Whitmarsh says criticism of Pirelli’s tyres is “wrong”

2012 F1 season

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Bahrain, 2012McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh has defended Pirelli’s tyres following Michael Schumacher’s criticism of them after the last race.

“If Pirelli make tyres which give drivers and teams a real challenge and add to the spectacle the driver, understandably if he’s had a bad race, will complain about them,” said Whitmarsh, speaking at a Vodafone McLaren Mercedes phone-in.

“But on the other hand if they make tyres that are very robust, not challenging in terms of management from either the team or the drivers’ perspective, then I’m sure that the spectators will be critical of those tyres because they haven’t created the right spectacle.”

He admitted McLaren had not always got the most out of the tyres this year: “The tyres are undoubtedly challenging, there have been times when they’ve given us a significant challenge.

“And I think, frankly, the last race in Bahrain was one of those where we weren’t in the right window of operation and that affected our performance in the race quite dramatically.

“But I think it’s probably wrong to criticise the tyre, I think you’ve got to look at what you as a team and what the drivers are doing and how you manage the situation. That’s part of motor racing.”

McLaren have also experienced problems during their pit stops this year. Whitmarsh said: “We have made some changes as you might expect following the last race.

“And I wondered whether we?d have volunteers for some of the more critical elements, but I was astounded by how many guys in the team want to put themselves in those very challenging positions. It reflects well on the spirit within the team.

“There?s been a reasonable amount of practice, some changes in process and they?ll be seen at the weekend. I believe we will have good stops.”

Does F1 need to change its tyre policy? Cast your vote and have your say here:

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70 comments on Whitmarsh says criticism of Pirelli’s tyres is “wrong”

  1. Chris Goldsmith said on 9th May 2012, 13:20

    Totally agree with Whitmarsh. I don’t understand where this idea comes from that the tyre situation is anything new or unusual. Tyres, in virtually all forms of motor racing, have *always* been the big deciding factor. Even aero packages on the cars are designed to increase the amount of grip the driver can extract from the tyre.

    You need to look at it objectively. If you had tyres which allowed every driver to drive at pretty much qualifying pace for the duration of the GP, and you also have a traditional qualifying setup which puts the fastest car at the front and the slowest at the rear, then the result will be that unless a driver makes a mistake, or there is some reliability problem, there will be no fighting for position and no overtaking whatsoever. Maybe I’m alone here, but to me that’s not really racing, that’s just driving around the track. Of course, the drivers (especially those that have the best cars) would love it, but it’s not really racing. ‘Racing’ requires some differentiating factor; some element which means that the speed of the car may fluctuate during the race. Then the challenge for the teams and drivers is to manage those fluctuations, while also extracting the maximum possible pace at any given time. In some race series, they accomplish this by using reverse grids and ballast. In F1, the tyres are making the difference. And if you look back through the history of GP racing, that has always been the case. The only time it hasn’t been, we’ve seen the dullest racing going.

    Those who suggest that this Pirrelli tyre is taking something away from GP racing, frankly don’t understand what racing is.

    • tvm (@) said on 9th May 2012, 13:43

      Tires being part of all racing is one thing, deliberately making them worse than they can be just to “stimulate the race” is entirely different and is a major step backwards.

      Comes down to this: For F1 to have any right to exist they must be on the cutting edge to ensure they develop technology that perhaps one day can be used in regular cars.

      So ask yourself, would you want family cars running around with tires build for quick and unpredictable degradation?

      Same with ABS, ESP, ESC, DSC, etc, bring it on, if you have any common sense you will know that the better the car’s are the sharper the drivers must be.

      • Chris Goldsmith said on 9th May 2012, 13:52

        I don’t think this is true though when you have a single tyre supplier. When you have tyre competition, then the manufacturers must develop their tyres aggressively in a direction which will give their product an edge over that of their competitors. This means that you get a trade off, making the tyre very grippy but at the expense of some durability. However, when you have no tyre war, the sole supplier can make the tyre as durable as they want. They have to make a conscious choice about how they want the tyre to perform, based not on the competitive nature of the sport, but rather because of how the manufacturer is to be perceived. When Bridgestone were in this position, they took the decision to make their tyres as durable as possible, because they felt it would reflect well on them as a manufacturer. But there is no particular reason for them to do that. It’s not like it was the result of some incredible leap in tyre technology. Pirelli would be just as capable of producing tyres with exactly these characteristics, yet took the decision to go in a different direction after seeing the negative effect the ultra durable Bridgestones was having on the racing. And the result is that it has absolutely worked.

        The point is that the situation with Bridgestone was the anomaly. In normal circumstances, you have tyres which have a finite lifespan, and a limited operating window.

        • tvm (@) said on 9th May 2012, 14:18

          I don’t think “it worked”, rather we are back to pit strategy as the deciding factor.

