Hamilton hopes “massive tyre degradation” means more pit stops

2011 F1 testing

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Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Valencia, 2011
Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Valencia, 2011

Lewis Hamilton expects more pit stops during races in 2011 after driving on Pirelli tyres for the first time.

Speaking after driving last year’s McLaren at Valencia today he said:

The programme today was really to understand the tyres. Clearly, we’re in the old car, but with low downforce, really just to get an idea of how the tyres behave and how you can look after them and make them work over a period of time.

It was quite easy to get into but they’re not easy to drive. They fall off quite quick and over a long run it’s interesting.

We learned a lot about the tyres, and good set-up changes which have helped make the tyres last longer and overall it’s positive. Jenson, tomorrow, will do another programme which should improve our understanding even more.

I think now it looks like there’s quite big differences between each compound. Or so it seems.

Obviously last year we had one pit stop and now the degradation is massive on these tyres. It might be for some people they have to do two or three pit stops, for example.

Which I think is quite good. I didn’t actually like doing one pit stop last year, I think it wasn’t as exciting as it has been in the past when we did two pit stops or three pit stops.

So I’m hoping that we have to do a more this year, it adds a little bit more excitement to it.
Lewis Hamilton

He said he wasn’t concerned about not having the new McLaren to drive in the first test of the year:

It was quite nice, I quite liked it!

Every year since I’ve been in Formula 1, I think, we’ve always had our car out at the first test. It’s always been the new car, we’ve pushed very hard to have it at the first test and we’re generally always one of the first to launch our car.

I quite like the fact that we’ve done it differently this year, everyone else has pretty much launched their car and we haven’t. It’ll be interesting next week and hopefully it does come out and do the business.
Lewis Hamilton

Although he didn’t have an adjustable rear wing or KERS in his car today, he has already been trying the new systems in the simulator:

In the simulator it feels quite cool. It’s quite easy to use.

When we had KERS it was quite a lot to think about and do during the lap because they segment it, you have one hundred percent and they’d say “out of turn two use 20 percent and out of turn six use 45 percent”. They’d break that up into four or five times so during the lap you’re always having to look at the dashboard. You really have to focus extra-hard.

Now we have that and the rear wing. But for us we’ve figured out a way which works quite well.
Lewis Hamilton

Jenson Button takes over in the McLaren for the final day of the test tomorrow.

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Keith Collantine
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75 comments on “Hamilton hopes “massive tyre degradation” means more pit stops”

  1. 11 x quite ;)

    1. … for sure …

      1. Not a single one of those though.

    2. Awesome!! We’ve got him! hahaha…. Beckham was a classic for saying ‘for sure’ too.. 20 million times in one interview. I think he said it on a subliminal level too..

      1. valentino rossi is really bad at saying “For Sure” In fact most Italians and spaniards are terrible at saying for sure. Listen to alonso next time.

        1. lol listen to massa next time for sure, he must have some kind of record

    3. Personally I say “rather” a lot so it doesn’t bother me. It’s when they parrot each other it annoys me!

  2. I think this is the first ‘positive’ thing a driver has said about the tyres and the rules. Everyone else has been, by and large, moaning quite alot.

    It’s Korea 2010 all over again. I wonder if it’ll bite him in the ****, like Korea 2010.

  3. If we can see 2 pit stops per race from teams it will be brilliant. Bridgestone were far too focussed on making performance coincide with durability which was not the right approach.

    1. But as things stand, Pirelli haven’t produced faster tyres, just tyres that wear out more quickly. Everybody was lapping faster at Valencia last year than they are now.

      That said, I’m all for tyres that wear out quickly if it brings in a new element of strategy.

      1. Last year they had more downforce and less weight.There are too many variables to accurately predict the speed of the Pirellis compared to the bridgestones.. but it looks like its going to be more exciting strategy wise :)

  4. ‘Now we have that and the rear wing. But for us we’ve figured out a way which works quite well’ .
    Lewis Hamilton

    I look forward to see that on timesheets.

    1. But only after they get the new car out!

    2. I’m not sure that it will translate directly into laptime, but anything to remove driver stress should help.

  5. Should make the racing more exciting, good job Pirelli.

  6. I’d definitely want more pit stops.

  7. HounslowBusGarage
    2nd February 2011, 17:48

    Not sure if I do want more pitstops. When we had refuelling, the criticism was that drivers were able to wait until the bloke in front pitted, do a banzai lap or two and ‘leap frog’ past when it was their turn to pit.
    I thought that one of the reasons for banning refuelling was to promote on-track overtaking instead of in-pit overtaking. So if we have *more* pit stops because of tyre degradation, will that encourage more in-pit overtaking and less on-track?

