Final tyre allocations good for McLaren?

McLaren struggled with the super soft tyres at Interlagos in 2007

McLaren struggled with the super soft tyres at Interlagos in 2007

Last week Ferrari suggested the harder tyres Bridgestone have brought to some races have played into McLaren’s hands.

If that is what’s going on the red team are likely to be disappointed by the tyre allocations for the final race of the season where Bridgestone again are bringing a harder set of tyres than last year. Is this more good news for McLaren?

Bridgestone has announced it will take its medium and soft compound tyres to the season finale at Interlagos.

Last year it brought its soft and super-soft compounds to the circuit. But McLaren in particular ran into problems with tyre wear with the super-soft tyres on the newly-resurfaced track.

Bridgestone has previusly confirmed it is also bringing harder tyres to the Belgian and Italian rounds. The McLaren is known for being particularly hard on its tyres and that is especially true of Hamilton. So, on the face of it, Bridgestone bringing harder tyres to the races is good news for the team.

However the Hungarian Grand Prix demonstrated that track temperature has as big a role to play in the balance of power between McLaren and Ferrari.

Bridgestone’s Hirohide Hamashima explained what happened at Hungary, where McLaren excelled early in practice but Ferrari thrived as temperatures increased at the track:

Basically the Ferrari has more of a tendency to understeer than the McLaren. The McLaren is a little bit oversteery. When the tyre has good grip, the car with the oversteer tendency will be quicker over a single lap than a neutral or understeering car.

But when you think about racing conditions – especially with the temperatures we had at the Hungaroring ?ǣ then an oversteering car will have heat generating at the rear much higher than the understeering car.

Looking at Hungary and Hamilton’s car behaviour, after a few laps he struggled with oversteer – so he was making lots of counter-steering movements. On the other hand the Ferrari had a good balance after a few laps. That’s why the temperature is making a difference.

The tyre allocations for the final races are as follows:

Race Prime tyre Option tyre (white stripe)
European Grand Prix, Circuito Urbano Valencia (street circuit) Soft Super-soft
Belgian Grand Prix, Spa-Francorchamps Hard Medium
Italain Grand Prix, Monza Hard Medium
Singapore Grand Prix, Singapore (street circuit) Soft Super-soft
Japanese Grand Prix, Fuj Speedway Medium Soft
Chinese Grand Prix, Shanghai International Circuit Hard Medium
Brazilian Grand Prix, Interlagos Medium Soft

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16 comments on Final tyre allocations good for McLaren?

  1. Peter Boyle said on 10th August 2008, 2:33

    Clive on f1insight has a recent article
    that sums up more eloquently than I can how stupid
    the tyre rules are and how dangerous it is to hand
    a casting vote in the title championship to a tyre vendor.

    The teams should have ALL compounds available and simply be free to choose the best for their car. No stupid constraints.

  2. mani said on 10th August 2008, 6:57

    Considering the tyres, I think FIA should leave the final decisions to the teams. Being restricted to only two compounds per weekend, F1 – in a way, becomes specification driven – requires the teams to adopt their cars to the tyre specs.

    This in turn leads to certain compromises on the car setup, and leaves teams in trouble. Harder good for McLaren, Softer good for Ferrari; make all four compounds available for a team, let them choose the best two for the race weekend. That would reveal true potential of their cars, that means good race pace for all the teams, on their preferred tyre.

    With all the regulations, F1 is already looking like a spec series. Tyre choice, I guess wouldn’t be a big problem; In my opinion it would help F1’s safety as the cars & drivers will be in good terms with their tyres.

  3. M Smith said on 10th August 2008, 11:49

    Valencia and Singapore might play into Ferrari’s hands if the temperatures are high (probably unlikely at Singapore due to it being a night race) otherwise the tyres will play into McLaren’s hands.

    But the 2 week break now is a great time to optimise the car for the final races of the season. BMW have still got developments in line so they might come back to spoil the party.

  4. Robert McKay said on 10th August 2008, 12:54

    If Bridgestone brought all four compounds to every race (which sounds fine in theory, although it would be expensive and largely defeat the purpose of having just one tyre supplier), then you can guarantee that a team would be moaning that there wasn’t a tyre compound exactly half way between soft and super-soft, or medium and hard. The team would want 8 compounds, or, in essence, exactly as many compounds as it took for them to find a tyre that was optimal for their car. And if you optimise the compound for one team you have to do it for all teams. Which just gets silly.