          The teams are so close this year, would have been even better if it wasn’t decided by abnormal tire wear, as in having 5-6 good laps if your lucky.

        • tvm (@) said on 9th May 2012, 14:26

          “They have to make a conscious choice about how they want the tyre to perform, based not on the competitive nature of the sport”

          Maybe we should extend that as to randomize a bit the quality of: Spark plugs, Engine oil, Gear sprockets, ECU programming… Would make racing more interesting if the leading car was in risk of loosing one of the gear’s right?

          Or maybe F1 should just be about making the best stuff possible instead of introducing arbitrary handicaps.

        • AdrianMorse (@adrianmorse) said on 9th May 2012, 15:09

          The point is that the situation with Bridgestone was the anomaly. In normal circumstances, you have tyres which have a finite lifespan, and a limited operating window.

          Not true. A few days back I watched the highlights of the 1989 Hungarian Grand Prix in which Mansell set the fastest lap of the race on lap 65 out of 77, on the tyres he started the race on (and ironically, Prost in the McLaren couldn’t make his tyres last until the end and had to make a pit-stop towards the end of the race).

          I do agree with you on most points, but your argument that tyres have always been the major deciding factor does not acknowledge the issue that, at no point in motorsport history, have drivers had to stay off the limit to the extent that they need to on Pirelli tyres. This, to me, is the main problem of the Pirelli tyres; the narrow operating window, and their short durability I do not mind.

          • BasCB (@bascb) said on 10th May 2012, 6:53

            @adrianmorse – you say

            at no point in motorsport history, have drivers had to stay off the limit to the extent that they need to on Pirelli tyres.

            , but that is just not true. If you look back into the origins of motorsport, this is exactly what made some of the early greats so good, being able to control their speed and preserve the whole car, inclusive tyres, to last the distance more than their rivals.

          • AdrianMorse (@adrianmorse) said on 10th May 2012, 7:21

            @bascb, but I am not arguing that car and tyre preservation has not always (often) played an important role! Just that, in modern-day Formula 1, to achieve the required tyre preservation, drivers have to stay further off the one-lap limit of the car than before (by one-lap limit I mean the potential of the car at the beginning of a stint, when the tyres are still capable of going fast).

            Obviously, I have never driven a Formula 1 car of any era, and neither is my grasp of motorsport history complete, yet I still have reasonable confidence in my claim. Can you give any example of a race prior to 2011 when drivers had to conserve their tyres more?

          • Mark (@marlarkey) said on 10th May 2012, 11:09

            During virtually every race prior to the 1990s (but especially in the 1950s/60s and the 1980s) drivers/teams were required to devise strategies and manage the preservation of fuel, tyres, engine, gears to balance performance and reliability.

            It was only from the 1990s that we got “bullet proof” cars/tyres/engines, etc. What we lost was the variability that these factors caused and we ended up with boring racing and loss of driver “racing” skills.

          • Mark (@marlarkey) said on 10th May 2012, 11:15

            Just to give you one example… have a read about the 1986 Mexican Grand Prix. Won by Gerhard Berger due to being able to manage his more durable Pirelli tyres better than the Goodyear runners on their less durable tyres.

      • dkpioe said on 9th May 2012, 14:54

        @tvm, you and schumacher have got it all wrong – the tyres are still EXTREMELY grippy – just look at the lap times! its not like they are going 20 seconds a lap slower then last year – its slightly behind, but the diffusers are banned, the tyres even in the current state are still more grippy then in other series like Indycar and DTM. it is just sourgrapes from those that cant use them, because f1 has for too long had overdeveloped tyres.

        • tvm (@) said on 9th May 2012, 15:53

          How you can even bare to mention “overdeveloped” when talking about the number one racing series, the supposed pinnacle of motorsports is beyond me.

          Its not about grippy or not, its about having to change tires 4 times in a race, and still having degrading issues after a few laps, about consistency.

          I simply don’t get you people arguing for deliberate badly made tires, F1 isn’t wrestling.

          • Chris Goldsmith said on 9th May 2012, 17:28

            Compared to the ‘accidentally’ badly made tyres which came before. Let’s not forget the bad old days of graining and blistering and Michelins which wouldn’t run the banking without exploding. And why were they using tyres with grooves cut in them at the ‘pinnacle’ of motor racing while everyone and their dog knew it was merely a device to slow the cars down?

            F1 cars are the most advanced racing cars in the world, there’s no doubt about that. But it’s not a technological free for all, and there must be constraints on the technology. Everything is always a compromise. The Pirelli tyres are just another aspect of that.

