“No appetite” for return of tyre war in F1 – Hembery

2013 F1 season

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Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery says he does not expect to see a return to competition between tyre suppliers in Formula One.

Hembery told F1 Fanatic “there’s no appetite” for a new tyre war, which was last seen in F1 seven years ago.

“You can see around the world in terms of circuit racing there’s probably three or four championships in the whole world that are open now,” said Hembery. “That’s the way the world prefers it and I can understand why.”

Hembery said that there wasn’t enough value in winning in a tyre competition because the credit invariably goes to the driver and team – with the tyre manufacturer getting the blame if something goes wrong.

“What you’ll find in motorsport is that even when you’re winning as a tyre maker unfortunately – well, it’s correct – it’s the driver and the car that’s winning. If you lose, as the tyre maker it’s always your fault,” said Hembery. “It’s a strange paradox.”

“You can’t actually convey to the public when you’re a winning tyre maker because it’s not a tyre championship, it’s a drivers and vehicle championship. If tyres ever became so dominant or one tyre maker became dominant it would still become a single brand because everybody would move to that brand. So you’re really delaying the inevitable, almost.”

No value in “finding half a second per lap”

Hembery added that had been the case in other series where Pirelli has competed against rival tyre makes. “I enjoyed winning the World Rally Championship in 2001 and 2003.

“Can I say we were able to convey to the world that they were won because of the tyres? In one case it was definitely won because of the tyres. Petter [Solberg] winning in Corsica where it rained and that was the win that got him through to the championship.

“So we’ve had examples where we’ve clearly been the major part of the championship but it’s impossible to convey. It’s one of those strange situations.

“Unless you maybe go and have a tyre championship so you have one car and then just swap the tyres around but I don’t think there’s much appetite from the public for doing that!

“It would be interesting to have tyre competition because it’s stimulating from various points of view. If you’re looking at it from a business point of view spending tens of millions to make yourself go half a second quicker really is money badly spent.”

Hembery said the sport’s resources were best spent in areas other then improvements in performance that may be imperceptible to the general public:

“To us, if the rules change and there’s going to be tyre competition it’s obviously something we’d evaluate and look at, I’m not excluding that.

“But if I’m looking at it from a commercial and business point of view it’s far better investing money in promoting the sport and promoting involvement in the sport than it is trying to find half a second per lap which the public can’t judge anyway. If you’re sat watching a car that’s half a second quicker or slower going around you won’t be able to understand.”

He added that teams don’t want to have to spend more on tyres. “They make a contribution,” to Pirelli’s costs, he explained, adding: “They have been heavily, heavily, heavily discounted!”

Teams have “only given compliments” so far

Pirelli’s contract as F1’s official tyre supplier is up for renewal this year. “Three years is not enough,” said Hembery when asked if Pirelli wants to continue in F1.

He said Pirelli were interested in remaining in F1 at least in the “medium term”.

“Over ten years there’s maybe less value added each year that you continue because the public perceives that you are in Formula One,” he explained.

“When we were in Formula One last in the nineties it took four or five years before people realised we weren’t in it any more. So you have to create momentum – once you’ve got it, it carries on many years after you leave the sport.”

Hembery added: “Any competitor will know very clearly we have a three-year deal so they will have had ample opportunity to raise their hands if they’re interested. Our point of view is that we’ll have to speak to the promoter because a major part of our investment return comes from trackside visibility of our brand. So we’ll have to make sure we have an agreement with the promoter.

“And then you have to find an agreement with all the 11 teams. At the moment we’ve only ever had compliments and positive feedback from the teams and the promoter is very keen for us to continue.”

More aggressive tyres in 2013

Hembery said Pirelli will continue to challenge teams with their tyre selections in 2013:

“We’ve had races where we’ve had negative degradation that were criticised for being boring,” he said. “The last four races we had negative degradation which is what the sport back in the past. We have more criticism when we do that than when we have exciting racing, to be honest.

“There’s a balance. At the start of the year – we did it in ’11 and ’12 – we create something different, we create a technical challenge and that may create sometimes a result where one team is able to get a better performance out of their package with their tyres than another.

“It’s a 19 or 20-race season. With the best engineers and drivers in the world at a certain point they will master the situation and you’ll find we’re only talking about drivers and cars which is what we had in the last two seasons. And that’s a very nice balance because it is a long season so if we can create a bit of interest and diversity at the start as the season progresses we’re correctly talking about drivers and cars which is a good balance and gives us an opportunity to be part of the racing weekend discussion point for positive reasons.

“Because the other problem with tyres is they’re only talked about them when they blow up and that isn’t a good way to be spoken about, only when you have an issue. So the balance would appear to be about right at the moment.”

Hembery agreed that by the end of the year the team’s knowledge of the tyres plus slightly more conservative selections on Pirelli’s part borne of a desire not to interfere with the championship produced some processional races.

“We probably were a bit conservative in the last two seasons and we will change that certainly for this year,” he said. “But always within the realms of creating that sporting spectacle.

