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?

For

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.

Against

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. 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. :)

  2. 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 minority.MSC.is 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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!!!

  6. 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??

  7. 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 :(

  8. 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?

  9. 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.

  10. 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…

  11. FlyingLobster27 said on 4th May 2012, 19:59

    Typo Keith, in the last sentence: one quarter is a significant minority. That or 1/4 isn’t the number.

  12. Dizzy said on 4th May 2012, 20:51

    I hate these stupid crappy gimmickey artificial tyres.

    I’ve been following F1 since the 60s & have never been as down on F1 as I currently am. I hate the tyres & I loathe DRS, This is not the F1 I fell in love with all those years ago & Its not the F1 thats kept me hooked since. If things don’t change soon I may simply give up on F1 as Im not as in love with it as I have been for all these years.

    Also so far this poll is the complete opposite to every other poll i’ve seen asking the same sort of question. The poll on james allen’s site showed the majority were dissatisfied with the current tyres & similar polls/comments on several other websites & fan forums showed the same result.
    Pirelli even felt the need to respond to the negative poll/comments on james allens site.

    So we either have more casual fans here or more actual racing fans on all the others.

  13. Lewis_Fan said on 4th May 2012, 20:54

    Let me know when DRS is banned & when we get back to real tyres, I will not watch another F1 race untill then. Started watching in 1990 & stopped watching just over half way through bahrain.

    this is all far too artificial now so im simply no longer intrested.

  14. StefMeister (@stefmeister) said on 4th May 2012, 21:15

    I think the tyres as they have been so far are too artificial, I get why a lot of people like the way they are but Im just not really enjoying the impact there having.

    Watching a car on newer tyres catch another car at a few seconds a lap & then fairly easily drive by isn’t exciting to me, Its just as bad as watching one car easily drive by another via DRS or KERS.
    Same on the other side, Watching a situation like Kimi @ Shanghai where a driver falls backwards due to the tyres knowing that he can do nothing to hold his position is equally as unexciting.

    I’d much rather they open up tyre regulations & bring all dry compounds to every race, Drop the mandatory stop to run both compounds & let teams/driver decide how to run there races. Have a hard compound that can go the full race non-stop & have the medium/soft’s degrading at sensible levels requiring a top or more.

  15. SoLiDG (@solidg) said on 4th May 2012, 23:42

    It would be nice to have all type of tyres to pick from.
    But that would bring extra costs wich aren’t good in these times I’m afraid.

    A would love to see teams get an extra set for Q3 or even a qualifying tyre? Why not!

  16. Mariano (@mariano) said on 5th May 2012, 0:03

    I agree 100% with Keith’s opinion. The idea that the current tyres are not favoring the aggressive pilots it makes no sense at all. Aggressive driving affects not only the tyres, it has an effect on every component of the car. Sophisticated machines as the current F1 cars require sophisticated driving. Lets not transform the current cars into tanks!

  17. golson (@golson) said on 5th May 2012, 0:23

    The races this year have been great! Lewis is my favorite driver, and he sucks at tire conservation. Well, he is just going to have to learn! I won’t give up a fabulous season, even for him! F1 needs to work on making its rule enforcement more consistent, and leave the tires alone!

  18. Fixy (@fixy) said on 5th May 2012, 14:16

    It’s true that if a fast driver could drive to his maximum potential always throughout a race he’d beat inferior drivers, and now, having to look after tyres their advantage is reduced, but everyone is in the same situation and there are drivers who are better than others at administrating their tyres.

  19. ubik said on 5th May 2012, 17:57

    like everything, there must be a balance and this time the very high degradations of tyres is too much. If it is real that the drivers do not need to be at some physical limit, then it is a big problem about this sport. We already see that new young drivers look like they can do in the first kilometer the same as the extremely experienced drivers, thank’s to the simulator. But there is an other thing that hurt me, it is that the cars have the same lap times as ten years before, and 10 years before whe had the uggly rule in qualy about the fuel that must ensure the first stint. They cut the power engine which is now ridiculous (more than 1000 HP in 1980’s in qualy, 30 years before now) and to try to continue to make F1 efficient, they use tyres that can last 1 lap, not 2, flat out. With conservative tyres, lap times will be 2 or 3 second less (and another sec without DRS). Then for me, it is not because they wanted more show that they ask Pirelli to build these tyres, it was a concern that the cars would have been too slow, and Bridge would have said that Pirelli are zero. The tyre war was uggly (expensive and not fair for those who do not have the rights tyres at the right moment), but in terms of lap time and durability, it was the top.

    • evolutionut (@evolutionut) said on 9th May 2012, 20:23

      you can have f1 as a sprint, but that is not very spectacle, fast cars running away etc……
      or you can have have conditions where you keep cars in the pack and see actual positions changing and tense moments…it may seem artificial for some but (tyre,…) rules are same for every team….just get rid of current qualifying tyre rules

  20. AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 5th May 2012, 18:44

    The way I see it? 24 drivers on the grid. You can’t please them all.

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