Should F1 change its tyre strategy?

Debates and polls

Mark Webber, Red Bull, Melbourne, 2012The first races of 2012 have reopened the debate on whether the current generation of F1 tyres are good for the sport.

Since 2011 F1’s official tyre supplier has been asked to supply tyres that do not last a full race distance, requiring drivers to look after their tyres and change them up to three times per race.

While many feel this has had a positive effect on the quality of racing, some drivers have complained that they don’t like having to conserve their tyres. Others have defended Pirelli’s product.

Does F1 need to change its tyre strategy and give drivers more longer-lasting rubber?


Some drivers have complained that the new tyres stop them from being able to race flat out.

Others feel that making the tyres last a little longer, or degrade less quickly, would lessen some of the more extreme swings in performance we’ve seen.

They complain that the tyres have made F1 races artificial.


Thos who defend the current tyres point to the more exciting racing we have seen this season and last year, compared with the four seasons with Bridgestone’s conservative spec tyres.

When it comes to deciding on tyre compounds, Pirelli are aiming at a moving target. With each passing race and test the teams gain more knowledge of the tyres and improve how they use them.

This was clearly the case towards the end of last season when people began to complain the tyres weren’t aggressive enough.

I say

Grand Prix racing has usually required some degree of tyre conservation. Instead of asking whether F1 drivers should need to look after their tyres, we need to ask how much tyre conservation should be expected of them, and whether it is too big a part of racing at the moment.

The demand for more challenging tyres has largely come from the teams. They noted how the problems they experienced with tyres in the 2010 Canadian Grand Prix produced an exciting race and asked for more of the same.

As means of improving the racing go, the new tyres are less offensively artificial than DRS. Everyone has the same rubber, it’s up to them to get the most out of it.

Given the experience of last year, a knee-jerk change to tyre compounds isn’t necessary – teams will suss out how to get the best out of them. We’re already seeing fewer pit stops than we were 12 months ago, when four-stop strategies were the norm in Turkey and Spain.

As I argued last week, before altering its tyre policy F1 should start by fixing elements of the tyre rules that are obviously not working as intended:

You say

Should Pirelli supply more conservative tyres? Cast your vote below and have your say in the comments.

Should Pirelli produce more conservative F1 tyres?

  • Yes - make them much more conservative (9%)
  • Yes - make them slightly more conservative (30%)
  • No - keep them as they are (46%)
  • No - make them slightly more aggressive (9%)
  • No - make them much more aggressive (5%)
  • No opinion (1%)

Total Voters: 750

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DRS poll results

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Sepang, 2012F1 Fanatic’s last poll on DRS revealed much dissatisfaction with the current rules.

DRS continues to divide F1 fans between staunch defenders, vehement detractors, and those who see it as a necessary evil.

Just 21% of readers supported the current DRS rules, where drivers can only use it when they’re within one second of another car (regardless of whether they are racing that car for position or lapping it).

Although most people are happy to see DRS stay in F1, the majority want the rules to be changed. Over a third voiced support for a rule allowing DRS to be used a set number of times per race.

As for DRS availability in 2012, fans were split down the middle: 44% wanted to see DRS used in every race, the rest disagreed. And a significant minority – one-quarter of readers – wanted DRS switched off for the entire season.

Debates and polls

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130 comments on Should F1 change its tyre strategy?

  1. vjanik said on 4th May 2012, 14:57

    Yes the tyres, as they are now, are not as artificial as DRS but they are still artificial.

    I believe tyres should be part of car development and the tyre company should be trying to create ever faster, and at the same time more durable tyres. In a perfect world teams would be able to chose their own tyre supplier.

    But as is very clear the above scenario is unsustainable in the current economic climate, and as things stand now, the small teams would be very much disadvantaged. Hopefully a time will come when this will be possible and when we can stop focusing so much on cost cutting and artificial fixes. But until then, i believe F1 is in a pretty good place, all things considered.

    • Mads (@mads) said on 4th May 2012, 15:26

      The problem with different tyre suppliers is that a tyre is the biggest factor in terms of car performance, so if one team is bound by a one year contract with a tyre supplier that supplies bad tyres reletive to the others, then that team will be bad for that year, no matter what they do to the car.

