Fernando Alonso, Alpine, Monaco, 2021

F1 should consider special tyres and rules for street races – Alonso

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In the round-up: Fernando Alonso says Formula 1 should consider using specialised tyres for street tracks.

In brief

Street tracks need special tyres – Alonso

Another processional Monaco Grand Prix last week prompted debate over what Formula 1 can do to improve the quality of racing at the circuit. Alonso suggested creating a special tyre compound designed for low-grip street circuits.

“Probably there is something that the sport needs to study deeper for these street circuits,” said the Alpine driver. “Maybe have a very specific tyre that is not available in any other circuit, it’s just for this kind of street.

“And then maybe in the race, make sure that everyone is using that tyre only, that you don’t have the possibility to put the hard on at any time or something like that so you are only running soft. Maybe special rules for special races are needed.”

Baku “not a favourite” for Verstappen

Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Baku City Circuit, 2019
Verstappen expects Mercedes will be the team to beat in Baku
Max Verstappen expects Mercedes will hold the upper hand at Baku City Circuit, the venue for next week’s race.

“The track is okay but probably not a favourite of mine if I’m honest,” said the world championship leader. “I’ve never been on the podium there so it’s time to change that.

“Let’s see how competitive we are, I do expect Mercedes to come back strong there though.”

Dixon leads final Indy 500 practice

Indianapolis 500 pole-winner Scott Dixon headed the final practice session ahead of tomorrow’s race with a best average speed of 228.323mph.

In much cooler conditions, with teams focused on honing their race set-ups, drivers found overtaking easier than it had been in last year’s race. “The racing’s really good,” said Colton Herta, “I hope it’s this cold on race day.”

Formula E debut for Eriksson

Joel Eriksson will made his Formula E debut in next month’s Mexico EPrix in Puebla. He will substitute for Nico Mueller, as the Dragon/Penske driver will be competing in the DTM that weekend.

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Comment of the day

Sumedh tries to comprehend Mercedes’ strategy call which backfired so badly for Lewis Hamilton last weekend:

See what James Vowles said: “The problem with an overcut is that doesn’t exist until Gasly stops. He has to stop to present an opportunity for us to have free air in front of us. He already had a gap to traffic behind, the same gap that we put Lewis into and he wasn’t taking it, which means he wasn’t terribly convinced that they had to stop first, they were waiting for us to stop. I am fairly confident had we waited a lap or two they still wouldn’t have stopped.”

Mercedes were wondering why Gasly isn’t pitting. But no one else on in the pit lane was wondering that or even thinking of pitting early! Everyone in the pitlane knew that with tyre warm-up being a challenge, the undercut wasn’t powerful. If you see the lap times data, it is clear that almost every driver had one or two slow (really slow!) laps right after the pit stop. Even on Saturday, drivers needed multiple laps to get the tyres into the right temperature window.

It seems Mercedes just completely forgot about the tyre warm-up issues. Had they been mindful of that, Lewis would have at least finished fifth, may be fourth.

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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...

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61 comments on “F1 should consider special tyres and rules for street races – Alonso”

  1. COTD, maybe MBs computers still think they have DAS.

    1. I completely agree with COTD. Everyone can make a mistake, and Mercedes strategists have been great this year – except Monaco when their single mistake was an absolute howler that even fans could facepalm at as it was happening. I’m sure they will learn from it but those points are a serious loss.

      Track position is everything at Monaco, you never, ever, give it up.

      1. someone or something
        29th May 2021, 13:33

        See my comment here.

        Once you’re done facepalming, please tell us what you would’ve done differently. And I’ll tell you why that wouldn’t have worked, with even less of a chance of producing a more favourable result.
        Mercedes’ strategists knew very well what they were doing, but they were in an impossible situation. Being stuck behind Gasly was what doomed Hamilton’s race, and the fact that he was unable to make his tyres last, blocked his only way out of that situation.

    2. Mercedes never drove with DAS in Monaco ;)

  2. Maybe have a very specific tyre that is not available in any other circuit, it’s just for this kind of street.

    Alonso on point there. The low grip is the main issue, especially in the dirty air. It’s not even close to the first time of these complaints. It’s something Pirelli haven’t gotten a handle on year after year.

