Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Circuit de Catalunya, 2018

Formula One-stop: Why high degradation tyres aren’t working

2018 F1 season

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Pirelli’s goal for the 2018 Formula 1 season was to produce tyres which would give teams more strategic options, reduce the number of one-stop races and produce more exciting grands prix.

This followed a 2017 campaign in which Pirelli’s product had erred on the conservative side. This was out of necessity: Pirelli had to produce rubber for a significantly faster generation of new cars they had no prior experience of.

But for 2018, with the addition of the ‘hyper-soft’ tyre to a range of generally softer compounds, Pirelli expected greater diversity in how teams would approach the races.

Following the pre-season tests at the Circuit de Catalunya, Pirelli sporting director Mario Isola suggested a range of different strategies might work for the teams at the race later in the year.

“It could be super-soft at the start, because you have to qualify on super-softs, then it could be two mediums,” he said. “Or maybe if the car is not too severe on tyre you can also try to have super-soft/medium/soft or super-soft/soft/soft. In our [strategy] tool we have many different combinations using these three compounds.”

But the hopes of a more strategically varied race were not realised. Six of the first seven cars home stuck to the same one-stop strategy, starting on softs before switching to mediums.

As F1’s rules effectively force drivers to make at least one pit stop, strategists understand that the fastest route to the chequered flag is usually to try to make your tyres last. “If you can it’s always the quickest way,” said Haas team principal Guenther Steiner in Singapore.

Steiner admitted he couldn’t even remember if there had been a two-stop strategy race so far this year. In fact 12 of the 15 races so far have been won with a one-stop strategy. And the three exceptions were all races where Safety Car periods allowed the eventual race winner to make extra pit stops for ‘free’. It’s clear: one-stop is the way to go in 2018.

So why haven’t Pirelli’s softer tyres produced livelier races with more varied pit stop strategies as intended? And what could be done to encourage teams to do more than just eke their tyres out by one-stopping?

Simply forcing drivers to make two pit stops would be a crude solution fraught with fairly obvious shortcomings. Reducing the amount of time it takes to make a pit stop would be another obvious solution. But as Isola explained it’s not realistic.

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“They are changing the tyres in two-and-a-half seconds, you cannot make it quicker,” he said. “You could increase the speed [limit] in the pit lane but this is a safety issue. So I don’t know really how you can make pit stops quicker in order to make it more an advantage. There is not a lot you can do to make the pit stops quicker.”

The difficulty the post-2017 cars have following each other closely and overtaking also plays a role. The lap time advantage one car needs to overtake another has increased, which means a driver running a long stint on worn tyres is less likely to be overtaken by a rival who pits and puts on fresh tyres. This gives teams an added incentive to avoid multi-stop strategies.

Tyres, Circuit de Catalunya, 2018
A larger tyre selection hasn’t improved the racing
The tweaks to the front wing designs for next year, which are intended to help make it easier for drivers to follow each other more closely, may help address this. But there is a more fundamental change which explains why high-degradation tyres aren’t producing exciting races any more. One which may prove impossible to reverse.

Isola reckons that since Pirelli began producing high degradation tyres in 2011 (as requested by Formula 1) the teams have accumulated so much knowledge about them that they have simply become too good at preserving their tyres. As a result they can avoid having to make additional pit stops, which means they don’t have to give away positions on the track, and so races tend to be processional unless something happens to mix up the running order.

“If you consider 2011, 2012 when the tyres had big, big degradation the teams in general were pushing a lot and increasing the number of pit stops,” Isola explained. “Now all the teams have a different approach. They are pushing less, managing the pace, and trying to reduce the number of pit stops.”

He therefore doubts that creating even more aggressive tyres will liven up the racing. “If we develop compounds with higher degradation, are they really going in a situation like old times where they were pushing and increasing the number of stops? Or are they managing more the tyres in order to reduce the number of stops and because it’s difficult to overtake and so on?”

This weekend’s race is not expected to buck the 2018 trend towards single-stop races, as FIA race director Charlie Whiting explained in Singapore.

“This circuit is quite abrasive, a lot of grip, high degradation, which is what we actually prefer rather than a circuit like Sochi has been until now, where they can run a whole one race on one set of average tyres, I think. In fact Nico [Rosberg] did once, stopped on lap one and did the whole race easily [in 2014].”

