Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Circuit de Catalunya, 2018

Vettel suspects Ferrari struggled more than rivals on thinner tyres

2018 Spanish Grand Prix

Posted on

| Written by and

Sebastian Vettel believes the change to Pirelli’s tyres for the Spanish Grand Prix may have disadvantaged Ferrari more than their rival teams.

Pirelli reduced the thickness of its tyres for this race by 0.4 millimetres. Their external dimensions were unchanged because they were produced in the same moulds.

But Vettel believes the revision made the compounds “harder” and may have contributed to Ferrari’s least competitive showing of the season so far.

“I think we struggled all weekend with sliding around a little bit more,” he said after the race.

“Obviously we’ve heard many times that they are the same compounds and they are not harder. But I don’t think you need to be a genius to [work] out that if you if you skim the tyre it ends up being harder. It’s one or the other, we may as well have just run harder tyres. So maybe it didn’t suit our car as good as other cars.

However Vettel added it’s up to Ferrari to master the revised rubber. “It has to suit our car better than other cars,” he said, “that’s the way we want [it].”

Asked by RaceFans whether the tyres hadn’t suited his car, Kimi Raikkonen said it was “impossible to say” whether effect the change might have had.

Vettel also suggested Ferrari may not be developing the SF71H at the same rate of progress as their rivals.

“The last couple of races we were a bit closer in terms of pace,” he said Vettel. “I think we had a car fighting, having a winning pace. We didn’t have a winning pace today, that’s also the reason why we didn’t win, simple as that.

“There are a couple of things, probably [in] the short term we all had our updates for this race, maybe the others have brought more than us. On top of that we had different tyres that maybe suited others better than us.

“But then again what does it help, why find excuses? [The] bottom line is we are not quick enough today to win and that needs to be addressed – not ‘do we have a disadvantage here?’, ‘was this the case, that the case?’, ‘did the Safety Car help or not?’. To the end we weren’t quick enough and our tyres didn’t last as long as others.”

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

2018 F1 season

Browse all 2018 F1 season articles

Author information

Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
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...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

50 comments on “Vettel suspects Ferrari struggled more than rivals on thinner tyres”

  1. Vetterl is starting to sound like a broken record now repeating this same thing over and over again epscially the complaint about the tryes.

    1. If its not tyres then its Whitings problem for not showing blue flags or calling safety car at wrong time or not penalising Verstappen.

    2. pastaman (@)
      14th May 2018, 14:44

      You mean the media asking him the same questions over and over?

    3. And I suppose that makes it untrue? It’s amazing how he’s being open about it and admitting it was up to Ferrari to have dealt with the tyre change, yet people still insist he’s whining, complaining, etc.

    4. @pking008 – This is a similar to something that plagued Merc years ago, they could heat up the tires well and were good on one lap, but chewed through them faster. I’m not saying that the precise issue is the same, but that others were able to use the tires and Merc had trouble.

      The difference here—to me anyway—is that Ferrari has been good on its tires for the past few years and even the other races this season, and ran into trouble here. It does make me wonder if the tread depth made a difference. I’m not anti-Merc or pro-Ferr. But I do wish that Pirelli wouldn’t make construction changes/compound changes during the season unless some underlying issues is causing widespread problems.

      1. In the first race: Vettel said noone can go that fast, merc engine was to blame!
        Couple more races: Vettel on top, and no complaints…
        Come to spain: Vettel states we were beaten because of tyres changed to rival team specs…

        when he is winning, there doesnt seem to be any complaint… his safety car start was pathetic last time around and he was the one complaining why lead car wasnt moving fast… thats a strategy only he can use… tyres when works well for team, no complaints…

        i doubt this will be the end of complaints… next time if they loose, he will attribute that to maybe FIA banning their mirrors…

    5. What are you going to tell and how are you going to describe Lewis, when you hear his crying voice during the race itself asking for position of Seb, complaining of wind, temp. tyres and constant checking of each tyre and asking for the reason that Ferrari is sometimes slower than he predicts.
      Better, apologize on time…you will sound much more clever…

  2. Is the tyre change only for Barcelona, Paul Ricard and Silverstone or for all races?

    1. pastaman (@)
      14th May 2018, 14:45

      I believe it was just for this race due to the resurfacing of the track, I could be wrong though

    2. My understanding is those 3.

  3. Thank you Pirelli….signed…a Mercedes employee

  4. Ferrari lost an advantage over an unnecessary decision made by Pirelli. This is how I see it. They have every right to be upset.
    Any changes to the tyres should only be made before the start of the season. No matter how miniscule they may be. Unless for safety purposes, of course. The big advantage for a single tyre provider is a consistency to standardization for everybody, so the viewers don’t have to worry about tyres. But Pirelli has been awful at this!