    1. Whilst that may be the case, having tyres that degrade faster give drivers the option of pitting again or staying out and trying to make them last. Therefore it should improve overtaking on track as well (people aren’t going to make the extra stop if they don’t think they can catch back up)

    2. But you can no longer “leap-frog” the other guy like that.

      In the refuelling era you were staying on track with a super light car and tried to squeeze the best of it.

      Today, if you stay longer, you won’t be any lighter than the other guy, but he will be fitted with fresh tyres.

      The strategy is *quite* different. Making a 2-stop strategy into a viable option would be good. It’s always nice when there is more than one way to achieve results. It adds another layer of excitement to the sport.

      1. Not to mention that the moveable rear wing should prevent faster cars from getting stuck behind slower cars as often, so drivers won’t need to “do a banzai lap or two.”

        1. HounslowBusGarage
          2nd February 2011, 20:14

          I just hope all you guys are right.
          Whenever a sport, or organisation, or even a government tightens regulations here or opens an opportunity there, they run the risk of ‘unintended consequences’ and things rarely turn out precisely as intended.

          1. I quite agree. And if the FIA’s recent history is anything to go by, that might just be the case.
            In my opinion its unnecessarily complicated, and it takes the decision away from the driver which is a bad thing. And will there be penalties for those drivers that mistakenly press the buttons before they are prompted?
            The last thing I want to read about is drivers appearing before the stewards for moving their wings before they were one second behind the car ahead.

  8. I think McLaren’s approach of testing tires with the old car makes sense. It also gives them more time to refine the new car. But if the new car has some new mechanical fundamentals, or a KERS system, that proves troublesome, they may rue the lack of testing miles on the new car.

  9. I wonder if anyone is going to press the wrong button at the wrong time. For KERS you have to wait till your in 3rd gear (i seem to remember) so you don’t spin your wheels when you use it and possibly spin off. For the wing your going to want to activate it as soon as your through the corner and onto the straight. So I reckon someone is going to hit the KERS button when they wanted the wing button and spin off.

    1. …not going to happen, these aren’t Sunday drivers, oh wait, they are, but professional ones, not the ones on their way to a picnic site.

      1. Best comment ever! Hahaha :D

    2. Its certainly going to be interesting to see how the MP4-26 handles – i believe that the MP4-25 has done very well lighting up the timing screens to come 4th in todays session. i just hope & pray that the MP4-26 delivers on expectation. :)

    3. Good thing Yamamoto isn’t a driver?

      Okay, he actually was doing relatively good speed wise after that (at least relative to what I expected), to be fair.

  10. I would love it if every race was the pit-stop frenzy of Canada 2010 and tyres were balanced on a cliff-edge of grip, would make for some phenomenal action. Maybe even in Bahrain…

    1. Well I prefer to watch F1 cars at close to 200mph, not dawdling along at 60mph. Maybe you should just watch your local mechanic change tyres all day long, if that’s what floats your boat.

  11. yep hammy you are right there will be more tire degradation but it will be more problem to you compared to your team mate BUTTON, because you more aggressive on tire.

    1. I didn’t know that Button was supposed to be spelled in all caps. Damn, I was doing it wrong my whole life!

    2. I think last year we saw why that won’t be a problem.

      Theoretically, you would think that Button staying out for another lap or two would mean he can get another lap or two from those tyres, i.e. consistent times. But in those two, three, however many laps Hamilton would be on fresh rubber and so faster. As long as you’re making the same amount of stops, greater tyre degradation isn’t a problem. Sure we have this fantasy that with older tyres dying at the end a driver kinder on his tyres will be able to catch up and pass in the dying stages of the race, but nobody has such a massive advantage in tyre management to give themselves enough laps to do so. Remember these tyres will still allow two or three stops, so at most a driver like Button will only have five or so laps’ advantage to eat into someone’s lead. And if the person ahead of them has been extending their gap every pit window because they’ve been pitting earlier (minus the few laps when their tyres are dying sooner and the gap closes again a little), the gap will be too great in most cases, unless the tyres fall off a cliff – but then that will happen to the chasing driver too, just a little later.

      Think back to Canada, the red Bulls ate up Hamilton’s lead but once he pitted it was they who started to go backwards in laptime.

      1. I don’t think that was the case for all of the races. there are so many other things to factor in, temperature for one. what about vettel making the option go the entire race at Monza and if I remember correctly, he jumped a few spots in doing so.