    • vjanik said on 9th May 2012, 14:39

      You’re right that there should be a differentiation factor. But not just one which dominates everything. I believe the balance between how much of a differentiation factor drivers are, compared to the car (aero, tyres, engine) is leaning more and more away from the driver. Nowadays the best driver is not the one with the fastest reflexes and reactions. Or the bravest. Or the fittest. Its the one who is able to drive slow enough to not destroy the tyres and manage to finish first as a result. The drivers fighting for position end up losing out to those trundling along in clean air waiting for the others to fall off the cliff.

      I believe F1 should be more of a sport than a “spectacle” or a “show”. If we get little overtaking because the fastest drivers/cars qualified at the front and the slowest drivers qualified at the back, then so be it. It all depends on what you call “entertaining”. Drivers used to be heroes. And for me it was enough just watching them drive those beasts around a track. Now drivers themselves feel like they must hold back. I believe it was Webber who said that even his granny could drive the cars now. Kimi after his first test session in the Lotus said that he “expected the cars to be faster”. Schumacher returned to the sport because he loves F1 and he was missing the adrenalin and the thrill of driving an F1 car. (not to prove a point – he has nothing to prove). So i understand why he made those comments. At least he is being honest (and a little bit selfish) when answering press questions. I wish more drivers stated their honest opinion rather than mentioning sponsors and reading the PR line.

      • dkpioe said on 9th May 2012, 15:00

        all 3 of those comment have nothing to do with tyres, but more of the ease of how the car is to drive . and webbers comment doesnt even relate to your argument, as a granny wouldnt know how to manage tyre wear – great drivers do, not ones that compain. you probably didnt read webbers recent comments where he says the new tyres as they produce more interesting racing.

      • Dobin1000 (@dobin1000) said on 9th May 2012, 15:33

        Do you really think his granny could drive the car? Seriously?

      • Chris Goldsmith said on 9th May 2012, 17:16

        I understand why he made those comments, and I also understand that Schumacher is a racing driver. If there’s one thing that you can say about racing drivers in all motorsports everywhere in the world, it’s that they universally want their equipment to perform better. More grip, more power, better consistency, better reliability. But are you really suggesting that the whole of Formula 1 exists merely for the entertainment of the 24 drivers, even if it means a dull procession for everyone watching?

        Schumacher says these tyres are ridiculous and slow, yet compare some times and the picture is less clear than that. In 2009 the fastest qualifying time was 1.24.7, in Q2 (low fuel) whereas in 2012 it was 1.24.9. And that’s comparing the double diffusered, Bridgestone shod car to the single diffusered Pirelli car with the allegedly super slow tyres.

        Ok, so maybe the race pace is where they took the hit? Again, no. The 2009 race was 58 laps and took 1:34.19 while the same distance in 2012 took 1:34.09 – a slightly faster race pace in 2012, despite tyres which are allegedly like driving on raw eggs (whatever that’s supposed to mean). Fair enough, the 2009 race had a eight laps under the safety car, while the 2012 race saw just a 4 lap safety car period, but even still, the relative pace of the Bridgestones and the Pirrellis over a race distance appears to be very similar. If that weren’t interesting enough, it’s probably worth comparing to the days when we had refuelling and grooved tyres (and cars which weren’t quite so ugly) and comparing those times. In 2008 the fastest qualifying time was 1.25.187; slower than in 2009 and 2012, and the race duration was 1.34.5 with 7 laps under the safety car. Again, this is hardly a massive difference in pace. Even more damningly, in 2007 when we had a full on tyre war and Schumacher was allegedly driving around on his Schumacher spec miracle tyres, the fastest qually time was 1.25.2 and the race duration (for 57 laps after an aborted start) was 1:34.2 with ten safety car laps. Yes, slightly faster, but hardly night and day.

        • Chris Goldsmith said on 9th May 2012, 17:32

          Should have mentioned, that’s talking about the Australian GP

        • BasCB (@bascb) said on 10th May 2012, 6:56

          Thanks Chris for putting things into perspective!

        • Stjuuv (@stjuuv) said on 11th May 2012, 16:07

          Perhaps I missed the point where Schumacher (or anyone else for that matter) was talking about absolute speed around the track? As far as I’ve seen, the complaint is that in terms of the rest of the car, the performance could be a lot better, if it weren’t for the need to conserve tyres.

          Yes, there have always been constraints in F1, whether it was aerodynamics, grooved tyres or something else, but they have always allowed the driver to drive on the edge of that constraint as well as their skills allowed them to, and if they crossed the line, it would appear as a driving mistake – running a corner wide, spinning or simply powersliding through a corner and losing time on that particular time and place – and on the next lap they could try to be better and beat their opponents.

          But now with Pirelli tyres, the constraint is not driving on the limit and risking a mistake, but rather to drive far enough from the limit to make sure your tyres last long enough. Anyone that actually happens to drive on the limit (and show the supreme skills F1 drivers used to be known for) has nothing to gain from it, because it will eventually mean unproportional tyre degradation and a loss of position – more often than not just one or two cases of driving on the limit (even without making a mistake) is enough to finish the tyres.

