Pirelli tyres, Red Bull, Shanghai, 2011

Why Pirelli deserve credit for F1’s terrific start to the 2011 season

CommentPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Pirelli tyres, Red Bull, Shanghai, 2011
Pirelli tyres, Red Bull, Shanghai, 2011

The new Formula 1 season began with three very good races – the most recent of which is already being hailed a classic.

F1’s new official tyre supplier Pirelli deserve to be thanked and congratulated for the exciting and unpredictable races we’ve enjoyed in the last month.

Pirelli’s brief on their return to Formula 1 was to make tyre strategy a part of racing again. This was something Bridgestone never came close to getting right in their last four years as F1’s sole tyre supplier.

That much was clear at Monza last year, where the softest tyre they brought was able to complete the entire race distance.

Pirelli could have turned up with conservative, rock-hard tyres, slap their logos on them and watch the cars go around. Instead, they’ve grasped the far trickier task of producing more challenging rubber for the teams.

Other tyre suppliers may not have been happy to do that. Michelin, one of the companies that were in the running to return as a tyre supplier this year, are currently running an advertising campaign touting the benefits of road tyres which they claim last much longer than their rivals’.

That’s not a message that would sit comfortably alongside F1 cars making tyre stops every dozen laps.

Pirelli have also shrugged off criticism from some drivers such as Adrian Sutil, who complained “it?s a big step backwards compared to Bridgestone”.

But by complaining about the decrease in tyre performance Sutil, Jarno Trulli and the rest have missed the point.

Tyre performance ceased to be a factor when the tyre war ended five years ago. Now tyres can be used to make life more challenging for the drivers, and as a result produce better races.

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Shanghai, 2011
Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Shanghai, 2011

By that measure the Pirellis have been an enormous success. Teams now pursue different, conflicting strategies that produce great racing.

They no longer have the luxury of being able to time a pit stop to bring their drivers out away from other cars – solving one of the major obstacles to better racing of recent years.

Inevitably the controversial Drag Reduction System has attracted a lot of attention. But Sepang and Shanghai showed us that while DRS helps drivers make straightforward passes on straights, it’s the tyres that allow them to get close enough to race each other in the corners. All the best passes so far this year happened outside the DRS zone.

With the season just three races old a significant part of the reason why we have seen such unpredictability and excitement is that the teams are still getting used to the new tyres. They had an accumulated 14 years’ experience on Bridgestones but just a few months on Pirellis.

It remains to be seen whether, a few months down the line, Pirelli will still be able to keep the teams guessing and the races will remain as exciting.

Next year, when the teams are allowed a great degree of freedom in weight distribution on their cars, the picture could alter drastically.

There are also some significant challenges on the calendar still to come. Istanbul’s punishing, high-speed turn eight – which comes next – is one of them. And their wet weather tyre performance is still relatively unknown.

But in the words of Pirelli’s motorsport director Paul Hembery: “we want to give racing back to the racers”. That’s exactly what they’ve done so far, and they should be congratulated.


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Images ?? Red Bull/Getty images, McLaren

Posted on Categories 2011 F1 season, Comment

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141 comments on “Why Pirelli deserve credit for F1’s terrific start to the 2011 season”

  1. Too early to be thanking them it seems like strategy is more important still. As for Bridgestone they should be applauded for making a consistent tire compound, I dunno like Michelin does in GT1, GT2, GT Championship 24 hour Le man and ALMS etc etc why does no one complain about tires in those categories? and there is plenty of overtaking… Oh that’s right no massive front wings which makes it hard to overtake.

    Like I’ve said many times before no other sports car category really suffers from this problem with tires other then F1.

    Instead of implementing re-fueling, allowing driver who qualify in the top ten to choose their tire compound, and the FIA not revealing fuel weights going back to 2008 level of downforce would of made the sport amazing. Given the opportunity they come up with bizzare ideas such as DRS, Kers that’s limited were as other categories unlimited useage…

    Turkey will show us if this will continue or not the first two races of the year were poor imho it’s only china that was great.

    1. The reason racing has improved is because of the strategy, not the tyres?

      The tyres are the sole reason there are strategies at all.