Can F1 strike the right balance of tyres that perform in a manner befitting the “pinnacle of motorsport” while also degrading rapidly enough to encourage unpredictable racing? Whiting admits it will be difficult.

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“You want tyres to be quick, you want the ultimate performance. But it depends on the track surface a lot as well – in Sochi they’re going to be using the hyper-soft as well.”

“It’s a very complex subject.” he added. “We’ve got to try and discuss this Pirelli, we’ve got to try and work out what the best track surfaces are for racing and for the tyres and then try to suit the tyres to the track. But it’s very hard.”

Fernando Alonso/Sebastien Buemi/Kazuki Nakajima Toyota TS050, Silverstone, 2018
Do Michelin’s WEC tyres point the way forwards?
The FIA clearly hasn’t given up on the idea that forcing the tyre supplier to produce high-degradation rubber is the way to make exciting races. For proof of that, look at the tender for the 2020-23 tyre supplier, which stipulates exactly how much slower each tyre should become with each lap.

With this finally reverse the trend towards one-stop races? And is it the correct approach for F1? Michelin certainly doesn’t think so: it said the request to produce high-degradation rubber was part of the reason why it decided against bidding to return to F1.

The high-degradation tyre era has begun to look like the refuelling era. When refuelling was legalised in 1994 it took teams a few seasons to get to grips with it. During that time refuelling contributed to some unexpected outcomes, but within a few years the teams’ professionalism eliminated that potential for unpredictability in the same way they have now mastered high-degradation tyres.

Is putting an even tighter specification on how the tyres should degrade really going to make races less predictable? Does the sport need to learn that more pit stops doesn’t necessarily mean better racing? Should F1 instead demand tyres that perform well, allow drivers to push flat-out and do not wither after a few laps of running close behind another car?

This is what Michelin believes makes great racing and is what drivers want. Motorsport director Pascal Couasnon told RaceFans recent F1 drivers who sampled their World Endurance Championship tyres including Mark Webber, Fernando Alonso and Nico Hulkenberg, preferred this approach.

“When you talk to drivers who are able to race in both – not only Fernando, Mark has told us before, Nico also – they say ‘wow, it’s possible to attack and try again and it feels great’,” said Couasnon.

“So we believe this is the right way to go.” He may have a point.

Quotes: Dieter Rencken

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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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73 comments on “Formula One-stop: Why high degradation tyres aren’t working”

  1. Frankly, to call the current generation of tyres and compounds “high-degradation” seems entirely wishful thinking. They are not.

    And Pirelli are making things worse by bringing harder compounds to the few races where the softer end of the range would actually produce enough degradation to maybe warrant a second stop. Maybe.

    1. Yes, they are not hig degradation. They stand Q2 plus 30-40% of the race length. How many races called for two pitstops or when three stop sounded reasonable?

      1. But I think a strong point in the article is that indeed they are high deg tires, but because of that the teams have learned to manage them by conserving their speeds in order to make the tires last. If they were to push like the drivers would love to do, the tires would be toast in no time. Especially driving for any length of time behind another car’s rear bumper. Then they’d have to pit for tires and that would cost them more time than the conserving did. So they conserve these high deg tires but that doesn’t mean they’re not high deg.

        1. Exactly @robbie. The biggest reason of why races get boring, is because the teams are all so good at predicting how the equipment works and finding the optimum way to go and then can finetune the cars, and the drivers can finetune to react to many deviations to eliminate as many uncertainties from the race as possible.

  2. The easiest way to enforce a minumum of 2 stops, is to say that since Pirelli bring 3 different types of dry tyres to each race weekend, therefore use each one at least once in the actual race itself.

    1. Unfortunately that would promote the same thing that’s happening now: everybody still stopping at the same time, but just two times per race. The goal is some unpredictability in strategy.

    2. That would not work. Everybody would just pit at the same time as now.

    3. @ijw1, But if you are going to enforce multiple pit stops and different tyres you might as well just go ahead and have 3 sprint races.