        I think the point the Vin-F1 was touching on is that these tires degrade faster, and regardless of # of pitstops some drivers, like button, are easier on tires and some drivers, like hamilton, are tougher on tires, therefore resulting in a potential advantage to the drivers that are easier on tires.

        You still have to add in all the other factors….temperatures, where the driver is on track, how tough the track is on tires, and many others to see what the real advantage is.

        There are plenty of tracks that don’t tear up tires and Hamilton’s aggressive style will have an advantage. But there are plenty of tracks that are tough on tires or are in the middle and you might see a driver like button doing 1 stop while a driver like hamilton does 2 stops with faster lap times…..

        either way, this is better than the 2010 tires that can go an entire race an be called the soft tires that degrade quickest….

      2. Well this is assuming the tyres dont come back to you during a stint. If you as a driver are able to increase the life of your tyres and get through the graining phase, and others cannot, needing an extra stop, then youre quids in.

        The finale last year being a prime example. The super softs simply came back to Vettel, Webber didnt wasnt time in finding that out.

        1. The tyre test in Abu Dhabi seemed to show that the Pirellis don’t come back the way the Bridgestones did. I wonder if that’s changed.

        2. I did say so long as it’s the same number of stops, could be interesting if it pans out differently.

      3. The thing is, if the degradation of these tyres is higher, it’s possible you may see “kinder” drivers trying to eke out one less pitstop, which could prove interesting.

    3. Maclarens own data suggests that they both cause similar tyre wear.

      1. Seriously, last year totally debunked this urban myth that Button is much more gentle on tires than Hamilton. Button lunched his tires as fast or faster than Hamilton on many occasions, See, e.g., Singapore, Korea, Australia. Even the team says their styles and set ups are similar. This is not a Kimi/Montoya situation. Generally, at this level of the sport, and at the very top of this level, drivers all are adaptable and quick over a variety of conditions. One area in tire use that appears to separate drivers is warming the tires up or prepping them for qualifying laps. This was a problem for Button and Massa last year, and so they should have less trouble on Saturdays now.

  12. Looking forward to jammed rear wings,worn tires,KERS malfunctions,additional pitstops,new innovations,wrong switch selections and much more!

    1. Nope! This is Jonathan Noble from Autosport…

  13. Let’s see if it’s just degradation, or will it develop into a schandal?

    Canada 2010 = good
    USA 2005 = bad

    I hope it’s just a case of our moustached friend whining a bit too much…

    1. Capitano Mustachio!!!.. It-a my-a go-fast-a beardo.. :P

      1. Felipe! Fernando’s-beard-is-faster-than-you.

        Please confirm that you understand the message.

    2. And we think Jenson is never happy!

      1. Never met a racing driver yet that was completely happy with anything.

    3. I wouldn’t say that’s really whining. It’s not massively different to what other drivers have said about the quicker degradation. Just the article use phrases like ‘Alonso’s complaints’. Just saying.

  14. Clearly, we’re in the old car, but with low downforce

    That’s a big relief to read, given that some people were saying the McLaren was faster than it should have been because they have the DDD on that car.

    Which I think is quite good. I didn’t actually like doing one pit stop last year, I think it wasn’t as exciting as it has been in the past when we did two pit stops or three pit stops.

    Always the racer, Lewis.

    1. Hats off to Pirelli for being ‘brave’ with the tyres. And it’s the same for everyone, Fernando!

      You can understand the engineers wanting something a bit more stable to work with. But this is F1, not general haulage!

    2. Well, they’re all “racers”, it’s just that some keep quiet about it. ;)

  15. If they wanted to understand the tyres better why weren’t they at Abu Dhabi. The other drivers don’t seem so surprised

    1. The tyres have moved on since then, and only Fernando seems to be a little upset. No surprise there, however. Probably worried that Felipe will like them better.

  16. Just been on the Mclaren shop website, and found that all the new t shirts and jackets for 2011 are Vodafone red and jet black. Is this just Mclaren tempting us in to assuming that the 1996 West Mclaren style livery maybe on the cards for 2011?

  17. Apparently the degradation is disastrous…

    1. I’ve only heard it being described as “massive” and “dangerous”.

      Probably ‘different’ would be a more appropriate description.

      1. Differing views on the tyres. But, overall, the high wear rate is seen as a good thing.


  18. Alonso: ‘It was not easy to keep the tyres consistent. We see some drop in the tyres when they are new. The first lap is good and then you lose two or three seconds a lap. Then you are more or less consistent but obviously too slow.’

    That, in my book, is disastrous.

    Kubica’s statement indicates something similar.

