How Tänak’s feeling about WRC 2021’s big unknown

Teams are up against it trying to get to grips with the new 'black and round' things ahead of 2021 season opener


Ott Tänak is ready for this one. Primed and ready. He’s done his day of tire testing, first time on the Pirellis in a Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC and his answer is good to go.

Tell us, What did you think of the tires?

The pause. The grin. The answer: “What was it [Juha] Kankkunen said? ‘They are black and round’. They are still black and round.”

As a graduate of Pirelli’s Star Driver scheme, 2019 world champion Tänak knows plenty about the tire firm and the challenge that lies ahead for it next month at the World Rally Championship’s season-opening Monte Carlo Rally.

“Monte Carlo really is the beautiful place to come to with completely new tires,” Tänak added with more than a touch of sarcasm.

“It’s early to tell so much about the tire. Definitely we need some more time.

“I had one day for the test and it was slush and melting snow, demanding conditions where it’s difficult to find the limit of the tire. It’s going to take time to learn because, for sure, the tires are different.”

Understanding of the control-tire scenario for the next four years, Tänak was pragmatic about the coming season.

“No tire is perfect for all of the conditions,” he said.

“There are pluses and minuses with everything and that’s how it is with the Pirellis – but we all have the same tires.

“We will do our best with the experience we have and also to give the best possible feedback – hopefully everything will work out well and we will find the sweet spot.”