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. ECWDanSelby (@ecwdanselby) said on 14th May 2012, 14:03

    Here’s my feelings posted elsewhere:


    So Sky have jumped on the bangwagon of ‘too much of a good thing’ and how the sport ‘needs back to back winners’.


    Just because ‘that’s what we’re used to, so that’s the way it should be!’.


    The tyres are widening the opportunity for more teams. To that I say fantastic, more teams in with a shout of winning if they’re SMART, get their strategy RIGHT, and their driver drives a fantastic race.

    Wins are NOT random – they are earnt through hard work of the team and the driver, which, is what competition is all about, surely?! Just because the F1 teams got caught off-guard (I mean severely off-guard) for the first time in its duration, it doesn’t mean it’s all suddenly ‘wrong’.

    It’s just as ‘wrong’ as when refuelling was bought in, it’s just as ‘wrong’ as the safety car, as ‘wrong’ as the first wing bolted to a car.

    ALL of these teams and drivers have the same tyre. That’s more fair than 10 years ago when Jordan ‘couldn’t even look’ at Ferrari’s Bridgestones, and they were both on Bridgestones!

    So please, spare me this neverending moan of F1 not being what people want it to be, because frankly some will never be happy.

    What’s wrong with F1 producing GOOD RACES at ANY track?! That’s never happened! We should be proud and happy! All of our bellyaching as finally come to a halt, and yet people will find something else to bellyache about.

    Shame on Sky for fuelling that, really. And essentially, it’s a ‘poor business move’ if you think about it.’


    ”Without breakdowns (let’s face it – we don’t really have them anymore), things became incredibly predictable. Technology basically allowed teams to simulate the race to perfection, so the race (for them, at least) was borderline over and done with before they’d turned a wheel in anger.

    Technology also allowed teams to monitor every aspect of the car as it’s “live” and in use.

    These are all aspects F1 could not foresee in the 1950’s. We must adapt and intervene over the course of time, which, we have done, in the shape of regulation changes.

    Drivers would be taking off in to the air and passing out through the G forces if we hadn’t.

    It’s now time for technology to inject some of the competition back in to F1, because money = technology = success, at least until before this season IMO.

    All Pirelli have done is used technology to their ADVANTAGE and created something new for the teams to get their teeth in to and on top of.

    What on earth is wrong with that? It’s known as a game changer. Sometimes they’re a necessary ‘evil’.’

  2. ECWDanSelby (@ecwdanselby) said on 14th May 2012, 14:06

    Also, look at the championship..

    The cream rises to the top. Those who can cope with this ‘new’ F1 are still the best drivers. Simple as that. Nothing’s changed there.

  3. Pingguest said on 14th May 2012, 15:10

    Well, with the current tyres Formula 1 nothing but a lottery. The tyres have a sweet spot that is very difficult to find and which is moving constantly.

  4. DK (@seijakessen) said on 14th May 2012, 20:34

    Formula One is supposed to be the pinnacle of motorsport.

    All the tires have done is turn it into a gigantic crapshoot.

    F1 inches ever closer to a spec race and people sit by thinking how great all of this crap is.

    I remember when we used to see great engineering designs with the cars; Williams FW14. Now the rules are so restrictive with engines, and totally aero driven, that I feel we never will see designs that truly push the technological boundaries.

    The tires need to last much longer than they do…teams should have a small choice of compounds, but they should be able to push the cars on the limit and not have to worry about performance dropping off a cliff in a few laps. Teams should be able to get by with 1 or 2 pit stops for the entire race.

  5. f1azzer (@f1azzer) said on 15th May 2012, 6:47

    Seriously, is there any F1 fan out there that doesn’t think this is (so far) the best Grand Prix season for, who knows how long. Some of it is down to the teams being closer matched in technology and aerodynamics, but much of it is because of the tyres, please keep things as they are and let’s have a couple more seasons of this kind of racing.

  6. Guy (@guyc) said on 15th May 2012, 15:11

    Having seen the Spanish GP, Pirelli hit that spot on – a Prime that allows for a range of race strategies, being stretched to half the race with careful management (Hamilton), or more aggressive use (most), and an option that is perfect for Quali or a short & sweet fast stint if/when the race strategy calls for it.

    I do agree that they should scrap one of the rules; either having to start on the Quali tyre, or having to use both compounds in the race. Not sure you need to do both. And I do wish they would bring in something to stop the farce of cars not running in Q3 though.

  7. Joao Pitol (@) said on 15th May 2012, 15:26

    We are seeing the best F1 racing in years. Progressively is has became better since the Schumacher days relative to competitiveness and unpredictability. Seemingly the tires aren’t causing the results to be a crap shoot; keen strategy needs to be executed properly to win.

    I hope viewership and exposure of F1 continues to rise in the US by virtue of the sport being exciting to follow.

  8. Archimedas (@archimedas) said on 15th May 2012, 16:46

    About DRS again, what if it was enabled when follower is 1-2s away? it would let him get closer, but it will never be enough to overtake, follower will only end up closer to opponent as a result. Therefore he would have to create an overtake himself, not by DRS. At least I would like it that way

  9. themagicofspeed (@) said on 16th May 2012, 10:50

    IMO, The option tyre needs to be slightly more conservative, while the primes need looking at to make them more competitive. Nothing major, just slight. The amount of wear is holding back flat out racing which is defeating the purpose of racing. If we wanted to see drivers sensibly following each other around for fear that pushing too hard will damage their tyres, we would stand at the side of a motorway.

  10. katederby (@katederby) said on 21st May 2012, 13:39

    I what Senna would have thought.

  11. katederby (@katederby) said on 21st May 2012, 13:40

    i wonder what Senna would have thought.

  12. Shaun Sandison said on 23rd May 2012, 4:45

    Has anyone considered a points system for qualifying? If the points contribute to the championship that might encourage a strategy re think by some of the teams.

  13. Sjostrand (@sjostrand) said on 11th June 2012, 5:28

    Montreal was a good showing on why the tyres are great. Teams can opt for one or two stops and even change strategy during the race. Depending on your car and driving, it can work well or not. Saubers are ace on tyres, they appear to have broken the code. Kimi also said there is no secret and calling tyres bad is “********”. Teams just need to do their homework.

    This season gives us fantastic races and great winners.

  14. Juan Pablo (@juan-pablo) said on 12th June 2012, 13:11

    My only problem with the new tyres is the way that they are affecting qualifying on some occasions with teams opting not to run in Q3 or just set sector times, this is bad for F1 in my opinion as qualifying is part of the show. If teams choose not to run in Q3 they should be made to start the race on the tyres that they set the fastest time on in Q2.
    Thoughts anybody??

  15. dragoll (@dragoll) said on 14th June 2012, 10:29

    I’m of the opinion that the tyre in their current form don’t allow a driver to push their car 10/10ths…. I remember watching the cream of the crop rising to the top by putting in qualifying lap after qualifying lap during the race… Senna was amazing at this, Schumi was also good at this, Hakkinen was great too. Now you listen to the drivers, they’re saying they’re unable to drive at 10/10ths…

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