The top ten tyre rule is a failure


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It's rare for drivers to start the races on anything other than the softest tyre

Before the season began I argued the new-for-2010 ‘top ten tyre rule’ was an unnecessary change to the rules that would do little if anything to improve the quality of racing in F1.

The first six races have shown that not only has it failed to promote better racing it has done the opposite – encouraging teams to stick to identical, conservative strategies.

As the FIA is already fixing one fault in the rule book it should get rid of this one as well.

Why the rule has failed

The idea behind the ‘top ten tyre rule’ was to force the drivers in Q3 to start the race on the same set of tyres they qualified on. In theory, some drivers would pick harder tyres, start behind those on softer tyres, but potentially get ahead of them by running longer in the race.

In practice, that has not happened at all. Almost every driver in every Q3 session this year has opted for the softer tyre.

This is most likely because of the ‘mandatory pit stop’ rule, introduced in 2007, which requires each driver to use both types of tyre compound during a race.

These two rules lead almost every team to use the same tyre strategy – start on the softer tyres, then switch to the harder tyres at around one quarter distance.

One F1 tactician I spoke to reckoned there were few – if any – likely scenarios where it would make sense for a car in Q3 to qualify on the harder tyres.

What should be done

It’s possible that if Bridgestone reversed its policy of bringing tyres two ‘steps’ apart – e.g. soft and medium instead of soft and hard – it would make the choice of which tyre compound to start on a little trickier. But I’m not convinced.

One solution would be to get rid of the ‘top ten tyre rule’. That would at least make it more likely that we would see cars starting the race on different tyres and trying different strategies.

Alternatively, the ‘mandatory pit stop’ could be dropped. This would allow teams to pursue even more varied strategies – going the entire race with anything from no tyre stops to two or more.

But I believe the best option would be to drop both rules.

For every extra rule of this kind the FIA adds to the sporting regulations, the fewer strategic options the teams have, and the less likely we are to see the kind of variety that promotes good racing.

Let’s be clear – changing the tyre rules in this way would not suddenly transform some of predictable dry races we’ve seen this year into Suzuka 2005-style thrillers.

As we discussed in the recent Making F1 Better series, technical changes such as reducing grip and increasing power are where significant progress on improving the quality of racing will be made.

But scrapping these restrictive tyre rules would be a step in the right direction and one which could be introduced as soon as the next race.

Read more: Stop the needless rules changes

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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115 comments on “The top ten tyre rule is a failure”

  1. Why would anyone choose the harder tyre when the softer tyre gets you grid position, and consequently a better race? There’s no overtaking, so the point of choosing the harder tyre, then going for longer during the race is pointless.

    1. Added to that is if you are quick in your first stint, you will get out of the pits in front, ergo the guys who go on hards first will have to still pass you late in the race, which is nigh on impossible.

      1. That guy suggested have the step between the tyres should be smaller but I think we should go the other way and make it bigger.

        The V8 Supercars in Australia have somthing called the sprint tyre. It needs to be used during the race but can not be used in qulifying and there is no ristriction on when you can use it. It is up to 2 seconds quicker than the normal tyre but starts to suffer after about 12 – 15 laps.

        This tyre producess great racing, some teams use it from early in the race and bolt away while others wait longer in the race for the track to rubber in and get quite an extra advantage out of it, storming through the field to the finish.

        1. Second that. The sprint tire has lead to some go fights on track. never even thought of applying that twist to F1. Good call Macca

          1. In lieu of a lack of effort at imposing wake limits and wake testing and wake penalties, third that, but the extra level of F1 overtaking difficulty compared to the V8’s will not make it quite as effective.

        2. Sounds like a nice idea. Not sure about the cars having to use it during the race, sounds like the 2 compounds in F1.

          Would it work with the problems to overtake in F1 it would have to make a difference of almost 3-4 seconds.

          But it might be something to be discussed with the tyre suppliers for next year.

  2. It was one of those GOOD FOR NOTHING decision by the FIA.

    1. All it’s done is stop drivers from taking a gamble on strategy. Completely stupid idea.

      1. Mark Hitchcock
        20th May 2010, 23:16

        Without these silly tyre rules we could see some really good races.
        Some drivers lower down the grid would surely try to make a whole race distance on the harder tyre (like Alonso essentially did in Monaco). And like Alonso, they would be low on grip at the end of the race which would actually give us the thing we crave most: “more power than grip” and consequently more overtaking opportunities.

        It really is a no-brainer.

    2. They should drop the idea of mandatory pit stop.With new tyre manufacturer in 2011 I hope they drop those two horrible ideas.

  3. I fully agree with this article. A totally silly and arbitrary rule that no one asked for and no one wanted.

    A rule made purely for the sake of making a rule.

    1. coupled with the no refueling policy this was fairly retarded… if we still had refueling it would be marginally more relevent.

  4. The FIA and FOM obviously haven’t heard of the saying “Don’t fix it if it ain’t broke”.

    1. They have…they used it in the results of one of their surveys…and then ignored it ;-)

      1. Actually you could get anything you want from those surveys. People gave amzingly conflictive answers.

  5. Hopefully discussions like these are being held with Pirelli & Michelin!

    1. I was just going to bring that up. It was my understanding that Bridgestone played a part in the implementation of the mandatory pit stop rule, so without them, can we get rid of this rule (which has to be one of the worst of all the sporting regulations) for once and for all?

  6. The genuine Jim
    20th May 2010, 17:20

    Good, then we’re all agreed. I wish the FIA read this blog.

  7. The reason the teams go on softs in qually is not only beneficial in qually, but also the race under these rules. Because of the lack of overtaking the first person to pit is going to have the advantage, if you’re last to pit then sure, you tyres will last longer but even if you started on the hard tyres the others will have only just changed to the hard tyres, and with starting on race fuel it means they are going to be faster than you. Yes, you could then catch the others up but with so little overtaking (and FOTA not using kers; ugh…) it makes it pointless.

