Guenther Steiner, Haas, Bahrain International Circuit, 2019

Too much tyre talk is “not Formula 1” – Steiner

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In the round-up: Haas team principal Guenther Steiner is frustrated that the team’s struggles with the latest generation of Pirelli tyres means it cannot get the best out of its VF-19 chassis.

What they say

It’s just who is [struggling] more or less. And we are more. It’s so disappointing you know because we have a good car.

We shouldn’t be talking always about if the tyre works or not. That’s not Formula 1, in my opinion. ‘Did you get the tyre to work?’. ‘Yes’. ‘Oh, then I am fast’. ‘Oh, my tyre doesn’t work so I’m slow’.

We spend millions and millions to develop these cars and then we are out of the window and we cannot get going.

Quotes: Dieter Rencken

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Comment of the day

Was Lewis Hamilton correct to imply Nico Rosberg broke Mercedes’ “rules of engagement” when they were team mates?

The first incident was Bahrain 2014 when they fought hard but fair. Maybe Hamilton overstepped when he chopped across Rosberg going into turn two for the 1st time but it was marginal. The incidents in turn four were just normal running the person on the outside off the track if they are not really ahead by the apex.

Then there was Monaco 2014 when Rosberg binned it. It looked dodgy from the onboard and Hamilton has seen the data so he knows if that was on purpose or not.

There was also Canada 2014 where Rosberg forced Hamilton wide at turn one which dropped Hamilton behind Seb.

Then there was Spa 2014 when Rosberg punctured Hamilton’s tyre. Funnily enough Rosberg said this was because he was not going to move out of the way of Hamilton and give no quarter but Hamilton took the same line Rosberg used against Schumacher a few years prior so that came off as a bit dishonest in my opinion.

Looking at the history it was Rosberg who was the first to cause the other driver to lose places by running them wide into turn one and it was Rosberg who was the first to make contact when it could be avoided.

In reality Hamilton just stepped it up to where Rosberg set the bar.

On the other hand when you look at Bottas versus Hamilton they have not made contact once and they have not forced each other off the track either. They both seem to race cleanly and they can both accept when they are defeated without putting each other in move or crash situations.

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46 comments on “Too much tyre talk is “not Formula 1” – Steiner”

  1. I agree! Monocycles for all!

  2. Steiner has pretty much summed up the 2019 season.

    Every car ( including Mercedes and Ferrari) is struggling to get this year’s tyres to work properly. Teams should have the right to demand a huge lowering of their tyre costs – they’re completely inappropriate for F1.

    Imagine if you built a million dollar house with the best of everything only to have your roofing supplier provide you with a porous roof. That’s pretty much what the teams have done this year. Poor isn’t close to describing what Pirelli have done.

    1. @dbradock Couldn’t agree more. From a sporting perspective, Pirelli should be producing tyres that allow the teams the greatest freedom to race, not creating a challenge for them. I found George Russell’s comments interesting in Baku, when he noted that Pirelli design the tyres for the fastest three cars, and thus the midfield runners have even more trouble getting them into their operating range.

      I also find it remarkable that you almost never hear complaints about tyres in IndyCar. Teams may sometimes be caught out by the rate of degradation, but you never hear drivers saying they simply can’t turn the tyres on—and that in a series without tyre warmers!

      I wonder if part of that is because Pirelli’s overall approach is too inflexible. The teams are stuck with a fixed range of compounds, set before the season, and the construction of the tyre is exactly the same at all tracks.

      By contrast, in IndyCar, Firestone provides custom tyres for every track they race at, varying both compounds and constructions. You don’t hear about C1 through C5—they simply make the best possible tyres they can for that track, a primary and alternate. Of course, this is a necessity for ovals, but the approach extends to road courses as well—when a track calls for a particularly heavy load on an individual tyre, Firestone will sometimes produce different tyres for the left and right sides to alleviate any issues.

      If Firestone can devote that level of resources to a series, surely Pirelli can do the same.

      1. @markzastrow: Agree. Despite rarely agreeing with Steiner. I too tire of talking tyres.

        If the FIA/Liberty are so keen on Pirelli and the designed-to-degrade spiced-up show, perhaps just have Pirelli supply all the cars and drivers.

        Then allow the F1 racing teams to create a new racing series with less emphasis on rubber and spices.

