Harder Spa tyres will let drivers “push hard” – Pirelli

2012 Belgian Grand Prix

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Pirelli say the decision to bring their hardest tyre compounds for this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix will reduce the need for drivers to conserve their tyres during the race.

F1’s official tyre supplier are bringing their hard and medium compounds for this weekend’s race, whereas last year the medium and soft tyres were used.

Motorsport director Paul Hembery said: “From a tyre perspective, it’s certainly one of the most demanding circuits that we face all year, because of the high speeds and extreme forces involved, which are often acting on the tyres in more than one dimension.

“The nomination of the hard and the medium tyres will allow drivers to push hard from start to finish, which is what Spa was designed for.”

Some teams experienced problems during last year’s Belgian Grand Prix after they set their cambers beyond the limit recommended by the tyre supplier. “The high speeds increase tyre temperature, particularly if an aggressive camber set-up is adopted to maximise grip,” Pirelli added.

Test driver Jaime Alguersuari did Pirelli’s most recent test at the circuit.: “Spa is relatively smooth,” he said. “So it is not tough on the tyres but it does pose its own unique challenges.

“There are a lot of high-speed areas where considerable lateral force is put on the construction of the sidewall. It is similar to Japan’s Suzuka race circuit, and requires the same set-up and handling.”

2012 Belgian 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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49 comments on “Harder Spa tyres will let drivers “push hard” – Pirelli”

  1. Hopefully! This is sport after all, not show and entertainment with fake gimmicks like DRS and tyre saving :/

    1. You do know that tyre management is one of the core components of any motorsport … right? If a driver can’t manage his (or her) tyres, then he (or she) is not going to advance much further than karting. Forget Formula Ford, forget Formula 3 – if you can’t make your tyres last the duration of a race, you have no business being a racing driver.

      1. I think Armchair Expert’s point was good, but I think he should have been less black and white, of course, tire conservation is of a part of motorsport. However, with the Pirelli tires of late, it’s been overdone, artificial, I have no complaints about the racing or how exciting it’s been. I do however think pushing the car near the limit is also a major part of any good motorsport. Tires will always degrade and wear, but it can’t be overpowering that you can’t push and race with every fiber of your being and car with a fresh set and for the bottom line.

        1. the Pirelli tires of late, it’s been overdone, artificial

          I haven’t heard any of the teams or drivers complain about it since Monaco. They’ve figured out how the tyres work and how to get the most out of them.

          I can’t help but feel that Armchari Expert’s ideal vision of Formula 1 harkens back to Monza in 2010, when Vettel was about to go 52 laps on the (supposedly) soft tyre, and only pitted because he absolutely had to. Likewise, I suspect that if DRS was dropped, he’d be complaining about a lack of overtaking.

          1. “of late” referring to 2012 on the whole
            Also, pardon the American spellings

          2. I suspect that if DRS was dropped, he’d be complaining about a lack of overtaking.

            Thats a fake argument as we would still get overtaking even with no DRS & the overtaking we would get without the drs would be of far greater quality & therefore a lot more exciting to watch.

            i personally dislike drs purely because 95% of the passing it generates is ridiculously boring to watch as your basically just seeing push of a button straght line highway passing.

            as to tires, i agree that tyre saving has far too often this year been far too important & had a far bigger impact on the races than it should have.
            you are right to say that tyre management has always been a skill, however never to the degree it has been with the pirelli’s. i would also point out that the pirelli’s & the rules regarding compounds & mandatory tyre changes have actually limited strategy & at times this has harmed racing rather than helped.

          3. I can’t help but feel that Armchari Expert’s ideal vision of Formula 1 harkens back to Monza in 2010, when Vettel was about to go 52 laps on the (supposedly) soft tyre, and only pitted because he absolutely had to.

            And what was wrong with that?

            Since when was the amount of pit stops in a race or how many laps a tyre could do the deciding factor in if a race was good or not?