    I think the only way to get staggered strategies is to add a THIRD tyre to each race (or bring a qually tyre) and make pitstops optional. But then we go back to the lack of overtaking, everyone will just qually on hard tyres and run to the end unless the tyres become undrivable knowing that if your car is wide enough no one will get past. Just bring back a more powerful, longer lasting KERS and that will solve most problems… probably.

    1. I think that making pitstops optional would work, but only if the harder tires are made to be less durable. Otherwise, as you’ve said, everyone would just qualy on soft tires and run the whole race on hard tires. I would like it to be DIFFICULT to make the tires last a whole race.

      1. I don’t think the hards would last all race in most situations. We saw it in Monaco with Alonso. He did 77 laps and while he made it to the end, he was having some pretty serious tire wear. And this is from a track that is rated as one of the easiest on tires. If drivers were trying to go all race, they would have to drive very conservatively…

  8. Scott Joslin
    20th May 2010, 17:24

    I fully agree, they should drop both rules. The FIA were guilty if trying to “over fix” the rules

    By allowing dropping the mandatory pitstop rule we allow drivers to attempt to go through the race on one set, while other more aggressive drivers will probably need a pitstop or two.

    I think Bridgstone has contributed to this situation through the type of compounds they are bringing to the races.

    Back in the late 80’s and 90’s I remember races where there were at least 3 different compounds for the drivers to choose from, and drivers were also allowed to mix compounds.

    The rules restrict creative thinking, which if allowed would had a great tactical reward to those taking risks.

    1. Alonso has already proved that the harder tyres at least can go a whole race distance :)

      1. not really, that was Monaco and he was struggling at the end. It wouldn’t work at the other tracks.

        1. Drop the mandatory 2 compound rule and you might have drivers doing the entire race on 2 sets of softs….

          1. MouseNightshirt
            21st May 2010, 1:33

            But even that would be better – you need to choose when you stop wisely? Early push for position with new tyres and suffer later or the other way around. Yes passing is difficult, but it would be much better than our current system.

        2. And the Safetycars helped in tyre wear as well.

  9. @wasiF1

    actually this one was a Fota decision I think. WMSC rubber stamped though.

    Keith could we have a poll on this? Then possibly send it to the FIA or Fota or something?

    Totally agree with the article as well, quali tyre rule never made the slightest bit of sense, don’t know why the teams though it would do any good in the first place.

    Still Button was all for putting mediums on in Monaco, might have done him some good, although his grid postion might have seen him go the way of Rosberg.

    I reckon what would happen if the rule was scrapped would be near universal starting on primes, with a later universal swap to softs. Still if you could hold on with the mediums till late in the game, then put on softs for the last ten laps or something. Proably not an optimum strategy though.

    But still freeing up tyre choice completley is a cheep easy and obvious way of creating more varied races, especially as the original rule was creatd to put more strategy in the racing now refuelings gone, as it kills strategy completley it’s cleary failed. No mandatory stops could spice things up no end.

  10. Agreed!! There has been no strategy difference between any of the teams.

    But, I am still in favor of the ‘mandatory pit stop’ rule.

    Without that, Alonso would have been nowhere at Monaco. Similarly, Hamilton, Button, Massa, Alonso would not have made up as many places at Malaysia.

    Lets face it, overtaking in Formula One is difficult. Only Hamilton, Alonso, Schumacher on the current grid can do it. And just these three together can’t provide an exciting race. People like Webber, Massa, Button rely on strategy to jump people. And this option must be made available to them.

    Pit-stop windows are something to look forward to in a dry boring processional race (3 out of 6 this season: Bahrain, Spain, Monaco). Let them stay.

    1. Errrr, well I disagree that Webber and Button can’t overtake, both made some spectacular moves last year.

      Button made a huge number of vital championship passes during the season, easily overtaker of the year. An Webber on Alonso in Spain was fantastic, granted the Renault wasn’t great but repassing a KERS car in Spain? Both are definatley more than compertant passers

      In Malysia Hamilton fought his way up, his tyre strategy neither helped nor hindered him, however Massa jumped an equal number of places through a well timed tyre change, personally I prefered Hamiltons mthod, 10 times more exciting, we can’t keep rules because it evens the field for less talented drivers, but it’s still variation like that which can make Grand Prix racing exciting. If tyre strategy was completley free more teams would be able to use strategy to get their drivers up positions, an more overtaking would probably take place because drivers on new tyres would come up behind drivers on knackered tyres more often, whereas now all the tyres tend to be the same age.

      Incidentally the permanantly present elephant in the room with Monaco is that it is highly likley to produce boring races, that just it’s character.

    2. Webber is no way at the same level with Massa and Button in terms of overtaking…

      the one that lacks it is Vettel. Remember last year he got stuck behind everybody… We’re yet to see a race with Vettel overtaking a lot of people on track…

    3. You need to look at the series of the most spectacular overtakes from last year and reassess your opinion of Webber’s overtaking ability, especially when the RB5 was the worst follower and Vettel made so few by comparison.

    4. Remember Webber’s pass on Button around the OUTSIDE of turn 7, in the wet? Or his pass / repass on Alonso in Barcelona? Clearly not, or you wouldn’t make such comments. One was a great example of pushing the level of grip to the limit, the other how to brake as late as possible and still pull the car up in time to make the apex. Not to mention Button’s entire montage of beautiful, clean overtaking moves throughout the entire season (did you even watch the brazilian gp?!) Saying they rely on strategy is, well, rather dim.

      1. edit: I should have said, outside of turn 7 in China.

