Tag Archives: Pirelli

Where now for Formula 1 and Pirelli?

It’s obvious that the tyres failures that marred today’s British Grand Prix were extremely dangerous, and preventive measures must be put in place for the future. Although today’s debacle was not entirely their fault, the fact that the tyres have been delaminating in previous races as well proves that Pirelli needs to put in some serious work if it is to survive in this sport.

In both the Malaysian and Bahrain Grands Prix, Lewis Hamilton suffered tyre blowouts at high speed. Seeing as how the Mercedes is known to impose heavy wear on their tyres, it wouldn’t be out of the question to assume that degradation – a feature intentionally implemented by Pirelli – is contributing to these incidents.

However, the high degradation was requested by the FIA, in order to shift racing to a Canada 2010-style of tyre strategy. While this has worked (mostly), the consequences of high-fragility tyres are now clearly visible.

Pirelli are unlikely to revert to “concrete” tyres, as it would hurt their brand imaging to do such a u-turn in the public eye. However, it is completely unfeasible to keep the tyres the way they are, with such huge safety concerns having arisen this weekend.

Motorsport director Paul Hembery has already stated that the company’s new bonding method to construct the tyres is not the fault, so there is something more fundamental to blame. It is possible that the Turn 4 kerbs contributed to these incidents, but they are no different to any other kerbs on the calendar.

Therefore, it is likely that the 2013-spec tyres are reacting poorly to high levels of wear at demanding tracks like Silverstone. If this is the case, there wouldn’t have been a problem this weekend if Pirelli had originally had their way – the teams vetoed their suggestion to race more conservative constructs from early on this year.

In desperation, they turned to in-season testing, which I’m sure you’ve heard all about. Two tests were completed after Bahrain – one with Ferrari at the Sakhir circuit, and the infamous one with Mercedes in Barcelona. This only resulted in even more negative PR for the company that was only trying to fix a mess they were forced into.

If the drivers and teams are looking to ensure their safety on track, then they must be more willing to allow Pirelli to introduce changes. It is widely believed that Ferrari and Lotus vetoed Pirelli’s plans in order to gain an advantage over their rivals – and this must be stopped if the drivers’ safety is to be ensured.

At the very least, the next race at the Nurburgring will be much easier on the tyres than in Silverstone, as will the Hungaroring. Hopefully this will allow the teams, the FIA and Pirelli to work out a safe solution, not one that is manipulated in order to gain speed advantages at the cost of safety.

Mercedes banned from 2013 Young Driver test as testing saga concludes

The long-running “testgate” saga has finally come to a close, with the Mercedes team being banned from this year’s Young Driver Test.

It comes as punishment for completing 1000km of in-season testing with Pirelli while using their 2013 car, which is against current sporting regulations.

The FIA noted in their tribunal today that Mercedes had “misconceived” what the team saw as approval from Charlie Whiting to complete the test, as it did not exempt them from the current restriction on using current season cars during testing.

It should also be mentioned that the legal costs of hosting the tribunal are to be shared between Mercedes, the FIA and Pirelli.

The biggest loser from this decision will be Sam Bird, Mercedes’ third driver, who will lose out on three days of potential Formula 1 driving experience before he attempts to break into the sport next year.

Ferrari also to be investigated over tyre testing debacle

The FIA is to include Ferrari in its investigation of in-season testing performed by Pirelli this season.

The only form of in-season testing as of now is straight-line aero tests, up to 4 promotional runs, and any young driver sessions that take place during the year. However, Pirelli and Mercedes have recently come under fire for undertaking 1,000km of testing after the Spanish Grand Prix.

However, Ferrari have now been included in this ever-heatening debate, after it emerged that they also performed a test session with Pirelli after the Bahrain Grand Prix. Both teams will now be forced to report to the FIA on the matter. It must be noted, though, that Ferrari were using their 2011 car instead of Mercedes’ 2013 model.

In a press conference today, Pirelli claimed that they had notified the teams of potential testing in 2013, but few of them had taken note. They also stated that they were not using their 2013 compounds, and Mercedes were not aware what type of tyre they were running on their car.

Whatever the result, it is clear that this saga will only generate more controversy and surprise as the season goes on.

Mercedes to face FIA over “secret tyre test” with Pirelli

Mercedes have been referred to the FIA by the Monaco Grand Prix stewards, over a secret test of Pirelli tyres after the Spanish Grand Prix.

It is understood that Mercedes applied for permission to the FIA for the test, but were granted the approval on condition that the Pirelli test car was used. However, it has emerged that Mercedes had ran their own car during the test, which would have granted the team an unfair advantage.

