Bungling the tyre row will give F1 a tainted title fight


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Last week’s Spanish Grand Prix was the 44th race since Formula One switched tyre suppliers to Pirelli. That marked the start of the era of ‘designed to degrade’ tyres which has shaped the race ever since.

The brief given to Pirelli was strongly influenced by what the sport had seen the year before. With refuelling banned the number of pit stops per race in 2010 had fallen to one at almost every round.

But Canada was a significant exception: most drivers make two pit stops and some had to make three. Pirelli were instructed to design their tyres recreate the unpredictability seen in that race.

The opening races of 2011 ran according to plan. But concerns arose that the tyres would prove too fragile at the more punishing Istanbul and Circuit de Catalunya tracks. Pirelli used the practice sessions for the Turkish race to evaluate a new, harder compound, and duly introduced it at the next race in Spain.

Harder tyres were also provided for testing at the British Grand Prix last year. Pirelli’s stated objective of having two to three pit stops per driver in each race, and revising compounds towards that aim when necessary has been well established. Only in recent weeks has it been allowed to become a serious bone of contention between the teams.

Fernando Alonso’s win on Sunday was the first by a driver this year using a four-stop strategy in a fully dry race. After the race Pirelli did not hesitate to acknowledge that changes were needed to prevent it happening again.

“Our aim is to have between two and three stops at every race, so it’s clear that four is too many,” said motorsport director Paul Hembery, adding: “We’ll be looking to make some changes, in time for Silverstone, to make sure that we maintain our target and solve any issues rapidly.”

This was a reasonable response along well-established lines. If only the reaction had stopped there.

But after spending almost an hour in conversation with Bernie Ecclestone in the Barcelona paddock, Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz told the media that F1 “has nothing to do with racing anymore – this is a competition in tyre management”.

This was retreading a well-worn area of complaint for Red Bull in the season so far. Although the team and one of its drivers are leading the two championships, they believe the aggressive nature of the current tyres is keeping them from exploiting the true potential of their RB9.

Ecclestone sided with Mateschitz, telling the Daily Express: “The tyres are wrong, not what we intended when we asked Pirelli to produce something which did a half race.”

Predictably, soon after Ecclestone voiced his frustration a further press release from Pirelli appeared stating the planned changes to the tyres would be brought forward by one race to the Canadian Grand Prix. Hembery described the scope of the changes as being to reduce the number of pit stops – as was previously announced – and to combat the spate of tyre delaminations seen at recent races.

It does not require an excess of cynicism to link Mateschitz’s complaint, Ecclestone’s reaction and Pirelli’s decision to revise their plans. And this is where the problems begin, because now the revisions to the tyres can justifiably be seen as Pirelli not merely sticking to the ‘no more than three stops per race’ plan, but F1’s official tyre manufacturer being leant on to help F1’s top team.

It drew a predictably aggrieved response from Red Bull’s rivals. Lotus team principal Eric Boullier not unreasonably pointed out that “there aren’t many sports where there are such fundamental changes to an essential ingredient part-way through a season”.

And the Horse Whisperer, the anonymous troll of the official Ferrari website, saw its first action of 2013. “These are difficult times for people with poor memories,” it opined, before going on to point out they had won a race using a four-stop strategy as long ago as 2004.

Those with even better memories would point out that Ferrari have no objection to the tyres being changed when it is being done to favour them, as happened at a critical point in the title fight ten years ago. The FIA’s abrupt decision to effectively ban the Michelin tyres of their rivals led to Ferrari and Bridgestone winning the next eight races in a row, and harpooned the contest for the 2003 championships.

Then as now, F1 teams will invariably use all available means to tilt the playing field in their favour. But the integrity of the championship is tainted the moment anyone in a position of power is seen to have responded to their pressure.

On that count F1 has failed in the past week. First Ecclestone weighed in on the side of Red Bull. Now the FIA has struck a blow for Ferrari and Lotus by decreeing Pirelli can only make its changes on safety grounds – to cure the delaminations – and not for performance reasons, despite having been content to let them do so since 2011.

On Jean Todt’s watch the FIA has tended to steer clear of F1 controversies. If its intervention in this debate has come because of Ferrari and Lotus’s complaints then Red Bull only have themselves to blame. How ironic it would be if Mateschitz’s complaints ultimately prevent a change in the tyres that was going to happen anyway and could have been beneficial to Red Bull.

And while Lotus’s Alan Permane obviously has a side to take in this, it’s hard to disagree with his view that recent history has shown the dangers of overreacting to high tyre degradation races early in the season:

“If you look back at the past couple of years since the start of the Pirelli era, the opening five races have historically featured higher levels of degradation than those seen during the rest of the season; with the exception perhaps of Suzuka.

“With that in mind, any alterations to the tyres should certainly be viewed with a degree of caution, as there is a real possibility that we could end up returning to one stop races; something that frequently occurred towards the end of 2012 as harder allocations were introduced. That’s surely something that nobody wants to see.

“Of course, it’s understandable that a repeat of the four stop scenario in Barcelona is not desirable, but along with Bahrain this represented perhaps the toughest challenge of the year. As we encounter circuits with lower demands on the rubber, and as teams start to get on top of this year’s compounds, I’m certain that we would have naturally seen fewer stops anyway.”

F1’s response to the Spanish Grand Prix has been knee-jerk and risks tainting the battle for championships. The sport would be better off pretending the last week of reaction and over-reaction hadn’t happened, and telling Pirelli to go back to the measured and reasonable response they came up with on Sunday evening.