  11. Great article Kieth! I agree with you 100%. Also I think that instead of bringing this stupid rule the FIA should have canseled the mandatory pit stop rule.And Kieth i am not being by anyways sarcastic, but i really think that you should work in the FIA “Improving the show” group. Seeing that you have brillient ideas, really.

  12. Bring back refueling or always start on a wet track. Passing even if artficual beats watching Bahrain again.

    1. Sideshow bob
      20th May 2010, 17:56

      Watering the track before a race would be sacrilege. It would be a sad day when that is the best idea the minds in F1 can come up with.

      1. I agree, it should only be suggested as a joke. The excitement of looking forward to rain will be wiped away (no pun intended), too.

  13. “But I believe the best option would be to drop both rules.”

    Agree 100%

    1. I to agree best option would be to drop both rules.

      Dropping the quali race tire rule alone I don’t see change anything. More then likely I would suspect they would still start on the softer tire just as today and change to hard tire. Reason track would be rubbered in better for hard and softer would allow them to race faster with the heavy load but go off quickly. Track temp has a better chance of being up a bit for the second stint on the hard making tire warmup easier.
      Now if you did NOT have to run both compounds at all some teams might gamble on 2 stops running all three stints on soft and some would try no stop starting on hards.
      If the quali tire rule persisted they would all probably start on soft but you could see 2 strategies unfold after that one team going for another set of softs and then a third set while another team might go to hard to finish the race. If the soft tire givs 1sec/lap advantage then it could give the 2 stopper the advantage to jump someone on hard but could go the other way around if the planned 2 stopper get stuck in traffic and might need to change strategy to go 1 soft 1 hard and just go for 1 stop instead of planned 2 stops.

  14. I agree, Keith.
    To be honest, I still fail miserably to understand the logic of forcing a driver to use TWO different compound during a race. Why not forcing them to use two different types of brake discs or two different kinds of fuel during the race? Am very sorry but to me this is just nonsense.
    I can see the benefit of the mandatory pit, but fercrissake, let the driver and the team decide which tyre let them have the best from the car.

    1. Agreed, I think it was B’Stone trying to artificially create tire issues during the race. This way the announcer says Bridgestone and tire a bunch of times. Back when there was Michelin and B’Stone, there were tire wars and it wasn’t necessary. now with one supplier, they need the drama or else no one will care what tire they are using….

  15. count me in as Agree 100%. The forced pit stop is an artificial rule that take away strategy options.

  16. Generally speaking, the current tyre rule is rubbish. Giving the teams freedom would result in better races.

    However, if we take the particular case of Monaco, we no tyre rules, everybody would have qualified on Softs and started the race and Hards and not made any pit stops. The race would have been one big long procession. Alonso would not have been able to pull off his smart early stop.

  17. And bring back refueling!

    These last couple of years rule-frenzy is only because of Schumacher/Ferraris upperhand during the early-mid 00.

    they changing to no refueling was because it would be easier to follow and les strategy. Everybody was exctatic and praised the thought of “real” racing.. what the hell are you guys thinking of?
    1. Loose the stupid mandatory pit-stop rule
    2. Bring back refueling
    3. Make the tyre-supplier bring 3 or 4 kinds of tyres
    4. Bring back KERS ( Not FIAs fault, but anyway)
    5. Bring less durable tyres that don’t last a whole race! at least don’t make them as fast. (Alonso drove almost the whole race on the prime and was as fast as almost everybody in the top.
    6. more things I can’t remember right now…

    1. I’d go along with most of those.

      I’d lose that two compound per race rule aswell. It’s very artificial. Let them use the two different tyres during a race if they want, just don’t make it compulsory. It might mean that the teams could fit the best tyres for their car. We would see some good racing then. Maybe…

      The top ten tyre rule was a ridiculous idea.
      I hated it from the start.

      I’d leave the no refuelling for now. They’ll probably bring it back in a few years anyway. Along with traction control in some form. That’s just a guess though, it’s not based on anything I’ve read anywhere.

      I’d leave the two different tyre compounds but make the gap between them bigger.

      Bring back Kers but make it more powerful and let the teams use it more than six seconds. Maybe put out a tender for someone to build it and sell it to other teams. Then let the teams tweek it if they want and see who is best.

      The “eight engines a season” rule is not really a favourite of mine either. This rule just results in drivers concerving their engines. They should be able to go flat out all the time. Same with the gearbox rule.

      On a less technical note, let the drivers celebrate properly with a few doughnuts after a win/points finish/race finish (delete as appropriate). Allow them to collect their national flag. What were the FIA trying to achieve when they banned celebrations?

  18. Removing mandatory pit stop rule would be a bad idea, since the best strategy would often be using hard tyres and make no pit stops. Thus drivers would have to save their tyres even more than now and they would try to overtake even less than now.

    The top ten tyre rule is, however, stupid. As Keith wrote, it doesn’t work as it was supposed to. FIA should remove it.

    1. one idea would be to have a qualification tire just used for qualification and then a race tire just used for racing. Make the qualification tire the harder option and the race tire the softer ;)
      Require no tire change and allow them to only change say backs only don’t see the teams care that much about this with how many pit crews they are allowed but in GP2 and Indycar the amount of pit crew allowed to work on the car is less so changing only 2 tires is much faster then 4 so you often see a 2 tire change instead of 4.

  19. Agree the rule should be dropped but it wouldn’t make any difference, they would still all use the same strategy.

    1. Yeah i agree, in general they will all use the near enough same stratergy because these guys are clever and can quickly work out the best stratergy. However last weekend i think we would have had more of a variation tyre choices as people were unsure of how much the softs would grain. So every now and then we will see something different.
      Then again Australia showed how exciting races can be without the mandatory stopping rule, sure they wont all be like that but teams may decide to gamble more like mclaren did. It might not have payed off but was damn good to watch.

