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F1 Technique: How Pirelli tires are allocated for each Grand Prix?

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Pirelli tires are allocated to the Formula 1 teams randomly with the help of a bar code, a process carried out by the FIA: the sport’s governing body.

The barcode is the tire’s ‘passport’, which is embedded firmly into the structure during the vulcanisation process and cannot be swapped.

The code contains all the details of each tire, making it traceable throughout the race weekend with Pirelli’s RTS (Racing Tire System) software.

The FIA receives a list of the bar codes and then allocates each bar code – and therefore each tire – to every team at random. Pirelli itself is not involved in this process at all, meaning that the Italian firm cannot influence which tires are allocated to which teams – although a rigorous quality control process ensures that all the tires leaving the factory are entirely identical.

Once at the circuit, the tires are then distributed to the teams in strict compliance with the list that has been previously prepared by the FIA.

The bar codes allow both the FIA and Pirelli to ensure that the right teams, according to the regulations, are using the correct tires.

F1 Pirelli tire bar code
Checking the bar code of a Pirelli tire. (Photo: Pirelli)