        1. ColdFly (@)
          1st May 2019, 7:26

          Maybe Pirelli can ask the talent they contract for the calendar to help with the pitstops.

      2. @markzastrow, with regards to your comments about IndyCar, there is a good reason why drivers do not criticise the tyre suppliers – because the organisers of the series have made it a punishable offence.

        Back in 2015, the IndyCar series introduce a controversial clause known as Rule 9.3.8, which stated the following:
        “Competitors must be respectful, professional, fair and courteous to others. At all times, Competitors must not, attempt to, or engage in conduct or statements that in the judgment of INDYCAR:
        a) Threatens or denigrates any Official, fellow Competitor or the INDYCAR brand;
        b) Calls into question the integrity or legitimacy of the Rules or their application, construction or interpretation;
        c) Denigrates the IndyCar Series racing schedule or Event(s);
        d) Threatens or denigrates any INDYCAR business relationship, including those with sponsors or broadcasters;
        e) Otherwise threatens the integrity, reputation or public confidence of the sport, INDYCAR, or IndyCar Series.”

        Now, Firestone is one of the official sponsors for the IndyCar series – so, if any driver was openly critical of Firestone, the organisers could classify that as denigrating a sponsor and threatening the integrity of the series and therefore punish them for criticising them.

        Now, they’ve changed the wording since then, but the underlying message is the same – not to criticise the sport or anybody associated with the sport. Whilst the organisers have denied that it is a “gagging order”, quite a lot of fans and writers have suggested that is basically what that rule amounts to – so, the fact that the drivers don’t say anything could also be because they don’t want to risk getting punished by saying anything critical of Firestone.

        The other aspect is that it is very easy to say “well, just make a tyre that works for everybody”, but that’s a lot easier to say than to achieve in practise. With IndyCar, you are dealing with a spec series – there is no variation between the cars, so it’s a lot easier than producing a tyre which has to work for ten different cars.

        Practically speaking, the other issue is that those three top teams are likely to be the ones which are providing the most data for Pirelli to work with – remember when Pirelli asked teams to help them test tyres for the 2017 season, and in the end only the top three teams took part in those tests? Equally, it was a persistent issue in the past – Bridgestone, for example, faced similar accusations of favouring the top teams when they were the sole tyre supplier, so it’s not as if other tyre manufacturers have not faced similar criticism when facing that issue.

      3. Wes (@flashofsilver)
        1st May 2019, 15:02

        Why not just bring last years tire specs back at this point but keep the simple Hard, Medium, Soft naming for each track. We will all know it is actually the Ultra, Super, Medium, etc. depending on whatever they ran last year at each given track. This will also give teams a baseline to better help compare aero performance to last years regulations.

        Can’t be worse then what we have now.

    2. Alianora La Canta (@alianora-la-canta)
      6th May 2019, 11:29

      @dbradock Pirelli is doing what the FIA told them to do, so if the teams got a discount from Pirelli for unsatisfactory tyres, Pirelli would be entitled to get that sum back from the FIA for the tender it is being “punished” for compliance with.

      1. Not really – Pirelli have changed their tread depth this year for their own purposes, not because the FIA told them to. What Pirelli have done is delivered their interpretation of what the FIA asked for.

        This year they’ve got it badly wrong. Simple as that

  3. James Coulee
    1st May 2019, 1:10

    When it’s Hamilton pushing someone of the track: “Maybe Hamilton overstepped when he chopped across Rosberg going into turn two” and “just normal running the person on the outside off the track if they are not really ahead by the apex”.

    When it’s Rosberg: “it was Rosberg who was the first to cause the other driver to lose places by running them wide into turn one a you just said it wasn’t but Hamilton is excused- and it was Rosberg who was the first to make contact -you just said it wasn’t but Hamilton is excused- when it could be avoided”, “a bit dishonest in my opinion”.

    1. Exactly. When hamilton drives into rosberg and rosberg does not move out of the way suddenly it becomes rosberg’s fault for causing the collision…

      1. This is quite similar to when people draw positive comparison’s between Senna and Hamilton for being non compromising….but when other drivers do it, it sacrilege!