    The tyres simply aren’t suitable to produce good racing around Monaco and that ultimately is the fault of Pirelli. Of course he says it in a much more diplomatic way…

    1. I’m not sure tyres make any difference. We’ve seen numerous times drivers on shot tyres or even hugely down on power hold off an attack, not because the driver behind is suffering from a grip reduction by following, but because the track is narrow and the cars are wide

      It’s fairly straight forward to position a car to block an overtake

      You only see drivers with nothing to lose making passes in Monaco

      1. Let’s say the same thing twice because it seems to be your M.O.

        Right, so the drivers saying the car loses grip and the tyres don’t work when close to another car for years now why?

        If that was the case you would see one car up the end of another weaving and saying I can’t fit…

        The lack of logic is getting crazy.

        1. The tyres do cause issue at the majority of other circuits

          But in Monaco where you can defend against a vastly faster car I don’t see how any change in tyres can suddenly provide overtaking

          1. @philipgb It won’t. Unless you make them so soft they can only do 20 laps (then fall apart) so everyone has to pit at least three times.

          2. Steve, some years ago there were hypersofts available for monaco and some other circuits, I think those lasted even less!

    2. @skipgamer
      I disagree. The real problem here is the loss of downforce with these wider cars when following another car. And there is no worse place following another car than Monaco (the more downforce you have, the more you loose behind another car).
      Because of that, drivers are sliding more and thus tyre wear increases. This will happen with any tyre, you can only limit it to a certain degree by making the tyre more consistent. Pirelli would have to build a special tyre just for Monaco, which offers a lot of grip and has basically no wear. That would cost an awful lot of money for R&D and there would be no way to test it properly, as Monaco isn’t a permanent circuit.
      Slashing downforce from the cars is a much more effective way to improve the racing. Even when Pirelli brought these rubbish high-degredation tyres (especially 2012-13), drivers were able to follow much more closely than they did the last couple of years.

      1. I’d actually expect that with softer tyres the issue would be even more pronounced, right @srga91? So then running softer tyres only mean we either get more pitstops (like @scbriml and @philipgb mention) or just cars parsed out with 2-4 seconds between them to be able to make it to the end on shot tyres, since you can’t really pass anyway.

      2. Yep, I’ll agree to that.

  3. Just so everyone is clear, let the record show that it was just a run of the mill s&m party with five prostitutes that Mosley was attending, and that there were no provable nazi themes at the orgy at all.

    1. A person’s kinks should be off any public discussion.

      1. @ferrox-glideh @faulty I’d like to talk about mine if you’re willing to listen?

        1. Do I see a furry under that bunny suit? :)

        2. I’m not interested, thank you. Please mister, let go of my arm.

    2. someone or something
      29th May 2021, 13:18

      I can’t tell if this is sarcasm or not. I remember talking you through why the nazi allegations were merely an insidious construction by News of the World, which riffed all too heavily on the “Germans are nazis” trope that British tabloid readers seem particularly fond of. And I unfortunately remember you reacting very poorly to my attempt of separating fact from slander.

      1. Here is my position: Of course the Sun is a disgusting rag and the “Germans are nazis” trope is disgusting too. Also, Max Mosley is a nasty fellow who happened to use his image to wield power in public. I assume prostitution is legal in the UK, but not especially admired. He made enemies with the unspeakably nasty fellow Murdoch who owned the Sun, and now everyone knows not to put on striped prisoner of war uniforms when they are at an s&m party in case someone is filming and gets the wrong idea, especially if you are related to the founder of the British Union of Fascists. I agree the law needed changing, but I have no sympathy for Mosley.

      2. Also, replying to “someone or something”: I don’t recall that interaction we had where I “reacted poorly” in your estimation, but if you had an account with a profile here we could keep track of such things much easier in the future.

        1. After doing some searching (slow day here), it turns out that you went under the name “nase” here 3 years ago (instead of “someone or something”) and you had something to say about my comments being somehow anti-German at that time. Forgive me for not remembering that charming episode. I just replied to you under that post, if you still care.

  4. As regards Alonso’s point, it was my understanding that Pirelli’s softest compound(s) were already supposed to be suited for street races.

    It seems to have been a bit of a common theme this year that the tyres in general have been a bit harder and more durable, meaning less grip, than in the past.

    Maybe it doesn’t need a “special” tyre, it just needs the tyres to be better period.

    I’m hoping that all the good being done in terms of next years new ground effects etc is not completely undone by the new 18” wheels and tyres not being up to the task of providing for close racing.

    1. @dbradockMaybe it doesn’t need a “special” tyre, it just needs the tyres to be better period.

      Define “better” and how it would help overtaking at Monaco.

      There are only two ways to deal with Monaco – the 2020 approach or make three or more pit stops compulsory.