  3. High degradation faster tyres only work if:
    1) cars can overtake – thus follow closely (in the corners) to set up an overtake on the next straight; and,
    2) less pit stop penalty – lose less time when pitting: reduce speed limit zone length; increase speed limit (where safe); cut a corner before/after entering the pit; allow a car that pitted to use DRS on full track for 1 lap; etc. etc.

    How good would it be if cars could come in at any time to change tyres, without losing too much time and go for the attack.

    1. While I agree with 1)…as to 2) wouldn’t it be a wash since all cars would benefit from losing less time pitting? Rivals on the track would just respond to the other’s pit strategy, no? Does it matter if a faster way to pit cost everyone 20 seconds instead of 25 like now?

      1. @robbie, that is indeed a good question – if you make it such that there is a significant performance advantage from making multiple pit stops within the same race, or significantly reduce the time loss from pitting, then instead that potentially pushes teams towards converging on a new optimum strategy instead.

        I feel that the article doesn’t really seek to challenge the alternative hypothesis either – if you “demand tyres that perform well, allow drivers to push flat-out and do not wither after a few laps of running close behind another car”, would that necessarily result in a material change in the situation?

        After all, that would also apply to the leading car as well – would you instead just end up creating a new equilibrium state instead, since you are not really altering the relative difference in performance between the two different cars in that situation?

        1. @anon Exactly, and isn’t the ultimate solution then just what Liberty/Brawn have talked about?…cars whose performance only suffers by 20% while in dirty air rather than 50% like now. Other than in the very short term upon rules changes, once teams sit with a new situation for a bit they all end up in very similar tire choices and pit strategies, unless someone is trying something kind of bizarre out of ‘nothing to lose’.

          1. @robbie, that is not necessarily in itself going to automatically solve the situation though, because there has been research that indicates the problem is not the total amount of downforce lost.

            Rather, the problem is the shift in handling that comes in the wake of another car, particularly due to stalling of the front floor (people blame the wings because that is what they can see, but it seems that they tend to lose a similar amount of performance and therefore don’t change the handling balance of the car).

            @slotopen, the discussion was based on the assumption that the variable being changed was the tyres – if you already have a higher performance car or a better driver, as you put it, those factors are not changing between the two situations.

            You seem to automatically assume that it must improve the racing – without defining what exactly “improve the racing” means – but will it necessarily do so? The discussion seems to focus solely on the trailing driver, but nobody seems to be thinking about what that also means for the leading driver as well.

        2. Anon, @robbie
          Yes, allowing a following car to fight for position would improve racing.

          A new higher equilibrium assumes the tires are the only factor. If the following car has better performance or a better driver there is more opportunity to race and pass.

        3. @anon,@robbie,@slotopen, the answer to all these questions can be found by watching MotoGP where a (non rain) tyrechange takes way too long, BUT they have the choice of 3 compounds (Michelin), hrd-med-sft that they can use however they see fit including different choices on front and rear to adjust balance/wear, naturally there is degradation, but it is rarely terminal, when it is terminal it’s because a rider/team have chosen to get out ahead of the pack, set fastest lap etc and look good for 3/4 of the race, the tactics for all teams is the balance between being fast early or fast late.

      2. Does it matter if a faster way to pit cost everyone 20 seconds instead of 25 like now?

        It does, @robbie. When the stop is shorter it ‘invites’ a chaser to ruin its tyres and do multiple fast stints. There will be a lot less tyre management to get to the end in the established running order.
        But of course only if we get 1) as well (easier overtaking)

    2. @coldfly

      cut a corner before/after entering the pit

      is exactly what I’ve been thinking.

      For example at Spa, the pit entry could be before the last chicane (as i believe it once bypassed the old bus stop chicane).
      Think the old Donington GP pit shortcut (and that was pre pit speed limit!).
      I know its probably not feasible everywhere, but if the time loss was only a few seconds plus stationary time (to avoid genuine short cut abuse), it would be perfect.

  4. They could bring back refuelling. There are fewer greater spectacles in F1 than a car driving off down the pit-straight with several metres of fuel hose still attached!

    1. @geekzilla9000 No, please. It was detrimental to on-track overtaking.

    2. @geekzilla9000, considering how that sort of incident would usually result in a number of mechanics being badly injured as well – there were quite a few who had fractured arms and legs from being thrown to the ground, as the refuelling nozzle was a pretty heavy piece of equipment – I think that there would be a lot of people who wouldn’t want to see refuelling reintroduced, not least the mechanics themselves.