    1. Pat Ruadh (@fullcoursecaution)
      14th May 2018, 15:48

      This is it.
      Whilst I don’t subscribe to the conspiracy theory that Pirelli deliberately sought to give Mercedes any advantage, they have done so nonetheless by changing the rules after kick-off.
      Pirelli are defending their actions with the assertion that blistering would lead to a lottery, but judging by the race yesterday, a lottery would have been preferable to the procession that occured.
      It’s a mealy-mouthed defence from Pirelli IMO, as if attempting to infer was a safety-driven decision, when evidently the data does not necessarily agree.

      1. @fullcoursecaution – I agree. How would blistering be a lottery? If a team can use its tyres well, or a driver can drive around the issue, how is that a lottery?

        Further, if tyre construction A leads to a lottery, how is changing the construction during the season and without widespread testing any less of a lottery?

        1. how is that a lottery?

          @hobo Because there’s a (half-)good chance it’d be pretty luck-dependent?

          1. @davidnotcoulthard – If it is a known issue that tyres blister at a track (Catalunya), then it is up to the teams/drivers to work around the issue. Are all tyres blistering? Only a particular compound? Regardless, initial statement applies. Known issues are rarely lotteries.

            You answered the wrong question though (imo). How is changing the tyres tread (without similar amounts of testing) any less of a lottery? If it is still a crapshoot, but now one with little to no testing info, why make the change? Doing so has a chance of benefiting certain teams and harming others, as happened.

            Keeping the tyres the same (barring large safety issues) keeps the playing field level so that teams are all working to the same known issue. Changing things means that the teams don’t know what will happen; much closer to a lottery imo.

          2. Known issues are rarely lotteries.

            Which doesn’t mean solving it for a particular track isn’t. You might know you need a car for $5000 but that’s used car territory and getting a good one still requires at least some degree of luck. Now add a time limit (e.g. my car got totalled today need a cheap one for that trip in 3 days) and it becomes a bit of a lottery getting a good one used.

            You answered the wrong question though (imo). How is changing the tyres tread (without similar amounts of testing) any less of a lottery?

            It was less that and more not trying to answer it at all (hence only quoting those particular words) but I think I rather agree there.

            Doesn’t stop me questioning this though

            If a team can use its tyres well, or a driver can drive around the issue

    2. “Ferrari lost an advantage over an unnecessary decision made by Pirelli.” – How do you know this is a fact @carbon_fibre ? So far we’ve seen :

      Austrailia – Mercedes the best car
      Bahrain – Ferrari the best car but quite close overall
      China – Ferrari the best car but quite close overall
      Baku – Ferrari the best car

      In Spain, Mercedes were the better car, but they were in Austrailia on the previous Pirelli construction. They’ve been pushing Ferrari close most of the season and looked really strong in pre-season testing, in Spain.

      Where is it 100% fact that the Ferrari was slower this weekend due to the tyres alone? Maybe their aero update didn’t work as well as they thought or the cooler temps helped Mercedes ( which is always the case ) Or maybe Mercedes simply made some updates that did work or just fine-tuned things perfectly this weekend.

      The point is, there are many, many factors as to why Ferrari dropped off the pace this weekend. It might well be all down to the tyres, but it could just as easily been down to something different. Spreading these comments that Pirelli stole a win away from Ferrari just means someone maybe less informed than yourself starts to also believe them as facts. That is how these stories always snowball and when you get to the core 99% of the time there is no evidence at all.