            I recall the 70s/80s/early 90s when it wasn’t uncommon to see drivers going full races without making a single pit stop & I don’t recall anyone whining about it back then.

            Also Monza has always been a very easy track on tyres so the soft compound been able to go 99% of the race in 2010 isn’t a big deal. Didn’t see the same happening at other tracks that year did we.

          4. Chris (@chriswayne1985c)
            27th August 2012, 15:06

            Yes, they figured that if they don’t drive fast they can get the most out of it

          5. Come on @prisoner-monkeys

            “I haven’t heard any of the teams or drivers complain about it since Monaco”

            do you not read autosport…there’s at least 1 team prepared to speak out


      2. In no other category I’m aware of, drivers are driving according to their laptime target on dashboard, because they are limited by tyre life. I’m absolutely fine with races like Canada this year when drivers were driving faster and faster with each completed lap, tyres lasted and what’s more important both 1 and 2 stop strategy were viable. That’s how it always should be – you are competetive and pushing on strategy with less stops, but on strategy with more stops you can push even more. What I referred to as “tyre saving” were races like Bahrain, Monaco or Europe, when all drivers had to save their tyres all the time, because with pushing they would be thermally killed.

        What I’m hoping to see in Belgium is another race like Canada – different strategies which both allow to get good result and push in the race.

      3. “You do know that tyre management is one of the core components of any motorsport … right? If a driver can’t manage his (or her) tyres, then he (or she) is not going to advance much further than karting. Forget Formula Ford, forget Formula 3 – if you can’t make your tyres last the duration of a race, you have no business being a racing driver.”

        Tyre saving isn’t a crucial aspect in all motorsport, in rallying, karting motorcross etc you are pushing to you and your vehicles limit and not worrying about tyre temperatures. Your point does stand I guess as your tyres need to last the race but in most motorsport that just means not overly punishing your tyres by excessively wheelspinning, understeering or oversteering. In f1 nowadays the drivers don’t do either of these 3 things – other than to warm up the tyres before going for it.

        I personally believe f1 drivers should be able to be on the limit of understeer, oversteer and wheelspin for the entire duration of the race. If they overdrive and end up oversteering then, and only then should they start to be punished with poorer laptimes. It’s sad to see a driver like Alonso at monaco not applying the power till his car is on a straight – he should be on the limit from the word go.

        Hopefully with the medium and hard tyres for spa the drivers will be on the limit

        Anyone agree??

        1. “If they overdrive and end up oversteering then, and only then”

          That should read – if they overdrive and cause wheelspin, understeer or oversteer,..

        2. This is plain wrong. Managing tires (and going easy on them at times) is part of Rallying. From SS17, WRC Rally Finland, 4/08/2012.

          Jari-Matti Latvala was 7.6s quicker than factory Ford team-mate Petter Solberg who admitted to saving his tyres for the event-closing Power Stage.

        3. I TOTALLY agree. (with dd42)

          Please see my later comment, about having separate championships, one for ‘driving fast’, and one for ‘tyre management’…….:)

        4. Count me in

          1. Chris (@chriswayne1985c)
            28th August 2012, 9:44

            me too

        5. Saving tyres and driving accordingly is something drivers learn into their backbone while they young, would it be karting or anything else. It’s like breathing for them – they don’t think about it until asked, as it is same and obvious for everyone(drivers).

      4. @prisoner-monkeys I really don’t know how you manage to have the patience with people, it really grinds my gears when people talk like that! :P

        1. I think there is room for the middle ground here. Just because someone, even an armchair fan, decries tires that don’t allow the drivers to push to the limits, as explained and complained about by some of the drivers this year, doesn’t mean he is automatically crying for 52 lap stints on one set either, nor is saying that tire conservation has not always been part of the game.

          I think the fact that the likes of MS explained the negative consequences of the types of tires they have, shows that they are an issue unique to other years. And given F1’s desire for gadgets like DRS it isn’t unreasonable, imho, to think of the tires as gadgety as well. F1 still seems unwilling to tone down the dependancy on aerodynamics, and would rather mandate tires that we know Pirelli could improve upon if asked, and would rather mandate moveable wings for passing that almost nobody considers is honourably or skillfully made in what is supposed to be the pinnacle of racing.