Ferrari and Red Bull have protested the test, and are clearly to gain if Mercedes face sanction for running their own car.

However, it should be noted that the result of the Monaco Grand Prix will stand regardless of any action by the FIA.

Pirelli are an easy target, but F1 is better off because of them

It’s extremely easy to complain about Pirelli tyres and how they’ve influenced the state of Formula 1 in recent years. I can’t go onto a single F1 forum, comment board or Twitter feed without seeing at least one resenting comment on how they’re “ruining” the sport.

It’s clear that many fans are angered by Pirelli’s approach – by creating tyres that deliberately generate extra pit stops, they were always going to come under fire at some point. But the complaints against them are becoming increasingly irritating, and I’m starting to feel that their detractors are missing the point.

Look back to Spanish Grands Prix several years ago, as recent as 2009. There was absolutely no on-track action, as every single position change was managed through the pit stops. It’s not a recent thing either – the 1999 Spanish Grand Prix saw ONE overtake in the entirely of the race. Just one.

Pirelli have completely revolutionised the way F1 races, and for the better. Fernando Alonso may have jumped Sebastian Vettel in the stops, but it wasn’t completely necessary, seeing as how easily he and Vettel soon dispatched with Nico Rosberg. Overtaking is finally possible in tracks like the Circuit de Catalunya for the first time in years, and it has benefited the sport massively.

Nevertheless, the argument that the tyres are “artificial” won’t go away. More worryingly, even some drivers complain that they’re only pushing at 90% during the race, conserving tyres instead of pushing as hard as possible. Vettel was the clearest example of this today, not even opposing several drivers and letting them past.

However, it’s important to remember that the winning driver did none of this. Fernando Alonso pushed as hard as he needed to, utilised a 4-stop strategy without breaking a sweat, and reaped the rewards. It’s quite clear nowadays that the drivers that win races and the drivers that sit around and complain about the tyres are mutually exclusive. I’m looking at you, Webber.

The best drivers will win races regardless of the circumstances. Alonso knows this, and so does Kimi Raikkonen. Both drivers have proven to be excellent at mixing tyre management with searing pace, ignoring delta times (target lap times) and just focusing at the job in hand. Their efforts have been rewarded, and we will see more of this as the year goes on.

But at the same time, complaints about Pirelli still won’t go away. An excellent article by Will Buxton today demonstrates why this doesn’t matter:

Formula 1 loves a villain and this year Pirelli has been cast into this pantomime 
role. But, as I explained at the end of the Spanish Grand Prix in my final thought 
on the NBC Sports Network, the job of a Formula 1 team is to design a car around 
the variables which are unchangeable. Hermann Tilke used to get the blame for 
ruining the show for his apparently dreadful circuit design. But is it not the job 
of the teams to design a car for the circuits on which the championship races? Of 
course it is. Just as it is the job of the teams to design a car that maximizes 
the tyres on which it runs.

What Ferrari showed in Barcelona was that yes you may have to make more pitstops 
than we’ve seen in the past, but that it is possible to push from the moment the 
lights go out to the moment that the flag falls. That so much of the press is 
decrying the race shows, I believe, a disappointing cynicism. Pirelli has become 
too easy a target.

But should we blame Pirelli for simply doing what they’ve been asked to do and 
make the tyres less durable? Or should we blame the teams who have seemingly got 
themselves into the rut of a blame culture that hides the true fact that some have 
not designed a car capable of maximizing one of the unchangeable variables that 
has defined the history of the sport?

I’m looking forward to the next batch of F1 races, and the challenges they will hold. I can only hope that the drivers and other fans do so as well.

Pirelli replaces soft tyre with medium compound for Bahrain

Pirelli has made the call to drop the soft compound tyre for the Bahrain Grand Prix, after heavy degradation in last weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix.

No driver spent more than 7 laps on the soft tyre in China, and several drivers were quick to criticise the option tyre. With this in mind, the teams will now be using the medium and hard compounds for next Sunday’s race. Last year saw the use of the soft and medium tyres at the Sakhir International Circuit.

Despite the change, Pirelli are estimating that most drivers will run 3-stop strategies next weekend.

 

Pirelli tyres don’t need changing – the rules do

This weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix saw much criticism for the way the teams held back for much of qualifying, almost afraid to put any type of wear on their tyres.

This continued through to race day, where drivers’ strategies revolved solely around getting rid of the troublesome option tyres as quickly as possible, then managing the primes for the rest of the race.