          For me, that is a conceptual difference – right now the result of the race is decided far from the actual racing limits of the cars and drivers, and the only time we see some racing mistakes (apart from an occasional lock-up in the braking zones) is when the tyres have fallen out of their “operational window”.

          The durability of the tyres actually hasn’t got much to do with this complaint – as fas as I am concerned, 2-4 pit stops during the race is OK. Even “the cliff” doesn’t bother me much, although in some cases it seems that there is no way for the teams and drivers to know when the tyres have gone too far, and missing the pit stop by even a lap can be catastrophical.

          The main complaint from me (and it seems that from Schumacher and some other people as well) is that the difference between aggressive and tyre conserving strategies isn’t driving on the limit and driving a bit further from the limit, but rather driving far from the limit and driving even further from the limit of the car.

          • Stjuuv (@stjuuv) said on 11th May 2012, 16:33

            Also, I think the main reason why F1 thinks it needs DRS at all is that the drivers can’t put the car to the limit even for a few corners to pass a slower car, because it might mean excessive tyre wear.

            Yes, there may be quite a few non-DRS passes as well, but I would very much like to see how much of those passes are made because the driver in front is on older tyres or is simply conserving tyres and can’t truly race for the current position, and how much of the passes are truly man to man racing.

  2. Krišjānis (@maldikons) said on 9th May 2012, 13:47

    Maybe Pirelli should declare tat they will change tires if that gets asked by 8-times champion?

    Looks like whining of 7-times champion provokes people to comment further without any kind of answer or solution. Just keeps going and going.

  3. snowman (@snowman) said on 9th May 2012, 14:41

    Whitmarsh would do anything to improve “the show” and couldn’t care less about pure racing. The tyre situation is probably disadvantaging his own driver Hamilton more than anyone but Whitmarsh just wants gimmick F1.

    It is just a pity Schumacher is the only driver to have the guts to speak out about the situation unlike the rest who as good PR machines they are told to not criticize “the show” so the rest of the drivers just hint they don’t like it but say it’s great because “the fans” allegedly like it.

    • Dobin1000 (@dobin1000) said on 9th May 2012, 15:32

      What a load of rubbish – everyone has the same tyres so nobody is being disadvantaged over anyone else unless they can’t adapt their style to fit the equipment. If you can’t do that then tough.

      Got any evidence that Whitmarsh doesn’t care about ‘pure racing’?

      I thought more of Schumacher than he would start whining about things when he has performed so poorly relative to Rosberg this year.

      “Shock horror: Driver not getting points blames tyres rather than himself.”

      • Liam McShane (@motor_mad) said on 9th May 2012, 15:50

        @dobbin1000 +1

      • TED BELL said on 9th May 2012, 16:08

        You missed the point

      • Red D said on 9th May 2012, 16:14

        how has rosberg driven better than him this year. Australia- qualified three spots ahead, retired from third place because of a gearbox failure. Malaysia- got grosjeaned from 4th place and still finished 30 seconds ahead. China nico beat him fair and square, no doubt about it, and then in bahrain michael had a drs failure and a gearbox change that made him start from 22nd, and he was still on nico’s pace. He isn’t blaming himself because he hasn’t done anything wrong. He isn’t blaming the tires either- as a driver who wants to drive fast he doesnt want to drive while trying to protect the tires the entire time.

        • Robbie (@robbie) said on 10th May 2012, 13:57

          “He isn’t blaming the tires either” …Unless I’ve missed something, that is exactly what he is doing.

          I think that while one could make an argument that NR hasn’t outperformed MS, and that MS has had the lion’s share of the bad luck so far on the team, I think MS also realizes that he is also not dominating NR, and as long as NR is, for a third year in a row, getting on with it just fine (eg. China), MS is frustrated that the tires may limit him in catching up or beating NR, which I think will be his main goal if the WDC is out of reach. But of course the tires are the same for everyone, and MS must realize that we may see a Sunday where it is NR that has had to start at the back for some reason, and will be equally handcuffed to push to get to the front due to the tires.

          @snowman…I disagree with your opinion about Whitmarsh not caring about pure racing, and only preferring gimmicks…I disagree that MS is the only driver with the ‘guts’ to speak out…the other drivers may just expect that they and their teams’ will adapt to the tires…I doubt they have been ‘told’ to tow the party line as you imply because the fans allegedly like the show…if ‘they’ have cared to notice, not all fans like the show, or by having it guided by the tires, but I do know that many like having 4 winners in 4 races vs. a dominant runaway by one driver.

          And MS should at least appreciate that fact…while he is bemoaning being limited by the tires, he should also take comfort that for now the points are being split amongst several drivers and partly, or maybe largely due to the tires (and of course lack of EBD) nobody is running away with the title…if it was like last year, MS would already have to write off any chance of a win or a WDC.