    3. Most claims on refueling and more pitstops are based on the desire of different strategies opportunities.
      Refuel or not, the strategies were set on a spreadsheet not on the track.

    4. No refueling is slow boring and would reduce overtaking even more

  5. I agree bring back refueling. Cars will run lighter, faster. Have tyres that dont degrade due to heat but simply wear down by abrasiveness. That way following cars should not effect the cars tyres behind

    1. When you start trying to affect a race by telling a company to produce a DEGRADING tire, what type of racing is that? We end up watching a procession. Why spend months building and testing the car to have its performance hampered by a tire. This series is really making no sense anymore.

    2. @Wayne It was detrimental to on-track overtaking.

  6. Wow hadn’t seen the FIA tender and that article.
    How stupid of them to even think about setting such targets. Irrespective of whether you are in favor of degradation or not, it is known to any F1 fan that degradation can easily be influenced by things like driver style, car characteristics, intensity of driver input, circuit type, tarmac type. Hence, mandating a xx seconds drop (on which track is not specified) after yy% race distance is theoretically impossible.

    And for FIA to officially write these things in a tender is downright shocking. Clearly no vision whatsoever for the sport is how I would describe them.

    1. Well…they’re not stupid for one thing, and the targets are guidelines. Also the tire maker can give suggestions as to how to achieve what F1 wants. They, meaning F1 and Pirelli, are well aware of what variables can affect tire deg during races, as mentioned in the linked article about the tire tender. It is exactly vision that F1 seeks. I’m sure nothing is written in stone. I’m sure F1 knows that until they can really do something about too much dependence on clean air, they have to use tires to try to add unpredictability. Most would agree the ultimate way toward unpredictability would be closer racing with any given race carrying the possibility of 6 or 8 drivers winning, not 1 or 2 unless something unusual happens.

      1. Well…they’re not stupid for one thing

        Not so sure @robbie.

        This quote from Whiting is telling:

        “It’s a very complex subject.” he added. “We’ve got to try and discuss this Pirelli, we’ve got to try and work out what the best track surfaces are for racing and for the tyres and then try to suit the tyres to the track. But it’s very hard.”

        The FIA has had years of trying…but the greatest success they’d had is with trying our patience. Artificial methods to spice up the ‘strategic’ show were doomed to have unintended consequences. As history has shown, the teams are will always out-develop the FIA in a few seasons.

        Let’s see if they can fix the dirty aero issues first – if successful, then possibly they will ‘try’ harder to fix their designed-to-degrade tyres. Until they decide to tweak some other strategic area.

        Ultimately, FIA/Liberty must decide is F1 is mainly about sport or the pinnacle of reality-show entertainment.

        If it’s the former, from a sporting perspective less strategic micro-managing by the FIA is best. If it is less about sport and more about an unpredictable show – then prescriptive scripting and pre-programming race results would best fulfill that ‘unpredictability’ goal.

        Traditionally F1 was a meritocracy with a few mischievous Bernie twists. Now, seems we demand not just the best technical performance to be rewarded, we want randomness rewarded too. Who could have predicted that? ;-)

        1. @jimmi-cynic I think Brawn gets what has been the main enemy for a long time, that being too much dependence on clean air. And I’m sure they have some great ideas already as to how to achieve what he has described as a loss of only 20% in car performance while in someone’s dirty air rather than 50%. So when they implement the changes to the cars to achieve this, no longer will they need the gadgets of drs and poor tires to try to create variety, or a show. Cars allowed to race closely will provide the gladiator vs gladiator type of racing we yearn for which will provide some variety and unpredictability or randomness. Theoretically of course, but I see no point in being anything other than positive about the future, for with all the talk of what is to come once they can rid themselves of the BE effect, surely the racing will ultimately be much better. I can’t see how F1 won’t be improved.

  7. The current tyres are already hard and durable. All that really needs to be done is to fix the long-standing problem of following another car (which I’m relatively hopeful is going to be the case come 2021.)

    1. I wouldn’t call them durable unless you mean as long as you are in clean air ie. they’re fine for the leading driver and for the drivers who choose to not race the guy in front and rather hang back by a second or two or else ruin his fronts. Make one pass attempt and then fall back into procession.

