Renault, 2006

Why Formula 1 should bring back the ‘tyre war’

Dieter's Inbox

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RaceFans’ special correspondent @DieterRencken tackles more of your questions including whether Formula 1 should have a tyre war and what Hermann Tilke has done for track design.

Rules changes

If you were allowed the opportunity to suggest two relatively achievable changes to Formula 1 – one technical and one sporting – what would they be?
@F1Stuffs

I would tick both the technical and sporting regulation boxes with a single change targeting F1’s sole rubber supplier regulations. In short, I’d bring back a ‘tyre between whichever brands wish to compete in F1.

This would effectively be a return to what we had in the late nineties/early noughties, which saw Gooydear vs Bridgestone, then Bridgestone vs Michelin.

Such a change would rid F1 of its complex (and often silly) compound permutations and confusing qualifying regulations that are aimed at little more than ‘spicing up the show’. Instead, multiple manufacturers would bring with them diverse tyre philosophies, which would in turn provide different grip and degradation levels at various points during the race and deliver that crucial element: genuine unpredictability.

Concurrently, I would mandate road-relevant technologies such as smart sensors and treads in order to encourage multiple tyre suppliers to enter by providing authentic technical and marketing platforms for their products. This would make it easier for brands to justify their F1 participation as budgets could be spread over (genuine) research and development (R&D) and marketing programmes. Therefore their tyre spend in F1 would increase.

Not only would testing activities increase, in turn providing year-long development activities for teams, but safety would potentially improve through the reduction of unknown factors at new/newly-surfaced circuits. Think Silverstone 2013, for example. Indeed, whenever Pirelli has come in for criticism about its products, the company has – understandably – pointed to the lack of testing allowed under present regulations.

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I’m told Pirelli’s annual F1 budget is around €120m (£110m), spent 50/50 on track activities and trackside marketing/race sponsorships. Teams pay around €1.5m per year for tyres. Imagine how much better off F1 would be if multiple tyre companies allocated full budgets to track activities – as is the past – rather than one pumping half into FOM coffers, from which major teams in any event benefit disproportionately?

Michael Schumacher, Fernando Alonso. Imola, 2006
2006: Schumacher vs Alonso, Bridgestone vs Michelin
Road relevance would encourage tyre companies to allocate a portion of their R&D budgets to F1. At the height of the 2000s tyre war, then-Michelin Motorsport chief Pierre Dupasquier opposed the single supplier rule. “A company like ours, we spend our lives testing anyway, for anything,” he explained. “We test for trucks, we have trucks [running] 24 hours, all day long, just to test tyres.” Now apply that to road relevant F1 rubber…

Marketing programmes would ride on “Win on Sunday, sell on Monday” slogans generated by genuine competition between brands, which is presently absent. Current tyre talk revolves mainly around negatives such as degradation, rather than the positives of winning, yet F1 purports to be about victory created by “engineered insanity” in open competition.

True, certain regulations such as those governing engine usage would need to be overhauled to account for the increase in testing. But F1’s current long-life power units have duty cycles of 10 times those in the early 2000s, plus spend a lot of time on dynamometers, which could be substituted by track testing.

Equally, regulations regarding tyre supply would need to be imposed to prevent teams being favoured by bespoke tyres (think Ferrari and Bridgestone in 2004), with (realistic) limits on maximum test distances could be imposed. But it’s all do-able, and simply a matter of application.

What the chances of it happening? Sadly, zero. And, tellingly, for the very reasons that F1 should reintroduce open tyre competition: fear on the part of teams that they might end up with the “wrong” supplier, and be on the “wrong” end of the unpredictability a tyre war would. Plus FOM is, of course, reluctant to lose its substantial income streams from bridge-and-board advertising.

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Hermann Tilke and F1 track design?

What is your opinion of Hermann Tilke’s influence on Formula 1 track design and how it has changed over the years?
@MacLeod

Hermann Tilke, Baku Citry Circuit, 2018
Tilke’s track designs have come in for criticism
Hermann Tilke is a good friend with whom I enjoy spending time at grands prix, and I’m concerned that his work is often misunderstood.

Over the years safety standards have improved massively, As a result most traditional circuits have been redesigned to cope. That means his efforts are constrained by parameters that were absent when, say, Spa-Francorchamps or the Nürburgring, were designed.

