Pirelli will work with FIA to avoid favouritism

2011 F1 testing

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Paul Hembery, Jerez, 2011

Pirelli say any decision to change tyre compounds during the season will be made in conjunction with the FIA to avoid accusations of favouritism.

Pirelli’s motorsport director Paul Hembery said changes might be necessary during the season: “We’re humble enough to say that we can’t possibly know everything after six months of testing on our own.

“If there is a case we will decide with the FIA – and it would be with the FIA, it won’t be with the teams, because you risk then giving favouritism.

“You can imagine if one team’s managing the situation very well and others are struggling then if we make a change it’s more likely going to help the ones that are struggling – we’re certainly not going to assist the ones that are managing the tyres very well.

“So if we do make a change it has to be done in an impartial way, and that can only be done really by sitting down with the FIA and saying ‘in our belief, as tyre supplier, we’d like to make this change’.”

Hembery said a new version of the super-soft tyre would be introduced in the next test at Barcelona:

“There’s no changes based on this test. There is a super-soft that’s going to Barcelona that we have updated, but that was already planned before Jerez.

“So there’s nothing new happening from now until the start of the season. It’s all things that were already in the pipeline.”

Some drivers have suggested they could need four pit stops for tyres in some races. Hembery doesn’t agree: “Not from the data we’ve seen, no. I’d question why they would be doing four.

“There might be three. You’ve got to bear in mind there’s differences between teams, so I’ve got to be very careful what I say.

“But I still envisage two, in the worse case maybe some will have to do three, but four doesn’t really match the data that we’re seeing.”

The number of tyres each team can use at a race weekend remains the same as last year. Hembery doesn’t see a need for it to be increased:

“I don’t think you need to. There’s always been more tyres than you’ve needed for a weekend, so you’ve always had extra tyres. You just need to manage it better.

“I don’t understand why we’d end up with four changes, because the data doesn’t back that up.

“But if the teams wanted extra tyres then instead of returning tyres on the Friday night, you could maybe leave those tyres with them, something like that. But I don’t just see that you need to increase tyre numbers.”

As several drivers have pointed out, the variation between the performance of the four different types of tyre is greater than it was with Bridgestone:

“Overall we’re looking here at about three seconds between the four compounds, from super-soft through to the hard.

“Which is what we were trying to do, because then it plays into the strategy game – you’re going to have to make a decision between absolute performance and longevity.”

He said tyre durability is “in line with what we were expecting” to produce more strategic variations:

“It’s actually a very complex thing to do as I hope you can imagine because if you did something that lasted too long the teams you do one tyre change, which is what they’ve done in the past. They’ll qualify on something, change it as soon as possible, then go on to one choice of tyre for the whole race.

“To get away from that you’ve got to almost force them to a point where – most races are 300-320km, so you’re aiming for about 100km on your main choice.”

He described himself as “very pleased” with the dry tyres’ performance so far but was hoping to see how the wet weather rubber would perform:

“We’d rather hoped we’d see some rain to try the rain tyres, it looks like it’s going to arrive too late in the day now.

“We did manage to do some good work on the hard, the medium and the soft compound. The super soft was really just used in the morning, some people wanted to do a fast time I guess.”

He said Jerez was a useful test of how the tyres performed on an abrasive circuit:

“That is certainly one of the question marks we have – because we’ve tested in hot temperatures, in Barcelona and here, with ten degrees more track temperature, and found results not too different to what we’ve had here, so we don’t expect deterioration with higher temperatures.

“It’s more related to the abrasiveness of the circuit, as opposed to temperature. It’s not hugely temperature-related.”

He also described how some drivers have been able to prolong tyre life by altering their driving style:

“One thing we have noticed is that drivers, particularly in the first four or five laps, if they look after their tyres, will have quite a significant impact on the longevity of the product. Certainly in the initial laps they really need to look after their tyres.

“Not everybody has been running KERS here and that’s something that we do have to learn about yet – at what point are they using the KERS as they come out of the corner.

Obviously it’s a big boost so most of them are going to try to use it in a straight line but I guess the really talented drivers will be trying to get it down as soon as they feel they can hold the car. And they’re obviously going to be at the limit of grip. So that might be another area where drivers need to be careful.”

He added: “We’re taking quite an aggressive approach. From that point of view, on these cars it’s always going to be the rear tyres that takes the punishment, so we’re stressing the rear tyres a lot.”

Pirelli are also running a car in Monza, provided by HRT, but Hembery described that as “50kph filming for an advert. It’s not testing.”