“I think the reality though is the teams are so good that whatever we threw at them by the end of the season they will pretty well have dominated it.

“It’s strange that for all the talk of drivers complaining the reality if you talk to the technical directors they just want to know they have exactly the same challenge as the next team and they look at it as another opportunity to dominate. And if they dominate it before their competitor they’ll have an advantage.

“If you talk to drivers, of course, you have to put some perspective because in motorsport whatever they’re talking about there’s only only one happy driver, that’s the person who actually won the race. That is the rule of motorsport.”

Hembery said teams are going to greater lengths to solve the challenges presented by their tyres:

“The one thing that was quite clear last year which was visible was that they were having thermo-cameras on the rear tyres. It started with a few cars then suddenly everybody had them. So that’s one example of them understanding temperature management.

“So that gives you an example of how the teams work. They are far more elaborate than that, unfortunately I can’t give you any more detail because it’s team-specific and it’s not our position to be telling people about that.

“But I guarantee you there’s a lot of detail work that goes on within the teams and it’s very impressive the engineering ability and capacity the teams have.”

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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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58 comments on ““No appetite” for return of tyre war in F1 – Hembery”

  1. If I’m looking at it from a commercial and business point of view, it’s far better investing money in promoting the sport and promoting involvement in the sport than it is trying to find half a second per lap, which the public can’t judge anyway. If you’re sat watching a car that’s half a second quicker or slower going around you won’t be able to understand.

    That’s the most ridiculous statement I have ever heard. Clearly Pirelli emphasize on making the sport more exciting, rather than actually constructing good tyres. But, this is Formula 1, right? The ENTIRE purpose of the sport is to let a car go as fast around a circuit as possible. Pirelli’s approach is simply… awkard and conflicting, to say the least. In my opinion, even though I don’t think it’s good for Formula 1 at all, let’s have a tyre war again – that will teach them!

    1. What you’ll find in motorsport is that even when you’re winning as a tyre maker unfortunately – well, it’s correct – it’s the driver and the car that’s winning. If you lose, as the tyre maker it’s always your fault, …

      Another comment that really bugs me. I have never heard complaints from Magneti Marelli or Brembo for instance. Hembery is under the impression that everything you do in Formula 1 has to have a direct influence on their sales numbers. Again, I think Hembery is completely missing the point of Formula 1.

    2. its not about going as fast as possible in f1 these days. The cars could go many seconds per lap faster if say, ground effect and active suspension were brought back … its about the engineering challenge of finding the edge over your rivals within the same rules and regulations.
      Pirelli are a business and they wouldn’t get any return on their investment by improving the tyres like that. It would be the same for every team and driver and wouldn’t add anything to the level of competition. Part of the attraction of f1 is that theyre the fastest racing cars in the world, but make them too fast and it would just get dangerous, look at the RedBull car on gran turismo 5, thats what you would end up with.

      1. Of course there are rules for that restrict teams from building dangerous cars. What I’m saying is that Pirelli’s attitude towards Formula 1 is, well I wouldn’t use the word ‘wrong’, but more ‘discrepant’. Formula 1 is a platform for the best engineers to solve difficult problems and stimulates them to thinking that good is not good enough. Pirelli is effectively stimulating their employees to make mediocre products, because “half a second quicker or slower going around you won’t be able to understand”.

        I’m not a complete fool, I can understand Pirelli’s business-oriented thought. I simply think it’s a shame that a company has this attitude, when the working environment is ideal for engineers to be challenged, not held back.

        1. I’m not sure you do understand Pirelli. They came into the sport on the heels of people complaining that Bridgestones were too durable. Pirelli were asked specifically to make tires that degraded and that added to the show, so to speak.

          To say that meeting your customer’s demands for degradable tires—and F1 is the customer here not the fans—is Pirelli’s fault, is simply incorrect. Blame F1 officials for asking for these tires. Blame fans for complaining so loud that F1 went that direction, but it is not Pirelli’s fault.

          I’m certain they could have created a tire that performed exactly like the Bridgestones did, i.e. supersofts will last an entire race. Instead, as requested, Pirelli created tires that degrade over time and under load and then degrade precipitously once a certain limit (i.e. the cliff) is reached. Oh and by they way they are on the most potent cars on the planet. That is pretty impressive engineering in my book.

          If you hate the current tires, shoot the architects (F1) not the construction workers (Pirelli).

          1. @hobo … I agree, Pirelli are just following the feedback of the fans and the FIA. All this started with the 2010 canadian grand prix, everyone was talking about how extra pit stops made the race more exciting, so the FIA decided to make that a regular feature of the racing. The F Ducts of 2010 also gave them the idea to introduce DRS, which has given us the f1 of the last 2 seasons.

            I just wish f1 would make grippier tyres, much more powerful diffusers and much smaller wings, which would allow DRS to go. Hope 2014 provides this, i think DRS has improved things, but i really miss proper overtaking now.