As an amateur racer who regularly competed in the Nürburgring 24 Hour, plus won VLN races – and thus knows all about the joys of classic circuits – he is a qualified architect who designs according to commissions awarded to him by landowners. If their patches of land are flat – as they mostly are – he cannot recreate faux Eau Rouge corners unless said owners are prepared to shell out gazillions in excavation costs.

In addition, most grands prix lose money, yet circuits need to wash their faces to stay in business – which most do via track days. If circuits are lined with barriers and have no run-offs, they’re unlikely to find favour with Joe Punter or Mike Biker who pay to chuck their Porsches or Ducatis about, but need to go home with them afterwards. So they go to venues with wide run-offs, and the “fun” circuits go out of business…

Thus it’s unfair to compare Herman’s designs with what went before. One final point: Herman’s company Tilke Engineers and Architects designs most of the world’s circuits because he is awarded most of the commissions on tender – and I believe the reason for that is he’s a lifelong fan who understands motor racing better than most.

Do take a minute to read our in-depth interview with Hermann Tilke from last year when I invited him to comment on some of the most frequent criticisms of his work, among many other topics:

[dietersinbox]

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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...

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  • 69 comments on “Why Formula 1 should bring back the ‘tyre war’”

    1. Steven Simpson
      29th January 2019, 12:00

      I would think that a tyre war could only be fair if all teams had access to both manufacturers and the rules specified that cars must run both in the race. The manufacturers can decide on whether to go for the fastest tyre, or the one which will last and be on show on the car for the longest.

      1. A fair war?

        1. Biskit Boy (@sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk)
          29th January 2019, 13:06

          A tyre war would be a sporting, economic and a entertainment disaster.

          Sporting because fairness is a prerequisite for genuine sport (yes there is already built in unfairness with budgets), adding more when we don’t have to is ridiculous.

          Economic because there will be more cost here however it is spread.

          Entertainment-wise because we are already limited to only one of three teams possibly winning. If any one of those three has the ‘wrong’ tyre then that would reduce further!

          1. Entertainment-wise because we are already limited to only one of three teams possibly winning. If any one of those three has the ‘wrong’ tyre then that would reduce further!

            But then that would open the door to one of the teams outside of the top three which would actually be more entertaining.

            1. Biskit Boy (@sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk)
              29th January 2019, 16:51

              Maybe, I did think about this but, I came to the conclusion that all things being equal, if one of the top three was on the wrong tyre and a midfield team was on the right tyre then the midfield team might make into the top three teams on the day. It would not mean they would beat the other top two teams on the right tyre.

            2. @sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk, you are right that there is a strong likelihood that, rather than mixing things up, a tyre war could end up instead entrenching a new hierarchy instead.

              Going back to the sort of increased testing workload that Dieter is advocating for is a proposition that definitely benefits the largest and richest teams, which are the teams that can afford to do the most testing. We might complain about the gap between the top three and the rest, but in previous tyre wars it was often the case that the tyre manufacturers would converge around just one or two teams, often to the detriment of other teams. Nigel Beresford, formerly of Tyrrell, has made clear in the past that the tyre manufacturers were pretty ruthless about screwing over smaller teams in favour of their favoured teams (he made some rather scathing comments accusing Goodyear of doing that – even in years when Goodyear was the only supplier in F1 and gained nothing from hindering the smaller teams).

              In the past, often there wasn’t actually that much more variety in the teams which would be up at the front of the grid – it was usually the same two or three teams (Williams, McLaren and Ferrari back then, mainly) up front, and many of the same complaints being made now were just the same as those made in the early 2000s, or even earlier than that. In fact, it would be well worth perhaps looking back to that era at what people were actually saying then – the comments that were being written at the time might show how we’ve rather forgotten what things were like back then.

              I know that Dieter does make a call towards trying to get the manufacturers to act more neutrally, but even if the tyre manufacturers were supposed to maintain some sort of neutrality, by the very fact that the data that they would be collecting would reflect the particular characteristics of the car that they were using as a test bed, the teams testing for them would still indirectly influence those tyre manufacturers to produce tyres that favoured their cars.

