Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Suzuka, 2018

‘We’re completely cruising around’: Bottas wants better tyres in 2019

2018 Japanese Grand Prix

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Valtteri Bottas says he hopes Pirelli’s tyres for the 2019 F1 season will allow drivers to push harder.

Drivers have had to manage their tyres more carefully in recent races due to blistering, said Bottas.

“We had to do a lot of management at pretty much every race this season and especially at the last few there have been issues with the blistering,” he explained.

“Once we are getting to a certain temperature we know it’s going to happen at some point. So then we’re just not pushing to go over those temperatures and trying to manage.

“At some places, like [Suzuka], when it’s hot, in this high energy track, laterally, it’s pretty difficult and it does feel at times that you are completely cruising around which is not ideal.

“You know there’s so much potential in these cars and my thinking is if everyone did one stop today, if you do one stop pushing flat out it would be more fun but that’s the issue for everyone now. The cars are quicker than ever.”

Bottas has already sampled Pirelli’s prototype tyres for 2019. “I was involved in some of the testing for next year’s tyres a couple of weeks ago,” he said. “I’m sure they are pushing flat out and hopefully it’s going to be a bit better next year.”

His team mate Lewis Hamilton believes Pirelli should bring back the thinner-gauge tyres which were used at the Spanish, French and British Grand Prix to reduce the blistering which has been seen at recent races.

“I think Pirelli have done a really good job this year,” he said. “The cars are faster than ever before, we have more downforce than ever before so there’s more force going through the tyres. And so every time they improve the tyres, we improve the car and we pretty much have a similar issue of blistering.

“But they do have the lower gauge tyre which we used earlier in the year on which we didn’t see any blistering. I’m not really sure why they didn’t continue using that for the year but I’m sure that’s probably something they will engage in next year.”

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Keith Collantine
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35 comments on “‘We’re completely cruising around’: Bottas wants better tyres in 2019”

  1. I think a 5 second difference from Qualifying to race lap times is too much. Find a way to keep it closer so we can at least kinda feel like the drivers and cars are on the limit. I understand the variable such as fuel flow, engine modes, tires, brakes, etc. for me 5+ seconds per lap is too big. MotoGP Qualifying Laps are so much closer. Which just looks like the riders are closer to the limit through the GP

    1. @GPfan The fuel loads are the primary reason race lap times are significantly slower than qualifying times, though, and that’s been the case ever since 2010 (the first season after the ban on in-race refuelling.) Furthermore, I don’t find 5 seconds to be too big of a difference between them. Lap times aren’t too relevant in the races anyway. Qualifying is the most lap time-relevant session of a GP weekend, not the race itself. In the races, it’s the quality of on-track racing that matters far more than how close the lap times are relative to qualifying pace.

      1. @jerejj Indeed, add the (absence of DRS), different engine modes and energy recovery to the mix and there’s the answer to 5 seconds.

      2. I agree, but the tyre nursing means that the drivers are not attacking enough all the way through the race which means the racing is not as good as it could be.

      3. Fuel-saving may mean lift and cost, or less power on the straight, but the drivers still would be able to push to the limit in the corners with better tires.
        And that’s what makes watching exciting, a car on the edge in the corner, not 10kph + oder – on the straights.

        1. “I understand the variable such as fuel flow, engine modes, tires, brakes, etc. “

          Fuel load doesn’t account for the five second difference, or we’d have everyone setting track records on the last lap.

          I’ve been following F1 for fifty years, and worked my first F1 race thirty years ago. Don’t try to explain the technical nuances to me.

          1. You mean on the last lap when their tyres are at their most worn, but are often able to put in fastest laps? Is that when you’re expecting them to set track records, despite also being in a more conservative engine mode?

            If you’re going to be condescending, at least make sense.

  2. Agreed 100% f1 is not for cruising its for driving on the limit. At maximum speed. Tyres should degrade by wear not over temperature. Example: a hard tyre should lose 1millimeter every 1 kilometer. A soft tyre should lose 1.5 millimeters per km. The softest of the 3 should lose 2mm per kilometer. Irrelevent of temperature. My example is just an example.

    1. Your example is not according to physics however.

  3. Lenny (@leonardodicappucino)
    8th October 2018, 11:51

    I feel like Pirelli are in a bit of a tough spot here. They’re asked to make tyres the drivers can push on, but also ones that create two-stop races. Because it’s so difficult to overtake, teams will always look to stretch tyres to a one stop, thereby making the drivers nurse them, as, with current f1, track position is key.