      1. Last Pope Eye (@)
        20th April 2011, 13:32

        Agree 100%

      2. Exactly!

        1. The Sri Lankan
          21st April 2011, 13:26

          hey look…in my opinion Toyota also deserves credit for making this possible

      3. Actually the only “strategy” that’s really available is how many fresh sets of tyres you can keep for the race.

      4. I agree. It does sound a bit like fuel strategy though.

    2. I think it is good that the top 10 have to start on the tyres they used. It means the ower down teams that dont make it into Q3 can make different plans for each stint and it gives them a chance to maybe mix with the front runners.
      I think there will be other races as good as China. Turkey and Canada should be interesting with the tyres and then all we need is a wet race that doesn’t get stopped like Korea last year.

      1. I don’t like the Q3 tyres rule.

        In a typical race, your top finishers are going to come from the top 10 qualifiers. There is also a significant difference between the one lap pace of these tyres, which means Q3 times will come with the fast tyre only. So this rule effectively forces all the drivers who can win the race to start on the same tyres. This limits the strategies that can be used – and in the end the teams just cancel each other out. All of the top 10 qualifiers on the weekend did their last stint on the hard tyres.

        It took a top driver in a quick car qualifying so far outside the top 10 last weekend to prove this.

        1. I agree. It no longer seems necessary since both tires last equally as long. It would only make for more diverse strategies and better racing!

    3. Jeffrey Powell
      20th April 2011, 11:09

      I presume that as the season goes on teams and drivers may get more of a handel on how to perfect strategy,in that case the status quo may be resumed, allthough tyres that only allow real racing for just a few laps and then ‘fall of a cliff’ still seem ridiculous to me. I think DRS is a good solution to the stalemate in F1 something had to be done to give us real racing by encouraging the drivers to catch and pass rivals.In the China GP. DRS seemed unnecessary to make a move, but this was because the driver being overtaken , in the most part, had tyres that wouldn’t pass an MOT. Maybe next year the FIA should intoduce weight penalties for the Previous GP pointscorers on a sliding scale(E.G.French Ice Racing)
      Schumis comeback would be as nothing to the return of Alain Prost the tactical supremo.

      1. Pirelli has definitely to be praised, even considering they have received a fair amount of early criticism from many drivers, due to degradation and marbles, which is possibly the worst outcome they might expect in terms of marketing.
        Nevertheless the tyre strategy of Hamilton (saving a set of fresh tyre for the race and giving up probably a spot in the front row) and Webber (not planned, but having lots of fresh tyres at his disposal) let me a bit puzzled.
        I wouldn’t like that deliberately saving tyres in qually for the race would be so much rewarding that some top drivers just found more convenient giving up fighting for the pole position properly. Have to say I love the current three stage qually format, with no fuel and just flat out performance, pure speed, 6-8 second per lap quicker than the race pace.
        In respect of 2010 rule in general, I am relieved that the DRS doesn’t manipulate racing and overtaking too much as I was afraid of. We have seen a few straight line overtakes, not the most spectacular indeed, but apparently the device just leaves the driver in front much less confortable in defending the position, and the following driver is given more option including forcing the front driver to take different trajectories as we have seen many times in the exit of turn 14 and all the way to the exit of turn 16 in China.

      2. @ Jeffrey Powell

        The way the tyres’ performance does “fall off a cliff” is the only issue I have with them. I’m sure with some more tweaking Pirelli can get the performance drop off to spread over a few more laps. Do that and I’m happy with it.

        Weight penalities? I’m sure Keith has done an article on the whacky ideas other series like V8 Supercars have tried, that is one of them, along with reverse grids. I’d hate to see F1 do the same, DRS is far enough

    4. The ban on refuelling improved racing last year with more overtaking actions than in the 20 years before.

      1. The Refuelling ban is not such a great idea. With refuelling, Q3 had cars qualify on race fuel which allowed say a slower car to mix it up at the vanguard of the field if they were thrift with fuel Or a Ferrari this year could take a pole but only gambling with less fuel. We saw this in 2009 Alonso in china and Barcelona for Renault.

        Consider last year Vettel in the Very fast Redbull took 10 poles out of 19. So the fastest Car is always going to be on pole. Vettel has taken 3 of 3 this year with our only hope being a either a poor start from Vettel or a great start from 2nd placed driver.

