Monaco madness proves tyres are key

Pirelli tyres allowed for fantastic racing in Monaco

Pirelli tyres allowed for fantastic racing in Monaco

Not since 1992 has the Monaco Grand Prix seen such fantastic racing. Back then, Nigel Mansell chased down a significantly slower Ayrton Senna, hounding the McLaren all the way to the chequered flag.

On Sunday, we saw the astounding sight of three cars racing for the lead in Monte Carlo. Last year, only 4 overtakes were made here, all by Fernando Alonso passing the Virgins and Lotuses. However, 2011 is becoming one of the best seasons for on-track racing – all because of the tyres.

Many will criticise DRS, and rightly so, as being an artificial way of spicing up the racing. While it helps in a way, it also takes away the appeal of seeing cars side-by-side, rather than one simply slicing past another.

Turkey was a prime example of this, as the Mercedes and Red Bull cars were slaughtered in a straight line, and had no way to respond under braking.

On the other hand, the Pirelli tyres are promoting pure racing, and generating unpredictability at the same time. Although Sebastian Vettel has taken control of the world championship swiftly, he has been hounded to the flag in the last two races. In Spain, Lewis Hamilton, in an inferior car, clung onto the Red Bull for dear life. In Monaco, both Ferrari and McLaren caught Vettel out on worn tyres, and very nearly punished him dearly for it.

The best thing is, 3 or 4 stops are not needed by every driver in order to shake up the field. In Monaco, a 1-stop for Vettel and a 3-stop for Button both proved to be race-winning strategies (safety car periods and red flag excluded).

Unfortunately, the red flag, and the consequent switching of tyres, ruined what could have been a classic showdown to the flag. Despite this, I don’t think anybody will be disappointed with last weekend’s racing. Seeing so many overtaking moves in unpredictable locations, with varying results, has improved this sport far more than any technical gimmick ever could.

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