          2. @sdtaylor91 – I agree with your list of wishes for F1. I would much rather a development sport with more allowances for tech that improved the sport rather than the artificial substitute.

          3. I know that Pirelli isn’t the one to blame for this, but coming back to my original point: Hembery litterally said that tyres that are 0.5 quicker on a circuit are not relevant for them. This simply breaks my heart when I read this. Maybe it’s Formula 1 itself that i fundamentally flawed in this perspective.

            But you have to say that Pirelli came into this sport with the objective: make bad tyres and create a show. And they agreed to do it – out of a financial point of view.

          4. But what point is there in creating a tyre that will lap half a second faster? it just means everyone will lap haf a second faster and there’s no tangible benefit and the majority of fans will simply say it’s progress and engineers at the teams, not the tyres.

          5. well i agree with the tyre manufactures but why are they specking about their financial issues and not getting thier due attentions? c’mon, challenge the situations and come out saying that we are giving you the tyres which will have much durabiliy, how do you feel when when an f1 cars goes for their tyre change after the first 3 laps, the same thing happened with alonso last year, he went to the pits for the new change of soft tyres at the end part of the race and he couldn’t keep up the pace,. So i suppose that pirelli should ve that point of view and not only talk about whether they get the attentions only for the wrong reasons, everyone knows that pirelli are one of the leading good tyre manufactures in the world and that is the reason why f1 has a contract with them…good luck guys and always have that positive approach.

    3. @andae23 Even if the owners of Pirelli (or any other potential tyre supplier) were true motorsport enthusiasts and wanted to spend gazillions of dollars to develop F1 tyres without getting the value back, I’m not sure that they would be able to afford it, given the current economic climate. It’s just the economic reality and I think Mr Hembrey is simply being open about it. For sure, it would be different if teams were ready to pay for the tyres and their development but it would significantly increase costs and it’s not hard to imagine the consequences. We should also not forget the safety aspect that lead to grooved tyres in 1998.

      As for a new tyre war, Keith has voiced his opinion on it several times and I can only agree with him:


      1. @hobo and @girts I hear what both of you are saying.

        My issues are that it shouldn’t take for ‘trick’ tires that throw a curve ball at the teams for the first half of the season, to make for an exciting season. And more durable tires needn’t automatically mean processions.

        I would prefer less ‘trick’ tires, ie. more predictable ones, such that the teams have a handle on them and they are not the deciding factor, or the limiting factor in allowing them to push the cars, ie. race, on the track. I would much prefer far far less aero dependancy as a way to promote close racing such that dirty air far less affects the car in behind thus giving the pursuing driver the confidence to attempt passes, and thus dealing with processions that way.

        F1 and racing in general, is a competition, so to eliminate the competition among tire makers instinctively makes no sense to me. A single tire maker in a series has a monopoly, and monopolies to me are never as good as a competitive environment. While I fully get Hemberey’s points about the impact to them as a company of being in F1, be it in a monopoly position, or a competitive one, I still say I would prefer a competitive one, and if the result is more durable and sticky and predictable tires, so be it, they can eliminate the processional racing by eliminating so much aero dependancy and give the drivers mechanical predictable grip to then go ahead and attempt passing.

        It used to be said by tire makers in F1 that they prefer a competitor in the series so that we talk about their tires…who’s doing what on who’s tires. They used to say that with one maker we don’t talk about the tires because everyone is on the same, so the impact to them of being in F1 is minimal. It is only now with mandated ‘trick’ tires I’m calling them, from a monopoly, that we know are being built only because Pirelli has been asked to build them that way, to create a show, all of us knowing they could make much more durable and predictable tires, that now it is ‘ok’ for the single maker to be the single maker, because lottery tires do in fact get talked about as the teams have little choice to point out that they are being limited by the tires and will need time to sort them out.

        I want to see drivers out there in cars that they have confidence in, unaffected by the cliff effect, not losing spot after spot just because they got caught with their pants down for a lap before they could limp into the pits on tires that are nowhere. Sure that’s part of the game, but that takes it too much out of the driver’s hands imho as they tip-toe around the track and as tire conservation, or optimal window management makes it so much of the game, and hand to hand combat so much less of it.

        Get rid of so much aero, give them consistant tires, and let’s watch drivers race drivers.

    4. @andae23 Speed is boring though. The cars could all go really fast with specific tyres for that job, but that’s not challenging enough or exciting enough for F1.

  2. So basiclly as long as Pirelli is suplying tyres for F1 we will have the repeat of 2012. season? First 10 races – everyone struggles to understand tyres and we have “randomness”, then at some point enginers have the eureka moment and again it becomes nominally boring.

    Then after season ends a bit of protests on how everything is boring at the end of season, Pirelli enginers put some new rubber mix and next year – randomness at start, then again “we got tyres working”.

    And again repeat.

    Is it really what F1 needs?

    1. Maybe, maybe not. But this is exactly what happens with every new technology in F1. Why would tires be any different? The double-diffuser caught teams out until they figured out solutions. The f-duct, same story. Bendy wings, EBD, Coanda exhausts, wheel covers, engine mapping.