  20. With all of this talk of overtaking I cant help but to back to NASCAR. In Nascar the race distance is set to anywhere from 400- 500 miles. Their fuel tanks can only hold enough fuel to go bout 50-60 miles. Their tyres can only last about 50 miles before they start to really degrade.
    The more I see for these rules change to allow for more over taking the more I get reminded of Nascar. Where there an infinte amount of overtakes in a race.

    1. I saw a NASCAR race last night, apart from the thoughts “why do they only turn left?” “why are they racing shoe boxes?” and “Des Americans! Fire!”

      It was actually really good, the lapped traffic didn’t get blue flags, but drivers were courteous enough not to ruin the frontrunners race, the passing was good, even though it was a tight track, and the commentators, despite being annoyingly American, were talking about interesting things, like how the tyre wears differently on the outside tyres, Now maybe that is obvious, but when is the last time you heard Brundle explain about how a part of the car works? I miss that.

      1. luckily, us annoying Americans :) – have Steve Machett (British former Renault/Williams? mechanic) to tell us every little detail about how every part of the car works. he has good real time information too – ex: when Vettel was having the brake heating issues in Spain and the team mentioned that he had wing damage, Machett noted that the wing might be accidentally blocking the brake duct and causing them to overheat….with pictures and all!!

        1. Maybe I’ll have to look into hearing commentary from them next race, any chance you could tell me what channel it’s on over there?

          1. Speed Network – speedtv is the website

            I just saw that he was the rear jack man in the 1994 Jos Verstappen fire….
            Youtube Matchett F1 1994 German GP Benneton Pit Fire

          2. Speed Channel.

            I think the only way to get there to be lots overtaking is to make the cars themselves create the racing. Cars with minimal downforce, small-ish fuel tanks. And then of course the tires cannot be hammered around for an entire race distance. (this one thing I believe has completely destroyed the plans of FIA, I believe they never expected tires especially soft tires to practically last an entire race.)
            In Nascar, Goodyear was smart to create tires that offered a couple of laps of great grip and then seriously degrade to the point you are several seconds a lap slower on degraded tires.
            That is why I kinda welcome the “green” tire developer (Pirelli, Kumho, Cooper Avon) that would bring a tire that would potentially have great grip but only last a couple of laps which will then in turn bring a significant penalty for staying on them too long.
            –Limit the size of the fuel tanks. No re-fueling just adds to the proccesional aspect of the race because it bogs down the cars and does not give the drivers confidence or speed at the beginning of the race where the cars are at their closest.
            –When there is a incident on the race track the safety car comes out, This might seem like a cop out (ala NASCAR style) but imagine the cars being bunched up together not just one time in a race but potentially 4- 6 times a race. This will lead to closer racing and the winner will really have to earn their position because he will actually have to race against other drivers and not just the track and the time clock.

            Seems like us Americans have figured out how to improve the ————- racing. =)

      2. Brundle has explained that the “outside” tyres wear faster in F1 too.

        At least during the race in Spain I heard him talk about it several times.

  21. Just because you have your own site doesn’t mean you’re right and the FIA and the rule makers are wrong. I’m sure if you’re rules were implemented at the next race, there would be people, probably you, complaining and wanting to change the rules.

    There is no way you’re single little narrow mind in better at coming up with a rule to spice things up, is better than than all the great minds in F1. Get a life.

    1. You’re taking this too seriously. This is what Keath basicly said:

      “But I believe the best option would be to drop both rules.”

      Keywords: I believe. He’s just provoking discussion and telling his own opinion.

    2. James, this is likely the dumbest comment I’ve ever read here….if you don’t what one guys (imho – very well informed) opinion, then what the hell are you doing reading his website….

      1. Nathan Bradley
        20th May 2010, 20:24

        Agreed mfDB,

        There are those of us that enjoy this website, and think Keith very well informed, with discussion provoking opinions.

        And if they don’t, then don’t bother reading it again.

        1. what = want, in my previous post…..

      2. It’s the first article I’ve ever read on here. I just come for the high res pics for wallpapers. I knew before I even read it that it would be a pile of poop. It’s just basically a blog of one guys opinion, taken too seriously by a bunch of fanboys.

        All this chit chat will get you nowhere lads, even when the FIA let the fans have their say people still aren’t happy with it.

        One thing I will say though is that they need greater minds on the FIA e.g Ron Dennis, Ross Brawn. Then there would be stability in the rules and we wouldn’t have things like the downforce being as much as it was in 08 already in 10!. This came about because of the sharp mind of Ross Brawn, bending the rules and morals once again. (I’m not a particular fan but appreciate his mind). I’m sure if any team with a reasonable budget ran last for a couple of years and only concentrated on a certain future car and got away with what Brawn got away with then they would win the championships.

        It’s nothing much to do with tyres this time round (considering they make up a large percentage of the overall packing), it’s aero and the FIA not banning the DD when they needed to, but opting for a “fairy tale championship.” I’m sure it was great that year for Bernie and the lads and it was good to see how good McLaren are at updating their car and how great Newey still is. But a head start and a plan put together like that was never going to be beaten, the championship isn’t long enough yet! I’m sure it’s been discussed on here.

        No change in tyre rules is gonna spice things up.

        So enough with this beating around the bush tyre rubbish. Why not make the site like a forum where anyone can make a thread idea instead of only the site owner, he ain’t all that and I’m sure he thinks his opinions are the best way forward for F1 100 percent.

        1. This came about because of the sharp mind of Ross Brawn, bending the rules and morals once again.

          Brawn warned the new diffuser rules left room for exploitation when they were discussed in 2008, but his criticisms weren’t taken on board. And don’t forget Williams and Toyota started the 2009 season with double diffusers as well.