          The tires didn’t need to be made cliffy. Last year they weren’t, but they were grippy, and the likes of Keith were saying ok, we have mechanical grip in the tires, lets now do away with DRS…it isn’t necessary with these tires. So the fact that they are now cliffy means to me they’ve been “gadgetted” up. At least the USE of DRS has been altered, and it has been less of a factor than last year, but when DRS passes are made this year, they are no less anti-climactic.

          I think that the teams have not necessarily figured these tires out yet, but I’m sure they know more than they did before. I still expect that some drivers will find themselves handcuffed due to the cliff effect, even in the coming races, so I think the fact that we haven’t heard much about the tires since Monaco doesn’t meant the commentators don’t talk about them ad infinitum during the races, and may just mean that the point has been driven home to the drivers and teams that there will be no change to the tires for the rest of the season, so all they can do is hope they keep learning about them. It would not surprise me if there is still a lot of complaining and head scratching behind closed garage doors.

          What I don’t get are arguments like…What, you don’t like the current tires? You MUST want 52 lap stints then…you MUST not appreciate tire conservation then…you don’t like DRS? You MUST want processions then…without DRS you WOULD complain about lack of overtaking.

          If I don’t want to go for a walk with you this minute, does that mean I never want to walk again?

          I like what JV was saying about the tires in his commentary role in Canada this year. Everyone understands that in racing tires reach a point where they fall off. But when you practically have no warning, that’s when it becomes much more of an issue. And we’ve seen drivers lose multiple spots in one lap trying to get to the end of the race with these tires. JV called for the drivers to preferably have a lap or two warning before the tires fall off. ie. yes of course tire conservation is always a factor, yes of course the tires will fall off…it just should be more at the rate of a steep downslope, not a cliff. And no, he didn’t say they need to be rock hard and last a whole race, for those you like to interject those extreme opposite-end-of-the-spectrum scenarios into the discussion.

          1. did anyone read that comment? lol

          2. I think that is an excellent, well considered comment, and I agree with what you say, 100%.

            So, to ‘Nixon’, um, yes…………..

          3. So far I am in full agreement with all the above comments EXCEPT those of @prisoner-monkeys and @andrewtanner, no surprise there.

            Thank you Pirelli, a return to car on car racing will be greatly appreciated.

          4. Thank you Pirelli, a return to car on car racing will be greatly appreciated.

            I often wonder what your vision of the perfect Formula 1 would be.

            Then I wake up in a cold sweat of fear.

          5. @paulguitar …thank you.

            @prisoner-monkeys …my perfect F1…maintain stability in the rules as much as possible from one year to the next so that it isn’t just a money and resources game of the have teams outdoing the have-less teams by beating them to new rules adaptation. ie. maintain a closeness in the field where the top half or more are within a second of each other.

            Maintain mechanical grip through the tires while greatly reducing aero dependancy such that cars don’t get nearly so unmanageable in dirty air that drivers lose confidence to attempt a pass. And therefore remove DRS which has no place in racing.

            JV summed it up the best for me back when they introduced grooved tires and he called them a joke and got hauled up on the FIA carpet for that. He said basically, give us back the big fat slicks of the 70’s and you kill two birds with one stone. Mechanical grip will be there, and those fatties produced so much drag down the straightaways that in order to maintain any kind of respectable straight line speeds you had to run less wing. More mechanical grip and less wing equals more driver confidence to attempt passes and more driver confidence to defend as well ie. what I call seat-of-the-pants racing…vs. sit there lap after lap as a slower car holds back a faster car that is suffering in dirty air, or watch a driver open a wing and make an unearned pass on the defending driver who is utterly helpless and looks silly. There’s a middle ground.

  2. “Some teams experienced problems during last year’s Belgian Grand Prix after they set their cambers beyond the limit recommended by the tyre supplier.”

