Hamilton: tyre conservation key in Turkey

2011 Turkish Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Shanghai, 2011

Lewis Hamilton says drivers will have to “work hard” to look after their tyres at Istanbul with its demanding turn eight.

Hamilton, who won last year’s Turkish Grand Prix, said: “For this race, I think we’ll be seeing drivers working quite hard to look after their tyres throughout the race, particularly in Turn Eight, which is fast and bumpy.

“It’s one of the most demanding corners for tyres anywhere on the calendar.”

Jenson Button added: “I don’t think it’s an underestimation to say that tyre wear will probably determine every team’s race strategy.

“It will be important to run the tyre within a safe operating window, and that’s likely to determine when and how often we stop during the Grand Prix.

“The weather also looks like it’s going to be a bit colder than we’re used to in Turkey – the race is three weeks earlier in the season than it was last year, and that might also have an effect on how the tyre operates.”

Hamilton had tyre problems in his first two races at Istanbul in 2007 and 2008. Pirelli are once again bringing their hard and soft compound tyres.

Hamilton added the Kinetic Energy Recovery System – which Red Bull have struggled with so far in 2011 – will also be important in Istanbul:

“This is also a circuit where KERS Hybrid will be a major benefit – most of the straights come after low-speed corners, so there’s plenty of scope for using the KERS Hybrid – most notably out of Turn 10, but also out of the final corner.

“There’s always quite a big chance for passing into Turn 12, because it’s quite easy to stay with a leading car out of Turn 10 and duck into the tow.”

Team principal Martin Whitmarsh said the team will run “small modifications – which include some aerodynamic refinements to the bodywork” in practice next week.

2011 Turkish Grand Prix

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    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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    78 comments on “Hamilton: tyre conservation key in Turkey”

    1. Yeah Lewis, tell it to your Engineers so they can listen to you 8)

      BTW, why is he revealing where he would overtake the likes of Vettel or Alonso? ….. hmmm or is this another prerace mindgames?

      We shall see next week ….. com’on Karthi!! :)

      1. I don’t think its a secret, they are most likely places for overtakes.

        We don’t know yet where the DRS zone is I don’t think either.

        I think its just talking, they do alot of interviews and have to say something!

      2. beckenlima (@)
        28th April 2011, 14:59

        BTW, why is he revealing where he would overtake the likes of Vettel or Alonso? ….. hmmm or is this another prerace mindgames?

        Nope. Maybe he is saying this based in his own experience in Turkey. Watch the entire race two from this link:


        1. Thanks for the vid m8! ….. but I only saw his GP2 of 06 actions. I have heard from some folks that GP2 and F1 cars are not comparable.

      3. Not really cloak and dagger stuff these over-taking zones ;)

        1. Yeah, not really supprising he mentiones these corners.

    2. I’m just waiting for the drivers going off the circuit as they try to open the DRS as early as possible out of turn 8.

      It might be the difference between a few drivers in quali.

      1. didn’t even think of this! red bull was upshifting last year..

      2. Surely the DRS zone isn’t going to be just after Turn 8? I would think the detection zone will be Turns 9/10 with activation around Turn 11 or just before.

        1. RIISE meant the use of DRS during practice and quali, not the race.
          But otherwise yeah, i think the DRS zone will be on the straight after turn 11.

        2. I said in the post it may be the difference between drivers in “Quali”.

      3. Might be interesting there, I agree.

    3. Team principal Martin Whitmarsh said the team will run “small modifications – which include some aerodynamic refinements to the bodywork” in practice next week.

      haahh does martin think we’re silly! 3 weeks after china, and they’re just running ‘small modifications’ sure sure

      1. It could be that the major upgrade is coming in Barcelona.

        1. Yeah this is an interesting one, Lotus have already said there upgrades comming for Barca, wonder how many of the teams are putting on the big un’ here or around aero testing Barcalona.

          Suspect Redbull will go fo here.

          1. Barcelona is the ideal circuit for introducing the biggest upgrades of the year, since the teams have the most data on the track from the combination of testing and racing they do there. Personally I don’t think testing should be done on the same circuits they race on.

          2. Didn’t Lotus plan to bring something new to Turkey as well though?

        2. hmm possibly. but 3 weeks in F1 is a hell of a long time, i seriously doubt they’re just bringing small modifications, especially as theyre a way off red bull in qualy trim.