        1. Qualifying is better done on low fuel, not with race fuel. I prefer seeing pole taken by the person who has eeked every last bit of performance out of their car, rather than the person who has less fuel in their car. Going back to the old rules would make qualifying less meaningful. Qualifying is better this way.

          You say Vettel took 10 poles. He may have done so, but he only got 5 race wins last year. Similarly, the last year when we had low fuel qualifying before 2010, which was 2002, Montoya got 7 poles but no race wins. So, looking at previous years there’s no evidence that the pole sitter will always romp away to victory.

          Anyway, removing the refueling ban would be bad overall. You’d have the extra cost of lugging the big refueling rigs around the world, at a time when F1 wants to cut costs. You’d see drivers races ruined by faulty rigs. There’d be a increased chance of fires due to refueling. And seeing a light fueled car going past a heavier fueled is not interesting because he has to pit and will probably lose position.

          Refueling ban should not be removed. F1 is better this way.

        2. I don’t think this is very true. A car can be setup to be blasting fast in low fuel conditions but this same car will suffer on high fuel. So they have to compromise. A car that is good on low fuel only to get pole or a car that is good on heavy fuel to be competitive at the start but will suffer in qualification pace. As pointed out Vettel took 10 poles last year and by going what you say he should then won 10 races which he did not. There are other years to look at this very same as well.

          Refueling came in shortly during the turbo era in the 80’s but was banned for 1984. About 10 years later refueling was added to spice up the show (copied from popular American racing categories). Consider Formula 1 been recognized as series since 1950 (61 years old now) refueling has been part of F1 for just short of 20 years.

          I’m glad refueling is gone, it didn’t add anything at all to the racing. It added to strategic calls yes and we saw boring races where for example driver didn’t start from pole and ended up winning because the team brought him in for new shoes and fuel at the right time and leapfrogged the other team/driver. That’s not really racing. This and last year the drivers where forced to overtake.

          As for DRS I’m sure glad it haven’t made overtaking to easy, as pointed out some of the best overtakes where done elsewhere on track. Lewis jumped Vettel in china far from DRS zone.

          I think only racing series where refueling belongs is endurance racing (think LeMans, ALMS or similar be it 12hours or 24 hours of racing) they still often run close to 2 hour stints before refueling.

          1. I kind of liked the refuelling for the spectacle. One of my best memorable moments in F1 was Kimi the Iceman, getting fried by the fuelvapor from Massa’s fuelhose, as Masse had pulled it apart. I hoped Kimi would just continue – being the Iceman, he should have kept his cool and just have driven through the ball of fire as if nothing happened – the air pressure and speed would extinguish the fire, but Kimi wavered and slowed down until he had seen in his mirrors that his car wasn’t on fire. But I don’t think the issue of refuelling or not is decisive for the action on the racetrack and the cost and risk considered its probably ok to ban the refuelling.

      2. Actually the new teams were responsible for all those extra overtakes. Completely uninteresting overtakes, but they do count in the statistics.

  2. Surely the teams will get more of a feeling where to go with strategy. But as Horner stated after the GP, that 2 stopper might have been the best strategy Seb could get.
    And Webber showed, that maybe it might make sense now to try a hard tyre run in Q3, something that just did not work on the bridgestones last year. Or just go on hard at the start for anyone behind P10.

    So it might well be, that for different qualifying results and cars strategies will vary during the season. Next year that might change, but still some teams will go for a bit more durability and some for getting heat into the tyres quick.

    Anyway, thank you Pirelli, job done well.

    By the way I bought a set of your tyres for my road car as well (good compromise of durability and safety/speed)!

  3. I’m torn but it does worry me how everyone thinks having bad equipment makes the racing “better” Would marathons be better with icey sections?

    The sport is what it is, with qualifying having Parc Ferme the fastest end up on the front and the same car is going to drive away. Remove Parc Ferme and we go racing again with or without 10 lap tyres, because the car on pole may NOT be the fastest “Race Car”

    But the willingness of some drivers to try and overtake EVERYWHERE (yes i’m looking at you lewis & Mark) is making this season more exiting indeed coupled with the sterling development work McLaren are doing. Who would have thought they’d catch Red Bull this quickly?