          I think that is one of the reasons I am surprised at what I consider premature criticism from MS. NR has proved the team can get their car hooked up for a win. Why isn’t MS taking heart in that, rather than bemoaning what can happen when you start from the back of the pack this year vs. last?

          MS and his side of the garage should just take a lesson from how NR did it, and take a lesson on not assuming that your Q1 time is good enough such that you can sit in the garage while you…oops, watch other cars go out and best your time and shuffle you out of Q2 and Q3.

          • CX9 said on 10th May 2012, 19:56

            *MS is frustrated that the tires may limit him in catching up or beating NR*
            You are talking like you are “Schumacher BFF” luckily you are not. This is what the truth “Michael Schumacher happy to begin tyre debate, denies he is frustrated”: http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/99480

            Schumacher cannot spoil F1,” continued Lauda, who won the F1 title in 1975, 1977 and 1984. “Rosberg’s success in Shanghai will spur him on rather than frustrate him. He will fight through it.”: http://totalf1.com/full_story/view/416165/Lauda_Schumacher_can_win_a_race_during_F1_2012/

            *MS and his side of the garage should just take a lesson from how NR did it, and take a lesson on not assuming that your Q1 time is good enough such that you can sit in the garage while you…oops, watch other cars go out and best your time and shuffle you out of Q2 and Q3.* Which Q1(your Q1?) you mean he sit on garage, the reason he wasn’t put a time during q1 at last races was problem with the car!!

            Mercedes backs Michael Schumacher over his opinion on Pirelli’s tyres: http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/99469

            You are entitled to your opinion but i think some on that just no sense..

  4. Girts (@girts) said on 9th May 2012, 14:58

    I agree with Mr. Whitmarsh. I don’t know what kind of racing is more ‘real’, I mean, if pushing ‘as hard as possible’ all the time is better than having to look after your tyres. One could also argue that F1 drivers have to brake too often and that only ovals or tracks like Monza provide enough speed and, again, ‘real racing’. Or that the refuelling should be brought back. That’s a neverending discussion. However, if ‘racier’ tyres mean the 2004 season instead of the 2012 one than I’m clearly for the ‘raw eggs’.

    It’s possible that Schumacher is not the only driver who doesn’t like the current Pirellis; however, I think we shouldn’t overrate their opinion. Drivers always complain about things that they don’t like about their cars, that’s in their nature. But, in the end, they mostly manage to get the most out of the material that is at their disposal.

    • AJ (@aj13) said on 9th May 2012, 18:33

      Having read 100′s of comments on this debate (accross a number of F1F articles) the following appears to be the predominent positions on either side of the divide.

      1) Against the tyres: The percieved view is that the drivers are having to drive well within themselves which reduces the challenge.

      2) For the tyres: Tyre conservation is part of racecraft.

      Reading between the lines, Schumacher is upset because when he gets out of position he can’t drive the knackers off his car and carve through the field like he could in the old days. The reason for this is not the extreme rate of drop off from the tyres performance – its because he will run out of tyres completely.

      Maybe an extra set of the softer compound could be issued for race day that facilitates the “drive the car into the ground” strategy for those who wish to adopt it.

      This strategy will still require more stops that balance out the advantage of the quicker, fresher tyre.

  5. Robbie (@robbie) said on 9th May 2012, 15:27

    I still say it is early days and the teams will adapt, including Mercedes. And I say nail the right setup/temp combo and the tires will be there for you. So while I do appreciate the frustration of not being able to push the car to the limit, I think pushing the car to the limit has never been a guarantee in racing nor the norm, no matter the format or the rules, and so the criticism seems a bit premature. As NR has said, the race within the racing is to see what team gets a regular handle on these tires and can nail a good setup more often than not. And I predict some teams will start to do that sooner than later. Like they did last year.

  6. Hatebreeder (@hatebreeder) said on 9th May 2012, 16:06

    I somewhat agree and somewhat disagree with Schumacher. Yeah tyres shouldn’t be ultra-durable. That kinda ruins the point of racing. Then it is just a race of aerodynamics and engine durabilty. But then if one gets punished if he does one or two quick laps and does mistakes like a short lock-up with badly grained or flat-spotted tyres then it ruins the point of F1 racing which is supposed to be the fastest form of motor racing. Pirelli seems to have not considered the part of human error and that in the heat of the moment lockups and slides and aggressive driving is probable. Drivers try and drive at their limit for almost 2 hours and lock-ups are possible. Tyres like this force drivers to take a conservative approach. F1 isn’t about conservation and then racing. It is Racing with conservation. Pirelli seems to have got it the other way round. Pirelli was brought it to make tyres less durable so it brings about overtaking but then in the last race Kimi decided not to try and overtake vettel because he might wear out his tyres and lose more positions.
    I think Tyres should be slightly more durable and should have a fixed amount of time window where they give consistent lap times and then they start showing signs of graining and the driver gets to decide whether to drive a few conservative laps and extend the tyre for a few more laps or drive aggressively and get a few good lap times and do a tyre change.