    4. Lewis has struggled with tyre wear at Turkey every year. It’ll be interesting to see if he can keep up a steady pace, or if he’ll burn them out quick.

      1. He struggled in 2007 and 2008 with the tyres, but last year he seemed to manage them pretty well. I think.. as long as he doesn’t push too hard while trying overtake the RBs, he should be ok. Gotta wait and see what his qualifying strategy is going to be, and whether he is going to try and keep another fresh set of softs for the race.

      2. Corrections Dept
        28th April 2011, 14:03

        Curious as to how exactly you figure that.

        08, Heikki was in worse tyre trouble, both McLarens requiring 3 stops, which suggests a car dynamics rather driver issue, no?

        09, a car heavy with fuel, Hamilton did a 1 stopper.

        and 10, despite his front wing in Red Bull dirty air, closely pressuring Webber and Vettel for half a race, had no reported tyre issues.

        So we arrive at “Lewis has struggled with tyre wear at Turkey every year” based on a puncture four years ago. Gotta say, honestly, not the most convincing argument for such a sweeping statement.

        1. Priorities Dept
          29th April 2011, 5:43

          Just saying, there are far worse comments that you could rant at.

      3. He hasn’t struggled with tyre wear, but tyre fatigue. Two different things. Last year, Mclaren asked both drivers to take it slow through turn 8.

    5. Could be a good showing by McLaren given last year’s performance. From what we’ve seen McLaren has a slight edge in tyre conservation which might be the key to their strategy.

      Very interested to see if anyone will go for the Hards in Q3. It’s worth a gamble for the other runners, being so far behind the front two.

      1. I think it makes sense for the Ferrari’s, Mercedes and Renault’s to try and put one of their drivers on the hards for Q3. I guess it depends on how the hard tyres perform in Turkey, and whether they can last significantly longer than the softs.One strategic advantage of putting hard tyres on, is that an early safety car period can negate the advantage accumulated by the soft tyre runners. I know there is a slim chance of that happening, but I just have a gut feeling that there will be a safety car period sometime early on in the race.

        1. Sooner or later this season there will be a safety car. This will turn the race into a total lottery (more so than the past), some will gain massively and others will lose out badly. I don’t think you can base a strategy on the probability of a safety car so drivers that have nothing to lose (i.e on a non-standard strategy, if there is such a thing this year) could end up with a very surprising result.

          1. Don’t the teams plan for a Safety Car when they go to places like Valencia, Montreal and Singapore?

            Degrading tyres + no re-fuelling = SC madness. Another plus point for these two changes

            1. Don’t the teams plan for a Safety Car when they go to places like Valencia, Montreal and Singapore?

              No they don’t, its too much of a risk if it doesn’t happen, it is in the back of their minds, but although you can be almost sure there will be one you can’t count on when it will be. Only the mid and back marker can afford to take the risk / gain, if it doesn’t work so what?
              Davison talked about this at length last year and I agree, only worth a punt if you are not a front runner.

            2. What i meant was that they factor the possibility into the strategy, not that they plan their race around one. Although a certain team did once plan a Safety Car around their strategy in 2008!

          2. Yeah.. I obviously dont think they should base a strategy around the possibility of a safety car period. But, if teams like Mercedes and Renault feel that they do not stand a chance to get on the podium if they adopt the same strategy as RB and Mclaren, then they should give it a shot.

            I’m really looking forward to a safety car period and some pit stop roulette at Turkey, as it looks like the only way we can havea Ferrari or Renault on the podium.

        2. That’s a very good point about the Safety Car. The guys on the soft tyre could have their leads wiped out, even if the hard tyres don’t last much longer (though I expect Pirelli to fix this). Since track position is no longer king, it might be worth sacrificing even if you’re a Red Bull or McLaren, though traffic and getting jumped at the start might be issues you want to avoid.

          1. Surely being jump at the restart doesn’t matter…. you pop into the pits for your softs = faster while the soft runners now with a much reduced lead have to hop to the slower hards at some point. You still gain.

            1. Being jumped at the actual start, the soft tyres have more traction off the line. You don’t want to qualify 4th and end up 7th into Turn 1.

            2. True, I think I misunderstood there.

      2. no,, you are wrong. the ferraris are the best at managing the tires. just look who pitted last in almost all the races.