      • BBT (@bbt) said on 4th May 2012, 15:46

        That is very true….
        Maybe it would be nice if there were multiple suppliers but you could chose any tyre from any tyre supplier during the weekend.

        • Mads (@mads) said on 4th May 2012, 17:55

          But I guess if that was the case everyone would jump to whatever tyre supplier is best, and result in what is effectively a sole tyre supplier.
          Of cause it would give the tyre manufactures something to work hard for and therefore give better performing tyres, but I think the risk for the tyre supplier would be too big for them to want to participate.

  2. SoLiDG (@solidg) said on 4th May 2012, 15:23

    It’s a hard one. They will get on top of them I bet. But now you don’t know wich is the best car because tyres have a too little operating window. A bigger window might be oppertune imo.
    The upside is that it is unpredictable atm. But imo the best f1 driver must be bloody talented and outright fast. Not just getting the sweet spot with the tyres and being conservative

    • Paulocreed (@paulocreed) said on 4th May 2012, 18:21

      @SoLiDG For an f1 driver to be outright fast they NEED to get the sweet spot with the tyres…. If they don’t hit the sweet spot then either they’re not using the tires to their max potential, or they’re overdooing it and cooking the tires.

      • SoLiDG (@solidg) said on 4th May 2012, 23:34

        It’s more the team finding the sweet spot with the tyres I’m affraid. Not just down to the drivers atm. As you whole teams being in the same spot every race. Bar Felipé who can’t be matched to Alonso atm.

  3. The tires themselves are fine.
    The rules need tweaking to get a proper Q3 shootout though.
    Otherwise, we’re in pretty good shape I reckon.

  4. Dafffid (@dafffid) said on 4th May 2012, 15:44

    There is an argument that making them slightly more aggressive would fix the problem, as teams would just have to accept that they would need to three and four stop at races, rather than trying to sneak one and two stops. Without seeing a full simulation, hard to call, but I think it’d be a better fix than slightly more conservative, that would simply push all the two stoppers into nursing tyres in hope of a one stop – which would be the worst of all worlds. So I’d guess either slightly more aggressive or much more conservative.

    • BBT (@bbt) said on 4th May 2012, 15:48

      If your are Mclaren two stops it much better than three, thats 6 – 9 seconds save right aways ;-)

      PS that is a joke, but Mclaren, I’m sure would like less stops.

      • BBT (@bbt) said on 4th May 2012, 15:49

        If your are Mclaren two stops is much better than three, thats 6 – 9 seconds saved right away ;-)

        PS that is a joke, but Mclaren, I’m sure would like less stops.

  5. Max Jacobson (@vettel1) said on 4th May 2012, 16:01

    I agree with Keith that the it’s not the tyres that are the problem, it’s the rules. I do agree with some though that “the cliff” problem could be fixed with a less sudden drop-off and the marbles could be reduced.

    • Max Jacobson (@vettel1) said on 4th May 2012, 16:06

      I think the idea of qualifying tyres and allowing teams to choose their own compounds would add to the excitement of the racing. Allowing teams to choose two harder compound tyres to gain in the race at the expense of qualifying pace would make the race very interesting indeed, and qualifying tyres would make up the deficit in increasing the excitement of qualifying, since there’d be no reason not to run.

  6. BS (@bs) said on 4th May 2012, 16:05

    I think Pirelli took it a step too far. Especially now that the cars seem to have a very close ultimate pace, I’d rather see them more flat our for more of the time. While tyre conservation can be interesting, with degradation being so aggressive and artificial it doesn’t really seem to be much of a driver skill.

    Pirelli have shown a very pragmatic approach since they entered and although I personally think they can make it better, it’s absolutely not like it’s been bad. They are open to criticism and actually seem to care about their involvement in racing. It’s pretty hard to balance the perceived quality of your product brand with an entertainment factor, so credit where credit is due.

    Speaking of pragmatism, isn’t it time to ditch the backwards two compound rule, before they start making more fundamental changes to the actual tyres?
    If teams end up using just one type of tyre (which would mean a 2 stop race), it is simply up to Pirelli to develop a compound which is actually an interesting alternative, rather than a burden for the teams. We’ve already seen drivers go for different strategies, so they’re not even that far off anyway.

