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.

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130 comments on Should F1 change its tyre strategy?

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  1. mayhemfunkster (@mayhemfunkster) said on 18th June 2012, 14:53

    Much is made of the fact that tyres are too fragile, but actually they have been eeked out to 1 stops in both Monaco (weather) and Canada (possibly safety car considerations).

    So the tyres are not intrinsically poor. It is more the fact that now refuelling is banned and the tyres less than rock (read “Bridgestone”) hard, there is an element of tyre management coming into the sport. In the old days one would have 3-stopped for fuel and nobody would be any the wiser about tyre life.

    The construction of the Pirelli that results in “the cliff” is what it is – it is only teams trying to push it too far that get caught out. It is no different to running out of fuel or missing an apex. There is a risk that has to be managed. Teams turn engines down too and go into “cruise mode” but nobody seems to have a problem with this and it is not used as an excuse by drivers and teams.

    The whole point of F1 is to get your car to the finish line of a Grand Prix before anybody else. This has not changed and so I struggle to see what the problem is. Drivers just have to learn that “fast” is how quickly the car can go, not them.

  2. steco (@steco) said on 19th June 2012, 10:08

    I say tyres play too big role. Q3 is more about saving tyres for race, and race is not about speed, but cruising. I dont like that. Thats racing not tyre nursing. either tyres or drs must go in 2013

  3. Dimitris 1395 (@) said on 25th June 2012, 10:01

    Arguably the main factor that we have 7 different race winners is the performance of the tyres. Teams are having a hard time with tyres, they can’t understand how the tyres are going to operate in every circuit. So, the teams are quite leveled up and the first team that will find out how to cooperate with the Pirellis has the major advantage for the championship title…

  4. RACERNORRISKI (@racernorriski) said on 25th June 2012, 21:05

    Tyres or tires, the winner of a F1 race should not be the guy who did NOT race but saved his tires…. Valencia being an exception and glad to see that the top drivers were on the podium because they raced…. Being forced to use both compounds is similar to restricter plates in the circle races. (what used to be stock car races when they were really worth watching) R & R

  5. sbl on tour (@sbl-on-tour) said on 29th June 2012, 10:08

    the tyres have made f1 look mickey mouse and turning it into a proper circus and an indy car show at that , still this is what ecclestone wants I suppose, loosing interest rapidly after following the sport since 1972,
    glad we did le mans this year as opposed to a gp, right decision, might just stay away next year too

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