    And F1 only has to look at cricket to see how well that partnership worked out – C4 free to air – the whole country is engaged – on SKY no one really gives a damn. Lets not kid ourselves F1 is closer to Cricket than Football in this comparison.

    1. … it does worry me how everyone thinks having bad equipment makes the racing “better” Would marathons be better with icey sections?

      I absolutely agree. Pirelli tyres are “improving the show” by crippling the cars. Maybe the next rule will be blinding the drivers or tying their hands to their backs. F1 has totally lost it.

      1. crippling the cars

        That’s a ridiculous exaggeration. It’s not as if they’re about to get beaten by Indycars or something else, are they?

        The cars are a bit slower than they were before, but F1 has been restricting speeds for years for safety reasons anyway.

        1. That’s a ridiculous exaggeration.

          No it’s not. The tyres make the cars about 8 to 9 seconds. Just to make sure the tyres last the race distance.

          The drivers need to drive like they are on eggshells all the time. Just to conserve the tyres rather than to actually go even remotely as fast as they can.

      2. But F1 is almost universally taken to be better with rainy sections! Outside of the drivers and teams anyhow. My theory is that the idea has been to introduce rain-like factors as much as possible, more pit-stops, tyre-wear and potential loss of traction, even marbling (creation of less stable track off the racing line). I’m sure many drivers will complain – including the likes of Alonso and Sutil who are currently losing to their team mates, coincidentally – but Ecclestone and co. will only be bothered about the viewing figures.

        I was against the DRS, KERS and fast-degrading tyres as a gimmick that would level out the talent in the field too much. Maybe I am biased but I think China went some way to proving that the best (most competitive) drivers will still rise to the top. Pity Kubica isn’t around to add more proof to that theory…

    2. “But the willingness of some drivers to try and overtake EVERYWHERE (yes i’m looking at you lewis & Mark) is making this season more exiting.”

      They’ve always tried to do it. The rule changes mean they can succeed more often.

    3. The tyres are not bad equipment. They are just not the “best” you can get. Just like the cars. If the cars were made to perform as well as the engineers could make them do the drivers would pass out after 10 laps. Just like any other regulation it is there to improve the experience for the spectators. The tyres don’t last very long, but they are quick. The F1 cars are quicker then they were last year.

      1. It depends on what your definition of ‘best’ tire is.

        The ‘Best’ tire doesn’t necessarily need to be the one that lasts the longest but produces the least variables in the race.

    4. The best thing Pirelli’s got to the track was the difference in performance between two sets of tyres.

      The Soft is over a second faster than hard and this gives teams options. It is kind of like have two different racing lines through a corner, helps overtaking.

      Another brilliant thing they did was decide on the life of a tyre. And by doing this they can keep the teams guessing from race to race as to what is going to be the life this time! Now teams and drivers have to react on race day to figure out when is the ideal time to pit.

  4. No matter what tires you put on, the best drivers will always come out on top and as long as that is the case F1 can have as many gimmicks as they want for all I care. You could even argue that the best coming out on top is even more true in ’11 than it was last year, as a better driver in a faster car could still get stuck behind someone of a lower calibre (Petrov v Alonso anyone?) The tires have without doubt greatly contributed to the excitement of the first 3 GPs. It was a bold move by Pirelli to make rapidly degrading tires the key talking point in their F1 involvement, seeing how their commercial tires rely on a reputation of being rock solid. Big props for having the stones to take on this challenge.

  5. So far I have nothing but praise for what Pirelli have done. They’ve listened to what the fans, the drivers and the teams wanted and duly got on with it.

    It’s brave for a major tyre manufacturer to produce tyres which could give the impression to some (I don’t know who, but there must be people out there) that believe all Pirelli tyres wear out quickly. It’s also quite clever though, because everyone’s talking about the Pirelli tyres and how much of a factor they are – it’s increasing brand awareness because commentators, journalists and the like are mentioning them.

    I honestly can’t see a downside to what Pirelli have achieved so far. They – not the DRS, not KERS – have proved the major game changer this year. It’s all the positives of a tyre war with, as far as I can tell, none of the drawbacks. Good on ’em!

    1. I think Pirelli have done a fantastic job, as you’ve said, but I suspect their “listening to the fans” to make a good racing tyre are sightly wide of the mark.