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Image © Renault/LAT, Pirelli/LAT

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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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119 comments on “Bungling the tyre row will give F1 a tainted title fight”

  1. I don’t think its fair for tyre suppliers to make an issue of their tyres than F1 racing. All this is good for the tyre company since its causing lots of discussions, but I dont see the fun in this.

  2. I think the tire problem is track specific (China, Spain), and technology related (teams still trying to figure them out). And also last years soft is this years medium. Also the year before the softs became mediums, so this year hard is the soft of two years before, more or less, if I understood correctly.
    Also, in 2011, didn’t Alonso destroy the Red Bulls at the beginning, but later was overtaken by everybody because of tires going off?

    1. Michael Brown (@)
      18th May 2013, 14:41

      2013 – 2011
      Hard – Soft
      Medium – Super Soft
      Soft – Super Super Soft
      Super Soft – Super Super Super Soft

      Personally I think Pirelli went too far even in 2012. 2011 was good in my opinion.

      1. If the teams keep clawing back performance and durability from the tires towards the end of the season, year after year, resulting in 1-stop races, isn’t that indicative of the most reasonable way races should be run?

        Pirelli’s reaction – which i find wrong – from season to season has been to soften the tires, the hards are the softs from two years ago, the medium the supersofts and so on. How can they possibly imagine this trend continuing in the next season, or the one after that?

  3. First Ecclestone weighed in on the side of Pirelli. Now the FIA has struck a blow for Ferrari and Lotus

    I thought Ecclestone weighed in against Pirelli, and that the announcement that only changes for safety can be made were a blow to Red Bull rather than Ferrari and Lotus?

    Great analysis though.

    1. Sorry, I read the second bit the wrong way, that Ferrari and Lotus took the blow, rather than that it was a blow that supported their side.

    2. @matt90 Yes I meant “Red Bull”, changed it, thanks.

  4. I think this article assumes that the changes made to the tyres in 2011 & 12 were pushed through by Pirelli without the consent of all the teams. As far as I understand it, the FIA are basing their decision to not change compounds in 2013 on Article 12.6.3 and that not ALL teams have agreed to the proposed changes (presumably Lotus and Ferrari). And why should they, Lotus has built a beast this year, why should they be penalized? It’s not as if they’ve created some type of component that is borderline illegal or they’re bending any rules. They’ve simply built a better car.

  5. Michael Brown (@)
    18th May 2013, 14:37

    I like the idea of tires that lead to 2-3 stops per race, but Pirelli went too far this year and 2012, in that the drivers have to drive to a delta the whole race to get those 2-3 stops. Even with the one stop races with the hardest compounds in 2012, they were still needing to manage the tires to achieve that goal. Mateschitz is right: they aren’t racing, just driving their own separate stints avoiding battles with other drivers to keep their tires alive. As boring as the Bridgestone era was for those people, we didn’t see drivers doing this.

    Yes tire management has always been a part of F1. Having smooth steering, no wheelspin, and no locking has always been essential, even with durable tires. Or maybe you have to manage the engine, or the gearbox. But tire management has never been as crucial as it is now.

    That rant aside, I still think the tires shouldn’t have been changed, as to avoid tainting the title fight. Next year they can adjust the tires to what they want them to be like.

    1. @lite992 The tyres were changed during the last few seasons and that wasn’t perceived to have affected the championship. There’s no reason why that should have to be the case this year. As long as we have one tyre manufacturer with limited testing and a three-year-old car trying to produce four different tyre compounds to create two/three pit stops per race across 19 different tracks in a range of weather conditions, it’s probably going to be necessary to fine-tune the compounds now and then.

      1. Particularly when said three year old car was from the team that has been the best on its tires this year. I can’t imagine that that’s just a coincidence.

        1. BJ (@beejis60)
          18th May 2013, 23:44

          It’s not a coincidence…. that’s just grasping for straws.

      2. @keithcollantine The rules are clear though, you can’t change the tyre compounds without unanimous support from the teams. Teams have designed their cars within the rules and some obviously use the tyres better than others. Changing them in such a way that it changes the characteristics of the tyres would make a mockery of the sport.

    2. @lite992, I agree, perhaps the best solution would be to increase the number of tyres allocated for the race so Mercedes could go for a flat-out 5 stopper.

      1. Not all that sure I would like that kind of racing, but on the other hand, it would certainly be good if they could have such an option, go for it and either fail (still to slow, crash, pit stop errors, or just badly timed etc.) or win it.

  6. Well done FIA, i say. But how can this be policed? Who’s to know if the changes they make “because of delamination” won’t affect the way the cars degrade the tyres. Also, there is no direct comparison as each track is different, wear-wise.

  7. I can’t understand how the FIA’s stance is a blow for Ferrari and Lotus!!?? As I understand Pirelli cant fiddle with their compounds to change their performance,which I guess also includes tyre wear. So this should be good news for lotus and Ferrari, right?? Somebody explain!!!

    1. A positive blow :)

    2. “A blow for Ferrari and Lotus” = something in their favour
      “A blow toFerrari and Lotus” = something not in their favour.


      1. oh! ok.

  8. this is worse than EBD issue.
    the sweet spot of having a flat out race with 2-3 stops is never gonna be easy since different circuits have different demands on the tyres.

