At two races this year – Hungary and Monza after the initial trial set for Imola had to be abandoned amid that race’s cancellation – Pirelli has experimented with shipping fewer tyre sets, with adapted rules implemented for qualifying.
By mandating drivers run hards in Q1, mediums in Q2 and softs in Q3, Pirelli is able to bring just 11 tyre sets overall for each car and achieve an improvement in its sustainability aims, as well as keep in-race tyre strategy variance.
There is even a suggestion the ATA format increases race tyre choices for the teams as they have more sets of the harder compounds usually required for longer stints given there is no longer an incentive to stockpile softs for use throughout qualifying.
When asked after the Monza race if the ATA is likely to become F1’s standard tyre rules, Isola explained to Autosport that “the plan [now] is to have a discussion on this to see plus and minus [points”.
He continued: “[Assess the] pros and cons of the new format. And then they will decide.”
The ATA format has split opinion amongst the drivers, with Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz enjoying “having to adapt, having to find the grip – it becomes a bit more improvisation” in qualifying at Monza, while Red Bull driver Max Verstappen reckons “it probably makes it even worse for the teams in the back” as “the quickest cars are even better on the harder compounds”.
But the drivers are generally united in believing the ATA restricts their running in practice, which Pirelli disputes.
Mario Isola, Racing Manager, Pirelli Motorsport, in the team principals Press Conference
Photo by: FIA Pool
What the ATA does do, however, is restrict the number of push laps drivers can do in preparation for qualifying and if practice sessions are disrupted by rain or crashes, as happened in Hungary and at Monza with Sergio Perez’s late FP2 shunt there, their long-run data gathering opportunities can be restricted.
To combat this, Isola has suggested tweaking the ATA format to make one more tyre set from the reduced total (at typical F1 weekends this year the total is 13) available for practice running, with that set taken from the tyres currently set aside for the race, as per the ATA rules.
“If there is a requirement to fine-tune a little bit – like, for example, considering one additional set for FP2 instead of having seven sets for the race, having only six sets [instead] for the race that is more than enough and maybe give with the same total number, one additional set for FP2 – it is possible,” Isola explained.
“To be honest, we were checking the number of laps they ran in FP1, FP2 and FP3 compared to last year and it’s very similar [483, 397 and 455 in 2023 versus 509, 507 and 384 at Monza last year].
“Almost the same. Considering that we had a red flag in FP2, where probably they [would have] been running a few laps more, it was exactly the same.
“So, they need to run those laps to have information and the tyre allocation was not affecting this part of the weekend.
“And I believe that with the ATA the qualifying session is a lot more interesting because the drivers have to adapt quickly to different grip [levels] and you see they are pushing more and more.
“They are going faster because they are softer compounds.
“I like the idea. That’s my personal opinion, obviously, but I like the idea and I believe it is a good way to reduce the tyres a little bit without affecting the strategy, without affecting the show.
“And sometimes you improve the show because of that.”
Isola also said that Pirelli currently does not have an indication of whether it has won F1’s 2025-28 tyre tender application competition against Bridgestone, as “there is no deadline” on the matter.
He added: “Hopefully, we are in the final phase for the decision. I believe that now Formula 1 and the FIA have all the data and information they need.”