      The reason any company gets involved in something like this is exposure and marketing. Bridgestone made a huge mistake in trying to put perception ahead of exposure. They had tyres that lasted forever, no doubt to try an instil an idea that Bridgestone tyres “last forever”. But as a result, no-one bothered about them.

      Pirelli seem to have realised that exposure is much better. By creating a “marginal” tyre, they are a major taking point at every race. Everyone is talking about them, and better yet for them, everyone is saying how they “saved the sport!”. It’s constant exposure that is being noticed by people who aren’t even that into F1.

      As the saying goes that the only bad publicity is no publicity at all.

  6. Here, here Keith. Absolutely awesome job from Pirelli.

  7. There are also some significant challenges on the calendar still to come. Istanbul’s punishing, high-speed turn eight, which comes next on the calendar

    This is going to be interesting, we saw the first time they raced here, that the tyres were almost exploding from the insane g-forces that the tyres had to put up with round turn eight. Lets hope nothing dangerous happens here.

    But yes, what a great job Pirelli have done, fantastic stuff!

    1. I also had Turn 8 in the back of my mind. The lateral force on the tyres is going to be huge.

  8. All of this debate about Pirelli and their tyre compound brief from FIA/FOM is sending out very confused signals about where F1 is headed. For years now, because of the bad reputation the sport has attracted by sheer ‘money no object’ profigacy, the FIA has marched everybody connected with the sport towards a greener, less costly image. Smaller engines, less chassis material, less testing….less virtually everything.

    And then they introduce a tyre variability which flies in the face of all economy and durability trends. Don’t get me wrong, I think what Pirelli has done is terrific for the spectacle of F1. But what does it say about the declared aims of making F1 more relevant to what is loosly termed ‘relevance to the everyday experiences of the driving public’ ?

    And when, Keith, you make that telling comparison with the ( very relevant ) long term programme of Michelin to give us very long life tyres and so reduce our escalating driving costs…well then this very high wear-rate Pirelli strategy for F1 starts to look like extreme profligacy, doesn’t it ?

    I think the last race in China was one of the most stunning races we have ever had. And without major shunts ! But this tyre game does seem to clash with FIA’s greener message does it not ?

    1. Perhaps but remember to balance perception and reality. The race tyre allocation is the same this year as it was last year.

      1. I thought that last years allocation for quali and the race was 7 sets, 4 prime and 3 option.

    2. Jeffrey Powell
      20th April 2011, 11:41

      Yes the green message certainly is relevant.
      My solution would be for one compound of tyre for dry racing that would last the whole race with minimum degrading ,this to be used for qualifying as well.Teams would probably only need one test session per day before the race. Fuel tanks big enough to do a 60% race distance with only one stop for fuel allowed when tyres can be changed. The cars would be far more stable and much faster at the start of the race they would also use less fuel for the entire race if driven at comparative rate. If the current aero cars are still allowed DRS to be available as soon as the following car gets within .8 of a second but only after the first 4 laps are completed the overtaken car not to use DRS untill one full lap has been completed. Costs for tyres would be reduced the fastest drivers in the best cars would have the best chance ,and drivers making a supreme effort to catch and pass would be rewarded.Surely it is better to see drivers making a long hard attacking fight with a car they can push to its limits.

      1. Surely it is better to see drivers making a long hard attacking fight with a car they can push to its limits.

        That’s what they were doing on Sunday. The changes you’ve suggested would only complicate matters and probably do more harm than good for the quality of racing.

        1. Only Webber was doing that and perhaps Hamilton for one stint.

          The rest were just conserving tyres all through the race. And fail at that even.

          1. You didn’t see any other drivers pushing hard then?

            Bad reception?

          2. Nothing wrong with my reception.

            I don;t think ‘converving the tyres’ counts as ‘pushing hard’

  9. The tyres are so good this year (in terms of allowing racing) that they have vastly overshadowed the DRS and KERS systems. In fact they go so far as to render these systems unnecessary.