    1. Indeed, but that is why they can choose which compounds are taken to each race based on previous years’ data. The real problem is that we don’t have a ‘hard’ tyre to select anymore, because the hardest compound Pirelli have made for 2013 is currently running like the 2012 medium tyre.

      1. The 2012 Medium Tire is 2011 Soft tire.

      2. it is a blessing in disguise that the turkey GP was not revived for 2013. the 2013 specs tyres will fail miserably on the longest corner.

        1. @kcarrey yeah, Now i remember that It was notorious on tires and the Debris at the exit of T8 would make Puncture after Puncture easily.

      3. @john-h, which makes me wonder why they have chosen the softest tyres for Canada !

  9. Jimi (@hendrix666)
    18th May 2013, 14:56

    The way I kind of view this is that we wouldn’t have the tire situation whatsoever if the cars were made to be able to pass. Why not change the regulations in 2009 for car design to allow them to be able to overtake? Then the tire debacle would not have occurred as they wouldn’t have had to monkey with the tires to “spice things up”!

    1. Taking away the fifty million winglets on the sidepods and engine covers and going back to slick tyres was a huge step forward in that regard, though.

      1. Liam McShane (@)
        18th May 2013, 16:41

        Quite frankly we don’t even know the tyres are spicing up the racing. When they were introduced the double diffusers were banned, which in my opinion was the main cause of the cars being unable to pass. If we recall back to Austin last year, they tyres were durable there and it was a great race.

      2. Exactly.
        At the start of 2009 the cars did seem able to follow more closely & there was a lot more overtaking.
        The problem in 2009 was the Double Diffusers, As soon as more teams began using them the level of overtaking decreased. I actually remember drivers comments early in 2009 about how following a Brawn or Toyota was there DDD was harder than following a Red Bull, McLaren or Ferrari which didn’t feature a DDD.

        I also think the refueling ban in 2010 went a long way to helping with overtaking. When you look at the stats, As soon as refueling came in overtaking figures plummeted, Then when it was banned in 2010 the overtaking figures shot back upto Pre-refueling levels & 2010 featured more on-track overtaking than any year since 1989 as a result.

        With DDD & F-Duct’s banned for 2011 anyway as well as the continued refueling ban I think we would have continued to see on-track overtaking levels remain high through 2011/2012/2013 without the introduction of DRS, Pirelli tyres & KERS.

        1. Liam McShane (@)
          18th May 2013, 18:20

          Hopefully Pirelli will get sick of all their criticisms and will not renew their contract, if they get offered one of course. Perhaps we could see a tyre manufacturer bring proper tyres back to f1 similar to the ones we had in 2010.

          1. @motor_mad that isn’t Pirelli’s fault: the delaminations are, but the compounds are deliberately so as that was what was requested of them in they design brief (albeit not to this extent though). So the criticism should be directed at not the tyre supplier but whom is giving them the design brief, which I do believe was the teams themselves.

          2. @motor_mad I read that as you were longing to get rid of Pirelli though, which isn’t really fair on them as it’s the brief’s fault!

        2. Dizzy, facts and common-sense are not wanted in this discussion, if you can’t think up a silly gimmick to replace the last silly gimmick please keep your opinions to yourself.

          1. LOL (in capitals)

          2. Liam McShane (@)
            19th May 2013, 12:38

            @vettel1 I wasn’t saying it was Pirelli’s fault, i was stating that they are the one’s receiving the criticisms, like you said.

  10. Super analysis, Keith. This spat has the abiltiy to spoil the entire season – for whoever the WDC and CCs turn out to be.
    But can someone remind me what Pirelli’s tenure as supplier actually is? Are they on a fixed length contract, or is it open ended, subject to notice period from either side?
    I think someone at Pirelli Marketing will weigh up the pros and cons of this silly business and decide that unless there is a dramatic and universally applauded solution very soon, they will seek to terminate the contract at the appropriate time.
    Separate question, who pays for the tyres? The teams directly, the FIA through the starting fee, or whom?

    1. @timothykatz Tyre supplier contracts are three-year deals and Pirelli’s initial deal is up for renewal this year.

      1. Oooer! This current problem had better be resolved with minimum loss of face on both sides if Pirelli are to continue. I’m assuming that FIA want them to continue, as I don’t think any other manufacturers are queing up to sign, are they?

        1. They haven’t even been able to ask Pirelli to continue so far, possibly for lack of the Concorde Agreement @timothykatz!

          I did read that Pirelli do already have contracts with the likes of Red Bull, Ferrari and McLaren and are close to signing a deal with Mercedes too though.

      2. @keithcollantine, the more important part of TimKs question is “who pays the cost of supplying the tyres”

        1. Yes, it’s always worried me.
          Because if the teams are paying directly to Pirelli, they have a right to bitch and about the qualities of the products they receive. If the FIA pay Pirelli out of the ‘entrance money’ that they charge the teams, then the teams have a right to bitch at the FIA, the FIA will try to hold the line, but will bitch at Pirelli.
          But if Pirelli are standing the cost themselve, no one has a right to bitch apart from Pirelli. And I am sure their accountants will bitch very loudly.

        2. In the past it was often the supplier paying for the tyres (that was one of the things Bridgestone mentioned being the reason of not wanting to continue), but nowadays the teams do pay Pirelli for the tyres.

          1. @bascb. Thank you for the information. So they pay directly, do they? No wonder they feel they have a right to comment and complain, even though the tyre spec is determined by the FIA (albeit after consultation). I think I would feel more than a tiny bit miffed if a product I had paid for really didn’t work for me, but suited my rival down to the ground.