      At a certain point the teams will figure it out. So we can either have new elements added every year (tires included) or we can have the same tires in perpetuity. I’d rather the former.

    2. then at some point enginers have the eureka moment and again it becomes nominally boring

      Although there were probably more dull races towards the end than the beginning of last season, the idea that the second half was boring is a bit mad.

      1. @matt90

        the idea that the second half was boring is a bit mad

        Agreed but in the respect of the tyres’ influence in the excitement of racing not so. Tyres played little part in they excitement of the Abu Dhabi GP (apart from when Red Bull flirted with keeping Vettel on the softs for 40+ laps which eventually amounted to nothing anyway), in the US GP the excitement in qualifying was more so a cause of the tyres being too conservative: they simply couldn’t generate enough heat in the harder compounds on the new, slippery track surface leading to a complete lack of grip and as for Brazil that was a wet race, so of course tyres don’t as such influence the excitement of the races but go hand-in-hand with the change in climactic conditions.

  3. I don’t want a tyre war, I don’t care if Pirelli are the only tyre supplier. What I do care about is seeing the best driver in the best car fail miserably because the tyres THEY HAVE TO USE and they have only had 2 practice sessions to evaluate are totally unsuitable for the car to race on, I want to see the best car and driver win, I don’t want to see a previously unremarkable driver in a normally mid field car win because they got lucky with the tyres that were supplied for that race.

    By all means make Pirelli the sole supplier to F1 but let the teams choose which tyres they want to use, that way at least 1 of the 4 compounds should suit the car, instead now we have the teams TRYING to design a car to suit all 4 different compound tyres, and that without any meaningful testing. How does this help keep costs down? and how does it not make winning a race a lottery?

    1. What I do care about is seeing the best driver in the best car fail miserably because the tyres THEY HAVE TO USE

      The testing bit goes for everything – F1 teams have to get used to it. As for the tyres, I’d like to point out that tyre luck and lesser teams/drivers have influenced race results before. It might seem more rampant with Pirelli, but let’s not forget how Bridgestone lost a lot of their clients due to Ferrari favoritism, Minardi grabbing a 2nd place on the grid due to their Pirelli’s in the early 90s, and there’s a lot more in the past.

      People have also lost championships due to not being on the right tyre. Would Schumacher have had a better shot at the title in 1998 if he was on Bridgestones? Probably. The field would have looked differently in 1997 as well, with Panis most likely not having such an impressive start to the season.

      Drivers always ‘have’ to use a certain tyre. Before the using of both compounds during the race was a rule, people could also suffer from teams picking the wrong tyres, manufacturers can always bring the wrong tyre, plus, this is what the FIA and Formula 1 wanted after Bridgestone’s ‘boring’ and reliable tyres. If Pirelli would build a Bridgestone like tyre, we would once again be faced with teams only stopping to comply to the tyre rule and having a very slim difference between hard and soft tyres. Then, within weeks, people would start complaining about F1 being boring again.

      As for costs, F1 cars always have to be designed in a manner in which they can perform well under different circumstances. Tyres might be a bigger factor now, than 3 years ago, but not banning F-Ducts or Blown Diffusers mid-season also costs money and means teams have to adapt; it’s part of the sport, in my opinion.

      1. @npf1, I never found F1 boring and for the 1st. 30 years I followed it pit-stops were not a feature unless it rained. What I did find boring ( wrong word ” frustrating”more like it) was seeing Hill (Jnr.) lose his lead to Schumacher while he was in the pit instead of being passed on the track, although I did have to admire the way MS cranked out laps at qualifying speeds to do it.

    2. What I do care about is seeing the best driver in the best car fail miserably because the tyres THEY HAVE TO USE and they have only had 2 practice sessions to evaluate are totally unsuitable for the car to race on

      This comment is self-contradictory. You say that it is the ‘best car’ and then say that it was unsuitable to the tyres. That means it was never the ‘best car’, right?

      1. thatscienceguy
        13th January 2013, 0:14

        It also goes to prove Hembrey’s point – when someone wins it’s all because of the car and driver, but when they lose it’s the tyres fault. Tyre suppliers can’t win, basically.

    3. See i always believe that, keep things simple. The reason FIA giving contract only to one tyre supplier is to make it same for all the teams to use the same tyres and race, this would make all the fans know who is the best driver and which is the best car? Now the next step is that we the fans would love to see all cars racing, for just one or two races if the car had a bad race because of the tyre wear or the performances of the f1 cars. But here we r talking about things which is a concern by all the fans around the world, otherwise , i wouldn’t ve been wasting my time writing this, But as a fan, i felt it was my duty, to express my thoughts not as an expert. Hembrey. should approach positively about this issue, we r not blaming anyone, its just the concern. Ok, lets take it this way, if the tyre doesn’t ve the durability to last 4 laps, there is a concern because all the cars are running with the same weight, same engine tech. same balance , same rules, we also wanna see the race where in some cars running so well, and some cars just don’t know whats is happenning with the tyres, this is not a blame but a concern for all the millions of fans watching the grand prix. Now, pirelli has to come up and say we are coming up with a soft tyre which would go for at least 20 laps, thats it, i dont think it is a rocket science, that’s the positive way of saying instead of all those blame games. Its not about justifying, its about proving it to solve the problem. forget about everything. Hembrey, Pirelli tyres are one of the finest, its just about balancing things, and this is the best opportunity….for all of us as f1 fans.