    6. The performance gap between hard and soft feels a bit too big at the moment, considering the hards don’t last any longer. I think they should switch to using two compounds without a step in between, e.g. the softs and mediums, or the mediums and hards, and slightly reduce this need to save tyres in qualifying.

      Judging by what we have seen so far with hards and softs I assume that Pirelli have designed all the tyres to have the same lifespan; It will be interesting if this is the case for the supersofts as well.

      1. I think you are quite wrong there Sam. There is a difference in the performance and durability of the tyres. The Hard tyres definitely last longer than the softs.

        1. Not in the last races it didn’t, multiple drives said both tyres lasted the same number of laps despite the performance difference. Button was one of the drivers that made the comment. So if you believe the drivers Sam is correct.

          1. Not really. From what we have seen softs drop off a cliff after 14-15 laps. Whereas hards are slower but retain their base performance easily upto 20 laps or even get faster. Just watch Vettel’s time on the hards in china, Progressively faster.

            1. Its clear there isn’t that much difference on longevity as people have different views on the subject.

        2. The hards are not only slower, they seem to have a shorter life span the the softs. And when they are spent, they give absolutely no performance whatsoever.

    7. bleeps_and_tweaks
      28th April 2011, 13:13

      I agree, Mclaren should be well on pace, maybe even quicker than the Red Bulls?! There’s a good piece on James Allen F1 comparing the rear wings of the MP4-26 and the RB7, something that appears to give RBR the edge in Quali and Mclaren the edge in race trim – this leads into the theory that the ‘softer’ Mclaren rear wing is easier on it’s tyres.

      I agree about the strategy calls as well. Will all the top teams now only run once in Q3? Will this approach be copied throughout the field?? If Lotus managed to save a couple of new sets of softs from Quali compared to some of the midfield, they could end up challenging for points at the end of the race, thinking back to Webber’s pace compared to the rest of the top 10 in China.

      I’m a bit concerned about Horner questioning the validity of Qualifying though, it’s a major part of the race weekend for me. Maybe Pirelli could supply each team with one extra set of ‘Qualifying Tyres’ like the old days to ensure the teams set at least one or two ultimate pace laps so we can see the relative performance.

      1. Maybe Pirelli could supply each team with one extra set of ‘Qualifying Tyres’ like the old days to ensure the teams set at least one or two ultimate pace laps so we can see the relative performance.

        I thought that but Pirelli’s job spec seems to include ensuring the teams opt for different race strategies. And that’s actually an on-going remit of keeping things changing (they don’t want the teams to be able to discover the best option). As it stands is therefore ideal, as nobody yet knows whether saving tyres in quali and accepting a lower grid order is a viable option.

      2. McLaren is not easier on its tyres than RedBull. Just look at the first stint in china both Massa and Vettel overtook Hamilton. It is only when they threw tyre conservation out of the window and pushed agressively with 3 stoppers that McLaren were able to do some damage.

        Vettel is sensational at managing his tyres, maybe because he was leading from the front, but still he and the Ferrari’s are the one’s that seem to manage tyres better.

        1. agree with you .some biased comments based on their love to the macca team and not based on facts

          1. bleeps_and_tweaks
            29th April 2011, 15:05

            @ftue – I’ve referenced an article written by an F1 journalist with 20 years of experience and a good technical insight, therefore it seems a bit childish to say by simply stating that the Mclaren is softer on its tyres than the Red Bulls is ‘biased’.

            @Vishy – I do think the Mclaren is softer on its tyres, but you are totally right Vettel is very good at conserving his tyres which is a part of his racing he maybe doesn’t get enough credit for.

    8. OK, ignorance here: what’s ‘KERS Hybrid’?
      Or is Lewis doing that ‘McLaren Vodaphone’ thing for some new sponsor?

      1. KERS is part of the hybrid powertrain, the hybrid being the engine and the KERS. Do your research!

        1. Thanks for that Charlie! So what’s a ‘hybrid powertrain’ (OK joking…)

    9. No Flexi nose/wing then? ;-)

      1. that will be a shocker for RedBull and Newewy :-)

    10. the person that tires mostly affect is Hamilton. in China he got passed by Felipe who was on more worn tires. he saved one set of fresh tires for China, he is going to need 3 sets this time around. i hope Felipe can win on his Favorite circuit

      1. Lex: Felipe Massa passed Lewis only because Button failed to come in for his tyre change, meaning LH was out for a lap more than he and McLaren planned.