  11. Nice article Keith – very timely! I like the quotes from Permane, which put some perspective into this perceived ‘disaster’. However, I do think there’s a general problem with this debate being reduced to an integer metric (pit-stops). While this is easier to describe and in some ways understand, it excludes the point that the Barcelona tyres if pushed on (by that I mean not short shifting and the such-like) would have required 5 or even 6 stops for most of the field. The 4-stop limit was due to their being no more tyres available.

    I believe the drivers are also not happy with driving well below their own levels to manage the tyres to delta times calculated by the engineers. This is what makes this year much different to 2011 in my eyes at least.

    Finally I think this whole debacle marked a kind of ‘Arab-spring-like’ tipping point for all the fans out there that are pretty much fed-up with F1 turning into a gimmicky spectacle with high deg tyres and DRS. So Pirelli are bearing the grunt of a hoard of F1 fans that are falling out of love with a sport they once loved and wish to cling onto. This is unfair, but the FIA should treat it as a warning that a lot of their fan-base are not entirely happy with the direction F1 is heading – a fact also back up by your poll from even before the Barcelona race.

    1. +1. My post is a little further down and worth a read (IMO)

    2. @john-h +1! I really don’t think the governing bodies have actually been paying attention to what the fans really want: I’m almost entirely certain it isn’t this.

    3. @john-h, +1 indeed, the lights are on in the FIA but is anyone there?

  12. The championship was tainted before it even started. Whoever is calling the shots in F1 wanted another season like 2012 with surprises and various winners in the beggining. Hembery certainly was. But it backfired. Changing tyres and introducing them after the cars are built can stir the racing order but it leaves open the possibility of someone creating a matching car and running away with the championship. At the moment I don’t see anyone beside Alonso, Raikkonen and Vettel winning a race if a miracle do not occur. Monaco is next though so maybe I will be proven wrong in a week :)
    Racing has been rubbish this year. There were races or more precisely periods of races i did like. It just seems to me that viewers are believing that they see racing than racing actually taking place.
    Back to whay the championship is tainted: Hembery excused the high degradation with high downforce levels. If there is a car that has been relying in high downforce that is RBR’s. They have been slow on straights for years but gained time in corners. If tyres can’t endure the forces RBR will be slow everywhere. Could teams learn from Brazil’s two sets of prototype tyres that 2013 cars’ DF is too much? Even if they did, is it reasonable to make teams start from scratch 5 months before the next season starts? If tyres were presented to FiA on spetember 1st 2012 why weren’t they added to friday practice sessions? Because they wanted unpredictability or TV ratings or RBR not winning. Or all of it. Or neither and everything is happening due to coincidence and incompetence.

    1. I am sick of the tyre complaining, tyre wear has added excitement to F1, which in terms of actual racing, has been one of the dullest racing series in the world in the past 10 years. Pirelli has improved this, and made teams work harder for results wiith an angle they are not use to working with. The best drivers adapt. the teams adapt too. last year they all adapted after the first few races, and they will again this year – they are billion dollar companies, why are people giving them sympathy? i suspect it is all about “fanaticism” complaints are made when a fans favourite driver isnt getting the results they want, and we look for the easiest excuse – at the moment the excuse is tyres. previous it was “teams budget”, “not enough testing”, “michelin tyres instead of bridgestone”, “v8 engine while rival team has v10” “aerodynamics” and so many other things. the cars are still amazingly fast, get over yourselves!!

  13. returning to one stop races; something that frequently occurred towards the end of 2012 as harder allocations were introduced. That’s surely something that nobody wants to see.

    I don’t understand why 1-stop races are now seen as been somehow bad?

    We saw some 1-stoppers at the tail end of 2011 & 2012 & those races were hardly boring, In fact I still think they were some of the best we have seen in the Pirelli-Era.

    Besides using the number of pit stops for or against the current tyres is dumb & completely ignores the main issue so far in 2013 & that is the I would call it extreme level of tyre management we have seen so far.
    Watching drivers tootling around 4-5 seconds off the pace they could run watching the tyres, Hearing them been told to hit a specific laptime, Hearing them having to ask there teams if there allowed to race other cars & been told not to & watching In-Car shots where there blatantly cruising is completely ridiculous.

    Pirelli & its supporters claim nothing is different this year yet if nothing was different why so many more complaints from all quarters (Drivers/Teams/Media/Fans) compared to 2011/2012?
    Why are we hearing all this hit the lap delta, don’t race him stuff when we didn’t before?
    Also just look at in-car shots during races in 2013 & compare to 2011/2012, You can blatently see there pushing much less this year as there trying to look after the tyres.
    You also only need to compare the lap times over a race distance thsi year to the same races in 2011/2012 to see how far off what they could run at there actually running & its way lower this year compared to the last 2.

    End of the day im a ‘racing’ fan, I want to see a good race & some good, hard fought racing. Thats a part of what got me hooked & a big part of whats kept me hooked over the past 40 or so years. So far in 2013 i’ve not seen a lot of good racing & have therefore not been enjoying f1 that much.

    Also regardless of what Pirelli & its supporters say my dislike of the 2013 tyres isn’t based on who’s winning & who’s not, Its not based off the media, Its based solely off what I’ve seen on the TV, all the data I’ve seen & how much (Or not) I’ve enjoyed the races & the racing (Or lack of).