    My only criticism of the tyres is the fact that the hard tyre lasts less long than the soft tyre (or at least, the teams are using it less than the soft). This isn’t necessarily a problem, but it makes little sense to the viewer

    1. wow – less long? Why didn’t my mind scream ‘shorter’. Language fail. Apologies F1fanatics. WTB edit button

  10. I agree Keith. It was what we were all calling out for, and Pirelli delivered. Good for them.

    Now all we need to do is get rid of the mandatory use two compounds rule, and the racing will be purer as well as exciting.

    1. BRAVO!!! I soo soo agree with that!

  11. I think with the Pirelli tyres, we don’t need DRS or KERS. I don’t mind DRS or KERS, but we have seen some very good racing outside the DRS zone.

    1. I don’t mind either of those things either, but neither should be limited. If the teams could use any and all KERS power they collect any way they choose, then there might be some actual development of KERS that would in time be useful for the rest of us.

      Fully adjustable wings would also be great. If we still limit it to being controlled by the driver, then missing a DRS activation would be like missing a gear change used to be – an opportunity for the driver behind to overtake. If on the other hand it is fully automatic, controlled with sensors, then wings could adapt to allow drivers to get closer in dirty air. This would be an area where aerodynamicists could really show us what they are made of!

  12. We really have Canada to thank for the present tyre situation.But Pirelli are brave to embrace the policy.
    But doesn’t this also throw a spanner in the notion, that F1 is relevant to road technology. The concept of a tyre that goes into vapour after just a few minutes of use, runs contrary to the belief that road cars and tyres should be reiable, predictable and safe.

    1. F1 tyres are reliable, predictable and safe – till all the rubber has disintegrated, of course :)

  13. A-Safieldin (@)
    20th April 2011, 11:37

    Now that we have found the correct formula for exciting formula 1 racing will we ever be able to go back to the good looking super fast cars of 04 and 05?

  14. Do you really think these tyres (and DRS) are producing good races. I dont think so. Pirelli was asked by FIA to make fragile tyres and that indeed in increasing overtaking but the fundamental problem is still not solved. Do u expect Pirelli to continue develop such tyres in future ? I dont.

    And whats with that DRS ? Its the worst invention I have seen in F1 where the driver in front is made handicapped to improve the show.

    1. Do u expect Pirelli to continue develop such tyres in future ? I dont.

      Why would they do it to begin with if they weren’t going to continue to?

      1. Coz, its not good for their image and reputation. Regardless of whether the F1 technology is useful in the road cars or not, all the technical companies (Ferrari, Mclaren, Mercedes, Petronas, Renault, INfiniti, Lotus, Shell, Mobil 1, Total and many others) are in F1 because this gives them unmatched coverage and when certain team wins, all the technical contributers get applauded. But Pirelli is 1 common factor with all the teams (with the car on P1 and with 1 on P24) and they would not want to showcase their fragile tyres which are that costly and do not last 40 KMs

        1. But that is the case right now and they’re happy with it, so I don’t see how that’s going to change.

        2. I doubt anyone at all would make a 1-to-1 comparison between the tyres used in F1 and road-going tyres. For most people, I think it will just be a name that sticks in the mind and when shopping for a new set, it might be one of the first to come up.

          Still, perhaps casual viewers are more likely to make a 1-to-1 jump from F1 racing tyres to “real-world”. People who are kind of “made to” watch with partners/friends/in a bar with no control over what’s showing on the tv, whatever.

          But to me, the fact that Pirelli in their first season back in F1, have been able to calculate successfully how to construct their tyre to last a very specific number of laps, only instils confidence in their manufacturing capabilities.

          Assuming between these two scenarios that one would potentially lead to a loss of sales and the other to a win, it all comes down to balances. How many people who are casual car-racing viewers actually care about which brand of tyre gets mounted on their road-car to the point where they will object to the opinion of an “authoritative” figure (ie. someone in a garage)? And on the other side, how many people who are into watching races make a conscious decision about this?

          I would argue that someone “into” cars and car races, would be more likely to give this more thought and that therefore people who care about F1 enough to watch the races at least semi-regularly, are the people Pirelli are targeting. And these people will know that the tyre degradation is by design and on request and it will not have a negative impact on their purchasing decisions, if indeed it has any impact at all.

          1. My road tyres last 3 seconds and stick like glue so it’s perfectly suited to road tyres!

            Anyway as others have said it’s all about the name being everywhere – they are getting that – the press is positive, nobody is going to say – oh but they don’t last long do they! Just as they won’t say – ooh that Renault lost it’s hydraulics – mine might too!

