Soft tyre rule: exciting or artificial? (Poll)

Fernando Alonso has criticised F1's tyre rules

Fernando Alonso has criticised F1's tyre rules

This weekend the drivers will once again have to cope with the ?σΤιΌ?£super soft?σΤιΌΤδσ tyre.

It made for interesting racing in Australia ?σΤιΌΤΗ£ but should F1 be resorting to gimmicks like forcing drivers to use un-competitive tyres?

Should F1 drivers have to use both types of tyre during a race?

  • Yes - I like it as it is (26%)
  • Yes - But the tyres should be closer in performance (23%)
  • No (46%)
  • Don't care (5%)

Total Voters: 1,711

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Drivers have been required to use two different compounds of tyre per race since 2007. But this year the gap in performance between the tyres has been widened.

So in Australia the super-soft tyres were falling apart after a couple of laps, and at Sepang the drivers struggled to get the hard tyres up to working temperature.

The rule was introduced partly to add interest to the racing, and partly out of a desire to maintain interest in how the teams were using their tyres following the end of the tyre war after 2006. It was previously used in the now-defunct Champ Car series, and the Indy Car championship has resurrected the idea this year.

Fernando Alonso has been scathingly critical of the rule in the run-up to this weekend’s race:

We expressed our concerns after Australia, after the accident of Robert Kubica and Sebastian Vettel ?σΤιΌΤΗ£ it was due to the difference of the speed. He tried to overtake, Vettel was not in control of the car with that tyre, you cannot brake, you cannot turn-in, you cannot do anything. And then Robert had a big crash after that because he damaged the car. And then we expressed our concerns and now in the third race we have the same tyre at a worse circuit. This is something that we need to change immediately.

I think the super-soft on this type of circuit with long, high-speed corners. Super-soft in Turn 1 will be destroyed and in Turn 10 there will be no more left tyre.

One [tyre] will be too hard and one will be too soft. The right tyre is at home! This soft tyre is at home and this happened in Australia as well. And the understanding that this is for a better show, for overtaking. As I said, for better show, maybe we can pick up our number and then whoever picks up number 15 can put on wet tyres, or whatever, and it is a better show and its funny. Like this is not funny.

Although I enjoyed the extra dimension the tyre tactics brought to the first races, I wonder if the artificiality of having races so heavily influenced by tyres might start to become repetitive after a while.

And as Alonso says, it does F1′s reputation no good to expose it to ridicule by having such wide variations in tyre performance purely because of a quirk in the rules.

Has F1 opted for gimmickry over real racing? Is this the first step down a slippery slope that leads to other forms of regulated race-fixing like success ballast and reverse grids?

Cast your vote above ?σΤιΌΤΗ£ and have your say in the comments.

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61 comments on Soft tyre rule: exciting or artificial? (Poll)

  1. i think its a great idea. it makes teams have to think about their strategies and it adds drama.

  2. James B said on 17th April 2009, 14:33

    I think the widened tyre gap was a good idea but there should just be a hard and a soft tyre, none of this ‘in betweeny’ medium and super-soft nonsense. Without the M’s and the SS’s, the tyre costs would be reduced a little bit.

    But then again, why bother having more than one type of tyre if you want to further reduce costs. Next year when refuelling is banned it should be optional pit stops and just one type of tyre brought to each race weekend

  3. Damon said on 17th April 2009, 14:52

    The first 2 races of the season have shown BEYOND ANY DOUBT that overtaking is the essence of motor racing and makes the show.
    As long as “natural” overtaking works, you don’t need to artificially make some cars slower so other may overtake them just by having better tyres.

    • Patrickl said on 17th April 2009, 16:08

      So what are you saying?

      Virtually all the overtaking in the first few races were tyre related.

  4. Toperz said on 17th April 2009, 15:00

    In my opinion one supplier is good – cost cutting.
    I have other idea. Not 7 sets of 2 different compounds for every driver and 14 sets of tires but 3 sets of tires from all compounds. In this situation we have 12 sets of tires per driver. And full spectrum of possible strategics for racing weekend.