    11. Hmmm, after seeing what Webber did last race, and if he had 2 more laps to go, he would have passed Vettel too.
      So, maybe it’s not a bad strategy to start from 11th or 12th, saving another set of soft tires and do 4 stops at Turkey too.

      1. But that strategy only really worked as well as it did because Webber was free of traffic for a good part of his stints on softs.

        Had he started in 11-14th places he would have had more traffic to deal with.

    12. Not to mention if RB07’s Kers works right too, that could be fun to watch…

    13. Seeing 2010 Turkish GP….Considering Lewis was the only driver to push both RedBulls and battling close up with them especially with vettel…Lewis proved that his tyre management was phenomenal.

      Its not as if Lewis was coasting through all the race to preserve his tyres….he was really fighting with the faster redbulls and keeping pace with them throughout.

      Turn 8 will be a problem with tyres for all teams. In fact I think Redbull will have the most problems with high tyre wear as their cars seem to be not so great with the pirellis.

      Quali will all be about one lap time – not so much about grid position.

      1. There is more ‘Luck’ involved in the tyre management, it is mainly out of the drivers control.
        It a myth that its mainly down to the driver (that’s just a small element).

        The car, temperature (some cars like it hotter), set-up etc are much more important.

        Button on the hard one week was great and Hamilton poor and the next it was totally flipped.

    14. Im really not in favour of these pirellis.

      All drivers now have to focus to save their tyres – Its just not about going flat out anymore. I want to see all drivers not having their skills restricted or limited.

      Drivers should be free to push their skills & ability – not limit themselves.

      1. But managing tyre wear is a very important part of the skill of being a racing driver.

        1. I agree with that. The same with fuel load, they have to be able to adapt to changing circumstances, proving how good they are.

    15. True Keith….but its getting more and more of the primary focus/objective for drivers. I agree that it has always been a factor – but its now becoming a bigger & the most important factor. Obviously all drivers now how to think twice before they push to beat the guy infront.

      Its seems like the number one priority before anything else for all drivers is ‘saving the tyres’. Anything which prevents the drivers from ‘going all out’ is not good for the specticle of the sport. Just like curbing the defending from overtake rules – which are ridiculous.

      Im sure you can agree that with all these restrictions, its taking away the specticle – Its not much of a specticle watching a driver on worn tyres being overtaken by a driver on fresher rubber as well as with the help of the DRS. The specticle we are all seeing now is more artificial and relying on components to be less reliable/durable.

      I would rather see the better specticle of drivers dicing with each other and beating or losing to the other drivers through skill, ability & mistakes.

      F1 to me has always been about drivers and machines being pushed beyond the boundaries – which is what makes it the pinnacle of motorsports. That includes having the most durable and best performing components which the teams race to produce…this goes for the tyre manufacturers too – It was all about making the quickest, most durable & reliable components.

      Its just like if the football authorities ask the football boot makers to make the boots less durable – and the only way for the footballers to manage their boots is not to run around as much.

      Dont think Ive ever heard of a company/manufacturer to produce an unreliable product. No company involved in sport (who spend millions to be involved in order to promote themselves as the best than the rest thus increasing sales).

      IMO….FIA and the teams should instead work on the parts which cause the problems in the F1 specticle…like aero. Not leave them alone and work on compromising other areas to counter balance.

      Racing is not like racing used to be….its more about conserving now – what a shame.

      1. I would rather see the better spectacle of drivers dicing with each other and beating or losing to the other drivers through skill, ability and mistakes.

        That is exactly what we are seeing, thanks to the this year’s tyres:

        Why Pirelli deserve credit for F1′s terrific start to the 2011 season

        1. …by going flat out…not by conserving & waiting.

          -I’ll agree to disagree Keith lol.

        2. Adrian Morse
          29th April 2011, 13:41

          Although I enjoy the strategical element that the tyres bring to the sport, I think Pirelli’s proponents should also acknowledge that there are downsides. One downside is that pushing the limits and going flat out, as described by SupaSix-1, is ill-advised; another is having qualifying battles in which the drivers push their cars to the limit. I do not see any drivers going out more than once in Q3 in Turkey, and even when they do, they cannot pull out all the stops and risk flat-spotting the tyre, which may lose them many positions in the race.

