Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Circuit de Catalunya, 2019

Hamilton: Pirelli should have brought 2018-style thinner tyres

2019 F1 season

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Lewis Hamilton says Pirelli should have brought its thinner-gauge rubber for the 2019 F1 season – but the sport’s official tyre supplier insists it has done.

The world champion was asked for his thoughts on Pirelli’s tyres during the final day of testing yesterday.

“I don’t really have a lot of good things to say on that so best I probably not say anything,” said Hamilton.

“I think it’s going to be a challenge. Everyone’s in the same boat. They’re more challenging this year than they were last.

“I think last year we had a tyre that was OK. Then we had the lower-gauge tyre I think we had it somewhere like France and Silverstone, that was a pretty good tyre. And the simplest thing they could’ve done was just bring that to this year. And they didn’t, they brought something else.”

However Pirelli says its 2019 tyre range is based on the thinner-gauge tyres which were used in last year’s Spanish, French and British Grands Prix.

“The 2019 tyres are with a reduced tread gauge,” said Pirelli’s motorsport director Mario Isola. “That is the same solution that we implemented in three races last year. So this is an advantage that all the drivers should feel.”

Isola pointed out that some of this year’s tyres are unchanged from those used in 2018. “I can’t understand if this opinion is particularly focused on C1, C2 or C5, they are new, but if we consider C3 [and] C4 they use a lot during these three sessions, they are the same soft and ultra-soft from last year.”

[smr0901]The thinner tyres have been introduced to improve resistance to blistering but could cause more graining in cool conditions, Isola said.

“The thinner gauge is protecting you from blistering. It is reducing overheating. It could generate a bit more graining especially in cold conditions like it is in early morning or late afternoon.

“We had some graining in early morning and late afternoon. A lot better in the second part of the day when most of the teams focused the comparison between compounds.”

Isola said he will discuss the concerns Hamilton raised: “I need to speak to him and understand better in detail which is the reason why he is not happy.”

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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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  • 50 comments on “Hamilton: Pirelli should have brought 2018-style thinner tyres”

    1. It’s better to have graining now rather than blistering later as most races are held in hotter conditions.

    2. Don’t worry Lewis, if you really need them they will bring them in mid season

      1. Exactly. All he needs to do is whine enough and they’ll do whatever he wants.

      2. I’ll bet on them changing it by Melbourne already.

      3. You guys want some ketchup to go with that salt ?

    3. Interestingly, of the three races Isola has cited from last year for the thinner tires, LH got pole and the win in Spain, and in France, and pole at Silverstone where he then got off to a slow start, was tapped and spun by Kimi and sent to the back, and still came second. Yeah no wonder he wants those tires. But if Isola is saying he has had those tires in testing, one has to wonder about how the new Mercedes is making LH feel like the tires aren’t as good.

      1. @robbie was not just lewis/mercedes that wanted them as they were something all teams/drivers prefered due to the reduced chance of blistering.

        vettel complained about them giving mercedes an advantage in spain but changed his mind after they tested with the standard tyres which promptly blistered and becomes unusable after something like 8 laps.

        1. @RogerA Well, yes and no. All I meant was that the tires seemed to work best for LH given how he did at those three races, so I was light-heartedly implying no wonder he wants those tires. Of course you are right that others would have benefitted.

          As to ‘Vettel complaining.’ No he wasn’t. Not at all. We went through this last year when it was happening. All Vettel said was that sometimes in pre-season testing a team or teams will try to persuade the tire maker to go a certain direction with the tires because of what they have discovered about their car and tire combinations wrt performance. And SV said that was normal.

          He also said Ferrari felt no need at the time to try to persuade Pirelli one way or another. It was after one of the races that they used the new tires and there was uniquely a mid-season test session at the same venue (I just forget which race) that SV had an opportunity to experience both tires for direct comparison after which he then agreed the tires Mercedes had pushed for starting back in the pre-season indeed helped them too. At no point was SV complaining about anything whatsoever, but I do recall many posters around here assuming that he was.

          1. Just to clarify…I think it was when SV said ‘Mercedes were pushing for these tires,’ that people assumed he was complaining and that his complaint was that Mercedes was getting favouritism. As I said, that was never his meaning. It was a fact that Mercedes were pushing for those tires, but SV said all along that was a normal thing to do and they at Ferrari didn’t feel the need. Just goes to show though that people will read into even one sentence what they will.

          2. @robbie, with regards to the assertion that “Ferrari felt no need at the time to try to persuade Pirelli one way or another”, the interviews that Motorsport Magazine held with Pirelli’s staff contradicts that claim and indicate Ferrari were actively trying to persuade Pirelli to make changes that might be in their favour.

