F1’s new tyre wear television graphic is “misleading”, says Pirelli

2019 Mexican Grand Prix

Posted on

| Written by and

Formula 1’s official tyre supplier has cast doubt on the accuracy of the sport’s new television graphics which claim to show how worn drivers’ tyres are.

Pirelli’s head of car racing Mario Isola said the graphics do not use data supplied by Pirelli and questioned whether Formula 1 could accurately calculate the information.

The graphic appeared for the first time during last weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix. It displayed percentage values showing the extent of wear on each of the four tyres on a driver’s car. “I was surprised to see that,” said Isola, who described the graphic as “misleading”.

Isola is concerned the data could give fans the impression it includes information supplier by Pirelli. “The data is not coming from us,” Isola said. “We will talk to them to understand a bit more because it was a surprise in Suzuka to see this.”

Calculating the extent of tyre wear in real-time is difficult because of the large number of variables involved, said Isola. “Driving style, the car, the level of management during the race.

“The conditions that you have on Sunday compared to Friday: Because the data are estimated on Friday, if on Sunday you have 10 degrees more or 10 degrees less, it could be different.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

“If you are in free air or if you are in traffic, it’s different. How much you are managing the pace for the fuel. There are too many parameters that you should consider in this calculation. If you have an estimation of 25 laps and after 10 laps you say ’15 are left’, I think it’s not accurate.”

“It’s very difficult to predict the level of wear of any car,” he added. “We can make an estimation based on an average, but then you have data that are related to each single car and they are different.

“This is something that also the teams would like to know because if you have a reliable prediction of the wear, as a team, you have a big advantage. So as you can understand it is information that is really difficult to get.”

The graphics are one of several new additions to F1’s broadcasts this year which are branded by Amazon Web Services. Last year Formula 1’s managing director of motorsport Ross Brawn said AWS’s artificial intelligence technology would be harnessed to create the graphics.

We can look at the history of the tyres and how they’ve worked and where [a driver] is in the race and machine learning can help us apply a proper analysis of the situation,” he said at the time.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

2019 F1 season

Browse all 2019 F1 season articles

Author information

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...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

58 comments on “F1’s new tyre wear television graphic is “misleading”, says Pirelli”

  1. If the new graphics are “misleading” then they are quite accurate and show the really nature of the rubbish Pirelli tyres. More than a new team entry, F1 needs a new tire supplier as the current one has shown multiple times how incompetent they are. I find it hard to think their PR stunts in F1 gets them more client

    1. Well, they also make good road tires sometimes, that helps them.

      Saddly F1 tires have 0 road relevance.

      I would love to see them put on something resembling road tires.

      1. F1 cars would be undrivable on road tyres. Ridiculous idea.

    2. It’s more that Isola is being polite in calling the graphics “misleading”, since he probably does not want to annoy one of the major sponsors for the series, when he probably wanted to say that the graphics were pretty much complete guesswork.

    3. How does misleading become accurate? The graphics are misleading because they are made to appear as if they’re based on live data, when in fact they’re nothing more than a simple tyre-age indicator.

      1. Ah the mindlessly bass Pirelli parade is here.

  2. I find myself giving full support to Pirelli for once…

    Strongly disliked that graphic the second I saw it – over-simplified, most likely misleading and not something I want to see on my screen during a race. Hope it goes the way of mini-sectors, and I also hope the slightly less annoying, but still misleading ‘pit window open’ graphic joins it (‘pit window open’ implies, to a casual viewer, that there’s a mandated period of time in which drivers can stop).

    Actually, i hope they dump most of the AWS stuff. The ‘projected time until driver catches opponent’ isn’t so bad, so I really don’t care if it stays or not… but I don’t think it’s accurate (especially the ‘overtake difficulty’ bar) and it can’t predict future lap times/traffic/tyre drop-off, so what’s the point it in being there? And I don’t strongly hate the pit stop gap projection, but I’d rather just watch the race myself, and retain some suspense, rather than have a computer whack a great big spoiler across the bottom of the screen.

    They’ve done some great graphic stuff (integrating the info over the halo in onboard shots, for example – love that) but the AWS stuff just isn’t for me.

    1. nicely put. Also the speed in mph is something I’d rather not have seen added. why not yards per second?

      1. They’re trying to sell the sport to the American audience. America has no concept of the metric system, don’t see how it hurts anything being displayed though.

        1. Because it’s annoying? It isn’t extra information, it’s just dumbing down

      2. @alfa145 The addition of MPH is something i like as been in the UK it makes more sense to me than kph does given how mph is what we use over here.

        1. We use hands per meter on my island. Please add that too!

        2. Just pick one!
          And if you can’t settle for which one, then use the system of the country they’re racing in.

        3. @stefmeister I’m also from the UK. But frankly, km/h is based on the SI units for distance and time.
          Plus, can’t everyone calculate that it’s 1.609km/mile.
          Tachographs in commercial vehicles are calibrated in kilometres

    2. Agreed on all points Neil.

    3. Agree a 100%!

    4. Good points there, @neilosjames, but I come to a different conclusion.

      The graphics might be flawed but still much more informative than the useless commentary in most countries (I’ve checked at least 9 different broadcasters/countries). Most add very little to what we can see ourselves on screen and still manages to miss major events: mix up teammates, miss overtakes, fail to spot gaps increasing/decreasing.
      I prefer AI over CD (commentator’s drivel).