          It’s nothing much to do with tyres this time round (considering they make up a large percentage of the overall packing), it’s aero and the FIA not banning the DD when they needed to

          I agree that more can be achieved by working on the aero (did you not read the last three paragraphs?).

          Why not make the site like a forum where anyone can make a thread idea instead of only the site owner, he ain’t all that and I’m sure he thinks his opinions are the best way forward for F1 100 percent.

          The forum is down at the moment. As I mentioned in the round-up yesterday it should be back soon.

          Also I think you should give the other readers of this site a bit more respect than dismissing them as “a bunch of fanboys”.

        2. Wow James, if you mind that much, maybe just take the great Wallpaper pics and rather not read anything here, or just smile over the nonsense.

          I started following this website about a year ago because it offers a lot of pretty well funded writing by Keith bringing forward his opinion (with guest writers doing some good articles as well).
          Most arcticles invite us to give our view of these points and often result in discussion of different takes on the matter.

          Oh and it surely is not only “fanboys” there are people here in age from their teens as well as veterans “who started shaving in the 70ties” (quote from one of them) and male as well as female.

          A nice read on our opinions of F1 can be found in the series about how to improve F1.

    3. Just because you have your own site doesn’t mean you’re right and the FIA and the rule makers are wrong.

      What are you on about? The fact that this is Keith’s website makes him absolutely right about everything, ever. They don’t just let anybody have a website, you know.

      True story.

      1. Yeah well he’s talking rubbish in this particular post.

  22. Your I meant! Gonna get deleted anyway so who cares.

  23. bridgestone should bring to each race all 4 types of tyres in the same number of sets as now.
    This will mix up strategies because no one will be 100% on a single set up:
    example: 3 sets of supersoft
    3 sets of softs
    3 sets of mediums
    3 sets of hard

    this will give a lot more combinations adding even the chance to not a have a mandatory pit stop during the race.
    Some teams should try to do a race distance on a the hard compound and using all the supersofts sets during qualifing or the opposite doing qualifing on a soft/medium compound and try to do the race on supersofts compounds…
    I don’t know, the are a lot more combinations like this.
    Maybe is just nonsense, but this will give more freedom to the teams.
    Another good thing is (as it happened this year but even in the past) that some teams goes faster on softer compounds others with mediums other with hards. Like this each team will have their optimum compound at every venue without any complaining with bridgestone anymore

    1. This blurb just made me think of the exact opposite.

      How about you elimate tire options. There is only one tire. Supersofts. You combine that with significantly less downforce. Now you have a car that has maximum mechanical grip to make up for the lost aero downforce. Then combine this with refueling and smaller fuel tanks that cannot make a 1/3 race distance. And you have cars that are extremely fast all the time, but have to stop at least 2 times in a race, putting some pressure on not only the driver but the teams making sure they have fast pit stops.
      And you add on top of this. KERS!

      Voila! I just fixed the Overtaking problem.

  24. I completely agree as well, it’s been a total failure. I also think that the mandatory pit stop would have to be dropped for it to make any change. If a driver qualifies 10th and decides to start on hard tires he’ll drop too far back if he has to make a pit stop compared to ones blasting away on soft tires and also making a pit stop.

  25. One area where I would have expected to see some little effect would have been not within the top ten themselves, but rather in that area between P8 and P12. There should have been some opportunities for a driver who didn’t make it to Q3 to jump one or two guys in front of him on a different tyre choice and/or a fresher tyre. Otherwise, I agree it’s not making things very interesting, as it does seem to promote the same tyre strategy for all of the top three a lot of the time.

    I think this rule could still work if there would be a greater performance differential between the two tyre compounds at least as they wear off. Ideally, I’m thinking the option compound should enable just a few quick laps and then degrade somewhat, while the prime should not be as fast in the extreme, yet definitely not strong enough to drive the majority of a race or basically the entire race, as seen with Alonso in the Ferrari last weekend, for example. Right now, my impression is that both compounds hold out a little too long to provide any significant differences in strategy.

  26. The elephant in the article is refueling. In terms of “what should be done,” its reintroduction is curiously absent. But this top ten tire rule issue begs the question of why we dropped refueling, and emphasizes that dropping it has done nothing to improve the racing.

    As I said before the season, with the end of refueling, the optimal tire strategy would not vary among teams and the result would be competition that is more or less the same. And that it might turn out worse because with refueling teams could start the race with distinct performance to endurance trade-offs, giving rise to potentially more strategic entropy. We did see more drama from short-fueling or long-fueling pre 2008 and changes of strategy on the fly produced some strategic dividends too. We saw big performance gaps on the overlap due to fuel mass.

    The mandatory stop rule is a fig leaf to cover up the fact that the ideal strategy without refueling is necessarily uniform. Which is why removing it won’t do much, beside expose the refueling ban for what it is. It is like requiring all cars to come a complete stop for 4 seconds per race for no reason, or for a reason that doesn’t affect competition. Wait, that is exactly what it is.

    The “top ten” rule is a weak add-on to the mandatory stop supposed to allow a weaker team to mix up the order by running longer or being able to attack later in the race. The perfect futilty of running this strategy has been laid out by others already. The real justification seems be making the mandatory stop have some formal purpose.

    Fiddling with the tire steps doesn’t get us anywhere either. Making the soft softer squeezes the amount of time it is ideal to run the softer tire, making strategies even more uniform. Making the hard harder risks a situation where you can run the whole race on that tire, making a farce of the mandatory stop.

    Banning refueling created no benefits and these additional rules can do nothing to remedy the situation. The justification for banning it, lest we forget, was that it would create on track passing by generating situations where cars/drivers that couldnt preserve tires were caught and passed in the end by those who could, and by abolishing those hated passes in the pits. How are we doing on that? Are certain drivers consigned to failure because they are known to abuse their tires or whatever? The answer that we need to address aero to deal with passing is not a recomnendation for banning refueling.