            According to Pirelli’s side of the story, although Ferrari did initially agree to the treat gauge changes after the pre-season tests in 2018, at the start of the race weekend in the Bahrain GP, Arrivabene contacted Pirelli and bluntly told Pirelli that Ferrari were reversing their position and were now opposed to Pirelli’s plans to introduce those tyres with a reduced tread depth for those particular races.

            It sounds as if Arrivabene was fighting his corner pretty hard – the comment from the individual at Pirelli described the exchanges from Arrivabene as being ‘vicious’ – and, in the end, it seems that the FIA had to step in and force the changes through on safety grounds to stop Arrivabene from trying to block the changes.

            If Pirelli’s side of the story is correct, it would indicate Ferrari did feel a need to try and influence Pirelli and Arrivabene initiated a pretty aggressive lobbying campaign against Pirelli to try to force them to change their mind.

            1. @anon If true, that doesn’t change Vettel’s assertion that this kind of lobbying by a team with the tire maker is normal, nor does it change that SV wasn’t complaining about Mercedes being given an unfair advantage.

            2. @robbie, at the very least, it would seem to make a mockery of the notion that “Ferrari felt no need at the time to try to persuade Pirelli one way or another”, because it would suggest that they did in fact feel that need to do so. It also begs the question why Vettel was then so keen to draw attention to that decision in the first place – I don’t think that he was being quite as passively accepting as you suggest he was.

            3. https://www.autosport.com/f1/news/136052/vettel-normal-tyres-even-worse-for-ferrari

              This was what I was remembering of what SV said. Sounds pretty passive to me.

    4. No need to erased all teams two weeks testing data and start over. All Merc need is two or three days of private testing.

      1. Oh snap! Eheheh

    5. My God, can they please stop complaining about those tires. Everybody uses the same tires, so live with it.

      1. @mosquito when the tyres are designed to not be the best they could possibly be and are instead been designed for gimmicky artificial show i think it’s right for people to complain about the sub-par products they are been forced to use.

        tyres are rubbish and have been since 2011. i don’t fully blame pirelli for this but its not something that should be just looked at as acceptable because it just isn’t, the pinnacle of the sport should not be using such rubbish tyres. it’s so against the spirit and dna of f1 that it’s laughable it’s been put up with for 8 years.

        i just wish more drivers would speak out against them!

        1. @Roger A Well said.

          1. Well said indeed !

        2. It’s not Pirelli, they deliver exactly what is asked of then

          1. @Pmr Not entirely. We do understand that Pirelli is following a mandate to make degrady tires. F1 didn’t ask for them to degrade the way they do though.

            1. Am not sure what the financial scope is for Pirelli supplying tyres, but if I were their marketing guy, I would be having fits. The near constant stream of bitching about crappy tyres is bound to spill over into the general market place. Pirelli is in this for positive coverage, not to get trashed at every turn, and the return they get for their efforts is probably not enough to make up for the bad publicity.
              Occasionally, it looks like they have gone against the FIA and supplied better quality and longer lasting tyres, but they seem to keep getting pushed back to a degrading product to force multiple pit-stops and spice up the strategic part of “The Show”.
              It doesn’t look like Pirelli can win in this game until they tell the FIA to “stuff it” and make tyres that will last a race distance, perform at a consistently high level and have the teams saying …. “Yeah … these are great.”

            2. @rekibsn, they’ll get the benefit for decades after with advertising lines like “Pirelli tyres, winners of xx F1 world championships, choose the tyre the champions choose”. Joe Schmo won’t know that other brands were not allowed to compete.

        3. let’s have Hamilton make the tires, he certainly knows better than pirelli….

          1. @HoHum, Definitely in line for the Marketing VP Position. Ya got my vote. A general lack of optimism is always holding me back.
            The first couple of races will give us some indication if they have done a good job over the winter. Here’s hoping. Eitherway …. “Pirelli Wins Australian GP for xx years in succession.”

      2. It’s a nice break from saying Ferrari are fast….

      3. @mosquito No way. No driver ever said ‘it’s the same for everybody’ and get on with it.

    6. It says a lot about where the ‘sport’ is that tyres graining is just seen as a normal thing that happens when 10-20 years ago it was something which did happened occasionally but which was seen as a big negative that the tyre suppliers wanted to avoid & got criticised for when it happened.

      But in the era where it’s all about show, gimmicks & artificial entertainment then i guess graining is the greatest thing ever so just shows how far the sport is falling & how backwards everything is getting.