  4. Tyres are too important to have a tyre war imo.
    Races are much more exciting now (and much closer).
    Tyres made the differences too big and as a result boring races.
    When everybody is on an even playing field we get much much better races, so please never a tyre war again!

    1. @solidg
      I agree.
      Tyres are what glues the car to the road. It is the single most important part on any high performance car. You can have all the power and aerodynamic properties in the world, but if the tyres are crap, then the car will perform thereafter.
      It just makes too much of a difference. Especially when its not something the teams control. They just have to be ‘lucky’ to sign the right contract before the season starts.

    2. “When everybody is on a level playing field we get much better races”
      I totally agree but have a totally opposite view on how to have that even playing field. What is even about tyres that overheat on 1 car but never come up to temperature on another, or tyres that last 20 laps in clear air but wear out in 10 laps on a following car?

      1. @hohum That’s not the tyres, that’s the combination of car and driver. The Mercedes cars frequently suffered with over-heating the tyres, whereas Jenson Button sometimes had difficulties getting the tyres up to temperature (whilst Lewis tended to adapt unusually quickly for him. The tyres are the same for all cars, but the cars aren’t the same. If you look at GP2, then you’ll find that the tyre wear is similar across teams, as the cars are the same (the only factor there being the drivers)

        1. @keeleyobsessed, but how are they supposed to design a car to suit tyres that they don’t know the characteristics of and that will change from track to another, that is down purely to luck until the season is well underway.
          The teams of course will have bought new equipment and have extra staff to try and be first to understand and adapt, once they have the technology and staff to get the best out of the tyres it will just be another layer of cost for no value to anybody.

          1. @hohum I would personally have that rather than have 11 teams turn up with identical cars, knowing right from the start of the pre-season testing how the tyres will work.

            As has been said below, the teams have time to test the tyres, they were also given 2013-spec tyres on the Friday of the Brazillian GP (which a lot of them used and set their fastest times on).

            (the tyre’s characteristics) will change from track to another

            The tyre’s characteristic stay the same, but the tracks bring out different aspects. The only way to eliminate this would be to make all tracks exactly the same (and at the same temperature), which really isn’t what most fans would want to see I should think (Not to mention impossible with regards to the temperature)

      2. @hohum – every team is given an equal opportunity though and I believe they are allocated sets of the tyres in pre-season testing, which would allow the teams to make a certain degree of adjustments to better suit the tyres and of course performance.

  5. Tyres have become far too much of a factor. When you watch a race, it’s constantly talked about – teams, drivers, commentators etc. You rarely hear them talk about engines, horsepower, handling. The word ‘tyre’ is probably said over 500 times in a race. It’s really annoying.

  6. Looks like it is OK to interfere with the championship for the first half of the season only. Awesome.

    What realy irritates me is the notion that teams start the season at the same position regarding the tires. I just can’t believe it. Even though the weight distribution variance is limited, suspension and aerodynamic concept of the car should influence tire usage. Some cars are bound to be better suited for the tires. Others play catch-up. In the begining of last season different cars make tires work in different conditions hence plenty of winners.
    But Cinderella is out there :P The “shoe” may fit perfectly for a single team. And we’ll see 2009 again without double diffuser. Without any great technical inovation. Just luck.
    Hembery says technical directors liked it. Well, F-word TDs I don’t like it.

  7. Strange to see the number of people having a go at paul and pirelli here. Without a gap of understanding in terms of tyres, we would never have had 7 winners in 7 races last year. Williams and Mercedes would not have won. Renault would have lost an advantage that their car had. Getting on top of the tyres gave drivers like Perez an opportunity to try different strategies.

    Are those things bad? Without tyre unpredictability, mclaren may well have dominated the first part of the season. Red bull would have found it far more difficult to overhaul them than the one-man Ferrari team if so (putting aside for a moment the “finger problem” aspect of the Woking squad’s.performance).

    Is it a bit artificial? Perhaps you could look at it that way. Another way of looking at it is that the teams start off with everything totally within their control apart from 2 things: other team’s performance, and the weather. Pirelli tyres add one more element to that. Then, the team and driver who best manage to get on top of the tyres, can win. Isn’t that the meritocracy we want to see, rather than the meritocracy of “who has the biggest budget”?

    1. @hairs, I have changed my opinion of Paul and Pirelli since early 2011, and I now think that they have been very good for Formula 1. At the same time, as a motorsport fan I would still appreciate innovation on the tyre front, not just in terms of entertainment value but also in terms of performance.