    1. Bring back refueling and permit use of any available tires at any time. You start the race on your Q3 tires. Qualify on fumes. Teams declare race-start fuel volume serially, in ascending order from pole sitter to P24—that is, teams bid on optimal relative initial fuel strategy.

    2. If no refueling, get rid of mandatory stops, get rid of two-types rule. Ensure tire supplier does not bring its stone hard tires that last the whole race or fine them if a car runs to the end on one set of tires without the steel belt showing through.

    3. If no refueling, get rid of mandatory stops, no two-types rule, require top ten to start on harder tires. Everyone else can do as they please. No super hard tires, please.

    4. Require that the test driver take a stint: mandatory driver change during the race. Or have a driver girlfriend stint. Sherzinger versus Michibata for a dozen laps. OK, maybe not that one.

    1. Sherzinger versus Michibata

      Your thoughts betray you, young Jedi ;-)

  27. Reminded of Nascar, why? Lets NOT go in that direction.
    This is Formula one – the pinnacle of motor sport. Best of the best motor racing.
    The best drivers and the best racing cars in the world.

    1. I will explain… To me the best on track racing in the entrie world in any series is NASCAR. The stats of an average NASCAR race reads like this;
      Daytona 2010
      Average Speed: 137.284 mph
      Margin of Victory: 0.119
      Time of Race: 03:47:16
      Lead Changes: 52
      Cautions: 9-12, 67-70, 79-81, 118-125, 144-146, 161-168, 195-198, 200-202, 204-206

      In one race there are more overtaking done in one race than there was in an entire season in F1. If you want a model for what racing on track should be, I think there to be no more a logical choice.
      Can you imagine an F1 race with 52 overtakes? Let alone 52 overtakes for the lead? Seems crazy, but it is being done in America.
      That is why in a discussion about improving the racing in F1, I cant help but to think of NASCAR as a model of what they do that F1 can use to help the current processional racing in F1.

      I wrote this earlier in the blog;

      “How about you elimate tire options. There is only one tire. Supersofts. You combine that with significantly less downforce. Now you have a car that has maximum mechanical grip to make up for the lost aero downforce. Then combine this with refueling and smaller fuel tanks that cannot make a 1/3 race distance. And you have cars that are extremely fast all the time, but have to stop at least 2 times in a race, putting some pressure on not only the driver but the teams making sure they have fast pit stops.
      And you add on top of this. KERS!

      Voila! I just fixed the Overtaking problem.

      You combine the racing model of Nascar and combine that with the Technical mastery of F1 cars and you have the most exciting racing series in the entire world.

      1. “Overtakes” in NASCAR aren’t really overtakes in the road course-racing, F1 sense of the term though. They’re just guys drifting past one another because they happened to be in the right line of cars at the right time. Very rarely in NASCAR, particularly on the ovals, do you see anybody “pull a move” on anybody else. Most of the skill involved is being able to change lanes at the right time.

        I do enjoy watching NASCAR but appreciate it for its difference to F1. I wouldn’t want one to become the other.

        1. Trust I wouldnt want F1 to become NASCAR either. Id it really boring to watch cars on an oval for 4 hours. But what i am taking from Nascar is the options they give teams and the way the cars are set up. The cars run on slicks (maximum mechanical grip) Limited Aerodymanic downforce (less wake, Drafting, Cars can literally “bump” one another down the straight) Refueling (Small fuel tanks, promote action in the pits) Yellow flags = Safety Cars (Cars bunch up every yellow flag sometimes 15 times a race)
          All of these things help Cars bunch up allowing close on track racing.
          This is the very thing that F1 is trying to acheive at the moment.
          All things that make the race exciting and enjoyable to watch.

          I am by no means saying make the F1 cars soapboxes like the NASCAR, but instead to take the elements that make a NASCAR race exciting, and apply them to the F1 arena.

      2. you are right, in saying we can have a look at NASCAR when wanting to improve F1.

        But the changing of the lead every 4-5 minutes takes away something of the heroics of it, don’t you think? Look at the video of the great battle for second Keith posted yesterday. It is fondly remembered by fans even now. Is there any battle like that you can remember from NASCAR that can be compared to it?

        So you might have solved the overtaking problem, but you got rid of the overtaking exitement at the same time. But good one for trying.

  28. In reference to NASCAR and annoying sounding Americans , NASCAR chooses the tire for each event. There have been several races where tire wear is extreme and tire failures occur often. It does force the teams to pit more. I dont think Bridgestone want to put a tire out that will fail quickly under race conditions , but it would make the racing more interesting.
    Some of the best racing ,in my opinion were the ones with teams on wildly different strategies coming back out of the pits within tenths of their competitors.
    Schumachers 3 or 4 pit strategy in France , i think , was one of the coolest. Maximum attack the whole way, no tire saving or conserving the car type racing.
    Do away with refueling and have bridgestone bring some gumballs for every race with some good tire degradation and will have some good racing.

  29. I would agree, but…

    It’s hard to overtake in F1. Yes, it would be exciting to see a guy on fresh tyres catch and pass someone gambling on making one set last the whole time. But this sin’t 1986. We all saw what happened with Hamilton and Webber in Australia.

    I want F1 to get rid of the two tyre rules as well, but it won’t really improve things. You might get races where the front-runner goes for it and makes two stops, hoping to build enough of a lead, but it’s not likely. And people going for it will be thwarted by the overtaking problem.

    I realise Keith has already said it wouldn’t be a magic cure. But making the tyres nearly impossible to last for the whole race might. In that situation you might get a guy with neatly ruined tyres being chased by a guy on fresh ones, and there would be overtaking. And if everyone just went for two-stop strategies to cover everyone else, you could still see situations where a driver pits a few laps earlier to jump someone, knowing he will have to go for it on the new set but then make them last longer.