      I sometimes wish they would just do something to really turn me off and just finally put me out of my misery as it’s clear that i can’t walk away on my own, still have too much passion for it even though i despise what’s its been turned into the past decade or so.

      1. @RogerA Lol on the ‘put me out of my misery’ remark. I do agree generally, but I remain hopeful and optimistic that far better days are ahead wrt tires. I once again blame this on the BE era and particularly his last decade of money grab and aero addiction. The tires are as they are as much because of politics and aero addiction and their need to try to mask that, as anything. For now it is what Liberty is stuck with because the teams have spent a fortune on these cars meant for these tires (or similar). I cannot for the life of me envision anything but much better tires to go along with the ground up restoration for 2021. After all, a big part of the changes will be to promote closer racing, and that is going to require less aero downforce. They’ll also be going to 18” rims. I think this year and next will be the last of these joke tires, as that is just what they are stuck with for now.

      2. And me too @rogerA

      3. Totally agree. Been a fan for nearly 30 years and my interest has got less and less over the last ten. I’m only watching this year out of habit and to see how Kubica does.

        I’ve moved to FE and Indy to get the flat out exciting racing that attracted me to F1 in the first place.

        I genuinely think if they don’t have a complete overhaul with 2021 rules then F1 won’t have long left.

    7. lewis for god sake… looking for advantages so early?

      1. Fudge Kobayashi (@)
        2nd March 2019, 19:38

        Ferrari fans for God’s sake, starting the blinkered rhetoric so early?

        1. it’s a matter of fact that he’s constantly complaining about tires… what Ferrari has to do with it?

          1. Todd (@braketurnaccelerate)
            2nd March 2019, 21:42

            All drivers are constantly complaining about the tires. It just so happens that Hamilton is the best driver in the field, and a 5x Champion, so his opinions are likely to get more website clicks, so it’s his that are used for headlines.

            1. No, he’s complaining 5x more. I don’t remenber another world champion complaining as much as Hamilton.

            2. Fudge Kobayashi (@)
              4th March 2019, 9:48

              @braketurnaccelerate well said.

    8. Isola said he will discuss the concerns Hamilton raised: “I need to speak to him and understand better in detail which is the reason why he is not happy.”

      No need I can tell you now.
      He hasn’t had the fastest car in testing so now he’s blaming tyres or anything else he can think of pre-season so that he can use them as excuses if he needs to later on.

    9. What are your thoughts on Pirelli?

      “I don’t really have a lot of good things to say on that so best I probably not say anything.”

      He then proceeds to say lots of things about Pirelli….

      1. yes, funny guy indeed.

        1. Lol noticed that too.

    10. Not the brightest bulb in the knife box is he…

      1. Nor the sharpest blade in the chandelier.

    11. HAM is unhappy, feeling he will loose the 2019 titles…and the 2020 ones…wishing he did a Rosberg…but it’s too late now.

    12. After his comments saying he didn’t know the reason for aero changes and now this, it seems Hamilton does not pay a lot of attention to F1 news… Even without Isola’s explanation it had been already mentioned that some tyres were the same as last year…

    13. Hamilton only cares about getting to 7 world titles. I’m bettin vettel matches his 5 this year on the tyres Hamilton doesn’t like. Hamilton is fastest when tyres and car are perfect, but I remember there was a period at mclaren, somewhere around 2009-2011 and early Mercedes days, where he was considered the worst at tyre management, usually pitting first of the front runners after damaging his tyres. Soon after he lucked into Mercedes building the most dominant car in the history of f1…

      1. Fudge Kobayashi (@)
        4th March 2019, 9:51

        He has had better tyre management than most of his teammates including at times, Mr Smooth Jenson B. The hyperbole you’re fabricating was made up by blinkered fans of the opposition, of which you are clearly one.

        There’s no luck in trading a championship leading team for what was at the time, a solid midfield runner. But you people will never acknowledge that. Doesn’t matter, 5 in the bag and more to come so keep crying.

    14. chloe taylor (@)
      3rd March 2019, 10:19

      Valtteri was saying the car is good or bad depending on the time of day! How Diva is that?? So obviously Lewis is talking about this narrow window the tyres have and combined with the Barcelona weather in February and the thinner gauge cooler running tyres it’s a problem, probably especially on the C2 that’s new.

      But it’s quite encouraging that the Diva works better when it’s warm, and presumably Lewis and Valtteri and the team will get better at dialling it in.

    15. hamilton demands special treatment as usual.

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