyres but deeper than slick tyres, with wider grooves for better water dispersion.
  • The compound used in intermediate tyres is softer than slick tyres but more durable than wet tyres.
  • Intermediate tyres are best used in track temperatures between 20°C and 30°C.
  • They provide better grip and control than slick tyres on damp tracks, but less grip than full wet tyres on fully saturated tracks.
  • Intermediate tyres are often used in changeable weather conditions, where it is not clear whether full wet or slick tyres would be the best choice.
  • Drivers must carefully consider track conditions and weather forecasts when deciding whether to use intermediate tyres.
  • The development of intermediate tyres continues to be an area of focus for tyre manufacturers in Formula One.

When to Use Intermediate Tyres

Choosing when to use intermediate tyres in a Formula One race is a strategic decision that depends on a range of factors. Drivers and teams will typically use intermediate tyres when the track is damp or drying, but not fully saturated. 

Other factors to consider include the temperature of the track and the likelihood of rain in the near future. Overall, the potential impact of changing weather conditions on the race have a huge impact on when to use intermediates. Drivers must also consider their individual driving style and the demands of the race, such as the length of the race and the expected number of pit stops.

Examples of When Intermediate Tyres were Used in Past Races

Intermediate tyres have played a key role in many past Formula One races. In the 2021 British Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton won the race using intermediate tyres after a sudden rain shower made the track wet but not fully saturated. 

At the 2018 Japanese Grand Prix, Typhoon Trami caused significant weather disruptions, leading to the use of intermediate and full wet tyres throughout the race. In the 2016 Brazilian Grand Prix, drivers used intermediate tyres in a rain-soaked race that saw multiple accidents and safety car periods. 

These examples demonstrate the importance of understanding when to use intermediate tyres and making the right strategic decisions in changing weather conditions.

Role of Weather Forecasting in Deciding When to Use Intermediate Tyres

Weather forecasting is a critical component of the decision-making process when it comes to using intermediate tyres in Formula One racing. Teams rely on advanced weather models to make predictions about future weather conditions and plan their race strategy accordingly. 

This can involve making decisions about tyre selection before the race begins or adjusting tyre choices during the race based on changing weather patterns. Accurate forecasting can give teams a competitive advantage by allowing them to make strategic decisions that optimize tyre performance and help their drivers stay ahead of the competition.

intermediate tyre

Advantages and Disadvantages of Intermediate Tyres

Intermediate tyres offer unique advantages and disadvantages in Formula One racing. On the one hand, they provide better grip and control than slick tyres on damp or drying tracks. On the other hand, they can be slower than slicks on fully dry tracks. Intermediate tyres also have a softer compound than slicks, which can result in increased wear and tear. 

Additionally, intermediate tyres are less effective in fully saturated conditions than full wet tyres. With that said they can still provide some degree of grip and control.

Advantages

Intermediate tyres offer several advantages in Formula One racing. They provide better grip and control than slick tyres on damp or drying tracks, allowing drivers to maintain speed and minimize the risk of accidents. 

Intermediate tyres also provide greater durability than wet tyres, making them a more practical choice for races where the track conditions are likely to change. The softer compound of intermediate tyres can also provide better heat distribution, resulting in improved tyre performance over longer distances.

Disadvantages

While intermediate tyres offer several advantages, they also have some disadvantages to consider. One of the main drawbacks of intermediate tyres is their reduced performance on fully dry tracks, where slick tyres will provide better grip and control. 

The softer compound of intermediate tyres can also result in increased wear and tear, leading to the need for more frequent pit stops. Additionally, intermediate tyres are less effective than full wet tyres on fully saturated tracks, making them a less than ideal choice for races in heavy rain conditions.

Intermediates vs. Other Tyres

Intermediate tyres are just one of several tyre options available in Formula One racing. Slick tyres are the standard tyre for dry conditions. Full wets are designed for heavy rain conditions. In between these extremes, there are three other tyre options: soft, medium, and hard tyres. Each of these tyres has a unique compound and tread pattern, making them suitable for different track conditions.