Asked about drivers who struggled with tyre warm-up problems last year Hembery laughed and said, “They won’t have that problem this year! The tyres warms up very quickly.”

Image © Pirelli

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Keith Collantine
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25 comments on “Pirelli will work with FIA to avoid favouritism”

  1. Based on the drivers’ opinions, the soft compound looks to fragile, and I think it could be a little harder.

  2. Personally I don’t care about seeing more then 1 pit stop if I want to see more then that, I will watch the 24 hour Le Mans or Spa 24 hours. Which by the way are far more exciting due to driver changes, fuel and tires done by only a few number of mechanics. F1 is very linear in that way.

    I fear it’s going to be like 2009 and 2010 cars getting close to one another and tire dropping off dramatically and then people complaining about the tires.

    I don’t understand why they simply haven’t designed a very hard compound that’s very low grip like the 80’s that go a race distance allowing drivers to attack lap after lap but allowing for more mistakes to happen.

    These compounds are just artificial sweetener like the other gimmicks in F1. Why is this the only category of motorsport were the tires have to constantly change to improve the sport? I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

    FIA should go back to 2009 rules allowing cars who start at the front to choose what tire compound they want, that will spice things up. If it’s the same old system well i don’t expect a lot of difference except drivers behind losing grip if that happens I think i may stop watching F1 as it seems to be a sport that is the pinnacle of gimmicks rather then actual racing.

    1. I don’t understand why they simply haven’t designed a very hard compound that’s very low grip like the 80′s that go a race distance

      Because the rules don’t allow a driver to go the full distance on one set of tyres. That’s the fundamental flaw with the tyre rules that stops interesting, race-changing strategies and makes the racing somewhat predictable.

      1. Wait what? are you serious? race changing strategies? We rarely saw them it’s people playing follow the leader.

        Back in 2009 you would often see a driver choose hard or soft for the race, but because the cars start on what they qualify exception to outside the top 10, it’s predictable what they use…

        Tell me how many races in 2010 cars started on soft tires compared to hard? Now compare that to 2009… lol!

        Also due to the fact that drivers start on high fuel makes it even more predictable, back in the past seasons it was unpredictable low fuel high fuel and different tire choices changed it up a lot.

        2007 and 2008 showed that, how else would of even piquet been able to get on a podium?

        making the tires like cheese I expect drivers to complain spectators complaining there is no amazing races. Again tell me another category that needs to make their tires crappy to make good racing?

        1. uh, I don’t think you understand what I’m saying.
          Of course we rarely see race changing strategies, that’s what I just said.
          And the reason for that (as I just said) is largely because of the mandatory tyre-change rule. Scrap that (don’t force the drivers to use both tyre compounds) and you give the drivers/teams the opportunity to try something different that might work. i.e run the whole race on one set of hard tyres, or do multiple stops on fast but cheese-soft ones.

          It’s not that F1 needs crap tyres, it’s that it needs to give the drivers the chance to make a choice between two noticeably different compounds. Which they can’t do at the moment.

          Give them a tyre that lasts a whole race distance with the current rules and you give the teams only one strategy: Do as short a stint as possible on the soft tyre then change to the hard for the rest of the race.

    2. What were you watching previous to 2010? Because I’m sure that most of the races from the early 90’s onwards usually had cars making more than one stop.

      Sure, give them the option of making no stops, but don’t make it compulsory.

      1. I didn’t mean to say make it so you can’t have no stop at all, but a tire that can go the entire distance.

        All I expect to see in 2011 is cars using the gimmick wing to get close tires going off really fast and lots of pit stops that artificially induce people go ooh ahhh exciting when in reality it’s the same as 2009.

        If they want to improve the show go back to 2007-8 levels of downforce small front wing wide rear and it allows cars to overtake, bring back groves less grip more mistakes there was nothing wrong with 2008 since that era it’s been quite mediorce.

        1. I don’t remember 2008 as being a particularly memorable season? At least not for ‘on-track’ action. IIRC, the racing was so poor and predictable that it brought about a change in the regulations. Maybe not the correct change, but changes nonetheless.

          Yes, there needs to be less downforce, but you try telling that to engineers that lock themselves away in wind tunnels for hours on end.

        2. I do agree with you. I think the hardest tyre should be able to make the full race distance (even if it is only just able to do so). I then think that the softest tyre should be a lot faster than the hardest. Thankfully it does seem that the compounds are more different this year as I hated the fact that the softs last year were only a small amount quicker than the hards and that they lasted so long too. It seemed pointless in having multiple compounds. I also think it is ridiculous that cars are forced to stop for a tyre change.