            And as with the DRS – there is a good idea in there – it’s supposed to be compensation for the lack of grip in the dirty air, there is going to be a better way of doing it but the thought is in the right place give it time.

      2. Keith’s got a valid point there.

        1. Had to happen sooner or later :-)

    2. Just how the driver behind is handicapped by dirty air?

      It levels the playing field.

  15. The unpredictable tire rewards good strategists. Equal cars reward good drivers. Tires may have made F1 better as a show but if you want a better racing sport which determines the best racing driver (not best strategist), spec racing is the way to go. People argue they want to engineer factor in racing, but look at GP2, F3, karting or other spec racing series, good engineers/mechanics’ setups can still make a hell of a difference.

    1. Driver w/ fresher tires passing another w/ worn tires is not so exciting since once fresh tire driver goes past, the action is over. Imagine the best 2 drivers w/ the same equipment dueling it out laps after laps and re-passing each other, and the top 10 drivers finish w/i 10 seconds.

      1. Feel free to stop watching F1 and focus solely on GP2.
        The cars should even all run with the same paint scheme since we’re not sure if red is heavier that yellow.

      2. Yeah. But best drivers with the same equipment just can’t pass each other. They just follow each other for 60 laps. To have overtakings, there have to be a slower car in front, and a faster car, at least with 1 second, following it. And this situation just won’t happen with the best drivers with the same perfect and reliable equipment. And this is what some people just don’t understand. It’s not 125 ccm MotoGP, where the first 10 drivers are in 5 second, and they changing position on every straight.

  16. The question is whether the new rubber or type or rubber drives the good races. I think it is a combination of both and that China’s exciting race would not have been as exciting if teams already known the tires for a year.

    That said it was a brilliant race because more pitstops were made and there was a greater difference in performance and durability between the tires compared to Bridgestone.

    China race rating currently stands at 9.25 which easily blowes away the 2008 Brazilian rating of 8.756 although that number is probably lower scored based on who won rather than actual quality of the race – lots of disappointing Ferrari fans same as China race result is boosted by someone else winning then Red Bull

  17. Pirelli has definitely done a brilliant job. And what should also be appreciated is that Pirelli is sticking to what fans want and not succumbing to drivers’ whines of tyres being slow and less durable. Over the testing period, every driver (even Hamilton) criticized the Pirellis for being too slow, less durable and producing too many marbles but credit to Pirelli for not going the Bridgestone-way.

    But lets not forget DRS. I, for one, think DRS is a good innovation. So far the FIA has done a good job in selecting the distances for the DRS activation on the main straights of the circuits. All the DRS doing right now is offsetting the dirty air effect on the straights. You aren’t handicapping the driver in the front, you are only removing the handicap (dirty air) of the guy in behind.
    The battle between Alonso and Michael showed that DRS hasn’t made life too easy for drivers. Alonso was able to draw alongside Michael multiple times but only alongside, not in front. DRS deserves credit too. Lets just hope the DRS activation distances chosen for the next race are also perfect.

    1. And what should also be appreciated is that Pirelli is sticking to what fans want

      Depends on what fan you talk to. As a Formula 1 fan for over 30 years, I saw a lot of show and a little real racing.

      I rather have real fights between drivers who can overtake on their own merit, in stead of overtaking actions because of new vs worn tyres or DRS, which makes it all too easy. There are no real fights anymore.

      Last year already had more overtaking actions than in the 20 years before, which were more attractive to me than most of the overtaking actions of this year.

      1. overtaking actions because of new vs worn tyres

        This has always been possible in F1 (and other forms of motor racing) regardless of the rules. That’s why races like Jerez ’86 and Silverstone ’87 are remembered as classics. It’s not something that’s only just been invented this year.

        1. When the cars and drivers are so evenly matched there has to be a difference somewhere to allow the overtake. With the Bridgestones it relied on a (big) mistake or car problem which happened in very few occasions, hence less overtaking.

        2. Well said Keith.

          Man…there’s no pleasing some people.

          First no overtaking, now ‘too easy’.