      1. There are only two ways to deal with Monaco – the 2020 approach


  5. Monaco doesn’t need a change in tyres and it doesn’t need a change in aero rules. The track is too narrow for cars to pass unless you have a gung-ho driver with nothing to lose throwing their car into a gap that only exists if the driver ahead doesn’t want to let the crash happen at a grand total of two points on the circuit

    The roads of Monaco were never intended to allow cars to race wheel to wheel on, even if the cars weren’t as huge as the modern cars they just aren’t roads meant for racing. Qualifying is the only entertaining bit of the weekend, why they haven’t built on that to turn it into a time trial type event I don’t know.

    1. Right, so the drivers saying the car loses grip and the tyres don’t work when close to another car for years now why?

      If that was the case you would see one car up the end of another weaving and saying I can’t fit…

      The lack of logic is getting crazy.

      1. Ricciardo held off Vettel without his MGU-K in 2018, something the team said cost 2.5 seconds a lap

        At any other circuit a car would breeze past regardless of aerodynamic loss from following

        Better tyres aren’t going to suddenly provide a following car a greater than 2.5 second lap time advantage, so how exactly are passes going to happen at a circuit so easy to defend at?

      2. @skipgamer why are you getting wound up when YOUR lack of logic is astounding here.

        As mentioned, numerous times the car infront has had a tyre or engine issue and kept position SOLELY because of the sheer size of the cars in relation to the track! On other tracks where there is MORE ROOM yes dirty air is the main inhibiting factor but at MONACO it’s the fricking dimensions!

        Different tracks can have different limitations you know, jesus wept.

    2. What you’ve said is exactly the situation. F1 have their reasons why it is still on the calendar, but it shouldn’t be there.
      Nevertheless, Mercedes should have walked away with a podium finish (and Lewis with even less points than he has). The simple fact is Mercedes made mistakes and paid the price. Maybe, with having the best engine and one of the best cars on the grid, they’d have gotten away with some of those mistakes at other tracks, but engine power and having the best car aren’t king at Monaco, so you should expect to be punished for those mistakes.

      1. @ COTD: Hindsight ist a beautiful thing but it’s to easy to say their idea never had a chance. Hamilton closed the gap to Gasly on his out lap by around one second. So the undercut did work but just not good enough.
        The problem the strategists at Mercedes were also facing was that Gasly is RedBull. They probably would have done anything to slow Hamiltons progress. If Hamilton had go long Gasly would have gone round and round too. If Hamilton pitted they would have covered him immediately as they did. Toro Rosso didn’t really care about loosing a place to Vettel and certainly not against loosing one to Perez.
        So Mercedes rolled the dice and lost.

        1. Obviously wasn’t supposed to be a reply to you @drycrust

          1. @roadrunner Nevertheless it was a great reply. I especially liked your comment “The problem the strategists at Mercedes were also facing was that Gasly is RedBull. They probably would have done anything to slow Hamiltons progress.” I think that correctly sums up the situation. Like it or not, one goal of every competitor is to beat the World (or current) Champion.

        2. Guessing that was part of the strategy used for gasly, yes.

  6. Mercedes were wondering why Gasly isn’t pitting.

    My guess as to why Pierre didn’t pit is because he was scared Lewis would use the opportunity to put in a faster lap time than he could produce, thereby gaining a place. So it was in his own interest to try and stay out as long as he could. If Lewis had less tyre degradation than Pierre then pitting after him would have been an option, but he had worse tyre degradation so Pierre had the upper hand. I’m sure keeping Lewis behind him would have been appreciated by Red Bull as well. However the most important point is Pierre is racing everyone, and that includes Lewis. His job is to beat as many people as possible. Pierre walked away from the race with 8 points compared to Lewis’s 7.

    1. someone or something
      29th May 2021, 13:27

      What you’re describing is just the typical Monaco overcut scenario, nothing to do with being scared. Quite the contrary, actually, because their only fear was an overcut by Hamilton, and they could see that Hamilton’s tyre degradation made that less likely with every passing lap.
      There was simply no reason for Gasly to pit before Hamilton pulled the trigger. Gasly probably had the tyre life to keep going, but he needed to cover Hamilton, because the latter was fast enough to make the undercut work with a couple of laps without traffic.

  7. Right, the cars are too wide, too long, and too heavy for a track like Monaco, look at the difference with Formula E, and the tires will solve that…

    Some really poorly thought out suggestions have been thrown up the last couple weeks from people you’d expect to know better.