      But for sure you are right the ultimate enemy is too much clean air dependence, which is why the aim is that for 2021 the cars lose only 20% of their performance while trailing, rather than 50% as it is now.

    2. @jerejj, sure it will all be OK in 2021 because the FIA/FOM have had such success in the past at fixing this problem.

    3. @jerejj

      Spot on. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the tyres this year. They’re durable, yet give significant performance differences in each compound and do still give us some interesting strategic options. Just look at the races this year where Tyre strategy actually livened up the race – Bahrain, China, Baku, Hungary, Germany. It’s not like a compulsory 2 or 3 stops would make racing more exciting. I don’t see why people are complaining so much about the tyres constantly.

      As you rightly mentioned, the only drawback is that tyres get overheated and degrade faster when following another car. If they can start fixing that issue from next year. I honestly believe we have nothing to complain about.

      1. @todfod Had to chuckle a bit at your ‘I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the tires this year,’ followed by your ‘the only drawback…’ sentence. That’s an awfully big drawback, no?

        Taking from what @gt-racer has told us, the only ones that have liked the Pirelli tires are Pirelli and BE. The drivers hate them. I have never liked hearing when drivers don’t like such a big aspect of F1, such as these tires.

        My main complaint remains too much clean air dependence, and that has been the case for years now, even when they were on better tires. But the fact is right now the cars are very clean air dependent and yet the front tires can’t take the movement of the car while in someone’s dirty air.

        Tires (and drs) are being used as gadgets to try to mask the processions from clean air dependence, and the drivers hate them, so yeah I think there is much to complain about the tires, amongst other issues. But thankfully this is all just stopgap stuff at this point and the redesign for 2021 should see them with no need for the gadgets of drs and terrible tires to mask clean air dependence, for the cars will be much less dependent on clean air.

  8. The only way to artificially create more viable multiple pitstop strategies is to put an artificial limit on how many laps you are allowed to do on a certain tyre. So for a stupid example; They limit the softest tyres to only 10 laps, then you need to pit and change to a new set of whatever tyre you want, does not matter if the tyres can do another 20 laps. When you do this the teams will no longer have any incentive to “stretch” how many laps they can get out of a set of tyres and will get the most out of those softs in those 10 laps. If you want artificial then go all the way and do it properly.

    1. @aliced The problem with that though is that if you have a car behind that knows the one ahead has to pit on lap x while they can go longer, Why would they bother risking the car with an overtake when they can just wait for them to make there mandatory stop?

      Same issue Champcar had when they introduced mandatory pit windows from 2002-2003, They did it to try & reduce fuel saving & introduce more strategy yet failed at both & ended up with a situation where there was less racing/overtaking because everyone knew exactly what everyone else was doing & if a car ahead had to pit on lap 20 while the one behind had pitted early & knew he could go longer, He just sat behind not trying to get too close or overtake knowing he could do an over-cut. It was universally unpopular among teams, drivers & fans so they dropped it after only the 2 seasons.

  9. Its a difficult problem, as much as i dislike the one stop strategy, my favourite races are where the end of a race is in doubt because there are teams gambling on different 1,2 or 3 stop strategies.

  10. It’s an interesting conundrum right now. While the cars are still too aero dependent they need gadget tires to try to make up the show, and even that hasn’t prevented processions. The way Pirelli has chosen to make the tires degrade as per BE’s mandate, so temp sensitive, has not been good and nobody likes them. So there’s what they need for the next few years and then there’s what would be best for 2021 and beyond.

    I just don’t get why they can’t have high deg tires that also provide a ton of mechanical grip for a number of usable laps per stint such that drivers can actually lean on them and race on them. Answer: they can, but Pirelli has chosen to fulfill their mandate by going with ultra temp sensitive tires that can’t be pushed. That needs to change.

  11. Tyre conservation is plain boring as a topic. F1 should be addressing the issue instead of trying to tweak it so it works temporarily. They should be able to drive as fast as possible all race long. And if they don’t have to stop, then they shouldn’t!

    The “strategy” is something you really don’t want. Ideally they should not be winning on the site all, they should be fighting it out on track.