  7. TED BELL said on 9th May 2012, 16:26

    Formula One is afraid of the rise of Indycar Racing.

    Proof of this points comes from the awful decision to imitate how the succesful usage of tires created interest among fans of Indycar racing. Not to be out done by the “lesser” form of racing , F1 now has made a serious mistake by making a rule change thats purpose was to improve the racing.

    Instead it has made the sport less than it could be, now creating an environment where those who are the best of the best are on opposite sides and some fans worldwide are deciding to protest the product name of this tire controversy.

    Fi is too proud to say they were wrong. Time to stand up and tell Pirelli we, the FIA made a mistake, your tires really aren’t what F1 is about. We want competition but not done with such extreme variables. Nip it in the bud now , because I TED BELL feel that the current regiment of Pirelli tires is a bloody awful mess for Formula One.

    • HoHum (@hohum) said on 10th May 2012, 0:24

      @ Ted Bel.l Well said Ted, and we all have to remember that Pirelli by supplying the tyres is a SPONSOR of F1, and all the participants will be under pressure not to criticise a sponsors product, only a soon to retire multiple world champion can publicly speak out despite this pressure.

      • Robbie (@robbie) said on 10th May 2012, 3:46

        Imho, I don’t think F1 cares one iota what Indycar is doing. I think they are happy with the tires at this point, happy to see 4 winners in 4 races after coming off a year of one driver dominating. I think the tires are going to be adapted to by the teams just as they were last year. At least, that’s what I’d bet F1 is fully expecting, which is why there is no indication whatsoever that F1 feels the need to heed MS’s opinion.

        I’m not saying I don’t sympathise with the concept of drivers being limited by the tires, but I just think it is too early to be taking extreme stances on the issue. I say let’s give the teams some time to adapt, and let their R&D come to the tires if the tires won’t come to them. It is what NR is suggesting when he says the tires are good for F1 and that there is a race amongst the teams to see who can get a handle on these tires first. He has shown it can be done.

        Yes I agree the tires feel gadgety in how they are being employed…should we be surprised in an era of DRS? I’m way more bent out of shape about DRS (a true gadget) than tires. So I too am leary, but I just would suggest it is early days and I feel before too long things won’t look as they do and the tire situation will level out.

        Example, I think this next race where the teams have tons of data from testing could show itself to be less about extreme tire differences/performances and more about close racing amongst some pretty equal cars. I get that that sounds too generic to some, too restrictive of F1 to be having cars so similar and so close, only affected by how they react to the tires and the tires to them, but I think it is not as dire as some make it sound.

        F1 has always been a moving target. I caution reacting so extremely after 4 races. And I think that’s what most drivers expect too…that their teams will adapt. That’s why they haven’t been as outspoken. I don’t believe they feel any pressure to be quiet due to Pirelli being a sponsor of F1. At least not publicly. Public comments directed toward Pirelli are useless other than to make us aware of his opinion. I assume MS has spoken to BE and JT about having Pirelli make changes. But so far there is no indication that F1 is anything but happy with how it is going so far.

        • CX9 said on 10th May 2012, 19:52

          *MS is frustrated that the tires may limit him in catching up or beating NR*
          You are talking like you are “Schumacher BFF” luckily you are not. This is what the truth “Michael Schumacher happy to begin tyre debate, denies he is frustrated”: http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/99480

          Schumacher cannot spoil F1,” continued Lauda, who won the F1 title in 1975, 1977 and 1984. “Rosberg’s success in Shanghai will spur him on rather than frustrate him. He will fight through it.”: http://totalf1.com/full_story/view/416165/Lauda_Schumacher_can_win_a_race_during_F1_2012/

          *MS and his side of the garage should just take a lesson from how NR did it, and take a lesson on not assuming that your Q1 time is good enough such that you can sit in the garage while you…oops, watch other cars go out and best your time and shuffle you out of Q2 and Q3.* Which Q1(your Q1?) you mean he sit on garage, the reason he wasn’t put a time during q1 at last races was problem with the car!!

          Mercedes backs Michael Schumacher over his opinion on Pirelli’s tyres: http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/99469

          You are entitled to your opinion but i think some on that just no sense

  8. Red D said on 9th May 2012, 16:34

    I stop reading people’s comments about the tires as soon as I see the word “challenge.” Yes, tires should be a factor in racing, that’s obvious. No, tires should not make the drivers drive well below their limit for the entire race, and no the tire company shouldn’t deliberately throw curveballs at the teams to “improve the show.” As great as Alonso’s win in Malaysia was, the tire temperature shouldn’t be the difference between winning and finishing more than a minute from the winner. But I guess as long as the tires keep people in asia who don’t know how an engine works interested thats exactly what Bernie wants…

    BTW I see why people enjoy watching the racing this year as more happens, I just can’t appreciate it knowing that the drivers aren’t trying to drive fast.

