If the Pirelli era has done anything it is introduce fans to the intricacies of managing tyres. Temperature management and preventing tyres from "falling off the cliff" have become a regular part of Sunday races, and now they are a regular part of F1 games too.
F1 2018 has good systems for monitoring your tyre wear. Not only does the in-race menu show you overall tyre wear with a percentage on each one, but there is also a menu that will display surface and carcass temperatures of each tyre. It is important to keep an eye on these menus as it is very easy, especially around corner-heavy circuits like Monaco and Singapore, to melt your tyres and dramatically lose performance. So how can you protect your rubber and extend stints?
Tyre wear practice program
Completing practice programs is about more than just getting resource points, they are very useful for showing you where you can, and can't, save tyre life. You use up your rear tyres on acceleration out of corners, and your front tyres by aggressively steering and cornering. If you can be smooth with steering input and throttle application then you will save tyre life across the whole lap, unfortunately that is very difficult to do if you are just using a game pad.
This is where the tyre wear practice program comes in. This program gives you a gauge at the top of the screen that shows tyre wear through the course of a lap and lets you see where you are particularly hard on the rubber and could save some life by driving a little differently.
Here you can see that by aggressively applying steering angle at high speed we put extreme pressure on our tyres, moving the gauge into the red. You should note that running on kerbs will also wear your tyres more. This has to be done in qualifying to take the optimum racing line, but in races when you are trying to preserve tyre life avoid using kerbs where possible.
Instead, you should look to take a corner with more gentle entry angle and allow the car to drift out to the kerb on exit so that you are using as little angle as possible for the duration of the corner. Make sure you get your braking done in a straight line as always, and be easy on the throttle when cornering too to avoid pushing the car aggressively across the tarmac.
In this corner you can see gentle throttle application and just allowing the momentum of the car to take it around the corner moves the gauge further into the green and toward the perfect purple that is the aim.
After you complete the practice program you get a page of information showing you where on the lap you were kind (green) and harsh (red) on your tyres. It will also show you just how far into a stint you can push your tyres if you reproduce that lap.
This shows me that I can extend the life of these tyres by up to three laps with careful driving. This is incredibly beneficial for circuits where overtaking is hard or where safety cars are likely.
While it is tempting to set your car up for ultimate 1 lap pace those setups are extremely harsh on tyres. It is unwise to borrow any of the top time trial setups as those are designed to extract maximum performance from the rubber.
One of the biggest things you can do to reduce your tyre wear in your setup is to remove camber and toe, and also to decrease tyre pressures. This increases the contact patch between the tyre and the track, and that helps spread the heat across more of the surface. You can also reduce your on- and off-throttle differential and soften up your suspension settings. Doing all of this will reduce your performance too much, so it is important to find the balance you need to fit your driving style, maintain pace, but also look after the tyres.
The least impactful thing in terms of pace is to remove the camber & toe. This doesn't ruin the car on turn in but does help protect the tyres a lot. You'll still have to manage them a lot in the harsher tracks like Monaco and Singapore, but by being less aggressive with steering and throttle you can really save your tyres and go deeper into stints, which helps to reduce traffic problems after your pit stop and lets you take advantage of any safety cars and virtual safety cars.