    That’s why Bridgestone use their knowledge as the tyre experts to bring a compound for a race, the compound most likely to balance grip and durability. It’s not their job to design as many tyres as it requires for each team to get the maximal performance out of that tyre. It’s the teams job to take the spec tyre and get the maximum performance out of it.

    Ferrari aren’t moaning about the tyres per se as much as they are moaning that Bridgestone can’t/won’t help them more than any other team.

  5. Robert, may be you’re generalizing the point too much. Let there be restriction on tyre compounds, but it would be great if FIA allows the teams to choose the tyre compounds inline with their car and the circuit compatibility (any 2 out of 4, no custom built tyres) instead of Bridgestone deciding tyre compounds based on the track conditions alone.

    Of course it would be extra work at Bridgestone, but wouldn’t be as costly as cusom tyres for teams. In this case also teams would be supplied with only two tyre compounds, but those of their choice out of the 4 available. It is like, each team ordering their tyre compound requirements for every circuit in the season well ahead of a race weekend (or tiwce a season, may be quiet practical and feasible), and Bridgestone would supply the tyres accordingly.

  6. Paige said on 10th August 2008, 15:47

    What evidence is there for the claim that Hamilton is somehow “particularly” hard on tires? Ok, so he has had tire issues in the past, but so has every other driver on the grid, and I would argue that the proportion of total races in which Hamilton has had tire problems is no higher than most other drivers. Heikki has also been documented to have had tire problems this year, particularly at Silverstone.

    If Hamilton was so bad at managing tires, then why was he able to go nearly 40% of the Hungarian Grand Prix on the super softs while still running competitive lap times at the end of the run? How was he able to overtake three cars on the track and make up a significant gap to the leader in nearly 15 laps on the super softs at Hockenheim, and then win by five seconds?

    Hamilton can manage tires well. This claim that he is “particularly hard on tires” seems like nothing more than just a cheap shot to disparage him, somehow implying that he “overdrives” the car. The fact is he is one of the smoothest drivers on the grid in his braking, shifting, and steering inputs. Sure, he’s more aggressive with the car than, say, Button or Heidfeld, but he doesn’t come close to being as aggressive, harsh, and downright barbaric with the car as Alonso.

  7. Robert McKay said on 10th August 2008, 16:21

    “Robert, may be you’re generalizing the point too much.”

    Probably :-D

    Look, I understand your point – more freedom in the tyre choices might provid more interest. I think my comments still stands, however.

    Say Bridgestone bring all 4 of the compounds they use to a race. Ferrari use the soft option and at the end of the GP tell Bridgestone “hey, we thought the grip of the super soft was great, really nice, but the wear on them was excessive and the performance drop-off after just 12 laps of a 19 lap stint was just way too much”. Bridgestone turn round and reply “we’re very sorry, but we did rather intend for you to use the medium and hard compounds!” and Ferrari’s response is to ask for a tyre with a similar level of grip but greater durability. Meanwhile other teams are telling them conflicting things. What way do you go with the tyres? Trying to make everyone happy just gets messy. That’s why it’s easier and fairer for them to bring two tyre types along and say “here’s what we’re giving for you to use”.

    Look, I’d understand Ferrari’s point if multiple teams were complaining. And even then I’d need at least 5 teams to complain that Bridgestone were getting the compounds wrong, because any less would imply a clear majority thought they were getting it right. I’ve not heard any other teams particularly complaining about the compounds, although I suppose they could be doing it through the proper channels (i.e. telling Bridgestone in private). I just can’t help but think this is Ferrari wanting to be Bridgestones top priority, which they have no right to expect.

  8. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 10th August 2008, 16:23

    Paige, however you choose to interpret it, Hamilton had tyre problems at Istanbul this year and last, and at Shanghai and Interlagos last year, and perhaps also at the Hungaroring this year. This is clearly not “a cheap shot to disparage him” any more than it is to say “Felipe Massa’s drive at Silverstone wasn’t great” or “Kimi Raikkonen has been bafflingly inconsistent this year”.

  9. Paige said on 10th August 2008, 17:31

    Ok, fair enough.

