Jenson Button, McLaren, Shanghai International Circuit, 2016

Button unhappy with “massively high” tyre pressures

2016 Chinese Grand Prix

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Jenson Button says the tyre pressures Pirelli is requiring teams to use this weekend are too high.

F1’s official tyre supplier has specified minimum pressures of 23psi at the front and 20psi at the rear for this weekends race.

Button told Sky: “I think everyone’s really struggling with the tyres out there, with the graining and overheating. The minimum pressures are very high so it’s tough for everyone out there.”

“They’re massively high,” he added. “The tyres overheat pretty much immediately. It’s quite a big issue, especially on the longer runs.”

“So it’s just trying to find the best way of getting around it really which I’m not doing a good job of, I don’t think. I don’t think anyone is, it’s very difficult.”

Button added he is pessimistic the drivers might be able to have the pressures reduced.

“I don’t think there’s anything we can do about it,” he said. “They’ve risen a lot over the last year.”

“I think they were 19 or 18 last year, they’ve gone up by 4psi which is massive. And that’s before you leave the pits, before they go through the roof. It’s tricky and that’s probably why you see the cars floating around a lot more, not stuck to the road and you can’t carry speed.”

The McLaren ended practice 11th and 12th, but Button believes they have the potential to move up the order.

“Set-up-wise, it’s OK,” he said. “Still room for improvement on the long runs. But also on the lower-fuel runs I think we’re more competitive than it looks.”

2016 Chinese Grand Prix

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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23 comments on “Button unhappy with “massively high” tyre pressures”

  1. Grosjean said much the same. And then they expect Pirelli to maybe go even higher to cope with the extra loads next year??

    1. Surely next years tyres will be designed from scratch and bare no relation to this years other than being round and black. The impossible goal of engineered degradation needs to be dropped and leave degradation to physics to take care of, it would just mean another variable with other variables next year that if the racing works or not it is harder to know why it works or not.

      Did the tyres really fail due to bodywork in FP1 or was overly high pressures a factor. They upped the pressures after tyre failures as teams were running too low but surely by increasing them too much the same may occur as they are moving out of the sweet spot just in the other direction?

      1. Pirelli has pointed to exactly that (raised tyre pressure) to be needed, unless they get the chance to test improved tyre construction this year. Time is running out.

        1. I thought teams would be falling over themselves to give Pirelli a car to test with, there is the potential that say using a Ferrari car the new tyres would then be beneficial to particular traits that Ferrari have in their designs even across design changes.

          1. I had a good laugh when the 2013 Lotus was so easy on the tyres :) http://www.f1zone.net/news/rivals-suspect-lotus-has-unfair-tyre-advantage/18246/

        2. Didn’t the teams agree this week that Pirelli needed to get a 2012-13 car to test changed compounds for 2017 soon (to test this summer, I think) then later a modified 2015 car for the bigger size used in 2017 @bascb, @markp? It really reads as if they need quite a bit of work.

  2. Button fed up with ballooning tire pressures. Fans fit to burst.

  3. How exactly do high pressures cause the tires to overheat?

    1. I imagine that the overheating is due to the fact that the tyres are developing less than optimum grip, which means they slide around more, generating sufficient excess heat through surface friction to counteract the reduction in heat from the higher pressures’ lower rolling resistance.

    2. @f1infigures The contact patch on the road is reduced and the tyre is less pliable, means it skitters around rather than staying in firm contact with the road. The cars slide as a result and the sideways movement generates heat, which triggers the plastic compound in the Pirelli’s, ruining them.

      Same problem as what is caused by the downforce loss when following another car – the tyres aren’t pressed into the road so slide and heat up.

    3. @f1infigures In road cars it is the opposite, either by making the tyre rub the rim or fold on itself. In F1 tyres the contact patch decreases there must be where the tyres overheat. The stiffer cars look too have been suffering a lot today in China, the Renault’s Sauber’s and McLaren’s were locking and understeering everywhere.

  4. In Pirelli’s defence for a change, I can’t remember the last time Jenson was happy with a car since 2009. I’d like to hear it being backed up by some of the others.

    1. @john-h Plenty of drivers have complained about the higher tyre pressures the past few months & the word ‘extreme’ has been used by most of them.

      Regarding this weekend, Romain Grosjean has called the high pressures ‘ridiculous’-
      http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/123774

      I’m not going to get into the rights & wrongs of it but I will say that the Pirelli-Era has been the only time in F1’s history where the tyre pressures have been regulated (As well as other aspects of suspension setup) & where they have been forced to run them as high as they are having to, Especially since Monza last year & both teams & drivers are becoming increasingly frustrated at how often the pressures, cambers etc.. they are been forced to run are well outside the optimum settings that they would normally be running & thus causing several other problems.

      1. Thanks @gt-racer as always. My apologies to Jenson.
        Aside from the 2013 failures, does this go all the way back to Spa 2011 with a nervous Newey watching the race from behind a sofa?

    2. @john-h, I think Jenson has been ‘massively’ unhappy since 2009 ;)

    3. He was very unhappy with the 2009 car in the second half of the season ;-)

      “How can the car go from being so good to this bad”

      Something like that anyway…

  5. FIA should be able to control this ridiculous butt-covering by Pirelli. They tried to add 5 psi suddenly last year istr, until Hamilton had a go at them over it.

    I’m guessing it’s a power play about a test car for next year?

    1. Yes, that was my thinking too @lockup: Pirelli keeping the pressure up (pun not entirely intended) to show teams, and FIA, to make hast with agreeing on when, how, who to do testing for 2017.

  6. I love JB, but I find his superfluously excessive use of superlatives to be immensely humorous.

  7. Quite off topic, but looking at that picture, it strikes me that those shiny black sidepods of the McLaren and the fins on them, evoke an image of the Alien xenomorph. Am I the only one?

  8. Apex Assassin
    15th April 2016, 22:05

    This is nothing new. Pirelli have been dictating this sport since 2011.

    Meanwhile F1 would absolutely be better with tyre suppliers, not dictators! But then Bernie and the shareholders wouldn’t get the extra income and kickbacks from selling “The Official Supplier of F1” moniker to anyone dumb and rich enough to want it.

  9. David towneow
    16th April 2016, 2:35

    Sounds very high – I used to run 19 psi on my caterham on van tyres to get a hot 24 so on f1 car sounds ridiculous!!!!!!

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