        This is the way I look at it. It is nigh impossible for a team to have both their drivers fighting for the championship while maintaining a “happy” atmosphere. Even if both drivers are equally competitive it can be difficult. Cast back to Montoya and Ralf, they weren’t necessarily fighting for the championship, but they were fighting for wins and podiums, it wasn’t a happy house at the best of times! Red Bull did well with Max and Danny Ric, but I suspect that had more to do with the latter’s temperament.

        Racing drivers are egotistical, and as David Coulthard said, b@$tards. You can’t win by being a “nice guy”. The last nice guy to have won the championship was Jenson, and you could argue that he was limited to that success because he was too nice?

        1. The thing that is always missed is that when team mates crash or take each others out the fia never issues any penalties. If lewis had pushed a ferrari or red bull driver off the track like he did with rosberg I think he could have gotten a penalty in some of those cases. But because it is team mates fia does not get involved. Somehow the rules don’t matter when it is team mates.

          This makes team mate battles more bloodier than any ferrari vs merc vs red bull battles because there is a whole different kind of arsenal of tricks available. Not to mention all kinds of underhanded tactics going on inside the team.

  4. BlackJackFan
    1st May 2019, 4:07

    Oh no…! Not more boring HAM/ROS comments…!

    1. ColdFly (@)
      1st May 2019, 7:27

      This site is probably sponsored by Pirelli to spice up the show.

  5. Steiner has a point there, I can agree with him to an extent, it indeed would be better if the tyres were less temperature-sensitive, the durability isn’t really a problem and hasn’t been since 2017, but they get over-heated a bit too easily when following another car.

    Regarding the COTD: Lets put it this way: Both of them broke the rules of engagement at times. The Spa incident was 50-50. Both had a chance to avoid it by doing something different on their part. Rosberg could’ve back off while Hamilton could’ve avoided chopping across the track at that point given they were partly side-by-side, so both of them had a bit of blame there. The Spain incident, which isn’t mentioned in the COTD, was also 50-50, although it’d put it a tiny bit more on NR’s side as he was on the wrong strat-mode shortly before the collision. Had he been on the right mode then that incident probably wouldn’t have happened.

  6. Rules of engagement didn’t just cover on track actions, but other areas as well, areas we don’t know about. Like for instance, remember when Rosberg accused Hamilton of using not approved engine modes after the Spanish GP in 2014? Well what Rosberg didn’t tell anyone [thankfully Lewis did], it was Rosberg who first did that during the Bahrain GP.

  7. Okay, I’m going to be the devil advocate here: Steiner is wrong.

    The very concept of Formula 1 is building the fastest car (within rules) and actually drive it to winning races. Making a car that can work with the tires is part of the game. Does it fair? Yes it is fair in the sense that everyone works with the same problem. The unfairness is the part that maybe Pirelli making it to a specification that more suitable to a team, but afaik it was not intended and no team are completely satisfied with the tires. In fact, all of them are disappointed in one way or another which is a proof that Pirelli is neutral (unlike Ferrari-Bridgestone situation).

    Think the tires as any other spec parts. For analogy, does anyone in spec racing complains if they losing because they can’t tune the car or find the good set up while the winners manage to do just that? Of course not. Whether the spec car provided is McLaren F1 (the best racing car) or 1990 Toyota Camry (is a car, but shitty for racing) is not the problem, if everyone provided the same stuff, you must work with it.

    I support any effort to make Pirelli making a more better tires overall, but claiming you lose because you can’t work with it is bs. If your car can’t work well with a spec part and your rivals manage to do better, then your car is bad.

    1. @sonicslv – with you on that, you said it better than I ever could have.

    2. That’s all very well but the tyres aren’t delivered until the start of testing, we’ll after the cars are designed so it’s not really correct to say it’s a spec part.

      It’s like asking a team to develop a car before they’ve seen the engine – most would find that it fist in and runs but not at its peak.

      1. @dbradock I never said it’s not bad situation the way it is now, but the point is it’s the same situation for everyone – not just Haas. The fact still remains that other teams do better job with the same condition, so blaming their deficit on can’t make the tires work is just a bad excuse.

        1. @sonicslv Here are a couple quote from Steiner. He’s just stating the current state of affairs at Haas. He’s not making excuses.

          “Other people can get it to work so we need to get it to work,” Steiner conceded. “There’s no point to say ‘it’s not working, oh’.