  9. dysthanasiac (@) said on 9th May 2012, 16:40

    My problem isn’t necessarily with the Pirelli tires themselves; it’s with the regulations F1 has adopted over the years that have subsequently made the tires the stars of the show.

    • Robbie (@robbie) said on 10th May 2012, 4:12

      I do know what you are saying, but couldn’t one argue there is always some ‘star of the show’ no matter the era. F1 has been a work in progress all along, and yet don’t we accept at the end of the season that the winner is the winner and nothing will remove that from the record books, and we move on? Will this year’s winner have a plethora of asterisks beside his name based on how/when his tires worked for him throughout the season? Or will we accept it was the same opportunity for everyone? There have always been innovations on the cars to affect how a driver was able to do in any given race or season. I believe you have bemoaned the lack of room there is anymore for engineers to do their work, but in past eras when money was less an object and development was much freer, didn’t we then even moreso risk something technical being the star of the show?

      So if you want a driver to be the star of the show, not the car, then the cars need to be on a more equal footing for comparison’s sake. And if you want the engineers/designers to be the star of the show, then aren’t we talking about he-with-the-most-resources wins? Could the engineers be the stars of the show by figuring out the tires, and the drivers the stars for working with the engineers and bringing the package home in glory?

  10. Kingshark (@kingshark) said on 9th May 2012, 17:34

    Why do people say Pirelli is taking away real racing from us? Tyre management is real racing, just as real as pushing a car to the limit in qualifying. In fact, it takes just as much skill to manage tyres than it does to push the car to its limits. The people complaining on here are obviously fans of drivers who can’t cope with these tyres, and are performing poorly as a result. (hint, hint Schumacher).

    • tvm (@) said on 9th May 2012, 17:54

      “In fact, it takes just as much skill to manage tyres than it does to push the car to its limits”

      You just made that up didn’t you?

      Care to back it up with some f1 driver quotes?

      Fact is that even the king of tire management, mr Jenson Button are hurting on these tires.
      While at this perceived “king”, I challenge you to find races where his tire management directly impacted the McLaren in-team results.

      Fact is, the field of this year has tons of talent, like real talent, not Montaya one-lap talent but drivers like Vettel, Rosberg, Button, Hamilton, Alonso, Schumaker, Raikkonen who all can drive an entire race close to the limit, keep that concentration up and repeat, repeat, repeat those dream corners, except the tires wont let them…

      Hey how about this idea, we force the Safety car on track every 5 laps??

      We know from the US that it makes great racing!! :)

      • dysthanasiac (@) said on 9th May 2012, 18:26

        @tvm

        Please, please, please, please don’t follow up questionable comments – I’m being polite here – with a statement that implies your opinion is somehow standard to all Americans. We suffer around the world from too many negative stereotypes as is; we don’t need others being needlessly added to the fray.

        The fact is, no matter what kind of tires are being used, bulletproof or otherwise, being able to extend the life of the tires while maintaining a competitive pace is always an asset to a driver. Moreover, suppressing the urge to push one’s car and his tires to their limits is, in some ways, far more difficult than actually pushing them to the limit, because it requires maturity and a keen sense of the overall picture as it unfolds from the time lights go out until the checkered flag drops.

        Those like myself who have a problem with the characteristics of the current Pirelli tires aren’t under the illusion that completely removing the tires as a variable is the solution. That simply cannot, nor should it, ever happen. But, the tires also shouldn’t be so overwhelmingly important to one’s chances for success. There’s a happy medium out there somewhere; it just needs to be found.

      • Ilanin (@ilanin) said on 9th May 2012, 19:08

        @tvm “Care to back it up with some F1 driver quotes?”

        Sure. Tyre management has been a part of F1 longer than Schumacher’s been alive. Stirling Moss, for example. He was an old-fashioned straight out “come first or break down” type, wasn’t he?

        Maybe not. 1958 Argentine Grand Prix, from his book “All My Races”:

        The problem was going to be tyre wear. Dunlop advised us that, in the gruelling conditions, our tyres would only last 30 to 40 laps, but a tyre change would cause an insuperable delay because the Cooper wheels had four-stud attachments rather than the traditional ‘knock-off’ spinners.
        [...]
        I drove as gently as I dared, letting the car run as wide as possible out of the corners to minimse tyre wear, and trying to use the slipstreams of the other cars on all the straight bits. [...] With about 20 laps to go, the penny dropped in the Ferrari team and Luigi Musso, in second place, started to pile on the pressure just as I saw the first signs of potential trouble with my tyres. First the tread wore away so the tyres looked pretty much like slicks. A few laps later, I could see the white breaker strip that appears as a warning between the rubber and the carcass. At first there was just the odd spot of white going round, but, as the tyres wore further, the spots became continuous white lines. A few laps later, the lines gave way to canvas, which then grew hairs and flashed round. This was becoming a real concern because I realised that either front tyre, or both of them, could easily burst.