  8. Nordschleife was too dangerous, Magny Cours was and is in the middle of nowhere, Indianapolis had its own problems, Ceasars Palace was just awfully build.
    So in this case Monaco can go in this list by being a track where it’s almost impossible to overtake. I hope 2022 cars will be better for overtaking but if that isn’t the case Monaco might leave the calendar.
    It has always been the same case with street circuits. Monaco is a special case of course with Macao and Pau but from my point of view if in the future we don’t have Monaco we should have at least one similar circuit.
    World Championship is a championship where the best drivers race in various circuits. Every driver has preferences and even if you don’t like Monaco it gives calendar its own unique taste.
    It may not be the best circuit for overtaking but it is a track where Mr. Saturdays can shine.
    Without Monaco we wouldn’t have stories like Trulli 2004 and for most races street circuits are the ones that provide the most action. 1996 for example.

    1. Even with smaller groundeffect cars i expect not overtakes at the front. You must have tyres who last 10-15 laps with a HUGE dropoff at the end.
      If that doesn’t happens i think Monaco will be removed somewhere in the future.

  9. F1 chose sprint races over fans’ opinions. That’s what I have to say about the sprint races.

    1. @dave, I’m no fan of gimmicks or change for changes sake, but I am looking forward to seeing races where the cars race non-stop from start to finish.
      I am also hopeful that these races will be FTA or on youtube, in full, as promotional material, and that they are successful and precede every race.

      1. Well let’s see how it works out.

      2. Maybe Leclerc at Monaco will make them think twice about giving it all from start to finish the day before the real race….

    2. F1 chooses all sorts of things over all sorts of opinions fans have.

      1. And there are all kinds of ‘fans’.
        One can even call the Saudi sponsors ‘fans’. They are a fan of the spectacle F1 and are willing to pay/invest to bring it to their country, even though many other fans (vocally on sites like this) disagree but fail to put their money where their keyboard is :P

        1. We’ll see about that. We’ll see what the Sprint Race will turn out to be.

  10. I’m not sure if Alonso’s suggestions would be necessary. Pirelli already brings the softest compound combination available.

    The whole Flexi wing case is weird, and I hope it doesn’t get messy, but I reckon it will. Whether protests would go through or not is difficult to predict for now. The Azerbaijan GP results could indeed end up in doubt for some time past the event.

    COTD: Fair point.

    On this day in F1: Additionally, the 5th anniversary of the 2016 race, i.e., Ricciardo’s lost win.

  11. Why not cut the Monaco race shorter by just enough laps to avoid the boring bit at the beginning when no-one is going full pelt? I love Monaco. I think it’s so exciting. The fact it’s almost impossible to overtake makes it so and rewards those with the skills, cojones and luck to make a pass.

  12. It,s funny how the tires and width of the cars are blamed for the lack of passing. I haven’t seen one mention of the length of the car. It take a lot more time for a school bus to pass another school bus than Mini to pass a Mini. and they are trying to race school buses! The Gulf livery on the Mc Laren made it painfully obvious. That car looked like it was towing a trailer. Stop blaming the tires or the track. Design the cars to fit the tracks they are supposed to race on. A car designed to race OK at Monaco will probably do OK everywhere else. I watched the Historic Monaco GP and had a good reminder of how good the racing was with shorter, lighter, nimbler,cars. Alesi/ Ferrari vs Werner/Lotus, 2 meter wide cars on AVON rubber (for god sake). Two drivers who forgot they where driving expensive collectibles, nose into gear box lap after lap until one made a small mistake. Beautiful ! As long as they are driving trucks, no tire can save the day .

    1. As nice as that historic race was, it was only that way because Werner stuffed the start. He was easily 2+ second per lap faster, but simply couldn’t put a move on Alesi anywhere due to… you guessed it – the car width and the narrow track with no passing opportunities.

      Yes, the cars are way too long – but they are also way too wide, the track is way too narrow and unsuitable for modern F1 and the tyres weren’t ideal.

    2. One point, Carbonized, I seem to remember that back in 1955 Mercedes-Benz brought a special short wheelbase version of their Grand Prix car to Monaco. In those days, things were more free with regard to design – the racing was better too.

  13. Let’s cut to the chase: what compromised Hamilton’s race was Hamilton qualifying in 7th. If you qualify in 7th, your race becomes far more complicated, even more so at Monaco. And the big question not answered by Hamilton is why Bottas was in a chance for poll, and second in the race, while he was stuck in the midfield.