          “Nine teams get it to work. Who better, who worse. But we are absolutely the worst one to get it to work. I’m very conscious about that one.

    3. ColdFly (@)
      1st May 2019, 10:39

      Fully agree, @sonicslv.
      What’s next? teams complaining that the weather only favours some teams (which I’m sure it does)?

      What would be unfair is to allow only some cars to temporarily change their aero configuration mid-race.

      1. @sonicslv I don’t think Steiner is wrong but I do take your point about it being the same for everyone and therefore they all need to adapt. But I think Steiner is right that the tires should not be such the overwhelming story. It shouldn’t be near impossible to make the tires work, and of course that is a very fluid thing anyway. A team can succeed at making the tires work only to find that it is only for half a stint, and it is also very dependent on the track and the temperatures etc etc. Steiner is right that the tires should not make life this difficult and make good chassis’ look bad. We all know the tires could and should be way better, along with reduced dependence on clean air, as two key ingredients to more driver vs driver racing as opposed to engineer vs engineer racing when so much depends on nailing the tiniest of operating windows for the tires. I’d rather see driver vs driver than engineer vs engineer.

        1. @Robbie But tires is not even a “overwhelming story”. Does Australia headlines filled with tire problem? What about China? Bahrain? Or does this means all previous Haas achievements is because they made the tires works better than their rivals instead of building better car? Of course not.

          Midfield this year is exciting because the unexpected resurgence of McLaren battling to be the 4th best team, while Renault factory team starts to take shape again, and Alfa Romeo also stepping up massively. Haas just simply improved less than those teams, maybe because they outsource too much, maybe because other reasons. But it’s clear even when Haas is more like in it’s usual pace, they still not clearly having the best pace in the midfield like in previous years. I think Renault or McLaren actually the one who do it this year. Steiner needs to accept their car this year is relatively bad, not the tires.

          1. But it is. That’s the point.
            So far this year at some point during the race weekends or post race nearly every team has had something to say about the difficulty they are having getting their tyres to work and the compromises they are having to make.

            Yes Haas are probably having slightly more problems (or are admitting to them) but it’s not just Haas having the issue.

          2. @sonicslv No I continue to disagree with you, it is definitely much about tires. Way too much.

    4. Pjotr (@pietkoster)
      1st May 2019, 15:45

      I think your are looking at it at the wrong perspective. They build cars but they can’t use it to their full potential becouse of the bad designed tyres. So actually the cars outperform the Pirelli’s that is why, in many races, they are cruising around most of the time. And that is definitely not how F1 racing is ment.

  8. Ow that’s sweet, Steiner starts playing the F1 political game now.

  9. Ah the old “it’s all Pirelli’s fault” card again.

    The fact is that, no matter what Pirelli do to spice up the racing with their tyres, track position has become king in recent times because it is so difficult to overtake. Multi-stop races are faster in theory, but the drivers can’t overtake so the teams all try mitigate this by asking the drivers to eek out their tyre life so as not to lose track position, which is not how Pirelli designed the tyres to be used. The issue is the fact that cars can’t overtake/follow closely enough to create overtaking opportunities…not Pirelli’s rubber.

  10. Rules of engagement? HA! championships were on the line… Give me Rosberg vs Hamilton anytime over BOT/HAM… Bottas will never get Hamilton if he plays it nice because one day the championship will be up for grabs and Hamilton will do what he would’ve done to a Ferrari in Baku. And he’ll win the race, because let’s face it, he is just better than Valtteri. I’m not saying he should play dirty but when you don’t have the talent to beat the best guy on the grid (and one of the best in history), you can’t “accept defeat” so nice and easy. You have to take it to the limit, and if the other guy doesn’t like it, so be it…

    1. @fer-no65: Precisely. However, Toto just said he won’t accept another Rosberg vs Hamilton and would “issue red cards” if that happened. So Bottas has no other option but to play it nice.

      1. @paulk No actually TW did not say that. He said he knows relationships can deteriorate and that if that were to happen he would issue yellow or red cards. Ie. there would be warnings before anything got too severe. And, a question to you…why is the onus only on VB to play nice?

        That said though, VB is not Nico and did not have the relationship with LH that Nico had going back to their karting days when they were friends. If things were to deteriorate now at Merc it would not be LH/NR 2.0.