    1. Apart from my preference for ZERO pit stops, we are in total agreement, well said Dizzy.

  14. The sooner Pirelli leave the sport the better in my opinion. I’ve never been happy with them firstly because they litter the track with so much debris, no one dares to go off line other than in the DRS zone as there’s no traction and you invariably end up in the run off zone or the litter tray! They also detract from the dog fights that we’ve seen in the past. Give me a Hakkenan v Schumacher at Spa any day! That’s real overtaking and any true fan can see that. If todays tyres were available back then, the chasing car would’ve probably have had to settle for second, or worse still, had to make an additional stop because tyres are spent. I’m afraid F1 passes have been dummed down for the masses. I don’t have any interest watching cars doing 80% of their limit. The tyres have not kept up with the improvements made in the technology they support, hence the reason this is all we talk about these days. Save the motorway passes for the motorway and let’s get back to real racing!

    1. +1. but give me an even earlier era, Mansell, Senna, Prost, Stewart, Brabham, Clark, all entertained without pit-stop passes or any strategy other than get to the front and stay there.

      1. I think it you review the passes of the round found on this site, you would struggle to find a “motorway” pass.

    2. On the marbles point, the tyres have always left marbles strewn over the track.

      Check out this image of Mansell and Rosberg in Dallas in 1984: http://www.formula1.com/wi/gi/225x/eFtt/manual/84dal_004.jpg

      Or read Keith’s report of the 2006 Canadian GP: https://www.racefans.net/2006/06/25/canadian-grand-prix-2006-review/

      1. @geemac, by “always” you mean since F1 discovered downforce.

    3. The sooner Pirelli leave the sport the better in my opinion. – tell me, would you like the F1 teams to then have to buy their tyres in their local shop, or would we all start hoping someone has thought about what to use instead?

      As far as I know, Goodyear is not interested, Bridgestone quit the sport, Michelin is not completely uninterested, but only if there is scope for competition with another brand. Now we say we don’t want Pirelli. So will we have to turn to Avon, hope the likes of Nokian can be lured in, or maybe ask the chinese to cook up some tyres?

      1. I totally disagree I think Pirelli are doing a great job for the FIA. They have been asked to make a degrading tyre and they have like Keith says as the season goes on the teams get onto tyre management more and we will get a 2 or 3 stop race.

        IMO Pirelli aren’t the problem it’s what the FIA want, I’d like to see tyres that take say 6 laps to even reach their peak (it would let people stay out for more than one lap at a time in qualifying) then very slowly drop off before reaching a stupid cliff with times diving and the car difficult to control. Most of all I would like to see different driving styles effect the tyre wear, ie: Button driving smooth should hit the cliff 3 or 4 laps after Hamilton does.

  15. The FIA’s abrupt decision to effectively ban the Michelin tyres of their rivals led to Ferrari and Bridgestone winning the next eight races in a row, and harpooned the contest for the 2003 championships.

    Small correction.

    The In 2003 the Michelin tyres were changed Before Monza, THere were only 3 races to go (Which Ferrari won) & not 8.

    Also worth pointing out that it wasn’t just the changes to the tyre’s that allowed Ferrari to win those 3 races.
    Ferrari traditionally went well at Monza at that time & it was a fairly close fight between Schumi & Montoya in the race, Pit Strategy & lapped traffic gained Schumi an advantage in that race.
    It rained at Indy & the Bridgestone intermediate tyres had always been a better tyre than the Michelin Inters or wets.
    At Suzuka temperatures were pretty cold & there was some light rain during the race, Again conditions that had always suited the Bridgestone.

    Must also be considered that a big part of Michelin’s Mid-season advantage (Especially in Hungary) came from a Summer long heatwave seen throughout Europe. The Michelin’s had always been exceptionally good tyres in very hot temperatures so that heatwave gave them a decent advantage.

    1. Ferrari did win the next eight races after the Michelin rules change; I didn’t say anything about them all being in the same season.

      1. Michelin were cheating. They got too greedy. They had a habit of pushing things to the limit with it coming to a heat at Indy 2005. Not to mention their cozy relationship with the Renault team.

        And the whole FIA favouring Ferrari conspiracy doesn’t make much sense. The FIA overhauled the rules after 2002 to stop Ferrari dominating again and then did the same after 2004 to disadvantage Ferrari.

        1. Not to mention their cosy relationship with the Renault team

          Is that supposed to be a bad thing? If so I don’t see how its relevant to the topic.

          Michelin were pushing the limits of the rules but not actually breaking them – until the FIA chose to change how they were enforced. I never said anything about it being a “conspiracy” but the effect it had on the end of the 2003 championship and on into 2004 speaks for itself.

          Which is exactly why F1 needs to tread carefully with decisions like this. It should not be seen to be favouring one team or, worse, actually favour one of them with a decision like this which could had be a profound effect on them championship.

          1. No, they did break the rules. Pirelli isn’t actually breaking any rules in this instance. Michelin were.

  16. At this rate i won’t remember anything that happened in races this season, I’m just going to remember tyres tyres tyres, and that just ruins everything

  17. Every disinte-Pirelli season has been tainted, why should this one be any different?

    From 2011 on, drivers only ever have driven as fast as their race engineer will allow, stopping them just short of lapping too fast and stepping on their tyres SELF-DESTRUCT button. That’s not racing, that’s time trialing.