    Some teams? I thought it was only Red Bull.

    1. No it was just that Red Bull was extreme with it, others were also over the safe limit

      1. Red Bull suffered the most, However most teams were suffering excesive front blistering.

  3. The defenders of the Pirelli tyres go on about how ‘Tyre Saving has always been important & is a key skill’ & this is true to a point, However at no point in F1’s history has tyre saving ever been as big a factor as it has been with the Pirelli’s.

    In the past tyres were engineered to be the best, Now there intentionally been designed to degrade a lot faster than they could & they have been designed to lose performance at a much higher rate than they could.
    Tyres have never been designed in the past to lose performance after x miles, to force a pit stops after x laps or to lose x tenths a lap, They were always designed to be as fast as possible for as long as possible.

    In the past when tyres were marginal it was because of track specific conditions like we saw at Montreal in 2010, The Bridgestone compounds were no different to at other races that year but the track conditions that weekend caused more wear than normal. It was the same with races way back in the 50s, On rare occasions drivers did have to really think about conserving tyres but only because of conditions on the day & not because the tyres were built to force that.

    Go back to the 70’s & 80’s when we had no/very few pit stops for tyres, Even when drivers were planning no stops they were not cruising around at 80%, They were still pushing & sliding the cars. Any conserving done in the 80’s was done by turbo cars due to fuel limitations & not due to tyre conservation.

    Then as pit stops started to become more frequent in the late 80’s & Pre-refueling early 90’s the drivers actually had real strategy options. They had at times 5 compounds avaliable, the soft’s that had more performance but required in race pit stops & the hard’s that gave less performance but could go the full race non-stop.
    In that era drivers could choose how they ran there race, Take the soft’s & run flat out knowing you were pitting, take the mediums & maybe have to conserve them a bit or take the hards which coudl go the distance non-stop but may need a bit of looking after in the early laps.

    You don’t have these options now, you have to conserve tyres but even doing that will still see them wear.

    F1 should be about the best, should be about pushing hard & about having multiple tyre strategies & options avaliable. Instead tyres are designed to fall to bits, drivers can’t push & strategy/options are limited purely by the tyres & the regulations around them forcing only 2 compounds & mandatory stops.

    1. Well said, probably couldn’t put it better myself.

    2. Real Talk!

    3. Problem is we are living in a digital world and you are comparing it with an analog utopia.

      With the amount of sensors, readers and all the different projections teams make with regards to everything now days – every bit of that 1970’s Lotus would have been pushed to the limit and the overall sensation of “rawness” would have been greatly diminished.

      Yes, there is a beauty in unknowns, but sadly we live under the microscope now days and one should learn to enjoy the little uncertainty we have these days.

  4. Of course, this all could be purely academical if the rain comes! Seems like a sensible tyre choice really. I do think the drivers should be tested with the tyres, but they should also be able to reasonably maximise the car.

    Keeps it interesting regardless I guess!

  5. I think Pirelli have made the right choice for this race, as if there are too many pit stops it becomes a bit farcical. I understand that overly aggressive camber affected tyre wear, but Red Bull haing to pit both cars within 5 laps is shockingly bad.
    A two/three stop flat out race to the chequered flag will improve “the show” whilst allowing the drivers’ to push themselves and their cars as close to the limit as is viable.

  6. I think tyre management is important in some forms of motorsport, as a tactical decision. Tyre saving is often cited in MotoGP as giving an advantage at the end of a race, but that person is typically behind the people who’ve ‘gone for it’, hence a competitive dynamic is achieved.

    If the fastest car’s tyre-conserving laptime is denoted as 100%, then the second fastest appears to be something like 99.8%, then 99.6% and so on. But this pace is typically held as a constant (if possible) or is increased or decreased during pitstop phases, when cars are out of position. For instance, when a car is behind on the track and going faster, its not to get a run and overtake the car in front into the Tilke hairpin: its to leapfrog him in the pits. Not necessarily a bad thing, but something I associate with sportscars and endurance racing.