    All the rest is filler. Could the team have done better, i.e. salvaged Hamilton’s poor weekend for him? Possibly. But he was the one who couldn’t get the car setup to work on the Saturday, not Bottas. Got to be said.

    1. Agree with this, he talks a lot about the team coming short, but bottas outperformed him all weekend. Was thinking before this weekend that usually when hamilton beats bottas it can be by 1 tenth or 5-7 tenths at particular tracks like singapore, but the other way around is always max 1 tenth; well, not in this case, this was a very rare case of being demolished by bottas in quali.

  14. Interesting, not a mention yet of Brawn’s opinion that a protest of flexy wings likely won’t fly. So I’ll mention it. I agree with him. All teams current wings presumably pass the current load tests, and when the more stringent tests arrive the teams will have been given time to react to them. So protesting previous races or even the coming race will only show wings that pass the current tests, and since it would be unfair to suddenly change the test and expect wings designed for the previous test to pass a new test, teams will adapt their wings to the new test and will remain legal.

    1. @robbie I kind of agree, while agreeing that deliberate flexing to gain lap time, rather than accepting that some flex is structurally inevitable, needs to be tempered. It’s part of F1 to exploit these ambiguities, but equally part of F1 to clamp down on them when other teams basically ask: so can we have flexi wings too or not? Personally I’m against revisionism – changing race results after the race or long after everyone has gone home. The regulations do allow for new tests to be introduced if FIA deem the current tests not stringent enough to test for flexing. That’s something all teams accepted when they signed up to the compete under the current regulations.

      1. @david-br For sure and by everything Horner for example has said, he fully acknowledges FIA’s right to change the tests and has never challenged that. As Vasseur said, they all design their cars to the limits of the regs, for they all have to be as competitive against each other as possible, and that has been understood for decades. For me it just would be wholly unfair to pass a car and allow it to race with the current scrutineering, and then change the scrutineering and suddenly call a car illegal, without giving them time to adapt to the new testing, which is what it seems they will be doing. To me ‘flexing too much’ is very subjective and is being opined on, but those opinions are so far only from some teams who are objecting, which is what opposing teams do, and not from FIA.

        1. I’m a bit undecided on that @robbie , I mean, I don’t think the flexibility has been ‘innocently’ designed to flex out of range of FIA’s current tests. As I understand it, the wings are designed to remain inflexible to a certain point and then ‘give way’ above loads that are optimal for racing. And FIA have basically said they do think there is sufficient evidence to justify the need to introduce new tests. So is it really unfair not to give these teams ‘time to adapt’? Conversely, I think flexible rear wings make a lot of design sense. I’d quite like to hear a reiteration from FIA of why they should not be permitted.

          1. @david-br That is a fair comment regarding the fairness/unfairness of giving teams time to adapt, but I lean towards them being given time because of the fact that it is not RBR or any other “flexy” team’s fault that they have passed the current tests and would feel comfortable proceeding accordingly. I agree with Vasseur when he says that all teams design things to the limits of the regs, and to me that is all RBR is guilty of. So I do think you have a strong point, but it also feels a bit to me like moving the goal posts mid-kick. A bit like FIA saying ‘ok you passed our current tests, and we’ve allowed you to race for you’re not illegal, but now how about this test?…let’s see if you can pass it? Ah see you can’t, therefore you are now illegal.’

            To me it is fair game for FIA to introduce a new test, and presumably even use video evidence and a way of measuring the amount of flex. I am currently unclear as to how much flex has been deemed acceptable now, and how they measure that, and I would assume that if it is via cameras those cameras must be exactly placed in the same location on all cars, and that the ‘snap shots’ shall we say, the frozen video imagines, are all taken when the cars are going exactly the same speed under exactly the same conditions i.e. it will have to be very scientific and precise in terms of how they will measure the amount of flex beyond however they already deem some amount of flex to be legal. Exactly how much is too much? How does a team measure that, when all they know is they have passed FIA’s tests? All teams must be confirming their own flex somehow, and by how much they are flexing. They seem to all be doing it with the front wing inside elements too. Again, I’m assuming legally by FIA’s own tests.

  15. Do Baku, sochi and albert park qualify as street races too? There are a lot of these tracks… just let go of the 5 compounds all together then, qnd have a specific set of 3 compounds, made to measure for the different tracks

  16. I have a fix for the Monaco annual procession – have an actual race track host the “Monaco grand prix” instead. As long as F1 remains at Monaco its doomed to repeat the same insipid race every year.

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