    It’s not just the rules, but the tyres themselves. Heck, even if you kept the rules and made the tyres less durable, there would be an improvement.

  30. Spaceman Spiff
    20th May 2010, 19:51

    I completely agree with dropping “top ten” rule, but I’m not sure dropping the two compound rule is wise. Either way, a decision needs to be QUICKLY… in time for the candidate tyre suppliers to know exactly what they are getting into before the supplier decision is made.

  31. agreed, ditch both tire rules.

  32. Absolutely take away these stupid rules. Bring 3 different compounds to the races and let the teams do as they please.

  33. If mandatory pit stops to be banned, then no one would ever pit. Those tyres are joke. They can endure on the road between Spain and Russia.

    1. So?

      If the drivers don’t need to preserve the tyres they can race.

  34. No mandatory pit stops, no need to use all tyres, no need to start the race on the same tyre as qually.

    Then bring 4-5 different tyre compounds, that wouldn’t be much different. Make them last one third of the race at most, making races with 2 or 3 pit stops at least. And very different strategies.

    1. “that wouldn’t be much different” – I ment that the compounds shouldn’t be much different to each other.

  35. Robert McKay
    20th May 2010, 22:11

    Keep the top 10 rule and drop the mandatory use both rule.

    Then in the top 10 you can either qualify on the hard and try go the whole race without stopping, or start on the soft and go for two equal stints on the softs and try and build a gap. Or you could start on one and change to the other as appropriate/desired and have twon stints of pretty unequal length.

    But either way I think the top ten tyre rule ONLY works, if it does at all, if you drop the mandatory stop. With the mandatory stop, yes, the top ten rule simply makes no difference and indeed is a complete non-talking point.

    But I fear if anything they’ll go the other way and add a second mandatory stop.

  36. I agree, but I think dropping the ‘both tyre’ rule this year would mean no pitstops at all, because I think this years tyres can go the distance relatively easily.

  37. I agree only if you can convince Bridgestone to make less durable tyres.

    I do not like the mandatory pit stop rule, but unless the durability can be reduced drivers will run very long on tyres. This is F1 and not Le Mans. I want to see drivers who manage tyres well run better, but I also do not want them to run 90% of the race on one tyre like Alonso at Monaco.

    I also do not like the top 10 tyre rule. But removing it would only reverse the strategy with drivers running the harder tyre for the 1st 75% until they have the best gap to fit back in. Again less durable tyres would eliminate this option.

    1. Kinda. But new soft tyres will usually be faster than the hard tyres, so there’ll be a temptation to go onto the softs earlier to get a few quick laps in. Everybody would be trying to second-guess each other, so there’d need to be some tyre preservation skill at the very end as they’ll have gone “too long” on them.

      And if it’s a choice between pit-stops after 25% of the race or 75% of the race, I’;d go for the latter! As much as I love F1, the longer the race goes on the more I start to get bored.

      I do wonder if top ten rule was in part made to stop the drivers being on the soft tyre when they’re lighter, thus keeping down cornering speeds a little. You know how paranoid the FIA is about that.

  38. Why not start in 10th place on hard tyres, go on until 10 laps from the end and work out such an advantage that the change for the mandatory “other” tyre be completed and still come out in front?

    1. I would say two reasons:

      First, you’re not guaranteed to have built up enough of a lead over your rivals to come out of the pits in front of them.

      And, because overtaking is so difficult, even if you come out right behind them on fresh tyres that are going to make you, say, two seconds per lap quicker, you’ve still got basically no chance of passing.

      Second, it leaves you vulnerable in the event of the safety car coming out.

  39. The sad thing is that it’s failure was clear from the moment they came up with this rule.

    1. FOTA panicked at the refuelling ban, correctly identifying that it would remove the strategic element from races without improving the prospects of on-track overtaking. Unfortunately their supposed “solution” doesn’t reintroduce any strategic element because everyone ends up doing the same thing.

      The only way to encourage different strategies would be to allow greater freedom in the building of F1 cars, so that some needed to refuel and others didn’t, some needed to change tyres and others didn’t. Because the cars are so similar they all hit upon the same optimum strategy.

  40. I like what V8 supercars has done. They switched to a super soft tyre which gives lots of grip, but goes off. The las couple of rounds have seen some very exciting races with people on opposite stratigies. This leads to the situation where some drivers are coming through the field with better tyres, whilst others who are ahead are holding on for dear life. It has been great, pitty more of you can’t watch it.

  41. theRoswellite
    21st May 2010, 1:33

    A possible consideration which doesn’t seem to have been mentioned…

    As the FIA doesn’t seem to be always getting these tire/pit-stop regulations right vis-a-vis better or closer racing, why don’t they stop trying to set the rules in stone and instead allow there to be a period of evaluation following a new rules introduction.

    This would allow for input from all the interested and knowledgeable parties, to include this site, then instead of feeling reluctant to implement changes because of a reticense to “admit mistakes”, they could arrive at rules that work.

    Obviously many rule changes would require an extensive lead time, but others, like the mandatory pit stop rule could certainly be changed almost immediately.

    They, the FIA, need to build a bit more flexibility into their operating procedures and do it in a transparent manner.

    (…oh, and I guess I was absent when we decided that the answer to our lack of passing problems was “more horsepower and less grip”?)

    1. Very good idea. Keep all options open and only narrow the ones (in order to save money) that give rise to the most influential variables.

      In the words of Alan Partridge, we need to ‘evolve not revolve.’

  42. My thought, get rid of the two tire rule. One tire type is all you need.

  43. I’m actually for a completely opposite approach. I want to see them make the top ten places start on the OPPOSITE tire compound. This might mix things up more, and you’ll see teams qualifying on the hard to start on the soft, while slower teams like force india might qualify on the soft in hopes of a pole and start with the hard.