  5. KingHamilton said on 17th April 2009, 15:11

    i dont think this is a question of exciting or artificial. because i think its both. yes it is artificial, but its also exciting and makes the race and pit strategy more interesting

  6. I said, for better show, maybe we can pick up our number and then whoever picks up number 15 can put on wet tyres, or whatever, and it is a better show and its funny. Like this is not funny.

    I am an Alonso fan, but have to admit his argument is wrong. The fundamental difference is that picking numbers is random, while imposing a handicap to everybody is consistent. The soft (or problematic) tyres are the same for all, yet everybody is free to devise a strategy. This creates grounds for variance and surprises which is exciting. It’s like the rain – not optimal, same for everybody, a handicap, etc, etc, but generating excelent racing. :-)

  7. Loki said on 17th April 2009, 15:28

    I do enjoy the strategy aspects of having to run two sets of tyres, but as already mentioned several times before, the performance to wear differential is just ridiculous.

    In the end, to me at least, I don’t think it would take away anything from the sport if only one compound was used. Trying to explain this sport to anyone that doesn’t follow is hard enough, without having to justify the why’s and whatnots.

    I think there has to be a better solution, but I can only go with the teams making the choice of 2 compounds themselves as that makes it a fairer competition (imo). If teams get to pick their own compounds (one soft and one hard) they can make sure they maximise their choice decisions and it adds to their strategy planning – and just like any strategy, they won’t always get it right.

  8. Robert McKay said on 17th April 2009, 15:33

    I think there are a few separate problems with the tyre situation.

    Firstly, as others have pointed out, the gap between the two is a yawning chasm. The supersoft just won’t last any more than a handful of laps. That compromises the effectiveness of making thwe two teams run them because all it means is everyone will fling on the supersoft for as little time as possible and be shot of them. You’ll get more overtaking, yes, but its meaningless overtaking because its not a true battle between cars – one is basically becoming undriveable very quickly.

    But if the gap between the compounds is less (but a little more than last season) then it becomes more of a balancing act and there’s more scope for strategy in using them whilst also giving the pace differential that gives a bit more overtaking.

    Secondly, it seems like the prime tyre is less than prime. I think the teams could maybe live with a rotten option tyre if they felt the prime was fine, but with the prime tyre not really working all that great either its more a case of gritting your teeth all weekend.

    I think both problems would be addressed by Bridgestone reevaluating their entire compound range and graduating it a bit more than just supersoft, soft, medium and hard, maybe having 6 compounds in total to give a bit more fine control over getting the correct prime and still having a bit of a gap to the option.

    Anyway, the idea was a gimmick in the first place. Its got a place in F1, I suppose, but this season I think we almost have too many variables at the moment, what with KERS vs. non-KERS, DD diffuser versus non-DD diffuser etc.

    Anyway, I hear there could be rain on raceday, which might suit the teams as then using both compounds may not be necessary.

  9. DGR-F1 said on 17th April 2009, 15:42

    If Alonso is to be believed, then to me it seems that Bridgestone are going to be allowed to have a whole year of races under exactly the same conditions that got Michelin drummed out of F1 for raising the Safety Issue over – ie tyres disentegrating and making the cars undrivable.
    I’m sorry, but to me that is not racing. Its a disgrace, its manipulation and its only in Bridgestone’s interest, not the teams
    If we are going to continue having the tyre choice forced onto the teams, then Bridgestone should be making them capable of lasting the race distance, or pay a stiff Penalty if they don’t as this is road-relevant as well.
    Mind you, only using Super-Soft tyres for Qualifying would be an interesting change…..

    • Patrickl said on 17th April 2009, 16:14

      How is this in Bridgestone’s interest? Every race weekend they get drivers whining about how crapy their tyres are. Wouldn’t they much rather have drivers proclaim that the tyres were great?