    No, other tyres were not this temperamental, not by half. All previous tyres could recover from a single overheating; the disinte-Pirellis are once and done. So drivers saunter gingerly around the circuit at eight or nine-tenths of their cars’ potential, fearful of treading too close to the “performance cliff” (I wonder if Pirelli have a patent on that device). That’s not racing, that’s tragic.

    And every time any driver or team official publicly speaks the truth of it, Paul Hembery pulls out his hyperbole cudgel and beats them over the head with accusations of wanting to return the sport days of “boring” (his term) processional racing.

    Red Bull complain the loudest but they also are among the most penalized by the tyres (face it, there’s no one on the radar who can build a faster car than Adrian Newey). If a man speaks a truth that is self-serving, does that make it any less true?

    1. Red Bull is the third quickest car this year. Lotus will be disadvantaged by the change, but not Ferrari. They’ll maintain their speed advantage over Red Bull.

  18. What annoys me about the current tyres is the drivers drive to a lap time, I’m not saying that F1 has been completely flat out all the time, we have seen teams trying to manage situations in a Grand Prix. Another thing that really bugs me is that it seems that since 2011 the majority of the time were talking about tyres. Either eulogising them or criticising them. We hear on a Friday about tyre deg, we see Saturday with some teams not trying to set a flying lap and Sunday’s seeing some drivers asking if they want to race another driver.

    Although having said that it is unfair to change the construction of the tyre mid season when Lotus and Ferrari have managed to handle the tyres and now the teams that have struggled are being helped to get on more even terms in the race.

    Finally I’ll say this. Did F1 ever really need the Pirelli tyres? Go back to 2010 season and I still maintain to this day it was the best season I ever saw. Yeah we might not have gotten such unpredictibillty overall but we got a handful of brilliant Grand Prix. I dont understand why there seems to be an attitude amongs the media and the casual F1 fan that we need to get 20 or 19 amazing races. In the Premier League you get 6 or 7 brilliant matches out of 10 months of playing every weekend. In 2010 we saw a great Austraillian GP, a class Montreal race (and I dont think that was tyres as much Montreal is always a good race) a dramatic GP at Spa, high pressure and intensity at Monza between Alonso and JB, drama at Korea. Dont forget the dollops of controversy, Turkey, Silverstone and Hockenheim and unbelievable championship battle that went to the wire. The rules were mostly stable barring the double diffuser but only Brawn got it to work seriously well, it probably allowed Ferrari and McLaren to claw their way. Surely in rules is better than funky tyres or a rear wing flap.

    1. Stabillity in rules. Sorry Guys

  19. To be honest, I think the whole situation was blown way put of proportion because everybody assumed it was Pirelli bowing down to Red Bull despite the fact they acknowledged the problem themselves. I don’t see how the situation is much different from the previous years apart from the fact these tyres are actually worse, so a change is more necessary.

  20. 23kennyboy23
    18th May 2013, 18:13

    I’m amazed at the defence of the current situation. to have supposedly pirelli’s hardest tyres degrade that fast is crazy. I think the best approach would have just been to introduce harder ones of the same style but to leave the situation as it was would be nuts. Favouring the fans over principles is something I don’t have a problem with.

  21. If I were Ferrari and Lotus I wouldn’t even bother showing up in Canada. See how that pans out, one across the bow Bernie. suck on that

    The Heart Attack inducing drink company shouldn’t be allowed to dictate nothing. Imagine Man Utd asking for a new referee at half time, do you think the opposing team would carry on the facade.

    Broke Bernie Out, Off to Jail you go, young blood

    1. They wouldn’t care particularly about Lotus I wouldn’t imagine, but Ferrari maybe.

    2. @liambo

      If I were Ferrari and Lotus I wouldn’t even bother showing up in Canada.

      Ordinarily I’d say they’d be in breach of contact by doing that and would have to pay Ecclestone but as the Concorde Agreement has expired and not been renewed I don’t know if that is still the case.

  22. I think that Pirelli, The Teams & the FIA need to change the regulations regarding tyres.

    Instead of 4 compounds with Pirelli selecting 2, They should expand to 6 dry compounds ranging from Super-Soft to Super-Hard & let each team pick which 2 compounds they wish to run a week or 2 before each Gp. Also ditch the mandatory stop to run both compounds.

    I’d also ditch the ‘we want 2-3 stops’ talk. Just let teams run whatever strategy they wish, If a team wants to try a non-stop strategy they should have this option.

    Teams should not be backed into a corner on strategy based solely off what tyres Pirelli decide to use each race. They should be able to run there own strategy based solely off what they feel is the best tyre compounds for there package.

  23. I suspect that, once again, the reality of the situation lies somewhere between the two extremes. Teams will naturally push for whatever outcome they think is best for them, and as we have seen in the past, they are not afraid to exaggerate or embellish their problems if they think they can get an advantage out of it. I personally find the whole thing frustrating, and I think it’s a pretty sorry state of affairs when it is easier for teams to make progress by applying pressure to the FIA and Pirelli, than it is for them to make progress by actually doing the work that will bring about an improvement on the track.

    1. +1

      It’s a cop out, one that makes the sport, teams and manufactures look bad.

      1. I’m not saying that Pirelli don’t have a case to answer for. I’d like them to make changes to the tyres, if only to shut everyone up about their durability for half an hour. But the problem is that when they start giving in to individual teams, it only enables those teams to throw their weight around and try to inflict more rule changes upon the sport. It was bad enough when Ferrari had their technical veto (which only really worked when it was secret), but I don’t want to see a sport where ten teams suffer simply because one is upset that their car isn’t as good as they expected.