          Ask anyone who has been watching F1 for (quite) a while what a spectacle it was watching Ayrton Senna do a hot lap on qualifying tyres and the turbo charged to the maximum. What if he had decided to stay in the pits to “save the tyres”? F1 would have been a poorer place.

          1. I don’t think the downsides are at all significant. We’re seeing great races thanks mainly due to the tyres and the qualifying sessions, though quieter, are still exciting.

            And you can’t single out the tyres as being the only thing that makes, say, Vettel’s qualifying effort in Shanghai different from one of Senna’s legendary laps. We don’t have turbos, showers of sparks, qualifying tyres or full-hour qualifying sessions any more either – and they all contributed to that element of the spectacle more than the current tyres do.

      2. I couldn’t agree with you more about the over emphasis on tyre management. I hate it when all of a sudden driving is all about just finding the optimal speed, and controlling aggression instead of driving flat out and pushing the limits. The rules favour drivers like Jenson, who aren’t capable of pushing the limits, but instead go just the right amount of slow.

        Pirrellis are just a few races down, and I expect them to constantly modify their tyres enough to find the right balance between tyre management and flat out racing. I’m not saying that tyre management doesn’t add to the spectacle, but I feel it shouldn’t be the number one priorty for a driver.

        1. I agree with both you and SupaSix but what you have to realize is that drivers have a choice. They can try to race by managing their tyres or be super aggressive for the entire race by only running on a set of tires until they give optimal performance.

          What we are looking for is a balance between these two choices and the balance should be one additional pit stop for the aggressive strategy and no more. Pirelli’s have delivered that to us.

          1. The only problem is that drivers dont have much of that choice. They have a limited amount of tyres to use during both quali and the race. If Pirelli gave them an extra set of softs and hard tyres, drivers would have the choice to make an extra pit stop and race aggressively.

            1. True enough

    16. I was thinking there would be massive load on the tyres at Turn 8. Really looking forward to seeing the drivers fling the cars round it…perhaps more conservatively than previous years!

    17. The rules favour drivers like Jenson, who aren’t capable of pushing the limits, but instead go just the right amount of slow.

      Aren’t capable of pushing the limits?

      The right amount of slow?

      If you put all of the cars on last seasons Bridgestone tyres, most on here would be complaining that Red Bull are only winning all of the races because they have a better car than anyone else.

      People should realise that it’s mostly the way that the tyres are working that’s preventing Red Bull from doing better than they already are.

      The Red Bull is still the fastest car by some way, but getting your strategy even slightly wrong on these tyres will take away that advantage. Not so with the Bridgestones.

      1. Thanks for that comment. I think this is very much true. The tyres give others the possibility to outdo Red Bull somewhere.

        1. I guess it does give other teams a chance against Red Bull.. but that is not what racing is about, is it? Red Bull have done a fantastic job with their car once again, and while most of us do not want to see one team dominate all the races, we shouldn’t look at changing the principles of racing just so that other competitors have a chance.

          Racing is about going fast, and pushing your machinery as close to the limit. Sure, tyre management should be a factor… but a number 1 priority? At the end of the day speed is what racing is about, not conserving rubber.

          1. As a driver that could not only go blindingly fast, but also use less tyres, brakes and fuel than anyone else – Alain Prost would have made most of the drivers currently on the grid look like fools, and he’d be driving an HRT!

            Driving isn’t just about going flat out, and never has been. It’s also about driving to a limit and resisting the temptation to go beyond it in order to realise the bigger picture further down the road.

    18. The only real thing that Pirelli have got a bit wrong is that the hard tyre needs to last a lot longer than the much faster soft tyre. Something that they intend to put right in the near future. In fact the teams will try a new hard tyre during practice sessions at the Turkish GP. There obviously needs to be a larger gap so that the medium compound tyre can fit in there somewhere.


      “We are most probably going to have a development hard compound in Turkey with an objective of introducing that at a subsequent race, probably Barcelona, maybe Silverstone,” he added.

      They are also introducing new tyre markings from Turkey onwards.

      1. I agree with that as well, those hards should last at least some 5-10 laps more than the softs to make people use them for more than just fulfulling the rule of running both tyre types.

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