      I also disagree about Pirelli being awful. Let’s keep in mind that at Silverstone last year Ferrari had double blow-outs and other teams also had issues. The construction change is 100% for safety. Pirelli really can’t win as the only data they have on the tarmac conditions is Silverstone. Last year they had big issues at Silverstone so they were always going to need to do something for there. This year, however, we now have 2 more tracks which use the same tarmac, so it’s only logical that they use the new tyres for these tracks too. Let’s not forget it was Ferrari who came out worse in Silverstone so even if this made them a little slower it might have just helped them finish the race at all.

      1. Ferrari ran a faulty floor and diffuser in Australia, they gained about half a second when they fixed it in Bahrain.

        1. @kingshark Just to add some other random possible scenario, Mercedes had an update for Barcelona which worked really well and gained them more than half a second.

          1. @patrickl
            Let’s see if Hamilton pulls away from Vettel at a similar rate in Monaco when we go back to the normal tyres. If Ferrari is faster again in Monaco, then it proves that Mercedes’ advantage this weekend was because of tyres. I’ll make sure to notify you in two weeks time.

          2. @kingshark mercedes are always slower in Monaco their car does not like tracks like Monaco, Budapest and Singapore.

          3. @kingshark Yes that’s just as nonsensical as your original claim. Very funny all. Or are you serious?

      2. Yup, THINNER tires are usually more puncture resistant…

      3. Austrailia – Mercedes the best car
        Bahrain – Ferrari the best car but quite close overall
        China – Ferrari the best car but quite close overall
        Baku – Ferrari the best car

        This is the same picture I have so far. From this, I surmise that Ferrari has brought the fastest car.
        Mercedes’ domination, Ferrari not using the supersofts in qualifying and these comments by Vettel prompted me to this conclusion. Pirelli certainly didn’t steal a win from Ferrari, just the advantage. I’ll check the validity of my comments during the Canadian GP.

  5. Just to point out that the harder part is true, in a sense: the effective stiffness of the tread does go up with thinner thickness. The shear modulus stays the same but lateral stiffness due to that modulus is a function of the thickness. The thinner, the stiffer.

    This means that the optimum grip from the tires happens at a lower slip angle. This means a car with more aero yaw sensitivity might gain more by not tires not needing as much angle.

    1. Although probably more important than lower angle is the heating and cooling rate change of a thinner tread. A thinner tread is more dynamic on temperature changes and is more difficult to keep in a optimum operating window.

    2. Put another way, a racing tire has maybe 4mm of useful tread. I do not really know about the F1 tires, but 4mm is a fair ballpark. This means 0.4mm is a 10% change in the middle of a season.

      10% change anything on an F1 car with random consequences to team balance and what do you expect? 10% boost? 10% aero? 10% fuel rate? 10% width?

      1. Well the tracks are resurfaced so they wear the tyres less by 10%. Which prompted Pirelli to reduce the reduce the depth to make tyre life the same as on the other tracks.

      2. “We tested this solution already last year and in terms of performance or other consequences they are almost transparent.”

  6. I’m sorry but this is like a moving goal post.The rules should not change during the season no matter how little.
    It’s hard to know for sure but it’s possible they gave the german team an advantage.

    1. Alex McFarlane
      14th May 2018, 18:44

      These tyres were an announced prior to the Bahrain race, i.e. after just one race.

      They were always on the cards and according to the article on the F1 website, it’s not the first time Pirelli have done this.

  7. If being a harder tyre was such an issue, why Medium for the final stint (or indeed the middle stint if they were so convinced that they would need 2 stops). Surely Soft could have made it to the end at that point?

    1. @eurobrun don’t think he had new softs (…at least that’s what Sky said anyway)

  8. So in Mark Hughes latest column, Ferrari, Red Bull & McLaren also requested Pirelli make the change to the tyres. They then put their case to the FIA and it wasn’t given the go ahead until after the Bahrain Grand Prix.

    So it seems like Seb hasn’t been telling the whole truth

    1. More like Mark Hughes hasn’t been telling the whole story, Arrivabene said that Ferrari did not consulted with Pirelli about the tyre change. Informed but not consulted.

      1. Mercedes didn’t consult either.

      2. @kingshark

        Arrivabene said that Ferrari did not consulted with Pirelli about the tyre change

        Who did he say that to?