    It comes down to a simple question of overtakes on track (DRS and KERS assisted) or strategy-based position changes. Take away KERS and DRS and (with aero as it remains) the easiest way to gain places is on strategy and tyre conservation. Take out strategy and KERS/DRS and we’d have processional racing again, unless a real change is made to aero regs.

  7. What totally sums this up for me, is from Hembrey himself:

    “The nomination of the hard and the medium tyres will allow drivers to push hard from start to finish, which is what Spa was designed for.”

    Um……….I might be a traditionalist, but my understanding is that ALL racing circuits should see driver ‘pushing hard from start to finish’. Why should Spa, simply because we all know it to be a great track, be the only one where they are ‘pushing hard from start to finish’?

    On a related note. I have an idea. Perhaps we could have TWO driver’s championships, one for ‘driving very fast’ and the other for ‘tyre management’. The latter could take place in a classroom of some sort, why involve the pesky cars at all?

    Than, the former could be watched by those of us who like racing………..

    Just a thought…………….

    1. thirded.

      1. Agreed! Lol tyre conservation tests in a class room could be a nice easy formality for the drivers. They could be asked to attend for “green” purposes

        Would be funny to see who’s the biggest trouble maker if they all were in a class together!

    2. You read too much into it, he is obligated to feed us whatever we like to hear. Mind you, obligated by us.

  8. are we in danger of having a rather dull 1 stopper? i see last year this race had drivers either 2 or 3 stopping. with harder tyresfor this weekend i dont think we;ll see this.

    1. Correct me if I am wrong but are last years mediums and softs not this years hards and mediums anyway?

      So I don’t really see what all the fuss is about

      However there are some very well put arguments above, some of the best I have seen on any site

  9. I really hope to see an EPIC BATTLE between the tow most skilled racers Hamilton and Raikonen, anyone remember Spa 2008 ?, enough is said!

    1. @Concalvez00 That was a battle royale indeed. It was when I really became convinced that LH was the absolute truth.

  10. I wish the FIA would get rid of DRS at Spa. It’s so much better to watch drivers try to overtake anywhere they can and work for it, not wait for the DRS zone and press a button.

    Also – I think most other races don’t need DRS either, the only ones that do are: Monaco, Singapore, Hungary, Valencia, Bahrain and Abu Dhabi.

    1. @andrewsf1 That depends on how much you value over-taking.

      1. That depends on how much you value over-taking.

        I personally don’t think overtaking is anywhere near as important as a lot of people who need constant action say.

        I think one problem with a lot of todays F1 fans is that they value passing over racing. Saying a race featured 50 passes doen’t make it exciting & passing alone doesn’t make a race exciting.

        I’ve always believed that its the quality of the racing, tension of a close battle & quality of the overtaking which makes racing exciting.

        I personally value great racing battles like we saw at Imola 2005/2006 with 2 drivers driving flat out fighting for the win & great racing overtakes like Hakkinen’s pass of Schumacher at Spa 2000 over the so called ‘great racing’ we have seen in 2012.
        People say 2012 is a golden year, However its lacked focus & lacked a real championship story.

        I personally found the 2000 season to be far greater as you had 2 drivers both driving flat out, constantly fighting each other at the front & it came down to both drivers driving every lap of Suzuka like a qualifying lap to decide the title.

  11. This problem with tyre excessive tyre degredation wouldnt have been a problem if refuelling hadn’t of been banned. If you ask me when refuelling was banned, the sport got a little boring. It would be good to see drivers with enough fuel in their cars to cover howmany ever stints they were doing allowing them to push to the limit in each stint.

  12. Such nonsense again…thinking that drivers should have to , with intention, reduce their driving style so that the tires will last is nuts. Formula One is about extremes of performance. Maximizing and extending the efforts of an entire team to gain victory. We all know this but we still face this charade called Pirelli and I am starting to feel bad for them because they have simply done what has been asked of them and they didn’t have the balls to say no.

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