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.

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130 comments on Should F1 change its tyre strategy?

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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!

  6. 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!

  7. 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!

  8. 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.

  9. 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

  10. 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.

  11. Robbie (@robbie) said on 7th May 2012, 14:38

    So hard to know what is the right answer here…I am for mechanical grip taking more emphasis than aero grip, and soft degrady tires can provide mechanical grip…that is…until they fall off the cliff. For now I think Pirelli has simply done what they have been asked, and I think the season may be too young to decide on whether changes should be made to either the tires, or the rules surrounding their use.

    I think that it is possible that given half a season with these tires the teams will have learned much and adapted, and will indeed be able to maximize the cars’ performance and not be limited by the tires, if they have the right setup on a given day, which as I say I think they will start to do more and more as the races go on.

    So I agree completely that tire conservation has always been part of the game, and I also agree with MS that it shouldn’t limit a driver so much, but that comes from a driver who probably of all drivers in the history of F1 had to worry about tires the least when his were designed for him in his car.

    I say give them a little more time to find more setups that will work. NR showed that it is possible to hook the car up all day long with the right setup. It’s up to the teams to adapt, for now. If that proves to be impossible, which I would find hard to imagine as the tires aren’t that much different from last year, then perhaps they should change things…but only a little.

  12. nosajm9bys (@nosajm9bys) said on 8th May 2012, 2:54

    Dude, u talk of the knee jerk reaction on tyres, you statement on the canadian race, “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.”, says exactly that. Their reaction was that all races will be like that so bring in crap tyres. Everyone now on the same rubbber, more or less with the same amount of fuel, so what is different, nothing. So why race, I don’t know.

  13. Bill (@billza71) said on 9th May 2012, 13:45

    I still recon there was better racing when there was tyre competition between Bridgestone and Michelin. I think maybe Pirelli needs some of this, maybe from Bridgestone, Goodyear or Others that provide tyres for other forms of motor-racing, then maybe Pirelli might get their act together! F1 is currently having drivers not running at their full potential as the tyres are governing the speed at which they are racing, the tyres are “hitting the wall” “falling off the edge” what ever! It makes for boring races and from a drivers point of view pretty dangerous I should think. The tyre perfomance is far too dramatic, and for a 7 times F1 champion to say it’s like driving on raw eggs, maybe he doesn’t know what he’s talking about Mr Whitmash!!, I mean have you driven a F1 in anger (in a race) recently to know this is untrue and that Schumacher is wrong to critise Pirelli or maybe MS is more outspoken than other drivers!

  14. Pingguest said on 13th May 2012, 15:31

    With the current tyres pit stop strategies still decide the outcome of the race. Nothing has changed effectively since 2009, when mid-race refuelling was still allowed.

  15. Scalextric (@scalextric) said on 14th May 2012, 4:26

    If HAM can run a 2-stopper in Barcelona, then anyone can learn to handle these tyres. I’d rather have that than a tyre war, further tightening of the aero regulations or some other device intended to even the field.

    With this current tyre format, all teams have a chance of success, which can only please their sponsors and maybe attract new sponsors. That alone means that these tyres aren’t going away soon.

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