        2. Steven Simpson
          29th January 2019, 18:41

          Agree that there is no such thing as a fair war, but we already have the issue of car’s being held back because they have the ‘wrong’ engine, is it fair to hold back cars because they have the wrong tyres? We want a diverse but level playing field which is almost impossible and standardisation is a slippery slope we probably don’t want to go down, otherwise F1 basically becomes Indy / Formula E. Also, would we be willing to risk another GP having half the field drop out due to equipment issues?

          1. Steven Simpson, of course, we did have the situation of the 2005 Indianapolis GP where, as a consequence of the politics between the tyre suppliers (amongst other factors), we saw 70% of the field withdraw from the race.

    2. There is no doubt that circuit safety has improved. However, one cannot ignore the elephant in the room – many of his circuits do not promote racing. We can look to tyres, aero and devices like DRS to ‘improve the show’ but another critical element are the circuits themselves.

      Anyone who is responsible for the layout of the Yas Marina circuit (which is universally hated by F1 drivers) clearly doesn’t understand racing and what profiles and sequences of bends create overtaking opportunities.

      I note that the design of one of the more interesting tracks to come out in recent years – Circuit of the Americas – was not led by Mr. Tilke.

      It is not good to lay a core part of the DNA of F1 in the hands of one man. More diverse input and greater variety required.

      1. If you check out the list of circuits on Tilke’s cv you’ll see that CoTA does indeed appear.

        1. Note I said that the project was not led by him.

          Track layout/design was done by someone else.

          I understand the trackside facilities at CoTA are great however so he’s done some good work there.

      2. @Kyle S I enjoy driving the Yas Marina Circuit, i.e., I’m part of the relative minority who likes that circuit. Yes, it mightn’t have the best flow ever, and therefore, not quite a match to the likes of Spa, Suzuka, Silverstone, or Monza to name a few, but a decent track nevertheless.

      3. Anyone who is responsible for the layout of the Yas Marina circuit (which is universally hated by F1 drivers) clearly doesn’t understand racing and what profiles and sequences of bends create overtaking opportunities.

        I’ve driven Yas Marina in one of their F3000 cars and I have to say it’s actually quite good fun. There are subtleties you see when you are at car level that you can never see on TV (such as how steeply downhill the run into turns 5 and 6 and the camber of some of the corners – turn 4 is quite heavily in camber while turns 8 and 9 amongst others are off camber). It’s not a classic by any stretch, but it still has its quirks which drivers will have to master.

      4. Part of the responsibility for lack of racing lies with the current aerodynamic rules.

        1. No doubt.

          And part also lies with the track design.

          Look at an old school track like Interlagos – consistently throws up great action, regardless of which aero, tyres, etc.

      5. if I recall, the drivers like Yas Marina because of the technical challenge– but it is difficult to overtake.

        Istanbul, Malaysia, China, Bahrain**, India and CotA are all Tilke tracks, and the racing has been pretty good there– unfortunately, three of those tracks are no longer on the calendar.

        **Bahrain, for some reason, was dull as the surrounding desert as a day-time race, but seems to have gained something by switching to a night race.

        Valencia, Korea, Yas Marina and Sochi, I agree, are not great tracks. Then again, Korea may not have gotten an opportunity to develop.

    3. How road relevant can a racing-tyre ever be when they are mostly slicks and all road tyres need a tread of some sort? Maybe all races need to be wet races, however that is managed.

      1. They DON’T have to be slicks, that is my point.

        1. For racing in the dry a slick tyre is superior to a treaded tyre, so if treaded tyres are mandated, F1 tyre designers will look to initially wear-reduce tread depth very quickly to a low (but durable rubber) setting that best mimics a slick tyre in performance. This design imperative for F1 is at complete odds with the requirements of a road tyre which needs good wear resistance of the tread in order to remain legal for a decent mileage, so there is little road relevance to be gained from a F1 tyre war, or am I missing a trick?

          1. F1 Codger, I recall hearing from one tyre engineer that, if anything, the requirements of most motorsport series often directly conflict with the typical requirements of a road tyre.

            With a road tyre, you need that tyre to be able to perform over a much wider operating temperature range, provide high durability and work in a much wider variety of weather conditions for a start. In addition to that, you have factors which race cars don’t have to care about – for example, noise emissions is a fairly important factor for most road cars.