    1. Drivers will always moan about tyres not being perfect. Most drivers, if not all, would like their tyres to grip like super-glue and last longer than a wet weekend.

      I remember that the tyres in last seasons Canadian GP were anything but “disastrous”. Same goes for the 86 Mexico GP as well.

      If Alonso and Kubica say that their cars aren’t working well on the tyres, then they obviously have some work to do, because clearly, other drivers aren’t too worried about it.

      1. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for less durable tyres, but when they are too fragile you shoot yourself in the foot. Soft tyres should last some distance so there’s a benefit in stopping instead of plowing on. If you have no hope of catching the guy in front who hasn’t stopped due the tyres only lasting a couple of laps, then the potential benefit of an additional pit stop gets thwarted, which will bring us back to square one, i.e. people staying out.

        1. Pirelli are making tyres to last around 100kms. This does not mean to say that they become dangerous after that distance, only that they will be worn out after that distance.

          Paul Hembrey of Pirelli, today.

          PH: “We could make a tyre that lasts all weekend and then they can say what a boring race it is. Everybody said they loved Canada last year, so we will try to bring that into the show. If people want to say that Pirelli can’t make stable tyres, we will put tyres on that last the whole weekend, which we can do.

          We can deliver whatever the sport wants. We’re trying to bring something to the sport, make it more exciting and we believe that we are going to deliver what the sport has asked for.”

          1. That’s what I mean – Canada was very good and I’d welcome that with open arms.

            However, that’s what Pirelli says. Alonso’s statement is worrying, and one could interpret Kubica’s times today to back up his claim: his first laps out of the pits were in the low 1:13s, but the second flying lap was already in the low 1:14s (he might have slowed down though, but it happened on three consecutive occasions).

  19. 2-3 stops in a race will spice things up. This year with the movable rear wing & the KERS will make the drivers work extra hard,which so far some are liking some aren’t.

  20. I think they should ban team radio, and leave when the driver pits up to the driver. Go back to just pit boards.

  21. he may be excited by more pitstops, im not. Just more opportunities to overtake in the pits.

    Also, Keith, if you see this: a tech enquiry. Is there no tick button to request to see responses anymore?

    1. “he may be excited by more pitstops, im not. Just more opportunities to overtake in the pits.”

      If you’ve already done your mandatory pit stop and the leading car in front has also done theirs, then how do you know that they will stop again if you stop? Or how do they know you will stop again if they stop?

      Meanwhile, the guy in 3rd place, who has also done is mandatory stop, is catching you both hand over fist because he looked after his tyres better. What do you do?

    2. Yeah, by Hembrey’s logic I wonder how many stops are too many? Should we have tyres which go off after a lap, with maybe 20 or 30 stops per race?

      Some on this forum seem to think that pitstops are what racing is all about and cite Montreal 2010 as a good race. Maybe from a tech and strategy point of view is was enjoyable but if you prefer straightforward on-track racing it was nothing but a bore. I considered it one of the worst races of last year and certainly nothing to model the formula on.

  22. Urgh, more pitstops? I wish we could do without them altogether. If you love watching tyres getting changed so much then go and sit outside your local Kwik-Fit.(Other mechanics are available)

    1. Pirelli have already said that they can make a tyre to last the whole weekend. Imagine that!

      Imagine that you can only use the tyres that were bolted onto your car during scrutineering for the whole weekend!

      Imagine just how dull practice and qualifying will be, not to mention the race.

      1. @Victor

        The drivers (some) are saying that the tyres drop off after the first flying lap, but there’s nothing ‘dangerous’, ‘massive’ or ‘disastrous’ about that. They will just have to get used to having something that’s ‘different’.

      2. I find F1 racing to be interesting, particulary wheel to wheel racing. I don’t watch it for the pit stops and couldn’t understand anyone who would. So really, for me, it wouldn’t change F1 at all, in fact it might even improve it.

        I think it was 2010 when Vettel and Webber came together that illustrated this well for me.. We had 4 cars with within a few seconds of each other with their pit stops out of the way in a straight fight to the end of the race and we were denied the chance to see that fight, thats what really disappointed me. It also made me even more sure that the racing would be better if we didn’t have pitstops to jumble up the order and could watch a straight fight from flag to flag at every race.

  23. Is the rule that cars which qualify in the top 10 must use quali tyres to start the race still going to be in effect this season? If so, being relatively slow in Q3 is surely going to be a huge disadvantage if the tires really are this fragile?

    1. The rules regarding tyre usage during qualifying and the race, remain the same.

      Interesting, isn’t it!

      This season the drivers will definitely have to look after their tyres, which they never really had to do last season.

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