  24. Regardless of the rights or wrongs of it all, Im getting really tyred of hearing about tyres!

  25. The fact that tyre management are dominating the discussion topics surely means that balance is totally wrong The problem is that the tyres can’t accept anywhere near 100% car performance for 1/3, or even 1/4 race distance, which should surely have been part of Pirelli’s remit.

    The problem is by rectifying the problem halfway thought the season inevitably results in farce so I agree that the minimum should be done so as not to disadvantage teams who have designed cars with current tyres in mind.

    After making some initial comments about the poor tyre performance, I’ve been a silent dissenter, begrudgingly watching from a afar now as people seemed to be blind to the fault. I actually feel that Bridgstone actually got closer to getting it right in their final year but in they left because people worked out how to make the tyres last an entire race distance and got criticised for the other extreme. There is a happy medium somewhere in the middle. We do not have it now. It won’t be fully redressed this year but hopefully the mistakes from this season won’t be repeated next year!

  26. Anele (@anele-mbethe)
    18th May 2013, 20:45

    Weren’t the hard tyres used at the Spanish GP new? there wasnt any major reactions to that.

  27. Thanks for putting this into perspective Keith: this whole situation is so confusing. Pirelli is pretty much trapped in a corner: no one likes the tyres, but changing them causes even more outrage. This is definitely a scandal, and for some reason the FIA is being very quiet, which pretty much sums up Jean Todt’s reign so far.

  28. Well played by mateschnitz!
    If Alonso becomes champion everybody will shout Ferrari International Assistance again.

  29. Melchior (@)
    18th May 2013, 23:56

    I agree with Mateschitz in that ” F1 has nothing to do with racing anymore – this is a competition in tyre management”.
    If drivers can’t push to the maximum the whole race,it ain’t racing!!
    In my opinion,3 Stops and more should be the exception and not the rule,and 2 stops the norm.
    And when teams can’t fully “Go for it” during quali because they have to conserve their stock of tyres,something needs be done.
    What’s the point of Q3 if some drivers only turn one lap and others don’t even put a lap on the board??
    Do i think that changes need to be made to the tyre compounds?Yes i do.
    In past seasons we have seen rule changes that have advantaged some teams and disadvantaged others,so why not now?

  30. Melchior (@)
    18th May 2013, 23:58

    I do feel sorry for Pirelli though.

  31. More nonsense about these Pirreli rubbers,I am amazed at how much support there still is for the status quo. It seems that a large proportion of current ‘F1’ fans are content with this low speed no contact entertainment, when one of the slowest cars sets “fastest lap ” it is a sad fiasco.

    1. its like what jenson button said, people think there seeing a lot of overtaking & think there seeing some good racing when in reality there not.

      cars are not racing anymore & there is no overtaking, just a series of boring highway passes.

      its like nascar, you have them side by side all day on the plate tracks (daytona & talladega) & then they brag about how exciting it was that there was 80 lead changes. in reality 99% of the lead changes were not even relevant because when your running side by side, nose to tail who leads each lap is simply down to what line (inside or outside) has the best momentum coming to the line.

      its all about quantity, nobody cares about quality anymore, as long as the end figure is high then its deemed an exciting race & thats sad!
      as long as you get 71 changes of position the current ‘fans’ are happy even if none of those 71 changes of position are even remotely interesting to watch.

      1. +1

        The unspeakable has been spoken. The emperor has no clothes!

    2. Between Kimi and Nando there are a lot of fans who will support anything that keeps Ferarri and Lotus on the podium.

      1. Couldn’t agree more.

  32. Mr. Mateschitz is right. This is not F1, this is a joke. A bad one.

    1. only when his team loses.

      1. They were saying it in Malaysia, you know, that race they got a 1-2 in. As I’ve said elsewhere, the fact they are saying these things even though they are leading both championships actually adds credence to their comments.

  33. SlackBladder1
    19th May 2013, 2:41

    Ideally the offerings of rubber should come in two flavours ‘Short and Sweet’ that is Fast but short lived, and equally a slow but long wearing rubber, designed to level the playing field.

  34. I agree. I think the worst part of the situation is that some teams used their limited resources to make the most of the tyre and just because the big outside investors in F1 are not very pleased, FIA is going most likely to negate the work some teams putted especially for the tyres.

  35. Well, I´m glad the FIA finally put it´s foot down! Maybe this´ll teach that tycoon that he can´t always get what he wants no matter how “boring” the racing may be to him. If they designed such a good car, they can surely make changes to work with the current rubber as others did over the winter.

    1. But Red Bull is winning both Championships right now, and he is right that the racing is boring. I don’t see why people are so upset with Red Bull’s position on this. When it comes right down to it, the racing is boring, pure and simple, there is no debating that. In my opinion, Red Bull is on the side of the fans in this one, and we as fans should be supporting anyone who promotes real racing. I have been a Red Bull fan since their team was considered a joke, and so of course I want them to win, but I also want to see real racing, not this artificial racing that we have been given by Pirelli.

      1. @irejag

        But Red Bull is winning both Championships right now

        That wouldn´t be the case if Ferrari wouldn´t of had the DRS failure in Bahrain and if Alonso wouldn´t of have crashed out in China. Right now RBR has been lucky. Barcelona just made obvious that for once, Ferrari might have a better package than RBR and that is why Mateschitz is moaning and groaning, he knows that they are wrong footed and have been lucky just as Ferrari was lucky last year when ALO won malasya and got some podiums. Same deal.