            Overall, he reckoned that developing a tyre for a typical road car was actually more challenging than developing one for racing, as there were actually more technical constraints and challenges in producing a road tyre than a racing tyre, and that the amount of technology that could be transferred from motorsport to road cars was pretty low.

      2. Maybe all races need to be wet races, however that is managed.

        Bernie?

        1. Is that you?

    4. F1 is loosing its attraction because it is not dangerous enough. Any risk is followed by a penalty. So it is safe but boring. Somebody told once we don’t need airbags and ABS in commercial cars to get them safe. No seatbelts and a spike coming out of the steeringcolumn in a accident will make everybody ride safer.

      1. @pietkoster Have people stopped following football now that it’s a safer sport? No, they haven’t. I personally don’t buy the theory that people don’t watch F1 because they have stopped expecting drivers to die every time they turn the TV on. I think F1 being behind a TV paywall is probably the biggest factor. F1 does quite well in the countries where it is easily accessible.

        1. @mashiat No-one wants anyone to get hurt but the difference is that I used to think “wow I could never do that” and now I think “wow I could never afford to do that.”

          It’s like the difference between someone doing a tight-rope walk between two sky scrapers and someone doing the same walk 1 foot off the ground with a crash mat and harness. Both are effectively the same but one takes serious balls and one doesn’t.

          1. @petebaldwin There is a huge difference between F1 and your example though. If all F1 was, was drivers just trying to set qualifying laps that looked spectacular and were absolutely on the limit like Rallying, then yes, safety could be a deterrent. However, people mainly watch F1 for the racing and to see who will win the race. Not which driver will die today. I think people forget how when F1 was really dangerous, you’d see less “hard racing”, as everyone was a lot more respectful of everyone else. You wouldn’t see drivers defending to the same degree they can do nowadays. Perhaps F1 drivers are looked at less like superhumans, but I very much doubt the majority of people who have turned off, have done so because the death list is so short now.

            1. It is not about dying. Moto GP have about the same speeds but withoud the safety features of F1. They go wheel to wheel and touching each other at 200 MP/h on two wheels. Look at TT of Man. (TT of men) And yet nobody is complaining. In F1 you get a penalty in about every situation which is not in line with the slotrace philosophy, especially overtaking. So it is this safety I am talking about.

    5. I say tire war only if the teams manufacture their own tires. I can’t stand the idea of outside entities having such a profound effect on the racing on such a crucial part of the sport. “Where the rubber meets the road”

      I want to watch Ferrari vs Mercedes, not Bridgestone vs Michelin

    6. I’m all for a tire war if it means getting rid of the Pirellis, any level of chemical grip would wipe the floor with what Pirelli have provided the past however many years.

      I don’t think it’ll help fix any of the real problems in F1 though, it wouldn’t let cars race closer and it wouldn’t close the gap between the front and midfield.

      1. Do you honestly think Pirelli would produce the same product if there was a tyre war @alec-glen? They are producing the tyre they are asked to at the moment. If another manufacturer came into the sport they’d produce a tyre that gripped like hell and could be thrashed all day the same way the incoming manufacturer would.

        1. @geemac I don’t think they’d produce the same product but I don’t think they’d be competitive either.

          1. Yeah I agree – they’d improve their tyres but they would get destroyed by the proper tyre companies.

    7. The issue I have with a tyre war is, much like with engines, you end up with one factory team in all but name and all the others as customers. This was very evident in the early 2000’s where Bridgestone went all in with Ferrari, with the tyres very obviously being designed to their benefit. Michelin for a while were more even across the teams but ended up having to do something similar with Renault to compete. And of course the “factory” teams will end up being the manufacturers with the money and resources to do the most testing resulting in an even bigger gap between F1A and F1B.

      1. @yossarian But this is not 2000, and testing is extremely limited compared to then. You are talking about a time when Ferrari could do unlimited testing at their own facility, and hence Bridgestone even set up a headquarters at Ferrari’s track. Today it would be difficult for one team to test more than the others. There would simply be no appetite nor opportunity today for the kind of skewing that went on at Ferrari back then.