      Finally, and I feel this partly why people are having a go at Paul here, I find some of his comments a bit irksome. In addition to what @andae23 mentioned above, I also didn’t like

      If you talk to drivers, of course, you have to put some perspective because in motorsport whatever they’re talking about there’s only only one happy driver, that’s the person who actually won the race. That is the rule of motorsport.

      dismissing the opinions of 23 drivers who happen not to be winning that day. The debate of how hard a driver should be able to push its tyres has been carried out enough over the past few years, but if one of them says he would like to push his tyres harder than they currently allow, then I can decide for myself whether or not he has a point. And it wasn’t just Schumacher pining for his bespoke Bridgestone tyres, also Webber said that Pirelli tyres necessitated a greater adaptation of his driving style than any other rule change during his career.

      1. I think me may have phrased that in a way that put some backs up, but it’s probably true to say that when a driver gets out of a car and hasn’t won a race, it is very rare that he will say “I wasn’t fast enough today”. More likely he’ll have a list of reasons as long as his arm, some of which he’ll share with you and some of which he won’t.

        That’s not to say that the reasons aren’t true for that driver on that day, but the rule holds true I think. What did Ron famously call second place? What’s Kimi’s response to being on the podium?

  8. I just so happened to see a video of a Bridgestone test in 1996 the other day. Arrows was testing their tyres at Magny-Cours with Jos Verstappen driving (he complained about the Good Year tyres in 1997 all year as a result).

    The voice over (in Dutch, from Eurosport) kept mentioning how F1 needed a tyre war and how F1 teams welcomed it, as well as Verstappen and Walkingshaw being very supportive of the Bridgestone tyres. The arguments the voice over used, winning half a second, innovations, closer competition, everything has since reversed in the eyes of many, including the FIA and F1 teams.

    Of course, this has a lot to do with the financial elements of today, but seeing that video earlier this week and reading this article today, makes it very clear just how F1 has changed its perception on tyres in the past 17 years.

    1. “Snafu” same arguments, opposite intentions.
      The tyre war was just another half baked gimmick, it could have been a success if it had been thought out properly before it was introduced, all that was necessary was to make all tyres available to all teams and we would not have had tyres tailored to 1 team dominating.

  9. Did Pirelli adopt a conservative approach in the last races , so that it was not criticized to affect the championship ??? Probable .

    1. For a tyre-manufacturer, it is simply impossible to not affect the championship. If they really want to eliminate this problem, then they should announce their entire tyre choices for the whole 2013 season before FP1 Melbourne, March 15th. It’s almost like changing the rules of a game when you’re already playing.

  10. excellent interview keith!

    If i were pirelli, i would choose softer compound combinations as the season went on. I wonder what the Indian GP would have been like with super soft/soft?

  11. This is a very contentious debate, some like the randomness of the results and insist it is due entirely to the skill of the winning team and others like myself feel that initially it is more luck than skill but acknowledge that the best team usually ends up the overall winners.
    I would like to compare the way the tyres produce unexpected results with the way engines that were very powerful but fragile mixed up the results (Jack Brabham won one of his WDCs with the least powerful but most reliable engine), tyres fall off “the cliff” engines explode and he that was first shall now be the last. The difference is that the engines were never designed to fail but the tyres are, and the engines were just as likely to fail in the lead car as they were in the following car unlike the tyres that are so greatly effected by following close to the car in front that drivers give up trying to pass to save their tyres, and that is why I don’t like it.

    1. Agreed. Consistant tires please, from 2 makers or more please (since competition is always better than monopoly) and much much less aero = drivers not limited by cliffy tires that they constantly have to baby beyond normal ‘always-been-that-way’ tire conservation, and drivers not nearly so adversely affected by dirty air that processions result.

  12. Bob (@bobthevulcan)
    11th January 2013, 19:04

    Besides the performance of the individual tyres, I think Pirelli need to have a look at the performance differential between the different compounds.

    In races like the Indian Grand Prix, we saw Pirelli becoming ever more conservative with their choice of compounds, often sending prime and option tyre pairings with similar performance between them, resulting in homogenous strategies up and down the field.

    Being more daring with the selection, and creating a far wider performance gap between the prime and option compounds in terms of single-lap speed versus endurance, would enable and encourage drivers and teams to craft their own differing race strategies. In all likelihood, a variety of strategies at play simultaneously would naturally spice up the racing.

    1. @bobthevulcan – I understand what I’m about to propose has it’s issues (mainly logistical) but why don’t we allow the teams to select their own tyre compounds for the weekend? You could select a super-soft for qualifying and then may be compromised at the start of the race or likewise you could choose a medium which may happen to be a better race tyre but you would suffer in qualifying. I am unsure as to whether two compounds should be allocated in my proposed idea or just one but I feel that would dramatically increase the strategic element of the race and also of course no team is technically given an unfair advantage as they would all be able to make their choices beforehand.

