Pirelli have been forced to change their F1 tyres from the Canadian GP after mounting pressure from certain team bosses complaining this year’s flavour is damaging the racing on the track and the sport.
Although necessary, I can’t help but think this is all a lot of hot air being blown by those who are struggling to make the 2013 rubber work for their car. Red Bull had a bit of a underwhelming race at Barcelona last weekend – both Mark Webber and Vettel never looked like challengers to the Ferrari and Lotus of Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen respectively, so its little wonder that Red Bull honcho Dietrich Mateschitz came out all guns blazing on criticising the current state of affairs.
It has always been a necessary ingredient needed in designing a fast F1 car is for one that doesn’t chew through their four wheels in a matter of moments. Sauber and Lotus have been exemplary for this over the last few seasons – it is a design goal the aero designers need to adhere to if they want long-distance race performance. It has been like this since the 90’s (when I started taking an interest in F1 as a young boy), it is still relevant today.
So what has been the issue exactly? Essentially, the teams are complaining the tyres are too critical in wear rate this year – where in previous seasons 2-3 stops were the norm, now we are increasingly seeing teams go to 3, or even 4 stops a race. It has meant we have seen some awesome action on the track with cars having a right go at each other, but it has also led to drivers pretty much being helpless to defend against a car who have just stuck on a fresh pair of boots. Plus, with cars diving into the pits pretty much every 10-12 laps, it can get a bit confusing as to who is doing what out on the track. It has got a bit messy of late.
But tyre management has always been part of F1 – at no stage ever (except qualifying) have drivers been able to push flat out across the entire distance of a race. And with all the talk from Dietrich that Pirelli are currently ruining F1, I think he needs to take a long hard look within his own team when the drivers are told not to race each other. At least McLaren have got something right this season, if little else. That is much more important for the spectacle of motor racing.
Yes, the tyres are probably too sensitive right now. Yes, I am glad Pirelli are listening and have reacted appropriately. But at the same time, let’s not get hyperbolic over the current situation – the manufacturer has introduced some much needed excitement to the borefest the sport was in the 2000’s, and without Pirelli I am sure F1 would not have as many fans as it does now.