        Given that TW wanted Nico through 2018 as Nico was contracted, we know that TW will put up with an awful lot between his drivers if they are achieving 1-2’s along the way.

        1. @roobie, sure that would be warnings, but the quote implies that he wouldn’t tolerate a repeat of what happened in the past with they pushing each other out, crashes etc. Even with the occasional one-two. And if some one is going to get a “red card” it would be Bottas not Hamilton.

    2. Pretty much that @fer-no65, the moment Bottas really shows he is a serious competitor for Hamilton and gives us fans an exciting title fight, the engagement between these two will start to get worse.

      Both will (have to?) try and outsmart and outmove the other both behind the scenes, in hiding what they learned from the other as well as being uncompromising on track. Both will probably complain about the other then.

      It might not get quite as bad as between Rosberg and Hamilton because those two might have had competative tensions building up for almost a decade already, but it will be there the moment they become serious competitors

  11. @fer-no65 OK, so we all know Hamilton is faster and a better driver, especially in wet weather. He’s always likely to have the edge. But 4 races in and Bottas leading show that just a few marginal gains, like qualifying at Baku, and he can be ahead. In part because of one big difference to Rosberg: he keeps his cool. How many times did we see Hamilton hunt down Rosberg in such situations and either get past or unnerve Rosberg enough for him to make a mistake? Keeping the fight clean also helps concentration and avoidance of unnecessary tension and poor decision making. Also in the past, Hamilton’s aggression led to mistakes, but he seems to have acquired the ability to hone his anger to his advantage now (Russia last year in his duel with Vettel being an example). So altogether, keeping things cool seems in Bottas’s best interest.

    1. @david-br yeah but I doubt Bottas can keep Hamilton behind for a whole year… a few races, yeah, but not the whole championship. Playing it cool is not going to cut it, IMO

      1. @fer-no65

        Got to agree with you. Bottas might not crack under pressure when he’s being hunted by Lewis… But he has to be in front of Lewis often enough to win the battle. Rosberg managed to get in front of Lewis on many occasions.. And that was the key to winning his 2016 title. Whether Bottas can deliver that kind of consistency over a season.. Especially in qualifying is yet to be seen.

  12. We shouldn’t always be talking about the tyre.
    We shouldn’t always be talking about the fuel.
    We shouldn’t always be talking about the aero.
    We shouldn’t always be talking about the Hamilton-Rosberg.

  13. Steiner needs to shut his lid. Maybe hire some more engineers in your team instead of supply chain experts who outsource every function. Maybe then he’ll get a proper understanding of how to make the tyres work.

    1. Which blatantly misses the point that the tires are junk and are way too much of the story of F1 still. As I said above I’d prefer driver vs driver over engineer vs engineer. I’ve never watched F1 to see who can make ridiculous tires work in some ridiculously small and fleeting window of operation. The tires are only there to try to make up for processional clean air dependent racing with cars designed to not race closely.

  14. Adam (@rocketpanda)
    1st May 2019, 13:49

    I have a question that’s probably been answered before, but I can’t find it.

    When teams run old cars, so like Red Bull running one of their old models in a demonstration they dress it up in the new livery, so it’s branded Honda. But is there a Honda or a Renault power unit in the back? Same with McLaren, if they run an old car would it have a Renault in it, or a Mercedes/Honda engine?

    Not on topic to anything going on really but it’s something I don’t know.

  15. I think there is some truth to what Steiner is saying. I would go further and say that the drivers are not primarily drivers anymore, they are managers more than anything else. They have to manage the tyre temps and manage the fuel level and manage the brakes and manage the deltas and manage the gap to the driver ahead and manage the gap to the driver behind and manage the settings on the steering wheel etc. No wonder there is so little racing with all this managing going on.

    1. For sure. And manage pu’s and gearboxes or incur penalties. It has been thus for several years now. That is going to start to change in 2021.

  16. digitalrurouni
    1st May 2019, 17:47

    I would take Steiner’s comments more seriously if his team actually built a car and not used Ferrari castoffs.

  17. I have seen reports online that there will be a Dutch GP in 2020, at the Zandvoort circuit and, very surprising to me, replacing the Spanish GP at Barcelona!
    But apparently seen no comments so far on RaceFans…

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