    5. Personally I honestly love the information and hope it stays.

    6. In my view, you’re being too harsh with AWS graphics. Some of them, like the one about tyre life, are complete rubbish because they don’t seem to be based on serious calculations. But, with respect to the rest, we should bear in mind that they are pure estimations. They just help to read the race, particularly for the casual viewer.

      In a way, it highlights the great work of a driver or a team if somehow they manage to do something unexpected. I think that it’s quite obvious that they don’t aim to predict future, which is what I would understand by a spoiler.

      1. What is a “pure estimation” as opposed to a standard “estimation”?

        1. @jamesremuscat Standard estimations usually involve some intuitive calculation. None appears to apply here, as it was an indirect set of sensor readings with “exact” calculations applied by the machine learning device. There’s no clear feedback loop for it, so it is questionable how much machine learning can be going on here…

  3. Aside from how accurate or not they are, I don’t think they are even really necessary.

    You can fairly easily determine what condition a drivers tyres are in by looking at the lap times among other things. Car losing time, Been caught by other drivers, Car moving about more etc… Well his tyres are wearing. Simple without adding more clutter to a screen that already often feels more cluttered than it should be nowadays.

    I’m also still not a fan of the current graphics set & happening to watch a bit of the 2017 race the other day just highlighted how much cleaner, clearer, smaller & overall less cluttered the 2015-17 graphics were while also giving us a bit of extra data that was actually useful (ERS usage for example).

    I think in general i’d like to see a lot of the prediction graphics go away as there taking away some of the unpredictability in terms of having to read the race and work things out yourself which was something i always enjoyed trying to do. Having graphics predicting stuff just takes away a bit of the tension i feel, Especially during pit stops where you tend to know if a car will rejoin ahead or behind now based on the prediction graphics.

    1. The way I look at it, the data they’re showing is in most cases—tyre wear, pit windows, estimated gaps after a pit exchange—no different than the data the teams calculate for themselves. The race strategists aren’t sitting there limiting themselves to trying to work it out in their head. If you want to tell the story of the race properly, why shouldn’t we, the viewers, have access to similar data?

      Where I get annoyed is when David Croft begins to present this data as absolute truth, and not a suggestive tool.

      1. Agreed especially with your last sentence there. I love having all the data here to be honest but I also know they are not absolute truth. Suggestive tool is really really spot on.

      2. It’s not just Crofty – the graphics themselves present information as solid fact rather than estimates (as someone else said, “pit window open” even implies that there’s a mandatory window of time in which teams have to make pit stops).

        I would hope that the teams have far better predictive models for tyre wear than FOM’s data intern does!

  4. I thought the commentators got Hamilton’s wear (20%) and Vettel’s wear (70%) wrong in Japan. They were saying that Hamilton had 20% left but he had fresher tires. So he actually had 80% left and Vettel only had 30% left.

    1. If I remember correctly the graphic was also wrong at the end – it was showing Hamilton’s tyres should be nearly dead while Vettel’s were still around 50%, when Hamilton was lapping ~1.5 secs faster per lap. I don’t see the point of this graphic if it is going to be so inaccurate so until they have a better way to measure it they should not show it to the viewers.

  5. To put it simple: this ain’t F1 2019, keep your video game stuff there.

    I get the gist of it, and I personallyy wouldn’t want to miss out on that sweet Amazon ad dollar either, but this is rather undignified. If you want to do something to showcase the situation of a driver as far as his strategy and his ability to defend are concerned, show something like “expected lap timees” or something that makes more sense and doesn’t oversimplify.

    1. @klon, predicted laptimes, that sounds good, bc. we can soon see how accurate it is, so it won’t be misleading.

      On the one hand, I like the extra attempt at info and prediction, but on the other, I have to agree with many comments here that there is something to be said for uncluttered (while still giving gaps, laptimes on screen, FOM!).

      I found that one of the nicest things about F1TV is the no-commentary sound-channel, and watching a race that way gives a very ‘pure’ feeling, with attention focused on the car(s) on track.

      But I also used, at times, all the data channels available when a race turned strategic, via extra screens.

    2. I personally consider it a plus to my experience rather than undignified.

      Then again I grew up with video games and love all the UI stuff.

      1. Exactly: Video games. That is where this stuff belong and that is where it should remain!

  6. Not surprising, wondering if FOM used data from Friday was used to judge the “life” of tyres.

  7. Misleading? You mean like how the tires are supposed to be absolutely equal between the teams, but if one team accidentally gets another teams tires, the pits go to DEFCON 1 and the issue gets fixed and hushed away faster than light, type of misleading?

    1. When are the aliens striking oh wise one?

  8. I love the infographic. I wish we got more data.

    In same breath though, right away it seemed missleading.