    Then ditch the qualifying tyre rule, and we can start complaining about a different aspect of F1 again. :)

  7. TED BELL said on 4th May 2012, 16:57

    When the best in the business says that the tires are presenting situations where it impacts the drivers abilities to perform then the tire manufacturer should take notice and listen. The product is so bad that drivers race on compounds that have ridiculously short life, prevent the driver from approaching the limit of the car and as they fall apart their remanents then create a covering on the race track that in itself becomes a danger zone.
    Miss the racing line and you can lose a dozen places in a moment. Then add to the mix a continual changing of the compound so that when at the next event you simply don’t know what to expect. Another issue is having the rule makers say that you only get so many sets per race weekend. Again these Bloody Awful tires are so feeble that some are now skipping qualifying.

    Add it all up and it simply isn’t a good situation. Real fans want to see this changed.

    • jpowell (@jpowell) said on 4th May 2012, 18:37

      I think your and my idea of ‘real fans’ places us in a probably the only driver prepared to admit he can’t race as he would wish with the current tyres. The others would be signing their own redundancy notice great shame but I find current F1 the most unexciting racing ,a bit like wrestling on the telly in the 70’s.

  8. F1_Americana (@f1americana) said on 4th May 2012, 16:58

    After all the great racing this season, it’s hard to say anything but keep ’em as they are.

  9. Paulocreed (@paulocreed) said on 4th May 2012, 18:13

    I’m no tyre expert but from my understanding. If they have more conservative tires, the tires would not be as soft as they are now meaning the grip levels would be less as well they would probably be slower overall. Can anyone with more knowledge on this confirm?
    I remember a comment by martin brundle saying that if the tyres were made more durable such as the bridgestones, the drivers would not be any faster than they are now. I cannot for the life of me remember which GP he said that in but it was in 2011 for sure.
    The main issue to me seems to be that the drivers need to be conservative due to the limited amount of tyres they are allocated a weekend. If they’re also trying to cut costs, a slightly more durable tyre would probably be better. possibly tires that last half a race distance?
    If I watch another race where someone leads the race and only changes tyre on the last lap for the silly mandatory pit stop rule for a dry race I will loose my mind.

  10. redlight said on 4th May 2012, 18:17

    I LOVE these tyres. I LOVE DRS. Now I want random hosing down of corners mid-race, an Oil Slick Drop button in every car and maybe 1 of every say 10 wheel nuts should be faulty. Wacky races. Wacky F1 – its GREAT!!!

  11. Eddie Irvine (@eddie-irvine) said on 4th May 2012, 18:29

    I have another suggestion.. let’s put a Super Fast Super Consistent tyre available for 10 laps in every race. Everyone could use it anytime in the race as he wants … so a lot of overtaking for this driver during this period and more startegy for the teams !! what do you say??

  12. Daniel (@daniel) said on 4th May 2012, 18:36

    These days F1 is like watching Wrestling and pretend it is real fighting.
    Good show but not true racing.

    • F1_Dave said on 4th May 2012, 20:58

      coudn’t agree more.

      im not enjoying the current f1 as much as i did when we had proper racing in the past. im getting so pi**ed off at what f1 has become that im on the verge of not even watching anymore :(

  13. jimscreechy (@) said on 4th May 2012, 18:37

    I didn’t vot because I don’t understand the use of the word ‘conservative’ in this context. It is totally confusing. Surely the use of ambigous words wien conducting a poll will provide eroneous results. What exactly do you mean by “conservative tyres” tyres that conserve there integrity on track? tyres that are conservative with regards to the degradation -the approach Pirelli have taken at the request of the FIA? or something else? Have the recent mid term elections subliminally influenced you in the use of the word ‘conservative?

  14. Pamphlet (@pamphlet) said on 4th May 2012, 19:21

    Only a slight bit so that pushing isn’t punished as hard. Past that, it’s the rules that need to be changed, not the tyres. Pirelli are the closest they’ve ever been to perfecting the tyres.

  15. evolutionut (@evolutionut) said on 4th May 2012, 19:56

    they can make a rule that every driver has to complete minimum of 2 pit stops per race(so no one stop conservatists)…tyres could stay as they are with less marbles…this way also we will get our portion of those dramatic moments when one driver is comming from pits and other comming on straight no one knowing who will be first in first corner, undercuts etc…

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