        1. @robbie true but the big teams would pay I have the tyres designed to work with their cars. If they had Ferrari struggling to heat the tyres up but Sauber, Force India and Williams thought they were perfect, I bet they’d get changed. I doubt they’d change them if the reverse was true….

          1. @petebaldwin Yeah fair comment, that is possible, but I think that things would be handled differently than they were in the MS/Ferrari days. We are heading into budget cap times and a little more balance between the lesser teams and the have teams, so I think there would be a different feel entirely as to how much the have teams could buy into having tires made for themselves even if that negatively affected the lesser teams on said same tires. I think it would likely be regulated much more than Ferrari with Bridgestone and their unlimited on-track testing.

            1. I’ve read your posts for a number of years, and you appear to have massive disdain for all things Schumacher and Ferrari, at least during the early 2000’s. Why?

    8. I’d love a tire war. Said for some time that the more variables there are the better the racing will be.

    9. How about three way tyre war?! In the 1960s cars on Goodyear, Firestone and Dunlop all were winning races. But this is a different world, of course and everything tends to be more complicated. I am not fundamentally opposed to single tyre supplier, but the intentional imposition of high degradation compounds is insane. Let Pirelli deliver tyres that can be pushed instead of nursed, and would allow close racing. As for track designs…same thing, the world is different today. Most owners demand that their circuit must accommodate cars of all types plus motorcycles…and in order to make everybody happy, hard compromises need to be made.

    10. I’ve always found it strange that amongst tire makers it’s a ‘war’ when we don’t call any other comparison in F1 a war, be it amongst drivers, cars, teams, power units etc. I wonder if that started when Bridgestone with Ferrari pulled out all the stops and made it a war with their extreme testing for MS/Ferrari.

      I’m still intrigued with what Michelin said back in the day. They wanted a competitor along with them in F1. Why that is, is that one maker means everyone is on the same tires, so tires don’t get a mention, and hence no marketing impact for the tire maker. Notice the big difference though to them saying that back then compared to today is that back then the tires were not the strange beasts that they are now. They were steady predictable tires that could be pushed. They weren’t the overwhelming story of the day, other than to talk about who was on what tires. And of course along with that was the unique skewing toward Ferrari by Bridgestone.

      Today Pirelli gets marketing impact even as a sole supplier, and even without a competitor, because they make terrible tires that are the ongoing main storyline of every race weekend, by design. If they made steady eddy tires like we and the drivers would like to have so they could actually push themselves and their cars to some limits, tires would not get nearly the mention they do, and hence little marketing impact for Pirelli to be in F1.

      1. Absolutely spot on comment!

        It is and will remain this way because Pirelli are able to make such in the cheapest possible way via mass production with an almost never ending commentary on their company. All without the slightest concern that others may do better. It is ridiculous how much influence they have had on racing in F1 since 2011 and frankly, makes a mockery of the series.

        They can cite costs (do not get me started on the 50% budget bing paid to Liberty) however without any competition, they will never improve. They have no incentive to do so.

        In fact the complete opposite to the series they are supporting.

        1. They do have incentive though – I view the Pirelli brand as over-priced budget tyres now. I certainly wouldn’t feel safe putting my life in the hands of a that has spent years demonstrating it’s incompetence at making tyres.

          1. Ok but realistically I think we all know Pirelli can make good tires. They have been mandated to make degrady tires, although BE didn’t necessarily ask them to make them degrade the way they do…by temp rather than tread wear. That’s one of the main points. I think it is going to take a different mandate by F1, and I think that will come with the major reg changes for 2021. For now the cars are designed for these types of tires, but with the ground up restoration that is pending I would be shocked if Liberty and Brawn would want the same behaviour in 2 years as out of the current tires, when they will be trying to promote closer racing amongst drivers and teams closer to each other as well.

            I’m fine with degrady tires that force two stops per race, but they need to be tread wear degrady and not nearly so fickle. The art of F1 should not be to manage tire temps all day at the expense of exciting racing. I’m sure I’m preaching to the choir with that comment. We all know it.

          2. @petebaldwin, is there any tyre manufacturer that you do trust then, given that it is not too hard to find a series where most of them have had major problems at some time or another? I’d be rather amused if you put your faith in Continental, for example…

    11. I totally agree on a tyre war, Should never have been locked down to a sole supplier to begin with as I always felt it goes against what F1 has always been which is a competition not just between teams/drivers but other areas of the motor industry be it engines/manufacturer’s, brakes, tyres & more.