    1. @leonardodicappucino I believe the difference is between tyre wear and tyres overheating. The ideal situation would be that soft tyres degrade fast, but don’t overheat when the driver is pushing. But like @rethla mentioned, physics come into play here.

  4. The current tyres are already durable and allow to push for longer than the 2011-16 tyres. If following another car wouldn’t be such a struggle then the drivers would, of course, push even more as there’d be a far more realistic chance for a reward for it, but due to the long-standing problem, track-position is too vital for a driver to risk getting stuck in traffic by pushing more, and thus, potentially forcing himself into an extra pit-stop. The cars’ aero-design is the real problem, not the tyres.

    1. @jerejj, Chicken-egg, which came first. The cars aero-design would be a lot less of a problem were the tyres both grippy and durable.

      1. @hohum I don’t think that has proven to be the case. We have seen processions (the Trulli train for eg.) when there were more than two tire makers in F1 making pretty solid, dependable, reliable tires that drivers could lean on for lap after lap. Competition saw to that, and those tires did not change much in dirty air that I can recall. The absolute main enemy to close racing is that no matter the tires, all the tires are relatively the same for all drivers. The big difference is in how a leading car behaves in clean air, while a trailing car just as dependent on clean air is now handcuffed in said dirty air.

        So you are not wrong that better tires than they have now would help drivers stay in dirty air longer without the front tires being ruined, but dirty air altering clean air dependent cars’ performance is absolutely far and away the main problem. The cars are far more altered from their optimum state in dirty air, than good tires are. Reduce the wake and the dependence on aero downforce, and even weak tires would stand up much better on a trailing car for the front end wouldn’t nearly be moving around as much and affecting the tires.

        1. @robbie, Agreed, the tyres just make a bad situation worse.

  5. The issue is that the tyres can’t be pushed flat out for more than few laps without overheating. Why can’t Pirelli design tyres that get slower through a stint from wear rather than thermal degradation?

    As it stands it doesn’t matter how soft the tyres are as if pushed straight from the off they blister and become useless. We get the stupid situation were drivers have to nurse the tyres to make the stint length. We saw it with Kimi in Monza and Lewis / Danny Ric in Austria – push for even a few laps early on and they are done.

    1. Because physics.

      Put simply. Work = heat. More work = more heat.

      Wear resistance and heat resistance are in conflict with grip.

      What we have is a balance of these critical variables within the boundaries of an optimal race deployment and limited compounds.

      Basically, we can’t have it all. So, there must be compromise.

      If I were a tyre maker, I would tell F1 to go somewhere unpleasant.

      For all Pirelli’s efforts they only ever receive negative press. You never ever hear anyone say, “Wow, great race! Thanks to Pirelli for providing the tyres which allowed it happen.”

  6. Get rid of the tire sensors on the cars and eliminate pit to car radio. I don’t believe different compounds will change things much as every team will put the same data into the same software and come out with the same delta lap times. Leave it up to the drivers to figure it out and that will likely mix up the results as some will be too aggressive, some too conservative and some will get it just right.

  7. I am for wear-limited tyres that require tyre saving and multiple stops but not tyre degradation, which kills on-track battles (unless one is significantly faster and overtake very quickly) and mean everyone is cruising around. It was very good in 2011 and 2012, but not so much after 2013.

    That’s more, despite being much faster in qualifying, the drivers are slower in the races this year.

    1. @michal2009b 2011 and ’12 were the worst of the seasons of ”designed to degrade” tyres, though, and the drivers have been slower in the races than in qualifying ever since 2010 (the first season after the ban on in-race refuelling), not just this season.

  8. i wonder if it wouldn’t be possible to change something, so that it will be possible again to choose for a 1 stop boring tyre saving race or the other option make 4 pitstops but being able to go at racepace allmost all laps.

    What is preventing teams for choosing the latter option right now? Fuel saving, not enough sets of the softest sets? Engine saving because only 3 are allowed?

    When these two extreme ends of strategy become available again, the need for DRS is gone as the fast racers will be overtaking the slow driving tyresaving teams a lot. They will have to as they are stopping a lot in the pits for new rubber :D Just like in the old days when shumacher won, i think it was in france, with a 5 or 6 stop strategy :)

    1. @chris, as mentioned by @jerejj above, it’s likely the issue preventing that is that the current cars need so much pace difference to be able to overtake on most tracks.