    1. I felt like they got the Vettel and Hamilton one right though especially as the latter was attacking near the end.

      Though I guess it is hard to be sure.

      1. Yaru What? it said Hamiltons rear tyers where at 10% lol, not even close. It’s a stupid dumbed down gimmick.

        1. The graphics said all Hamilton’s tyres were 70% good, as the photo above, then next lap he said his tyres were shot and needed to come in?? I thought at the time why would he want to come in if they are at 70%. So it’s just a gimmick for the US fans.

  9. Stephen Higgins
    26th October 2019, 9:06

    Too Gran Tourismo.

    1. I don’t see it as a bad thing personally.

  10. It’s so F1 that when we finally get some graphics, it’s complete rubbish like this.

    Just to see current compound would be something very useful obviously, but seems putting people on Mars will happen before that.

    1. That is what I immediately thought too.
      Why can’t they display a colour-coded box with the number of laps driven on the tire beside the driver’s name and position?
      This gimmick was both distracting and disappointing.

  11. Why would they be unhappy?!
    If it is incorrect – Pirelli should be glad, as it hides how crappy their tyres are.

    But ok, if this is all fake – get rid of it.

  12. Didn’t we see this info graphic already in Monaco? I though they were showing it for Hamilton who was struggling to make his tyres which were supposed to last 50 laps to go for 66 laps instead.

    1. @f1osaurus Possibly. But I think most people were trying to guess when overtake #3 of the race was going to happen…

      1. @alianora-la-canta Well it could have been an after the thing edit, but at the time I thought it looked rather cool. It really showed the issues with the fronts. Then Hamilton had to start steering with the throttle to “burn up” the rears to keep the fronts at least somewhat alive.

        It was a great insight in how the top guys manage to extract the absolute maximum out of the equipment.

        1. @f1osaurus You might have done, but that was because you were paying enough attention to spot it in the first place ;)

  13. In my view, you’re being too harsh with AWS graphics. Some of them, like the one about tyre life, are complete rubbish because they don’t seem to be based on serious calculations. But, with respect to the rest, we should bear in mind that they are pure estimations. They just help to read the race, particularly for the casual viewer.

    In a way, it highlights the great work of a driver or a team if somehow they manage to do something unexpected. I think that it’s quite obvious that they don’t aim to predict future, which is what I would understand by a spoiler.

  14. If anyone thinks the thought process behind this graphic was anything but a marketing exercise for Amazon and AWS they’re kidding themselves. As someone who designs overlay graphics for football matches, brand activation often becomes the predominant driver behind the concept, design and implementation of them, whether the data in question is useful way to the consumer or not.

    If this one ends up being chalked off, no biggie, they’ll just come up with another way to present the data and ensure their branding still gets the alloted X amount of screen-time.

    1. Is AWS = fail the branding they’re after, though?

  15. The new tyre graphic is “misleading”? Let me prepare my International Surprised Face…

  16. GtisBetter (@)
    26th October 2019, 13:40

    If Tiretype=A and Totallaps=B then Percentage = C

    What an insight!

  17. i really hate a lot of these graphics. not only do they make the screen look far too cluttered but they also take away some of the unknown.

    the pit stop graphics for instance show us if an undercut is likely to work or not which removes that unknown element that used to help create some tension. if you have a graphic that shows that hamilton is going to end up 2 seconds ahead of bottas after the stop then you have lost that bit of unknown of seeing lewis in the pits and then wondering where he’ll rejoin the track.

    the same with this tyre life graphic. if it was more accurate do we really want to know that hamilton has caught vettel but won’t be able to attack or try to overtake him because his tyres are losing performance? that totally takes away all the tension from the battle because we already know that lewis is likely about to start falling back.

    if f1 are going to insist on pushing this data onto the screens then maybe start producing a feed on the f1tv service or something that is more barebones in terms of graphics, just the timing & basic telemetry perhaps (or even let us customise it with the ability to turn overlays on/off). if they did that i’d much rather watch that feed than the cluttered and race spoiling one we are all forced to watch now.

    1. I agree that the tire life and undercut graphics are terrible, but I have come to like the halo telemetry graphics during onboard shots. It is a classic use of negative space. ;)

  18. Putting up the graphic this weekend might be a risk for Pirelli.

  19. Mark in Florida
    26th October 2019, 15:33

    This graphic is no more rubbish than the tires your making Pirelli. The graphic just makes you look bad as your tires immediately begin to die a sudden early death for all to see. Could the Le Mans prototype cars start donating their used race Michelins they have to be better than these awful Pirelli tires. Mexico is going to eat these tires alive how can the drivers be expected to push for position. Another tire management race.

  20. My pet peeve is the ‘% chance of an overtake’ graphic. When the only way to keep causal viewers interested is getting them excited about a small chance of an overtake happening – rather than being excited about an overtake actually happening then we all might as well switch off. It’s the ultimate artificial attempt to remedy the mess that formula one is right now.

    F1 needs a revolution.

Comments are closed.