    1. And it would just be like Bridgestone trains. No overtaking at all.

      1. @pascalwb, Bridgestone trains ? were they not re-fuelling trains ?

        1. I guess he’s talking about 2010. No refueling, and Bridgestone slicks were able to last for an entire race.

  12. Why is it just assumed that mandating the use of all three tyres would mean all the teams stop on the same lap or close to the same lap? Or that teams would all stop on the last lap just to get the slowest tyre out of the way?

    Stint lengths and the order of which tyre you’d go for would mix everything up. Option 1 – Soft, medium, hard. Option 2 – Soft, hard, medium. Option 3 – medium, soft, hard. Option 4 – medium, hard, soft. Option 5 – hard, medium, soft. Option 6 – hard, soft, medium.

    If there’s a late safety car you might even try ducking into the pits and do a Option 7 – Soft, medium, hard, soft if you have enough tyres.

    Point is, this would open up strategy, not close it. The teams still choose stint lengths and can decide them based on the track position they want. It all then shakes out at the end.

    What happens now is that the top three teams bolt off more than 25 seconds ahead of the pack so that they can pit and still come out ahead of traffic. If all three tyres are used, this might work the first stint, but would be difficult to manufacture in the second stint.

    The timing of safety cars would also impact on the uncertainty of strategy, as would rain.

    I reckon mandating all three tyres is the way forward. It can’t be any worse than now.

    1. Daft, but how about top 6 in the championship must use all three, everyone else can just use two.
      ie: one extra pitstop of approx 25s for those who have bolted of 25s ahead!

      1. That would penalise you for doing your job better. Reckon that’s a no no in F1 (apart from engine tokens to try to bring the PUs closer together in performance, where the top PU can bring 2 updates the following season, the next best 3, the next best 4 and the fourth 5 – without penalty). You decide the best PU by the average points scored per car (OEM and customer) using that PU over the previous season.

    2. But you could more easily throw a handful of tacks on the track at random moments if all you want is extra pit stops, unpredictability and drama.

  13. @jere u ryt about refueling being detrimental. But we still hav the under or over cut during tue race. Due to.pits. I must confess for me it does make it exciting. F1 is not just about driver and car.its also about pit crews amd strategies. My point was having lighter cars shud mean drivers are going faster. More prone to mistakes. Different strategies will upset d balance. And tyres not affected by heat so much would mean they can follow more race more.

  14. Unless different tyres mean different strategies (with reasonably similar odds balanced by driver abilities), they mean nothing for track action.

  15. The Average Dude
    26th September 2018, 15:07

    Simple maths really.

    If a pit stop takes 25 seconds and the fresher tyre can go 1 second a lap faster, you need 25 laps to recover that pitstop.
    It just isn’t worth it unless the difference is a lot higher, but then the tyres don’t actually last long enough to recover that time spent in the pits.

  16. This is basically what i’ve been saying would happen since the high-deg idea was first been thrown about in 2010.

    Montreal 2010 is generally considered the catalyst for the high-deg idea, However I recall saying at the time that that race wasn’t as good as it was because of wear or multiple pit stops, It was as good as it was because nobody expected the tyres to act they way they did. It was an unexpected set of natural circumstances with the track surface & weather conditions on that weekend & as it wasn’t expected nobody knew how to handle it. There also wasn’t actually much tyre management going on because nobody quite knew if it would even help…. Plus the tyre wear wasn’t bad enough to necisarily require it.

    The problem since 2011 has been that the tyre degredation has been artificially created, Everyone knew to expect it & so spent a lot of time trying to understand it & find ways to get around it as much as possible. As soon as you go into a race knowing the tyres are going to fall apart & know at about what rate the wear is going to be you understand how to drive around it to extend tyre life…. This we see the levels of tyre management we have seen the past few years.

    It is the same with wet/dry races, Right now they tend to be mixed up because reading conditions in those sorts of races needs to be different every time. If you introduced the Bernie sprinkler idea everyone would soon figure it out & we would never get the same levels of unpredictability which we tend to get in naturally occurring wet/dry races.