    But seriously, every driver I can think of currently on the F1 grid has had notable tire problems at some point in recent years. The only two drivers I can think of who have not had serious problems with tires are Button and Heidfeld.

    Regarding Raikkonen’s inconsistency, I don’t think this has been as much of a problem as has been advertised. Sure, the last two qualifying efforts have certainly been unspectacular, but he’s had some seriously bad luck and team incompetence injure his efforts. He may well have won Montreal if Hamilton hadn’t sodomized him in the pits, he would have easily won Magny Cours if not for the exhaust problem, and he may well have won Silverstone if not for Ferrari losing their minds and keeping him on worn inters, as he was faster than Hamilton in the laps coming up to the pit stop. (Although this may have been due to the Ferrari adapting better to the dried track than the McLaren, as Hamilton was faster in the wetter conditions.) He lost at least 12 points in this stretch (he surely would have had a podium at Montreal, a victory at Magny Cours, and at least a 2nd at Silverstone), perhaps even losing as many as 18 points during this stretch. I don’t think he’s been any less consistent than Massa (who has had idiotic races at Melbourne, Kuala Lumpur, and Silverstone, as well as very poor qualifying efforts at Silverstone and Montreal) or Hamilton (who had idiot races in Bahrain and Montreal).

  10. mani said on 11th August 2008, 7:03

    Ferrari is making a lot of strategical blunders, if not at least things are conflicting their predictions most of the times – be it the tires or the weather. I think, they’re missing Todt’s experience; the problems seem reasonable with the renewed team structure.

    Doesn’t matter anyway, they didn’t lose it yet; but it is time to correct their problems with reliability, tires and strategy. Otherwise, McLaren looks good to beat them fair and square this season.

  11. I find it strange that Bridgestone are allowed to make the choice of tyre for each circuit themselves. Do they not have to consult the teams or FIA officials in any way as part of the process?
    Otherwise the whole Qualifying and Racing events are being run at the discretion of the tyre supplier. I would like to know at what stage the FIA have actually approved any of the tyre compounds as being suitable for racing with.
    It seems very possible to me that any of the Teams or Manufacturers (or Officials) have a chance to persuade Bridgestone to produce tyres which will work better with one particular car, or one particular set-up. This was OK when the teams could choose their own suppliers, but with only one tyre supplier, it might lead to all sorts of speculation…..

  12. Alastair said on 11th August 2008, 10:22

    Ferrari should not be whining about tyres when Lewis and Heikki have both had punctures.

    The only advantage Mclaren have is that they get their tyres up to temperature quicker than Ferrari in cooler conditions. This helps them in Quali, but not the race, as their softs wear out quicker, forcing them to compromise their strategy and stay on the softs shorter.

  13. Kester said on 11th August 2008, 10:55

    How about Bridgestone bring 3 compounds to each race, which the teams can use freely throughout practice. Then for quali and race they all have to select their prefered 2 compounds to use in the same way they are used now.

    That way tyres would be more suited to each car, and it’d only mean bringing 1 extra compound to each race.

  14. DASMAN said on 11th August 2008, 13:45

    If we are to have a single tire supplier, then should there not be only one compound provided to all teams? This compound should be hard enough to cope with the most abrasive tracks. It should be provided to all teams in winter testing and thus all teams can develope their cars around a single component of the car, rather than 4, of which only 2 are brought. This would prevent the tires making such a massive difference to the performance of the cars.

    This may be fairer, but would probably make the racing rather dull, as it would then be just another spec component.

  15. michael counsell said on 11th August 2008, 18:41

    There has long been two tyre companies available for each team and its what Bridgestone are prepared to bring to the track and store and provide guidance for the weekend. Two gives choice whereas three increases the complexity. Different cars favour different tyres but it is understandable that Bridgestone will always try to favour the middle ground because punctures, graining or drivers not being able to get heat into the tyres refelects badly on the tyre company.

    A criticism of this article is that it only mentions two F1 teams. BMW Sauber are still in the hunt for championships if Kubica races with speed and consitency of teh first part of the season and Heidfeld can get in teh mix again. Toyota and Renault have mixed it with the top 3 teams over the last few races and are well capable of wins in the right circumstances. Individual race peformances are still of fundamental importance to F1 and the needs of all teams must be considered.

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