      People always go back to the Schumacher/Ferrari dominance of 2001-2004 as reasons why a tyre war doesn’t work, Yet this ignores the fact that there dominance was down to more than simply the tyres & that in-fact the tyre war of the time helped make some of those races far more interesting than they may have been as it gave some of the Michelin teams an opportunity to compete when they may not have otherwise been able to had everyone been on the same tyres. There were also instances where it allowed mid-field teams to do better under conditions where one supplier had an advantage in the conditions (Bridgestone’s better inter/wet tyres in 2001/2002 for instance).

      And if you want to go back further would the Prost team have had the surprise results it did with Panis is early 1997 had they not been on the Bridgestone’s & Would Damon Hill have nearly won the Hungarian Gp in an Arrows, Would Gerhard Berger have won his 1st Gp at Mexico in ’86 had he not been on the more durable Pirelli’s that allowed him to run the whole race non-stop while Good year runners needed to stop?

      There are plenty more examples like that where a tyre war benefited the racing, Far more examples than instances where it potentially made it worse actually.

      It created variables, variables which after the tyre war they have had to try & artificially create be it the 2 compound rule, Silly qualifying tyre rules or to an extent high degredation.

      If you want variables, If you want there to be more opportunities for things to get a bit mixed up from race to race… There is no better way to do it without gimmicks than a tyre war not just between 2 suppliers but between however many want to offer there tyres & have a team willing to use them.

      1. agree 100%

        backed up with knowledge and facts. COTD for me.

    12. Dieter I do think you are giving Hermann a bit of a free pass on the ‘boring’ circuit point. Its no good him saying overtakes occur on his circuits [they obviously will almost regardless of how bad a circuit is – Monaco manages overtakes and its got everything wrong about it from a (modern) overtaking perspective.]

      If drivers find them dull and some they have been vocal about the circuits and the fans find them dull the designer has to take at least some of the blame (along with owners/f1 etc…)

    13. I don’t agree with a tyre war, especially with the current F1 rules post refuelling. Pirelli currently tries to balance having a fast tyre which degrades to encourage alternative strategies, if i was for example Michellin, i’d be turning up at a grand prix with with the fastest and most durable tyre possible. In reality this could result in a Mercedes qualifying on a Hyper soft tyre that lasts 95% of a race with no performance drop off, then pitting for the token tyre change at the end.

    14. I don’t really buy the idea that tilke is too constrained by some design parameters when designing a track. Sochi and abu dhabi both had room and budgets to be something better but instead tilke went for the chicanes and labyrinths of 90 degree turns. Tilke might be a wizard making sure the designs are robust, the toilets are in the right place, the plumbing works, the spectators have room to get to and from the parking slots and trucks have enough space to load and unload the f1 show efficiently. But when it comes to making circuits that are fun to drive and/or provide even good racing it seems to me he fails consistently.

      I don’t buy the safety reasoning either. Baku for example has some super fast blind corners before the start finish straight yet most of his creations are boring scribbly corners with tons of runoff whenever he is given some room to play with.

      1. Baku will never, for obvious reasons be a “track day” venue.

      2. That safety and appeal to weekend warriors argument falls flat on its face when applied to Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez. Its original designer was an amateur racer as well, and the track was designed to minimize political cost; it needed to be a multisport public facility first, as it was publicly funded, and parts of the venue reflect that. But the building team had enough ingenuity to pack a great section of medium-speed interconnected corners which all drivers loved. When Tilke came, he butchered the esses. The argument was, again, that having widening exits required runoff for the mighty speed the mythological formula 1 cars would carry. And there being sports courts and lots of other stuff around, there would be no way the corners could remaing unchanged.

        BS!

        That section required finesse and coordination to cope with increasing and decreasing forces throughout the section; those three corners had a cumulative effect, if a driver made a mistake in the opening corner it would have been enough to ruin his lap time. Like Interlagos’ Senna esses, they helped setup exciting moments later in the lap. Granted, that effect would have been rendered nil by the mickey mouse stadium section, but still.

        The track was already partially pointless by all the other stuff that has been going on in the city and her businesses, Tilke made it fully derivative.