      In a more conventional sense though I feel if we ditched the “use both compounds” and “start on tyre on which you set your fastest time on” then that would contribute to increasing the tyre’s influence in racing without necessitating the need for a redesign of the compounds. For example, driver x may have had a poor qualifying session and so may decide to attempt to do a race distance on the harder compound tyre in an effort to gain positions whist others may adopt a one stop strategy using two sets of the less durable but faster soft compound tyre. And they variety of strategies would only be increased with “aggressive” tyre allocations.

      I’m just coming up with alternatives that wouldn’t require a fundamental change in approach from Pirelli in the design of the tyres!

      1. Bob (@bobthevulcan)
        12th January 2013, 2:30

        An interesting proposal, @vettel1. I do agree that the “start the tyre on which you set your fastest time on” rule should be abolished – it’s a convoluted, unfair handicap. Having teams and drivers select their own choice tyre compounds could conceivably spur greater variety in race strategies. While there may be logistical issues as you pointed out, it’s an intriguing idea nonetheless.

        1. @bobthevulcan – thank you! On the subject of the top 10 having to use the tyres they set their fastest time on, I believe that is partially an influence into why Sergio Perez was able to put in two of his podium performances (he started 15th in Canada and 13th in Italy whilst his teammate in identical machinery started 9th in Italy yet finished 7 places behind Perez): not to devalue his driving but I believe that provides evidence to support the notion of that particular rule handicapping drivers who qualify in the outer reaches of the top 10 (another example would be Vettel not setting a time in Monaco qualifying only to come home in 4th, although his teammate did win on that occasion).

  13. Just wanted to say that this is one of the really good interviews that you don’t see too often. Why Sky or Autosport still haven’t head-hunted @KeithCollantine is still a mystery to me (not that I object…)

    As for the criticism for Pirelli tyres, my impression is that those, who don’t like them, are mostly unsatisfied with two things, the ‘artificial’ overtaking and the unpredictable race results that they blame Pirelli for.

    I personally prefer ‘Pirelli overtaking’ over ‘DRS overtaking’. It’s true that many of us would love to see more passes because of better circuits and less aerodynamics but I think that F1’s overtaking problem is probably harder to resolve than it often seems. As Hermann Tilke recently said, overtaking can happen only if the car behind is quicker than the car ahead. So if the field is spread-out, then cars can pass each other only if they are on different strategies or manage the tyres differently, no matter their shape or the shape of the circuit.

    Talking about the unpredictable first half of the 2012 season, I think that people were not so much concerned about the fact that the drivers’ ability to switch the tyres on changed from one weekend to another because that’s not really anything new in F1. The real ‘issue’ was that Williams, Sauber, Lotus and Mercedes were suddenly fighting for victories and that Grosjean, Maldonado and Perez were the ones spraying champagne on the podium.

    But I believe it is wrong to think that only Alonso or Red Bull deserve to win. There are currently many drivers in F1, who can do wonders on certain days and many teams, who possess as clever engineers as the McLaren do. DTM, arguably the best touring car series in the world, saw 5 different winners in 10 races in 2012 (and in 2011 as well) and there are even more different winners per season in other famous racing series. Why should F1 worry about 8 different winners in 20 races?

    What I want to say is that fierce competition is never a bad thing and Pirelli really shouldn’t be blamed for fixing what F1 itself has often failed to fix, namely, making the field more competitive.

  14. I’d actually prefer to see a tyre war again as that competition with the tyre company’s trying to out-do each other technically to me is a big part of what F1 has always been & should always be about.

    Pepole complain about there been no innovation in F1 anymore yet seem to at the same time be fine with limiting innovation on the tyre side. All the advances in tyre technology which in the past stemmed from F1 is now been done in Sportscar racing because thats where all the tyre competition is with several different tyre suppliers in each class of racing.

    People complained about Bridgestone been conservative in 2010 & I always felt the sole reason for that was that they had no competition, There tyres were never that conservative when they were fighting GoodYear & later Michelin because in the heat of competition you have to make faster & therefore softer compounds.

    When we have had tyre wars in the past I don’t recall anyone complaining & insisting we go to a sole supplier, Its always been the opposite, People wanting competition. I recall when GoodYear were the sole supplier there was always a push to encourage more suppliers to come in & the same was true when Bridgestone ended up been the sole supplier.

  15. While I don’t mind having a sole supplier I also wouldn’t mind having a tyre war as it add’s something extra & the competition aspect with 2 (Or More) suppliers trying to get the advantage is interesting to watch & add’s some extra excitement.

    However if there going to stick to 1 supplier then they need to open up the tyre regulations by dropping the mandatory pit stops to run both compounds & by bringing all dry compounds to every race & allow teams/drivers to run whatever compounds they want & have total freedom on race strategy.

    Pirelli always talk about there trying bringing more strategy to races, However surely giving teams all 4 compounds to be run however they wish woudl introduce more strategy & allow teams/drivers to work things better to there handling/driving characteristics.