      I’m only amazed that Bridgestone went along with this farce. They should have told Mosley/Whiting to got f themselves when they proposed this. But then Bridgestone fell for the old trick of picking between two wrongs (either change all tyre compounds to make a 5 tenths difference between types or bring very different compounds). Amazing how often that trick works in F1.

  10. Damon said on 17th April 2009, 15:50

    ukk:
    The fundamental difference is that picking numbers is random, while imposing a handicap to everybody is consistent

    No, it’s not that consistent, if at all. Because different cars may have (and DO have) different preferences as to what tyres fit them best on a given track.
    If they were free to chose, one team might have run on different tyres than another throughout the whole weekend – which, if you remember a couple of years ago, was quite common.
    Now, forcing one team to use the compound that doesn’t suit their car (=makes them run slower), whereas another team will use exactly the compound they would choose themselves, is not fair.

    This IS a random distribution of handicap. :|

    • Damon, you’re right that if the Control tyre concept is dropped and teams are free to choose then we’ll have a very different strategic approach, but this is nothing to do with the tyre performance gap :-)

      It is true that different cars have different tyre preference, but once we have a control tyre in place the performance gap doesn’t play a role. Even if we have a single tyre (== no performance gap) then depending on the compound the “tyre savvy” chasis will run better when a softer compound is in place (or a hotter weather, as for McLaren in 2008) and the “tyre (h)eater” chassis will run better on a harder compound (like the F2008). Then the randomness will become from Bridgestone and the track, but will be strategically irrepairable within a weekend :-)

  11. F1Yankee said on 17th April 2009, 15:56

    what do you think of this?

    soft – 10 laps
    medium – 20 laps
    hard – 30 laps

    teams have freedom to choose any compound
    total number of tires is roughly the same

    at some point, all 3 compounds will end up being used, but how is left to the teams.

  12. Robert McKay said on 17th April 2009, 16:15

    I’m only amazed that Bridgestone went along with this farce. They should have told Mosley/Whiting to got f themselves when they proposed this

    I think its Bridgestones idea, not Max’s…

    Certainly the two compound idea was. And I think it was also their idea to increase the gap between the two.

    • Patrickl said on 17th April 2009, 20:12

      It’s pretty common knowledge that Bridgestone was ordered by FIA to create a bigger gap between the compounds on offer during a race. According to Charlie Whiting, the FIA determined that it had to be at least 5 tenths.

      Bridgestone was put with their back against the wall. You could think to blame them for opting to keep the compounds and bringing “non successive” compounds rather than redesigning all their components to somehow manufacture a 5 tenths gap (how to do that anyway?).

      Then I say, they should simply have rejected this daft idea altogether. Both options were ludicrous.

  13. I do watch F1 for entertainment. The tyre issue is not much of a gimmick – no more than banning refueling, traction control, ABS brakes. I like it especially now when there are no more tyre wars to spice things up.

  14. Giuseppe said on 17th April 2009, 17:04

    Why should teams be forced to use two very different tyres.

    Ferrari had a history of making suspension systems that was very kind to the tyres. They could use the super-softs with its superior performance for a longer period. A very big advantage.

    If Ferrari in 2007/2008 were allowed to choose their tyre compound i think they would have won all races.

    • Why should teams be forced to use tyres from only one manufacturer? Why should teams not be allowed to use traction control?

      The reason: It’s all part of the spectacle. Overtaking and driver skill is what the public wants. Sometimes less than ideal car setups put more emphasis on the skill of the driver. Strategy more important too.

  15. Rikadyn said on 17th April 2009, 17:52

    Wouldn’t be so bad if they didn’t keep choosing a compound that is basically a Qualifying tyre only.

    Which makes wonder, are the only compound hardness’ super soft, soft, medium, and hard? If so Bridgestone should add a Medium-Soft and Medium Hard in addition to medium

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