    15. I think the situation is akin to a tailor being given poor fabric and being tasked with making a suit. If it hangs all over the wearer, who to blame? The wearer’s physique? The tailor? The weaver? The sewing machine? All four? In most instances the tailor gets blamed, his name is on the label…

      1. @dieterrencken I bet there would be a tailor somewhere who could make an absolutely stunning suit with terrible material – better than the 1 tailor you use every time who struggles.

        If there was a situation where only 1 person on the planet was allowed to design suits and they were hugely unpopular, I imagine people would either complain about it or stop wearing suits…..

        I appreciate Tilke has a really tough job but he shouldn’t be designing every track. There needs to be some variety and you won’t get that giving the job to the same person every time.

        1. Tilke, and Tilke’s company aren’t the only crowd in the world allowed to design circuits. They are however a company that has proven through its track record to delivery large projects successfully based on the requirements on whoever is paying them to develop the circuit. Tilke is approached to design and develop motor racing properties and facilities because they are really good at doing so, especially for facilities away from the circuit itself. They are a company with a good relationship with the FIA with a good understanding of the requirements of circuit design as well as facility design and requirements. If i was looking to spend 100+ million dollars and have a circuit developed that would be used and visited by the world Tilke would be my first contact, unquestionably.

      2. @dieterrencken that’s a good point but what about Abu Dhabi? I think that’s a good example. Tilke was given a completely empty island with the biggest budget ever for a racing track. And he designed chicanes… which, let’s be honest, should never be “designed”. Chicanes are consequences of poor design or raising speeds, they shouldn’t be part of a conception of a track.

        As tailors go, he created the worst suit with the best fabric. I agree with @petebaldwin too, why throw all the eggs in one basket? there surely are a lot of people capable of designing good tracks, using different ideas and concepts. Tilke’s tracks have a lot in common with each other, that’s not good for variation either.

        1. why throw all the eggs in one basket? there surely are a lot of people capable of designing good tracks, using different ideas and concepts. 

          Because when you are going to spend 100s of millions of dollars on a large project you are likely to go with a company that has a proven track record of sucessful project delivery.

        2. Tilke was given a completely empty island with the biggest budget ever for a racing track. And he designed chicanes… which, let’s be honest, should never be “designed”. 

          Also, do you really believe that tbis is how the design process occurred? That Tilke was given a site, a stack of money and was left alone for 2-3 years?

          There would have been countless meetings, presentations and consultations between the Tilke company and stakeholders along the entire design process, and the stakeholders would have very much had a say in the design of the circuit and facilities. Of course, it is likely that the stakeholders dont have great racing experience, but I feel lumping it entirely on Tilke as if they had carte blanche is a bit unfair.

      3. @dieterrencken,@petebaldwin,@fer-no65, I think a factor may well be the “winning of contracts in open competition”, the cheapest quote rarely provides a quality product and the cheapest suit is not going to impress.

    16. I think the problem people have with Hermann Tilke is that he consistently won tenders for 20 years and the products were always,……. we know what they look like.

      If it was the constraints put upon him, fair enough, but at least let someone else have a go and see what they can do with the same parameters. Silverstone, surely way more difficult with it’s history (mostly people’s sentimentality) and budget constraints would be the toughest of recent builds, yet, when was the last time you heard someone complain about that new circuit?

      Instead, it’s Tilke’s billion dollar blank canvass in Shanghai that makes Northamptonshire, look, sort of alright.

      1. I think my point is; if the practicality of building circuits meant they were always going to be boring, we’d rather see twenty boring circuits designed by twenty different people, than twenty boring circuits designed by one person.

    17. I don’t like monopolies, whether they pertain to tyres or track designers or even one team having its own in-house testing facility. I really don’t think they are healthy for a competitive series.

    18. Agree about the tyre war!

      A lot of the negative’s you see aimed at the idea based off the 2001-2006 period don’t hold much weight & also tend to ignore some of the positives in terms of how it allowed teams to compete more closely than they otherwise would have. For example in that period it was usually down to the Michelin tyres been better in certain conditions that the likes of Renault, Williams & Mclaren were able to be competitive against Ferrari & it was also the tyre war that helped make the 2003 season as back & forth as it was as which tyre supplier had the better tyres at each circuit varied quite a bit.