  44. I’m sorry I’m just ****** off at all the talking around the real problem. All the aero changes have been pointless since about 04. We had great racing till the latest big changes then a farcical 09. A decent 10 since it’s stated fair. Now we are gonna get more changes next season. Brilliant. Let’s hope someone like Brawn doesn’t exploit any grey areas that a peon has forgotten to clarify.

  45. I am convinced the leadership in FIA is way better than last year and that they’d change/drop this in months to come.

  46. I think that the first error is to consider exciting an overtake in pit lane. It is not.
    Much more exciting to see two drivers that started with the same compound and managed it differently, fighting for position.
    Mandatory pit stop is a nonsense, at all.

  47. I agree that mandatory pitstops & top ten tyre rules should be abolished. Let the driver manage.

    Maybe an alternative would be to have Bridgestone bring just one tyre compound to races, the hardest one. It would leave less marbles, provide less grip and hence encourage on track racing.
    Make it last and you don’t need to pit. Work them harder, would give you more gains in the race via (hopefully) overtaking, but you would struggle to make them last.

  48. russell finch
    21st May 2010, 11:31

    I’d like to see the top 10 tyre rule dropped, and also drop the mandatory stop.

    Instead make sure the harder of the 2 compounds is just about able to finish the race, and then introduce a rule that all cars have to start on the harder compound. As the race goes on, leave it up to the drivers if they want to pit for softer tyres – chances are that drivers who are stuck behind someone else or or not in podium positions will chance their arm and chnage tyres, those at the front will try to hang on to the end. Should end up with plenty of late race charges !!

    1. “Instead make sure the harder of the 2 compounds is just about able to finish the race, and then introduce a rule that all cars have to start on the harder compound.”

      I have to disagree. Do not manufacture the ‘show.’ Just increase the variables and see what happens.

      1. russell finch
        21st May 2010, 13:46

        I don’t like manufacturing it either but if you give the teams a free hand they all end up doing the same thing. I’m trying to force teams to adopt different strategies “on the fly” depending on their position in the race or traffic situation.

  49. So obvious it hurts. Even Whitmarsh can’t seem to understand logic.

    Once again, you’re right again Keith, but there’s no-one in high places out there listening!

  50. Keith said it all, the more the FIA add rules the less chance of strategy manouver. I would say “stupid” rules, but hey, that is just me.

    They want less grip? Wonder why if they say technology from F1 is very likely to make it to road cars. Road cars with less grip? Nice! Anyway, they can reduce the size of those humongously ugly front wings to half their size for starters. The rear wing, make it 1.5 feet high. Less grip ahoy!!!

    1. theRoswellite
      21st May 2010, 15:43

      Yes! We need to promote the idea of increasing grip through technological innovations centering around sophisticated suspension improvements…not the high drag, low efficiency, billboard-like inverted wings we presently condone, which, of course, have no real place on road cars.

      None of us, to include mechanical engineers, are privileged to know what design directions we could be enjoying if that was the ONLY direction we could go in.

  51. I cannot believe that either the FIA nor FOTA have come up with the simplest of solutions.

    1) Get rid of the rule that states a driver has to start the race on the compound he qualified on.
    2) Get rid of the rule that states a driver has to use both compounds in the race.

    What should happen is that, firstly, everybody qualifies on the soft tyres, ensuring that the pole sitter is truly the fastest guy on petrol fumes and soft rubber.

    Secondly, drivers may opt to start the race on hard tyres and do the race without stopping, or, in case the hardest compound is not up to that task, a single pitstop.

    Others may decide to run on softs, be a bit quicker per lap, pull out a gap, and hope to slot in again, after their stop(s), either in front of their competitors, or at least not too far behind them, to tray and — hold on, now — overtake them — yes, on the track — on their new soft tyres.

    One downside might be that cars that are quite a bit quicker than the competition — e.g. Red Bull-Renault — opt for softer tyres at the start, opening up a gap big enough to pit, then stopping for harder tyres, and cruising to the finish.

    Furthermore, the FIA may actually come up with a rule that states a driver cannot use more than one compound. So if you start out on harder tyres, you stick with them, and vice versa. This might not be such a good idea, though.+

  52. I’m of the opinion that the whole qualifying process is wrong. If we look at the start of the race, it is fundamentally different to the rest of the race, namely we see fast accelerations from a standing start and lots of gear changes, all of which vary from team to team, all on a straight track with a corner at the end. The rest of the race is mostly about timing your exit into the pit lane.
    My idea for qualifying is to give each driver a single timed lap or time over part of a lap (e.g. from the start line to the end of the last sector before the pit lane entrance) from a standing start. Right or wrong doesn’t matter: run off the track, too bad; spun out, better luck next time; car stalled, tough luck. My idea is they would be the only car on the track at that time, so there wouldn’t be any of those “I got held up” or “bad air” excuses.
    In addition, the order of running would be the same as the results of the last race, so the winner of the last race is first up, and the person last gets to know what sort of times they have to beat.
    The result would be a grid which is right for the start of the race, where most accidents happen, but not for the rest of the race, which is what we want i.e. lots of overtaking during the race but not at the start. It would also mean cars which were set up better for the race may not qualify as well as a car set up for qualifying, but would pass the latter during the race.

  53. Button wanted to use the hard tyre in Monaco qualifying IIRC.

  54. Andrew White
    23rd May 2010, 20:23

    No change to the sporting regulations will improve the races, unless you do something radical like reverse grids, which would just be rubbish anyway. What really needs to be done is big changes to the technical regulations: massively limited aero, more powerful engines with no restrictions on development and perhaps even ban (semi-)automatic gearboxes. Fiddling about with tyres won’t solve the fundamental problem that a car needs to be up to 2 seconds quicker to overtake.

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