It’s a worrying scene, and only fuels many arguments that Formula 1 is only racing at 90% power, what with the increased emphasis on tyre conservation in recent years. From the teams’ points of view, there is nothing else they can do – if staying in the pits for the first 5 minutes of Q3 is the best tactical option (or all of Q3), then they must make that call, unpopular as it might be.

Pirelli have therefore come under fire for their high-degradation soft compound tyres, which only allow a handful of flat-out racing laps. However, this is exactly what they were instructed to create when they entered the sport. I feel that the adjustments necessary to fix the current tyre problem must be made by the FIA.

Obviously we can’t just revert to the days of rock-hard tyres and “cruise control” races – that would completely undermine all the improvements that have been made to the racing in recent years. However, in my opinion, changing the regulation on the Q3 tyres would encourage drivers to get out on track more. The rule that states that drivers must start on the tyre they qualified on, for example, is completely detrimental to the racing, and should be scrapped.

If this were to be removed, drivers would be more willing to push for the absolute best lap times on their Q3 laps, and it would also introduce more strategic options on race day – starting on the prime tyre would be much more feasible.

Similarly, it might also be worth having a look at the dual compound rule, which states that both the option and prime compounds must be used during a dry race. Again, this would diversify tyre strategies and reduce emphasis on conserving the option tyres.

I still think that F1 is currently in a fantastic position at the moment, with a massively talented grid of drivers, closely-fought title battles and plenty of on-track excitement, but there’s always improvements to be made. Improving the regulations behind the Pirellis would be a welcome boost to both the drivers and fans.

Alguersuari to test for Pirelli

Alguersuari has joined the Pirelli squad

Alguersuari has joined the Pirelli squad

Jaime Alguersuari will test for Pirelli’s F1 division for the rest of this season.

He joins Lucas di Grassi at the team, as they both replace Pedro de la Rosa, who tested for the tyre manufacturer last year.

Pirelli are using a Renault R30 2010 race car for their testing programme. They will take part in 4 tests in Jerez, Spa, Monza and Barcelona.

Alguersuari was dropped from Toro Rosso this year alongside Sebastien Buemi, and was replaced by the duo of Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne. For this year, he is commentating on BBC Radio 5 Live.

Pirelli unveil softer tyre compounds and new colour coding for 2012

Pirelli have introduced 4 new tyre compositions

Pirelli have introduced 4 new tyre compositions

Following the first look at the Caterham CT01, Pirelli have also revealed the rubber that all 12 F1 teams will be running on this season.

The Italian manufacturer has constructed brand-new soft, medium and hard compound tyres, with the super-soft formula being carried on from last year. There is also a new extreme wet tyre to be used.

The new tyres will be of a softer composition compared to last year.

The colour coding for the dry tyres remains roughly the same, except the hard tyre is now a much lighter silver colour, and it is expected to be almost invisible at high speed.

The intermediate tyre is now coloured green, while the new extreme wet compound is blue.

All 6 variants of tyre contain slightly wider contact patch than 2011, to counteract the loss of downforce from the banning of off-throttle diffusers. Pirelli explained that they have incorporated less of a rounded shoulder on the rubber to improve grip.

They also noted that they intend to reduce the performance gap between the options and primes on race weekends, from 1.2-1.8 seconds last year to around 0.6-0.8 in 2012.

Pirelli to drop hard tyre for rest of 2011

Pirelli's hard tyre will soon be replaced

Pirelli's hard tyre will soon be replaced

Pirelli has stated that it is unlikely to use the hard compound tyre again in 2011.

After announcing tyre compounds for the next 3 races (a mix of super-soft, soft and medium), it was becoming increasingly likely that the unpopular compound would not be used again.

Today, Pirelli’s motorsport boss Paul Hembery has explained that the medium as effectively replaced the harder tyre:

"I don't think we'll see the hard compound again. I think it's probably too hard and 
that the medium is proving sufficiently robust for the aggressive circuits we've 
still got to come. So don't think we'll be going the hard route."

This will prove beneficial to Fernando Alonso’s title hopes, as his Ferrari team has struggled massively on the harder compound this season, with particular problems bringing the rubber up to temperature.

Hembery also revealed that the hard tyre probably will not make an appearance in 2012, with the medium taking up that role:

"Probably next season the medium will become the hard. We'll probably slot something 
in between the current softs and mediums - We want to keep about one second between 
each. The super soft and soft gap is about right to be honest, because you've got a 1s 
speed advantage but you've got a clear degradation and limitation on use. If we could 
replicate that now with a new medium and a new hard then I think we'll be well placed."
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