      Combined with an ever larger pit-stop loss, (due to safety, pit lane speed tends to go down, not up, and with increasingly faster cars, the relative time loss from stopping becomes larger and larger), the fix is quite likely not from the tyres but from something like the 2021 rules (hopefully).

  9. This is no t going to change until the difference between tyre compounds is increased sufficiently.

    As soon as one of the top teams calculates that two stops (in yesterday’s case SS, S, SS at full speed) is going to get a better result than (SS, M managed by reducing speed) and actually tries it, none of the teams is going to try it.

    Unfortunately it won’t work until the speed differential between compounds is big enough to allow the faster tyred car to overtake relatively easily.

  10. I actually think that we are going to get 1-stop races, no matter what. Even if Pirelli bring the super-soft, soft and medium to a high-degradation track like Suzuka, drivers are still going to be doing 1 stop races. 15 out of the 17 races have been won by drivers on a 1-stop strategy, and the other two were won by drivers who pitted towards the end of the race due to a safety car and would otherwise have been won by drivers on 1-stop strategies. If the races are going to be 1-stop races anyways, why not just bring harder compounds so that drivers can push flat out? The whole point of high-degradation tyres was multiple pitstops, but since this isn’t going to happen, why not just let the drivers push all race i.e 2010? This way, both the undercut and the overcut is an option, and there will be none of this nonsense. Will make qualifying better as well, as drivers will have less grip and less bite on their tyres.

    1. Excellent post! Agreed 100%.
      Racing on the limit is better to watch than forced multiple pit stops anyway. Would probably reduce costs somewhat to only have primes, options and wets as well. Degrading tyres is a gimmick that avoids the actual problems and has no environmental benefits.

    2. +1 but why have a mandatory pit-stop at all ?

      1. But I think we have to consider the reset for 2021 and what that might bring. I am hopeful and expecting that the completely redesigned cars will be much less dependent on aero downforce (of course there will be some), have more floor work for ground effects, and will make much less wake. Perhaps the cars might even be lighter again. So to me the tires needed for 2021 and beyond will be very different than we have now. So I envision an F1, unencumbered from the effects of the BE era in terms of cars and who decides on regs and how they are implemented, no longer needing gadgets such as drs and joke tires to mask too much aero dependence that ruins close racing and has for decades. Less downforce will slow the cars in corners, but create less drag on straights making them very fast that way, while good sticky dependable tires can make up for the slower cornering speeds that used to depend on the cars being pushed down onto the track, by adding good mechanical grip that needn’t be fleeting like with today’s gadget tires.

  11. I don’t think the softness or hardness of the tires is the problem. The problem seems to be that once the tires go over certain temperature the tires lose grip permanently. You can not attack, then wait for the tires to come back and then attack again. You get one chance and regardless if your attack is succesful or not the tires are now slower. The solution for pirelli should be to make tires that recover and recover quickly. With tire management there is always tire management with regards how hard you are pushing but there should be the option for drivers to back off and then have the tires come back. Obviously the tires should not go off as easily as they do now either.

    I remember in rallying in some race in the 90s where mäkinen said that the tire they were using had a peculiar characteristic that early in the stage you can push hard. But as soon as you start feeling the tires lose grip you back off and drive more carefully a little bit. It takes little time but then at some point the tires come back and you can push. If you tried to push through when the tires started losing grip you would just become slower. This is what I feel is missing in f1. The tires just have grip, then push and the grip is gone, permanently.

    The other issue in f1 is that the teams know the tires too well. I really think the tires should be more unpredictable. Some races should be easy one stoppers. Some races should have 3 or even more stops. Most races should have some kind of tradeoff betweeen 1, 2 and 3 stops. I think the best way to achieve this is for pirelli to bring slightly different tires to every race. Some races should be about managing the blistering and graining, some should be about full-on attack just to keep the tires to temperature and others should have mix of those. Pirelli could for example give just one set of the race compounds for practice sessions. Make the teams try to make strategy based on that one set.

    I think another way to create more variation in strategies is to allow mixing the tires. For example have 2 tires from one compound and then 2 others. In rallying this is used somewhat often and people used to do this in f1 as well. I don’t mean putting rears to fronts. I mean simply changing the compounds for each tire as the teams want. Then change the tire compound rule that you need to run 2 compounds of tires in the race. Doesn’t matter if you run 7 softs and 1 hard tire or one of the every compound pirelli offers. The less information and the more choices the less likely it is that the teams get it right everytime.