    19. yes they definitely should allow tyre competition again.

      would force the tyre suppliers to make the best performing product they can and push forward development and performance rather than creating what we have had since with tyres. bridestone went too conservative due to no competition and pirelli have been forced to create rubbish tyres due to no competition. neither has been ideal.

      the sport is a competition, always has been and always should be. teams all use different cars, there are multiple engine suppliers, multiple brake suppliers and other bits of the cars so tyres should be no different.

    20. I disagree on both accounts.

      F1 isn’t a test bed for anything, specially tyres. The requirements for them are so far beyond anything. Michelin already tests 24 hours a day, so why would they “need” F1 for testing? it’s just a marketing exercise, that’s why they wanted tyres that looked “in tune” with what modern cars use. But I bet there’s hardly anything used in F1 tyres that corresponds with road tyres that need to last years with daily use and abuse.

      Tyres are even more important than engines. And if a manufacturer gets it right, that’s it for half the field. Sure, it’s no better than Mercedes domination, but do we really need another variable there? and something so sensitive like tyres? I rather have one manufacturer. But I like to read your opinion on the subject, Dieter. If I recall (sorry if I’m mistaken) @keithcollantine has always been against the idea of a tyre war returning.

      As for Tilke, I made my point above.

    21. Very good points regarding the tire war argument Dieter, thanks. However, I cannot feel a bit underwhelmed about the Tilke track argument. It looks a bit of one sided argument. For sure he’s very good at designing tracks with amazing facilities, safe environment and profitability to track owners, but for the sake of the sport, what would be your take on having more diversity over track designs? We know that the safety guidelines stipulated by FIA are strict, but for sure there are clever / architects / studios who could think of different solutions to the straight / hairpin / off camber corners formula from Tilke? Maybe a “circuit designer” war would do good for our sport? Do you think that maybe we could have a bit less sterile tracks, or with a different flow concept than the proven Tilke formula?

      As a last question, (which might be more sensitive one since you are Tilke’s friend), could you tell us the decision process behind who will be granted a new track design over a new venue? Is this open to different companies / architects? Or is this guided more by political connections within the sport? I strongly believe we can achieve more interesting designs with different “DNA”, but I have no idea if this is feasible or not. From an outsider point of view, this decision process looks pretty much like a monopoly, and to a certain extent, this might be in detriment of F1’s popularity.

      Thanks for the really in depth articles, it’s a pleasure to read.

    22. @dieterrencken, Agree, oh how I agree on better tyres, a simple solution to the objection that a tyre manufacturer would team-up with one team only would be for the FIA/Liberty (whoever makes the rules) to decide a fixed price for tyres and insist that any team would be able to buy any tyre.

      Yes there would be complications but not insoluble ones, eg the tyres could all be warehoused by FIA and supplied to teams to ensure that there were no “special” tyres for one team, and of course suppliers would need timely orders etc.

    23. I would love to see some kind of tire war return. As was mentioned, maybe three suppliers would be needed to keep things from getting to one sided.

      As for Tilke, check out Atlanta Motorsports Park. He incorporated two of the most famous corners in all of racing.

    24. Let the teams decide which Tyre manufacturer they want to use and how the tyre should be designed. Imagine each team getting the most(or least) out of tyres which are designed for their specific car.

      NOW THAT IS A WAR !!!

    25. Fabulously one eyed view of Tilke. He has done the odd corner that is great, Turkey was either a fluke or he had a good team, or just plain got it right. Shame it was built, again, where no one cares. COTA is a mess but at least it does the thing you do when you have no ideas, you steal. Mostly though they are dull lifeless affairs. That he raced is irrelevant, plenty of great footballers make bad managers. There is very little link.

      Its not just him though, the stadium complex in Mexico that replaced one of the last great corners yet to be tamed is borderline criminal, certainly its vandalism. The extended track at Silverstone is pale shadow of the rest of the track. The whole of F1 is full of well meaning but old white men who got to their position through dynamism and enthusiasm but kept it by towing the conservative (small c) line.

      Blaming Tilke is absolutely fair, he is responsible if he puts his name to them. But he is just sitting on top of the whole corporate High Society suckfest.

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