Tyres are still holding us back – Grosjean

2017 F1 season

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The high durability of F1 tyres are preventing the new generation of designs from reaching their full potential, Romain Grosjean believes.

The Haas driver wants “more grip” from Pirelli’s 2017 compounds and says even the softest tyres available this year are too durable.

“During the last race I did 40 laps on the ultra-soft, which is really more of a qualifying tyre,” he said. “It should be able to do some amount of laps, but not as much as that.”

Grosjean, who is the president of the Grand Prix Drivers’ association, says softer compounds are also needed so drivers can generate heat in them more quickly.

“We’re asking to get tyres with a better warm-up, be better after the Safety Car and to go faster. We believe that the cars are able to go faster.”

He said the difficulty of getting tyres into the optimum window of operating temperature is making it harder for teams to conduct car set-up and development work.

“I do believe that not a lot of people are 100 percent sure how to get there,” said Grosjean. “It’s very tricky.”

“It’s something we need to work on with Pirelli. We need to make it easier, as we’re spending so much time getting the tyres to work.”

“It’s a bit frustrating not being able to work on car balance. Ideally, we’d like a wider window, and pretty much more in common between the compounds, so when you change compounds it doesn’t just fall off in the performance.”

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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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9 comments on “Tyres are still holding us back – Grosjean”

  1. Yeah, I get it, but at the same time, drivers also want tyres that last, and all that without much testing of current cars (certainly not before the season started, ie. when they had to develop these tyres), so really, what are you asking of Pirelli, the impossible? It could well be that another party could produce better tyres, but Michelin didn’t want to do it under the given circumstances and price, and neither did Bridgestone, so what path towards improvement is there, realistically?

    1. @bosyber, I don’t think Geosjean was criticising the job that Pirelli have done so far (given those limitations on testing that you mentioned). I think his comments should be seen as more of a “wish list” request for Pirelli to work on those areas now that they have testing with representative cars

    2. Michelin has enough trouble with its MotoGP tyres to start thinking about another premium category. If you think they’d do a better job than Pirelli with the lack of testing you mention…well, think again.

  2. Arad (@just-an-fan)
    5th June 2017, 14:27

    I thought it was only the brakes that let him down. He should have said “Holding me back” not “holding us back”. This guy knows only one thing, complaining! I just don’t get the hype around him, and the people tipping him for a Ferrari seat.

    1. He is head of gpda and i’m sure he is talking as it. He is just saying that tyres are the prime speed limiter on the cars

  3. It has become clear this year that while consistent tyres may be fine for racing, long-life tyres are not so much.

    I would rethink the tyre regulations along the following lines:

    Think of a theoretical racing circuit of 5.1 km (60 laps racing distance) with the smoothest surface of the calendar (say Sochi). Now define 4 compounds with strict performance requirements, for example:
    H = Hard – Max life 45 laps at 91sec laptime
    M = Medium – Max life = 33 laps at 90sec laptime
    S = Soft – Max life = 21 laps at at 89sec laptime
    X = Qualy/Supersoft – Max life = 9 laps at 88sec laptime
    Define that the tyre performance must drop very quickly (let say 1s/lap) as the max life is reached.
    Define that the specified laptime is the max performance, if the tyre is pushed harder, it must degrade exponentially. (note that if you go slower than the specified laptime, the life of the tyre may increase linearly).
    Give every driver 3 sets of each tyre each race and let them use them at will. So any type of tyre can be used in any session at any time.
    Specify that a driver must make a minimum of 1 tyre change during the race.

    Here are some race strategies for this theoretical circuit (with pit stop time = 25 sec):
    (# stops / tyre type – stint length / total race time / max range)
    3 stops / X9 X9 X9 M33 / 8985 sec / 60 laps
    3 stops / X9 X9 S21 S21 / 8945 sec / 60 laps
    3 stops / X9 S21 S21 S3 / 8960 sec / 72 laps
    2 stops / X9 X9 H32 / 9060 sec / 63 laps
    2 stops / X9 S21 M30 / 8985 sec / 63 laps
    2 stops / S21 S21 S18 / 8950 sec / 63 laps
    2 stops / S21 S21 M18 / 8980 sec / 75 laps
    1 stop / S21 H39 / 9055 sec / 66 laps
    1 stop / M33 M27 / 9025 sec / 66 laps

    As you see there are quite a lot of posibilities that are also quite close in time. In this case the quicker solution tends to be softer compounds with more pitstops.
    And here is where startegy really comes into play. In this example drivers will probably not have 3 sets of the softest (X) tyre left after qualy, or at least have laps taken out of them. So then the harder compounds come into play very quickly.
    Also remember that we defined the circuit as the smoothest possible. So if we take these tyres to a very abbrasive track like Barcelona, you’re going to need a total range of maybe 150%, or 90 laps in this example. That of course opens up all kind of new strategies.
    And then we haven’t even looked at what happens if driver decides to push a tyre over the performance limit or deliberately goes slower to extend the range.

    In conclusion, set very strict performance and durability restrictions on tyres, that give several strategic options on the smoothest circuit of the calendar. That way even on tracks like Sochi or Monaco there will a strategic element and on more abbrasive tracks (almost every other track on the calendar) it will only get more interesting.

    1. Leo B, the thing is, I am not so sure that you can so easily fit the tyres into such a simplified model – I’d say that it is a bit too oversimplified.

      When you specify those lifespans, which cars are you talking about? In the case of Sochi, since you use that track, we saw in qualifying that there was a difference in performance of over three seconds between the front running teams and the back of the field in Q1.

      We are talking about teams with significant differences in performance, which means that those tyres are going to be subjected to fairly different loads in the corners. That, in turn, is going to impact on the build up of heat into the tyres and wear rates – we have seen how Ferrari are able to rapidly build tyre temperatures, especially with the softer compounds, and set a quick lap almost immediately, whereas most other teams have found that they need multiple laps to warm the tyres up.

      Asides from that, you also have the impact of suspension geometry on tyre wear, particularly in terms of the sorts of wear patterns that might develop. For example, in 2012 Ferrari’s front suspension geometry meant that they suffered from problems with relatively high wear on the inside shoulder of the tyres; similarly, last year McLaren had problems with their rear suspension that exacerbated tyre wear.

      Coupled to that, you have questions over tyre compliance and carcass stiffness – for example, this year it seems that Mercedes prefer a tyre with higher structural stiffness, whereas Ferrari’s car seems to be better suited to a tyre with higher compliance and lower sidewall stiffness.

      Overall, I think that your models are ultimately a bit too idealised when you apply them to the real world.

      1. It’s a control tyre, so you don’t have to cater to team’s specific wishes. Just choose a representative downforce model and engine power model, run the tyre model in the computer and you have some ballpark figures. Build a tyre test drum with our defined road surface and run tests for prototype tyres with the loads from the downforce and engine models applied. Do some circuit work to see if everything is structurally right and that’s it. Just disregard all the specifics and details you talk about. That’s for the race teams to find out. So yes, it’s simplified (on purpose).

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