  17. Why exactly do we need loads of pit stops? Firstly, pit stops should not be mandatory. Countless times, races would have been far more interesting had a driver tried to get through the whole race without pitting. Secondly, more pit stops means less necessity for passing on track. Seriously, the whole thing is ridiculous. Tyres are absolutely fine at present, nothing could be worse than the 2012 random F1 “I can’t drive any slower” season. Let’s concentrate on reducing dirty air and change nothing else please!

    1. @john-h Was about to disagree with you somewhat until I read your last sentence. For sure the main enemy is too much clean air dependence, and it is because of that that we need pit stops to shake things up a bit, or at least give the appearance of a shake-up in the order. Processions with pit stops in the mix would be at least a little more tantalizing than processions without pit stops.

      I wouldn’t say the tires are fine right now, as they don’t lend themselves to being pushed, but absolutely if they had cars this weekend that only lost 20% of their performance in dirty air instead of 50%, perhaps these tires would be fine. Then again, a major change to the cars to cause such a change in dirty air performance, would likely mean those cars wouldn’t be able to heat up today’s tires to their necessary temps etc etc. Cars performing better in dirty air, behind cars that make less wake, will inherently need much different tires.

  18. No high deg tires are the key. Problem is current tires are low degradation. You can ran half of the race on hypers. That is not high deg.

    Pirelli went super conservative after people b*tched all the time and now every team does the same 1 stop strategy. More degradation means more stops means different conditions of tires between cars means overtaking.

  19. Hey, let’s have joker laps where the cars have to go off road via an alternative route at least once during the race. Even better give them a choice between one route which involves a water feature or another route which involves a jump. That’ll sort em out.

    1. That’s silly anon, we all know these cars can’t land a jump.

      They have the down force, make them drive upside down for a little ways

  20. Until F1 ditches DRS I don’t want to hear any moaning about hyperboost

  21. I think the mandatory pitstop that started all this nonsense, free them of this restrictions, bring 3 different compounds per race, the same quantity for each compound for every team, and let them decide what to do. Even it will always exist an optimal strategy, we might see more room for gambling, also different strategy for cars / drivers that conserve tires better vs agressive drivers / car that wear tires more. That will increase chances of more varied strategy without causing logistics issues for the tire supplier.

  22. In my opinion there should either be a rule for mandatory pitstops, or degradation tires. But not both at the same time.

    1. High degradation tires, that is

  23. Filippo Peverini
    26th September 2018, 21:45

    The whole concept around tires seems like a waste. Why have so many compounds? Does it really make a difference? I think that only one tire compound one the edge between one / two stops (depending on track) would make for much better racing.

  24. Whatever Pirelli (or whoever) do in the future, there will always be people having issues with tyres/pit stops etc, because teams will always find a way to get round whatever clever (or so they think) thing that FIA/Liberty/Tyre Manufacturer have dreamt up for that particular year.

    p.s. nice article though Keith, but you have too many “began’s” in this particular sentence “Isola reckons that since began Pirelli began producing high degradation tyres in 2011” ;-)

  25. What if they implemented a bonus point system during the race for cars that could get say within 2 secs of the pole time? Maybe have an average lap time delta over the race distance, so cars that hit the avg lap time, get the extra point.

    Would that incentivise some teams to go faster therefore cause some unexpected result i.e driver makes mistake, equip failure etc…?

  26. To me the problem is not the amount of degradation built into the tires per say, it’s the lack of balance between performance and degradation. In particular how that balance is affected by how hard the rubber is being pushed by the driver and car. It seems the current tires don’t really give you much more performance by pushing harder, it only leads to more degradation. So that naturally leaves you with only one option – stay on them for as long as possible to avoid the time penalty of a pit-stop. If you cant go faster by pushing harder, no one ever will.

    To promote more pit-stops:
    – Using a softer tire that last fewer laps must give you so much more performance over a harder tire that you gain back the time you loose on making an extra pit-stop. Maybe even more since the stop also involves a risk of loosing more time than anticipated, both through mistakes by the crew and by navigating traffic on track.
    – Pushing a tire harder (and getting faster lap-times but loosing stint-length) must reward you with a better performance to degradation ratio than nursing the tires to extend the stint-length.

