They cost about €1,500 a set (or €375 a tyre) but unlike a road-car tyre, which can last in the region of 15,000 miles, they are built for performance.
Pirelli has four different types of tyre to use over the entire 19-race Formula 1 season. At each race, the company supplies two types of tyre, both of which must be used by each driver at some point in the race.
The two types are called ‘prime’ and ‘option’, but each can be any one of the four different tyres – ‘super
soft’, ‘soft’, ‘medium’ and ‘hard’. In the pit stop, three people working each wheel – one to operate the wheel gun, one to take the old tyre off and one to put the new one on. They lock onto the single central wheel nut, spinning up the gun and getting the nut undone within around 0.6s. During this time, the jack men lift the car up a couple of inches to give clearance for the wheels to be removed.
When the gun is clear, the wheel men whip off the old wheel and put on the new one, a process that typically takes less than a second, before the gunman locks back onto the nut and tightens it at the required torque level, taking approximately another 0.6s.
Wheel nuts are now encased inside the rims to prevent them spinning off and their threads are shorter to allow the wheels to fully lock on in three turns rather than six.
How fast could your tyre fitters do it?