  9. Wasn’t this what happened in 2013 if I remember correctly? We had a nice half season with 3 teams winning races and then Red Bull bitched about the tires and they were changed somehow? Then Seb won like 10 races in a row and I stopped watching for the 2nd time in my life.

    1. Justin (@boombazookajd)
      14th May 2018, 18:38

      Pirelli changed their tire construction in 2013 after a string of tire failures during the British GP. That was just before Seb went on his 10 race winning streak. It would be hard to say that was due to the tires; many teams had switched off their 2013 development and pushed all into 2014’s new regs. Those that didn’t (Red Bull and Lotus) suffered rather badly in 2014. Other teams, Ferrari and McLaren for example, just didn’t get the car right under the 2014 regs.

      The straw that broke the camels back was Lewis’s tire going kaboom at Silverstone and the media storm that inevitably followed in England towards Pirelli. I’d be willing to wager that if any of the recent tire failures that have struck Ferrari (Spa ’16 and Silverstone ’17) or this new construction had gone against Mercedes, and thereby Lewis, the English press would be destroying Pirelli much like they did in 2014.

      1. Thanks! I didn’t remember that there was an actual reason to make the changes like the exploding tires. I just remember the season getting boring around the same time as the change.

        1. @darryn Red Bull’s dominance probably had at least as much to do with the fact most of their rivals had switched focus to the huge regulations change coming in 2014.

  10. There’s too many other variables to say it was just the tyre, track temperature, other teams car upgrades, oil burning ban, engine issues (Kimi suffered twice, I’m sure Vettel had to react), car design and team performance.

  11. It is obvious that Perilli changed the tire specs to curry favor with Mercedes and thus get supply contracts with Mercedes .
    The tires were tested by Mercedes and all the teams during the off season and no protests were raised but, as soon as Ferrari figured out how to get more from the tires than Mercedes could the tire specs were changed-coincidence ? Really .
    I say return the favor . Are not the Tifosi the most powerful fan group in F1 ? Well the Tifosi must do two things .
    First : boycott all Pirelli tires and all cars with Pirelli tires on the cars ,at least until the dealers agree to change the tires to another brand.
    Second : the Tifosi must boycott the German GP .
    What F1 ,Pirelli and Mercedes have done CANNOT be tolerated . The supporters of Ferrari and all fair play minded MUST act upon this .
    Further ,if counsels can determine that such conduct would not be a breach of contract Ferrari F1 itself should boycott the German GP. Sometimes you must lose a battle in order to win a war ( so to speak ) and make no mistake about it : Liberty wants Mercedes to win the constructor’s title and as many races as possible because Liberty wants Mercedes to be the new face of F1 . F1 does not want Sauber or Williams or any ” race teams” f1 and Liberty want deep pocketed auto giants , F1 wants Mercedes and Porche and Toyota so F1 and Liberty will never allow Ferrari or anyone other than an auto giant the likes of Mercedes to win ,not as long as f1 can use in season rule changes to tip the scales .
    Tthe old saying in F1 ” different rules for different teams” has never been more true . So I say to Ferrari ,you will never be treated fairly and F1 will help Mercedes beat you so what do you have to lose ? The ONLY chance you have is to shame F1, to make a public spectacle of what F1 is and the boycott of a Grand prix will bring you the attention you need to do this .
    When all eyes are on F1 , Mercedes and Pirelli only then will you have a chance to reap the benefits of your work. You got the tires to work better than Mercedes could so F1 took the tires from you . Then they took your mirrors , this will go on and on unless and until you stand up for yourselves…you and the Tifosi.
    So remember one word , the only word you need and the only word that will bring fairness to F1 ;
    BOYCOTT ( for Pirelli),BOYCOTT ( for the German) BOYCOTT ( for Mercedes) !

    1. @rikdi
      I absolutely agree.
      Ferrari can only boycott the German GP and help their Lewis to win. Otherwise, he will cry and Lauda must bring his dogs to Merz pit and some girlfriend to raise his selfconfidence.
      Let Pirelli be friendly with Merz. Ferrari has always been Ferrsri. The most beautiful and fastest without backstabbing..

    2. @rikdi

      Best check your meds my friend.

      Strange suspicion there may be something awry.

      By the way no one took away tyres. It is a modification because:



Comments are closed.