Soft tire

Soft tyres are the fastest option in dry conditions, offering excellent grip and control on the track. However, they have a softer compound than medium and hard tyres, making them less durable and more prone to wear and tear. Soft tyres are best used in qualifying sessions and for short stints during a race when a driver needs to set fast lap times.

Medium Tire

Medium tyres offer a balance between speed and durability. It makes them a popular choice for races where the track conditions are uncertain. They have a harder compound than soft tyres, making them more resistant to wear and tear, but they also provide less grip and control on the track.

Hard Tire

Hard tyres are the most durable option, providing excellent longevity on the track. They have the hardest compound of any tyre. It makes them very resistant to wear and tear, but they also provide the least amount of grip and control on the track. Hard tyres are best used in races where track temperatures are high, as they are less likely to overheat.

Full wets

Full wets are the only option for races in heavy rain conditions. They have a deep tread pattern and a softer compound than intermediate tyres, providing maximum grip and control on the track. Full wets are slower than intermediate tyres in damp or drying conditions, but they offer superior performance in heavy rain conditions where standing water is a concern.

Read our general article about tires used in Formula 1 to learn more!

Development of Intermediate Tyres

Intermediate tyres have undergone significant development over the years to improve their performance and durability. Tyre manufacturers play a critical role in the development of intermediate tyres. They use advanced technologies and materials to create tyres that can perform in a wide range of track conditions.

Tyre Manufacturers in Developing Intermediate Tyres

Tyre manufacturers such as Pirelli, Bridgestone, and Michelin are constantly working to improve the design and performance of intermediate tyres. They use advanced technologies and materials to create tyres that can perform in both damp and drying track conditions.

Technical Challenges in Developing Intermediate Tyres

Developing intermediate tyres presents unique technical challenges for tyre manufacturers. They must balance the need for grip and control in damp conditions with the ability to handle the heat and wear and tear of dry conditions. The design of intermediate tyres must also be flexible enough to adapt to changing track conditions during a race.

Future of Intermediate Tyres in Formula One

The future of intermediate tyres in Formula One looks bright. Tyre manufacturers will continue to innovate and improve their designs. Advances in materials and technologies are likely to lead to even better performing intermediate tyres. They will most likely be capable of handling an even wider range of track conditions. With the importance of tyre strategy in Formula One racing, intermediate tyres will continue to play a critical role in determining race outcomes.

Frequently asked questions

When should intermediate tyres be used in Formula One racing?

Intermediate tyres are designed to perform in damp or wet track conditions, where full wets are too heavy and slow, but dry tires cannot provide enough grip. Drivers and teams usually decide to switch to intermediates when the track is damp or drying after a rain shower, or when there is a possibility of rain during the race.

What are the advantages of using intermediate tyres?

Intermediate tyres offer better grip and traction on a damp or drying track than dry tyres, while being faster and more durable than full wets. They also provide better handling and control in unpredictable weather conditions, making them a popular choice for drivers in wet races

What are the disadvantages of using intermediate tyres?

While intermediate tyres offer better performance than other types of tyres in damp conditions, they can still be less effective than full wets in heavy rain. In addition, intermediate tyres can wear out quickly if the track dries out too much, making it necessary to switch to dry tyres as soon as possible. Finally, intermediate tyres can be sensitive to temperature changes, which can affect their performance and require careful management by the team.

Conclusion

Intermediate tyres are a critical component of Formula One racing. They provide drivers and teams with the ability to adapt to changing track conditions and unpredictable weather. These tyres are designed to provide the optimal balance of grip and control in damp or drying conditions. It allows drivers to push the limits of their cars and compete at the highest levels of the sport. 

Despite the challenges involved in developing and using intermediate tyres, they remain an essential tool for any team looking to succeed in the ever-competitive world of Formula One. As tyre manufacturers continue to innovate and improve their designs, we can expect to see even better performing intermediate tyres in the future. 

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Lisette Holm
Lisette Holm
Lisette Holm is a Formula 1 expert who has not missed a single Grand Prix in the last 4 years. She is one of the founders and her job at Formulapedia.com is to educate others who are interested in F1 in order to raise their level of knowledge. Lisette cheers on Mercedes AMG-Petronas.

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