    1. That or pirelli could just do one season and make as good f1 tires as they can. Forget the wear rates, forget the show and spectacle, forget the cliffs and 1 stops and 2 stop races. Just make as good f1 tire as they can. Fast, reliable and if they are peaky then just let the teams figure it out. Wonder what might happen?

      1. @socksolid For sure the tires needn’t have the finicky temp windows they do, near impossible to retrieve when gone, you are right. If you ask poster @gt-racer , when Pirelli were asked to make degrady tires to make up the show while F1 remains addicted to aero downforce, they were not necessarily asked to make them behave as they do. Ask him and he has recently said the only ones who like today’s tires is Pirelli and BE.

        But I think for you to suggest more unpredictability in tires, or mixing of tires, is just more gadget talk. Just more smoke and mirrors. And to make the very best tires they can, and forget making them the show, also doesn’t work, not while the cars are so harmed in dirty air. Buddy on great tires but in clean air is still going to be heavily advantaged over buddy on great tires but driving a car very negatively affected in dirty air. Same tires but not the same car conditions, and the leader still drives off into the sunset.

        Greatly improve the ratio of mechanical grip to aero grip, favouring the mechanical grip side, and they won’t need anything but normal tires and close racing will be the norm. Cars must be made less negatively affected in dirty air.

        1. But I think for you to suggest more unpredictability in tires, or mixing of tires, is just more gadget talk. Just more smoke and mirrors.

          I don’t really understand what you are saying here. Smoke and mirrors? Do you mean the tires would just hide the dirty air problem of f1? Or do you mean if the tires were more unpredictable then the wealthiest teams would come on top because they can analyse the data better?

          If you say it is the first thing then I don’t see the issue because if that happened then dirty air effect would be reduced. As for the second guess I don’t think that would happen either. Currently in f1 the teams can do so much tire testing that the amount of data is insurmountable. Even the wealthiest teams can not analyze it all so they need to focus on things they think matter the most. But if the amount of tire data was really small then the big teams would lose their advantage because you can not just keep throwing money at analysing one stint in one practise session on new tires. The smaller teams could actually get closer to big teams when it comes to understanding tires simply because there is million times less data to analyze. This also means less gadgets.

          The goal with more unpredictable tires and more variety in what and how the compounds are used should create more opportunities to do different things. With current 1 stop tires you have just one strategy that you can use. Start on the softer tire, finish on the harder one. You start with the softer to get better start and stretch a gap for your first pitstop. Then you switch to harder tires and cruise to finish. There is just nothing you can do differently there. If you could mix tires then you would at least have a chance to do something different even with a 1 stop in the race. Even if the tire mixing benefit would be the greatest in mixed conditions it still opens up totally new strategies under current rules. And it is a change f1 could do tomorrow. Dirty air has to wait until 2021 and new tires come earliest in 2019, probably 2021.

          I do agree that the amount of downforce and dirty air is the main issue by far. But tires are equally important. Look back at 2016 and the passing wasn’t any better because the tires melted away if the driver did anything more than just drive conservatively. Even if you have less dirty air you still need tires that can handle the chasing and passing.

  12. The 2010 season may seem like a long time ago but Bridgestone tyres never had these overheating issues or at worst, explosions like in 2013. Those tyres were rock hard and yet didn’t seem to have a negative impact IMO. I have to say I agree with Alonso’s 4 letter expletive when describing the Pirellis. To me they just don’t seem to be up to the task (despite the FIA’s request for high degradation).

  13. Gavin Campbell
    8th October 2018, 22:20

    Welcome to every gimmicky rule brought into racing to “spice up the show”. It works for a short period of time and then everyone figures out the best way to play their hand. Then it’s onto the next gimmick to try and replicate what you had created before.

    The main problem with the tyres (and this isn’t limited to Pirelli and F1) is when you get too close you lose downforce, slide the tyre and they overheat. That is the thing they have to solve but I’m not quite sure how.

    The best thing I’ve come up with is reverse DRS – where you can when within a second or two increase your wing angle dynamically to add grip and thus stop the tyre sliding. It’s also more “fair” as the leading car gets clean air and the following car can add more wing for corners. No idea if it would actually work in reality.

  14. Strengthen the tyres and ban ‘party’ modes. So much tyre management is the antithesis of racing.

    From the Oxford English dictionary:

    To Race (verb)
    > Compete with another or others to see who is fastest at covering a set course or achieving an objective.
    > Move or progress swiftly or at full speed.

    I don’t think it’s good at all for the competition or the spectacle that a car suddenly has more power in qualifying and in races. It’s always an unpleasant surprise.

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