    2. @karter22

      agreed. They had all this time since Brazil last year to make the car suit to the tyres.

      Newey isn’t a genious anymore if he can’t figure that out.

      I bet you anything, it is a simple tweak to their suspension/bar arms geometry and it can be as good as the rest.

      1. Which part of the suspension, front or rear? Please let us know and we can email Red Bull and tell them where they have been going wrong, I’m sure they’d be delighted to hear.

  36. “But Canada was a significant exception: most drivers make two pit stops and some had to make three. Pirelli were instructed to design their tyres recreate the unpredictability seen in that race.”

    The Key word in that sentence is ‘unpredictability’. That race in Montreal was fun to watch because it was unpredictable, but now because of the way they are going about it, it is no longer predictable, it is just plain expected and boring.

    If you want unpredictable racing then the Pirelli should supply a predesignated set of tires for practice and qualifying but the tires used during the race should be completely different compounds so that neither the teams nor the fans will know what to expect.

  37. @keithcollantine Nice article, very informative. Although, not many knowledgeable F1 fans on this site are worried about the amount of pit stops that occur in the race.

    Pirelli would have been smart IMO to change the tyres for a valid reason, e.g. “To avoid future incidents occurring of the likes that happened to Hamilton in Bahrain and a few others in Spain, we’re needing to modify the compounds to reduce the risk of similar failures.”

    Short and sweet, and apolitical. Now, they lead with “we kinda want to change the tyres, but we really don’t want to upset ppl and favour RBR for doing so, because they’ve been ranting and raving about it.”

    The way that Pirelli handled this wasn’t ideal, it isn’t the worst way of dealing with it, but it does throw them smack bang into the middle of political stouche amongst all the teams. The minute they mentioned acknowledged that a decision they made about their own tyres will have an impact with any other team, is the moment they fall foul of being political.

    1. @dragoll Thanks, glad you liked it.

      I think changing the tyres because the number of pit stops had risen to four was a valid reason because it supported by two years’ worth of precedent. You may not agree with it (and I don’t particularly like setting a target for the number of pit stops per race) but they were clearly being consistent with how they’d operated in 2011 and 2012 (and the first part of 2013).

  38. I hope bridgestone like hard tyres come back. that way atleast this war of tyre degradation will stop and everyone can race flat-out. there is KERS n DRS for those who miss overtaking anyways.

  39. Richard Purves
    19th May 2013, 11:16

    I’ll repeat this till i’m blue in the face but, I think Frank Dernie had a good solution to all of this.


    1. I’ve never found Dernie’s view – that aerodynamics are not impeding overtaking – particularly persuasive. Partly because it’s an aerodynamicist defending aerodynamics. Partly because we know aerodynamicists purposefully design the rear portions of F1 cars to produce excessive turbulence specifically to hinder a following car. And partly because it doesn’t really tally with my experience of watching F1 races. Variance in tyre strategy has helped produce some great races, from Nurburgring 1957 to Silverstone 1987 to today.

      But I’m prepared to believe there’s something in his diagnosis of the problem I haven’t grasped – I’m not an expect in F1 aerodynamics after all. What is it about his argument that you find persuasive?

      1. I think both are right but are talking about different aspects of racing/overtaking

        Theres no doubt that aero effects the handling of a car following, which makes it difficult to keep up or keep close with a car infront and thus make it difficult to make a pass even a possibility, but even if we ‘got rid of aero’, would we see cars trying to make passes on corners where theres a shed load of tyre debris flung to the outside? But then ‘getting rid of aero’ would massivly increase braking zones and make passes more of a possibility there? Which type of passing do we want? :]

      2. Richard Purves
        19th May 2013, 15:31

        The persuasive part (for me) is where he mentions that between ’82 and ’83 there was an 80% drop in aero generated downforce and it had precisely zero effect on overtaking and racing. That and the comments about driver mistakes being heightened due to manual transmission vs. semi-auto.

        Racing to me is all about the drivers. The more you abstract them from the car, the less the racing.

        I also don’t believe Mr. Dernie has much of an axe to grind anymore as his linkedin profile clearly states he’s retired.

  40. Give them tyres to race, I’m not going to bother watching until they do.

  41. There is a right thing to do and wrong thing to do. The right thing here is to ensure great racing with drivers pushing their cars to the limits. And the current tires aren’t allowing that.

  42. So everyone complains about tyres for two months, then when the FIA make a change to the tyres everyone complains again.

  43. Two points here

    To the average viewer… Why change tyres now… If some teams didn’t get their cars right to handle tyres… Tough luck

    To the F1 fanatic… This is purely politic about money and power and you shouldn’t be surprised

    Yes the tyres are not the best this year but nobody is dominating and it’s still open for the championship so why we complaining

  44. Can I add that with Vettel/RB winning 3 in a row and the likelihood of their 2013 challenge being strong, have Pirelli/FIA bungled up the championship anyway by creating an artificial means (really marginal tyres) of spicing up the championship to ensure it is as hard as possible for Vettel/RB to win?
    We all know dominance is frowned upon and your average casual follower will turn off if one guy keeps winning

  45. If you need minimum 2 stops then just create the rule, just like they have to use two different compounds. Thats all. Give them tires they can use and they will decide how many stops they need to.

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