Time for grooves to go

Vitantonio Liuzzi, Scuderia Toro Rosso-Ferrari, Spa-Francorchamps, 2007 | GEPA / Franz PammerHere’s proof that the FIA isn’t capable of joined-up thinking.

1998: Slick tyres are banned and grooved tyres introduced to control cornering speeds and make racing safer.

2006: A single tyre supplier is announced for 2008, to control cornering speeds and make racing safer.

Does F1 really need both rules? No.

After the FIA announced that F1 would only have on tyre supplier Michelin announced their withdrawal leaving Bridgestone as sole tyre suppliers for 2007, one year ahead of schedule.

As F1 now has one tyre supplier, who can reduce cornering speeds when needed by providing a harder tyre, why does it still need grooved tyres?

After all, grooved tyres are not used in any other major racing category. And Bridgestone supplies ‘spec’ slicks to GP2 and the Champ Car World Series – championships that both have a far better quality of racing than F1 does.

F1’s use of grooved tyres rarely gets talked about as being a reason why racing in F1 is not as good as it is in other series. But I firmly believe it’s a major part of the problem. Here’s what Damon Hill had to say about it when I asked him last year:

For a pure sensation of driving grooved tyres are a disaster. There’s not one person, not one driver I know who doesn’t think so. All you have to do is go for half a lap on a set of slicks and suddenly you think the whole world’s changed.

Grooved tyres have contributed to reducing speeds but they have not contributed to the racing in a positive way.

I can’t see any reason for keeping grooved tyres, but slicks are not on the menu for 2008 according to Bridgestone.

In fact F1’s tyre package next year will stay basically the same, which is a worry given how poor the racing this year has been. Hopefully the banning of traction control will spice things up.

Photo: GEPA / Franz Pammer

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