    This is how things were Pre-1994 (Before refueling came in & ruined things), Teams/Drivers ran tyre strategies however they wanted. Some Non-Stopped on the hardest compound, Others stopped once on mediums & some planned multiple stops on the softer options, Others switched compounds while others planned one thing & changed to something else mid-race.

    Imagine how much more competitive races would be if a team could pick a compound which best suited its car/driver that weekend rather than struggling on something that wasn’t working for them for a portion of the race. In 2011 for instance the Ferrari hated the hard compound, If they could always opt to run a softer compound & avoid the hard’s, They would have been more competitive & in turn we would have seen more competition at the front. Same at times last year where the McLaren’s were struggling on a specific compound at certain races, If they had had an option to run a compound which suited them we would see more competition.

    I remember situations back Pre-94 where a driver like Prost would pick a harder compound & then drive to conserve them in order to non-stop while others like Senna would pick a softer option driving flat out to gain time knowing he’d have to stop.
    Races like the 1990 French Gp where Leyton House nearly got a win with Capelli by non-stopping while other leaders 1-stopped. Schumacher at Estoril in 1993 winning by planning 2 stops but ditching the 2nd after he got the lead & holding on to win after a great duel with Prost in the closing laps.

    Pirelli should bring all 4 dry compounds & have varied performance/wear rates. The super-soft’s are super fast but wear faster, The softs have less performance & wear, Mediums less performance again & can go 50% race distance with the hard’s having the least performance but are capable of going the full race non-stop with a bit of careful driving.

    1. It’s certainly the ideal situation from a fan’s point of view, but with the current RRA and cost-cutting measure trying to be put in place, I don’t think Pirelli should start bringing twice as many tyres as they already are, it’s not ideal for the sport’s survival (or Pirelli’s, since many tyres won’t be used and will have to be shipped from event to event)

  16. I like Hempbrey, I think he’s a great guy to have around in F1. He’s not a marketing machine.

    I’m happy with Pirelli and I hope they stick around for a good while yet.

    1. No argument from me, I’d just like the teams to be able to choose what compound tyre they thought was best for their car and driver on the track.

  17. My gripes with tyres:

    Currently, the top 10 are locked to their tyre choice of the best lap. this incentivises trying to hit 11th (clean side of the track, free tyre choice) and not running the car in Q3 (free tyre choice). This regulation needs to go. Right now, I’d go as far as to say that qualifying 11th is better than qualifying higher than 6th, maybe even better. I would either remove the rule forcing drivers in Q3 to run the tyres they used, make all drivers qualify on the tyres used on their grid position lap, or disqualify any team that does not set a time inside the 107% in every Q-session they are allowed to participate in. The only reason this rule exists is to force the top teams to stop at least once, if not twice.

    In the race:
    I like the suggestion that each team/driver should be allowed to drive the tyres they want to. If a team wants to try and drive to the end on no stops on the super-hard at a more sedated pace then let them. their risk. If a team wants to run 4 stops on super-softs, blitzing the opposition but having the risk of three or four pit stops going wrong then let them.

  18. I really don’t see why people refer to refuelling as being bad for the sport, and then support the current tyre nonsense. I think if they abolished the stupid tyre rules like a lot of people are saying, slow teams total freedom when it comes to compound choice, and reintroduce refuelling, albeit different to last time, strategy would be much more interesting.
    My idea: return refuelling, but keep tank size the same, so you can choose to fuel your car to do the full race, and only stop for tyres, depending on your tyre strategy, or you could run less fuel at the start in order to complement a more aggressive tyre strategy. No tyre quali rules, but fuel load quali rules as they used to be, but for the whole field, not just top ten. You would have some people risk quali on full fuel, start down the field fuelled till the end, using hard tyres so they only need one quick mid race tyre stop, and the other extreme is quali on ten laps fuel, super softs at race start and blast out quick race laps on light fuel knowing you need more stops and longer stops to take on fuel, but will be much quicker on track. You would also get all the strategies in between and I think it will add real depth to the strategy and if you combine that with smaller wings, smoother cars which create less wake, and bring a strictly controlled ground effect producing floor in, then real battling and overtaking will be a much bigger feature, as will real differing strategies with much more depth. Just my opinion, I really think these ideas would make f1 so much more exciting. I’m interested in the technical side of f1 and the strategic side, these elements are dwindling these days, and I find despite the number of different winners, todays f1 is incredibly boring, because everyone knows the passing and “competition” is mostly a result of gimmicks and luck. Again, just my opinion, as a true f1 fanatic myself :)

    1. @fangio85

      return refuelling, but keep tank size the same, so you can choose to fuel your car to do the full race

      There would be no point in forcing teams to have full size fuel tanks while allowing refuelling as because starting a race with a full fuel tank is always going to be slower than starting it with a half-full tank and pausing for 10 seconds or so mid-race to top-up (or starting with a one-third full tank and stopping twice, etc…)

      Refuelling added virtually no strategic variety, besides being a waste of money and a safety risk and all the other reasons why we’re better off to be rid of it.

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