  27. JustAnOldSchoolF1Fan
    27th September 2018, 2:04

    You want more pit stops? Make it less time-penalizing than it is today to do so. If a pit entry to exit time would be far less than the current 20-30 seconds, teams would likely be more about inclined to make more pit stops, fresher rubber, faster times, more excitement …

  28. The key point Isola makes is that regardless of tyre specs, the teams have so much data (both from practice/qualifying and during the race) that they can use setup, pace and strategy to minimise degradation and one-stop. It seems that with less data available different tyre strategies would be more likely.
    How could data be reduced? Long runs could be restricted in practice. Tyre temperature monitoring could be restricted. Engineers would likely find ways around it, but reducing data in some way seems to be the key.

  29. The tyre rules regarding using 2 compounds in a race with the “top 10 tyre rule” is defeating it’s own purpose. It basically locks all the top cars onto the same strategy whether it’s 1 stop or 5 stops….

  30. As teams understand tyres better, the degradation comes always smaller. We saw much of that already in early Pirelli years when the latter half of the season usually had less stops.

    Basically they would have to move compounds by a step every year.

  31. The degredation must come naturally through the softness of the compound. Everything that’s produced artificially is just wrong.
    In addition to that the lap time delta between the tyre compounds has to be a lot bigger than it was the past two seasons. We had races this year where there was less than a second between the softest and the hardest tyre or less than 0.5 between the softest and the compound in between. That’s exactly the reason why there have been mostly 1-stop-races. I feared this would happen when Pirelli announced they would bring more types of tyres, because it meant there will be smaller gaps between the compounds. What F1 needs are bigger performance gaps between the tyres (1.5 sec at least between each type of compound), because on most tracks you need at least 1.5 sec (on some even more than 2 sec) to be able to overtake the car in front.
    If Pirelli or Hankook can produce tyres that have the above mentioned attributes, I am certain that we will see better, more exciting races.

    1. One more thing:
      They should get rid of the “Top10 have to start on the tyres the qualified on”-rule.
      Why punish teams for doing a good job in qualy?!
      Singapore highlighted that issue, as the Top10 had to pit early and thus their race was ruined. It’s like the midfield teams were hoping to miss Q3, to have a better race strategy and that’s wrong.
      Let all of them start on whatever tyre they want!

  32. Here’s a thought experiment: how about the “two tyre types” rule is turned on its head? The rule would be instead that you have to use one type of tyre at least twice in a race, rather than you have to use (at least) two types of tyre in the race. Retain “top 10 start on Q2 tyre” rule or change it to requiring the use of that tyre at some point in the race. the You could go a step further and say, only one type of tyre (except for wet weather rules), but I don’t think it’s necessary.
    So for the pole-sitter, for example, options would include:
    1) Q2 on the softest tyre, start on softest, second stint on the softest, probably have to do a second stop and you may as well then take on the soft (or mids) again
    2) Q2 and stint 1 on softest, first stop go to mid or hard, second stop softs
    3) Q2 and start on mids, first and second stops put on softs
    4) Q2 and start on mids, one stop only for another set of mids
    Whilst for #11 on the grid you’d still have free choice of the starting tyre, and their options might include:
    1) start on hard, then go with two stints on the soft
    2) start on mids, then go with two stints on the soft
    3) two stints on mids
    There are various tweaks you could make (for instance you might insist it was the Q2 tyre that was used twice in the race), but it would make two stops much more likely, without being obligatory. And since pretty much everyone will stop twice, it allows people to be more reactive and respond to how their tyres actually cope in the race.Granted, the hardest compound would hardly ever be used but that’s the current state of play anyway.

  33. Ok at the moment each car has 13 sets of dry tyres per race and Pirelli makes 9 different compounds. There are 21 races on the calendar this year so that makes 273 sets of dry tyres per year. Why not say each car has 270 sets of tyres a year, 30 sets of each compound and the teams must pick which tyres they want to take to each race but they must run 2 compounds in the race (if its dry). This would force teams to run less than ideal compounds at some tracks through out the year and so make more or less stops at those races than would be optimal. This would create variation in strategy and so produce better racing.

  34. You start a race with the guy who can lap the track the fastest, first. The guy who can lap second fastest starts second.

    And then you’re surprised that the leading car disappears into the distance and the number two disappears away from number 3, away from number 4, etc?
    And there is no overtaking.

    And that surprises you?

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