    3. Why is this the only category of motorsport were the tires have to constantly change to improve the sport? I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

      Then you haven’t been watching the other series close enough, Sure in F1, maybe the tyres get extra attention, but I don’t think there is a single well known series where tyres are not updated or regulated.

      Just remember, F1 produces the revenue to allow tyre changes every year.

      I fear it’s going to be like 2009 and 2010 cars getting close to one another and tire dropping off dramatically and then people complaining about the tires.

      Here you are probably right, but how you attribute this to the tyres I don’t understand. Any tyre will drop off if worked harder. And the following car will always work it’s tyres harder. This isn’t new from 2009, It’s been happening since the 50’s, but has become more and more severe as aerodynamics becomes more sophisticated. I’m sure this happens in Le-mons as well, but because it’s rare for the Le mans cars to be racing in close formation (in the way F1 cars do) it wouldn’t have as huge an effect on the race.

  3. First of all, I must say Pirelli is doing far more with communication to the fans and teams than Bridgestone was ever doing.

    Glad to hear the last of the “couldn’t get enough heat in the tyres” excuse. Now we will hear a bit of “couldn’t make the tyres last” but everyone should be able to cope with it.

    The 2-3 stops sounds like it might give some different strategy options depending on what car makes which tyres fit best on what track. That would be a very good job by Pirelli.
    I think most drivers said, that it might be a bit tricky to get the balance right but they are looking forward to the challenge, hope that attetude continues throughout the year.

    1. I agree, I’ve been impressed by the amount of communication and information that’s been flowing from Pirelli.

    2. The “couldn’t get enough heat in the tyres” drivers have already switched to “couldn’t find the right balance all weekend” excuse.

  4. “You can imagine if one team’s managing the situation very well and others are struggling then if we make a change it’s more likely going to help the ones that are struggling”

    So if Pete studied very hard for his math test but the other kids in his class didn’t because they wanted to play outside the teacher should make the test easier so that the other kids can pass it too?

    Let’s hope it doesn’t come to this…

    1. That’s, however, how education works these days so this example is not quite appropriate.

      So far, to me at least, the situation looks quite good. Tyres that go badly quite soon aid us in having exciting races, because mistakes which are caused by this, just are a part of a good race.

    2. Actually what I understood, is that IF there will be a situation, where Pirelli will want to change the tyres it will rather help the struggling cars than the ones doing well (by solving a problem with the tyres).
      Not like they are counting on tweaking the tyres to take away any advantages.

  5. I can’t wait to see how these tyres handle Montreal!!

  6. Ted Roalfkuepter
    13th February 2011, 19:38

    There is something almost mythical about the “very hard compound that’s very low grip like the 80′s” that allows the drivers to attack and do their passing on the track, not in the pit stops. That never seemed to pan out much, recalling races where drivers elected to time their stop to allow them to jump the guy in front. Last year’s Italian Grand Prix comes to mind when Alonso pitted a lap later than Button and went on to win. I’d thought the move to refueling was to discourage this kind of thing. But who’s to say, some of these year-to-year regulation changes seem to look to shake things up as they are to ‘improve’ the racing. Perhaps in 2013 two/three stops due to the state of the tyres won’t be required with different aerodynamic regulations, but for now it will have to do.

  7. I know F1 is about devolopment etc etc, an It`s about future technologies etc etc but how many sports change the goal posts every five minutes, Iam getting to the point where I dont recognise it anymore.

    1. The rules have to change every five minutes. Teams will push the rulebook as hard and as far as they can, with a view to finding loopoles that will give them an edge. If that’s allowed to go on unchecked, it will get to the point where one team will dominate. The rules have to be changed to keep everyone in check with one another.

  8. It won’t be good racing if there’s too many marbles on the track that makes overtaking a serious risk!

    1. I just hope this balances out the ‘overtaking will be too easy’ concerns.

      However, if the adjustable rear wing works as promised: only negating the negative effect of driving behind someone, it could turn out to be just even more difficult then last year.

  9. Each year something is banned, down-force reduced, engine power & tyre performance reduced as well as tightening of the rules/extra restrictions. how is this going to effect the lower formulas? soon they will be racing mobility scooters!!! seriously though I would love to see what they could do with all the banned tech etc?????
    It’s meant to be about the best tech & going the fastest around a track not saving tyres and fuel with no handling…

  10. Pirelli sound like they’re being very careful!

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