          I think it’s brilliant, I think tyres should last 5 laps(ok a bit extreme). Gone are the days when by lap 2 the race was set. Gone are the days when one driver (Vetel( was able to go the whole race in one set of tyres and change in the last lap just to comply with the rules.

          Now we get the best drivers and the best strategists earning their keep, and we should be grateful that it is all for our enjoyment.

          If you like dull races were same people win and race is set from first corner then you are not a race fan…

          1. First no overtaking, now ‘too easy’.

            Actually that’s from different sets of people. I’m on the “stop whining about lack of overtakes” and “there is too much ‘show’ posing as overtaking” side of the fence.

        3. There is a huge difference between “possible” and “happening for most of the race”.

          Webber had 15 overtakes. Practically None of those was interesting. At best a few of them at the start of the race.

  18. Thank Heavens for Pirelli!

    With regards to the ‘green’ thing. Last season Bridgestone carted around the world a whole load of tyres that never got used. How green is that?

    I suppose F1 could go the other way and have just one set of tyres lasting for four or five races (just like the engine and gearboxes and all perfectly technically possible). Woe betide anyone whose tyres start going off after just one or two races!

    Road car tyre manufacturers have long been able to fit tyres to road cars that grip just as well and last much longer than they currently do.

    Why does anyone think that they don’t sell these tyres to the general public?

    Why do you think that tyre manufacturers are loath to bang on about how long their tyres can last on a road car?

    Michelin currently have an ad which states that its new ‘Energy Saver’ tyre lasts 6000 miles more than any comaparable tyre. But it’s biggest selling point is that it saves you fuel. hmmmm…..

    1. Have you recently looked at tyre comparisons? When choosing what tyres to go for for the summer i had a look.

      Actually those Michelins do have the best durability, but they have worse braking and wet handling characteristics. Continental is pretty durable as well, but has a big performance advantage, making them 1st in most tests and Michelin somewhere in 5th. Pirelli is currently somewhere between that.

  19. At the end of the day i’d by bridgestone for my car, they provided more performance ( faster lap times) and were more durable, if perelli were interseted in selling tyres they would develop a tyre that is provides more performance (faster lap times) and degraded faster. i.e. prove that they can make good tyres, while still spicing up the racing.

    but then agian the average joe who buys a tyre wont consider this

    1. By that logic a can of Red Bull is quicker then a Ferrari.

      1. Well it is, you put a can of Red Bull at the top of a hill, its small profile and the fact it exists means (because there is no can of Ferrari) it will reach the bottom of the hill much quicker.

        1. Ha, nice one! Well, not really.

  20. But in the words of Pirelli’s motorsport director Paul Hembery: “we want to give racing back to the racers”. That’s exactly what they’ve done so far, and they should be congratulated.

    Nope. Racing has been given back to the strategists, not the racers. It spices up the show, I agree, but it isn’t real racing.

    Last year was given back to the racers thanks to the ban on refuelling with more overtaking actions than in the 20 years before. This year it is back in the hands of the strategists.

    Thanks to the different tyre strategies we will probably see more overtaking than in the entire formula 1 history, but I wouldn’t call it racing. This way it becomes more a show than a real sport. Overtaking a car who is on worn tyres when you are on new tyres is not difficult. Even a Force India could overtake a Red Bull that way, or a Super Aguri overtaking a McLaren in 2007.

    IMHO I think that the real problem that overtaking is difficult in the past 20 years is that aerodynamics are too important. If cars could slipstream through corners we would see more overtaking, even if drivers are racing with the same tyres. No need of the unfair DRS either.

    So bring back ground-effect and bigger tyres. This will make a car less dependent on aerodynamics, which will improve slipstreaming and thus overtaking. We probably would see a lot more action than in the past years, going back to the number of overtaking actions we had before 1994, when the number of actions dropped dramatically (because of refuelling). Last year brought the number of overtaking actions back to these levels.

    1. Completely agree. It’s a “show” allright.

      Still, on the ‘racing’ front not much has changed. If it hadn’t been for Hamilton we wouldn’t have seen any ‘real racing’ in China.

      1. Oh dear! Is Hamilton not part of the ‘show’ ?

        And he wouldn’t have been part of that had it not been for a late change from a two stop to a three stop strategy. He couldn’t have done that last season.

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