        So here I was, leading the Argentine Grand Prix outright, with relatively few laps to go and a damned Ferrari catching me very fast. By now I was using as little steering as possible, letting the car ride up and over the low chamfered kerbs onto the grass to cool and save tyre wear. I finished just 2.7 seconds ahead of Musso’s Ferrari – and that was after over two hours of racing.

        I am not sure if that was brave or stupid. Mind you, only a very fine line divides the two!

        Tyres go off too fast? Schumacher doesn’t know he’s been born.

        • dysthanasiac (@) said on 9th May 2012, 19:18

          I’m not exactly sure that a recap of a scenario in which the tires lasted “only” 30-40 laps is relevant here, aside from being the broad response to an ill-advised question. Moss’ era was radically different than today, and, frankly, most of those rules don’t apply anymore.

        • caci99 (@caci99) said on 9th May 2012, 21:02

          Tyres go off too fast? Schumacher doesn’t know he’s been born.

          You should send him a birthday wish, so he will come to know the day when he was born.

        • tvm (@) said on 9th May 2012, 21:17

          Not quite fulfilling that quote, your task was to find a quote saying it takes more skill to preserve the tires than go to the limit…

          As it is we don’t get to see the limits in the races and that’s a damn shame IMO.

          What’s the point in building carbon fiber brakes that can corner the car from max in 50 meters and then not use it because it burns the tires?

          • dysthanasiac (@) said on 9th May 2012, 22:07

            Didn’t you just agree with me when I addressed your questionable comments? Or am I mistaken?

            It’s funny to me that I find myself somehow defending something I detest: these tires.

            Let’s look at this from a different angle.

            Tire preservation is a significant factor in a driver pushing to the limit, because the limit has much less to do with the car itself than it does with a number of variables, such as: the car, the track, the weather, circumstances, etc. Taking those things into account, a driver then sets out to complete a grand prix as quickly as he can, even if that never involves reaching the car’s outright limit. The goal isn’t to be fast; the goal is to be quick.

            Complicating that task considerably is the fact that the limit throughout any given race is a moving target. A driver absolutely must adapt to changing conditions if he’s to drive to the limit within them.

            This is why I addressed your first comment, even though I simply hate these tires. There are plenty of valid reasons to want to go back to more durable tires. The proverbial limit just isn’t one of them.

          • tvm (@) said on 9th May 2012, 23:05

            I agree that tires will always be a wear item, I don’t agree that tire conservation should be the main quality to look for in a race driver, I enjoy seeing Weber overtaking Alonso in the toughest turn in the calendar, enjoy seeing Hamilton or Schumaker race back to the podium after a botched pit stop or a gear box penalty, I enjoy watching Raikkonens spectacular overtakings.

            But I couldn’t care less about watching Button Eco drive he’s Mac to a sneaky strategy win without once in the race using the cars potential, and that is what we are seeing now :(

          • dysthanasiac (@) said on 9th May 2012, 23:31

            Oh, I’m right there with you on that. I think the Pirellis have greatly cheapened the value of the sport. What once took skill – overtaking – seemingly requires only patience now; drivers just have to wait for the driver ahead to screw up.

            I even think a convincing argument could be made that qualifying is mostly unnecessary these days, at least Q3. Drivers would rather save tires than fight for a higher starting position.

            Like I said, the reasons are there. We just have to make sure we’re pointing to the right ones.

    • John H (@john-h) said on 9th May 2012, 22:43

      The fact that Button is struggling so much gives you all the info you need to realise that these tyres are not testing tyre management as much as they have a random sweet spot that differs race to race, car to car. This isn’t what I want F1 to be, and many others agree.

      Tyre management should be important, but this is ridiculous.

    • HoHum (@hohum) said on 10th May 2012, 0:27

      Yes tyre management is an aspect of motorsport and so is fuel management. Do you want to see F1 turned into an “Economy run”. Same argument, same result.

  11. artificial racer said on 9th May 2012, 18:39

    We should also consider that overly soft tires create much more marbles. And too many pitstops makes for a chaotic spectacle that is difficult to keep up with, and each car is almost running its own race until the final stint.

    I guess the fundamental idea behind the current tires is to create artificial speed differentials between different cars by generating a variety of strategic choices. Ideally we should be able to do this without unduly putting the emphasis on conserving the tires, but I’m not sure that is technically possible.

    Perhaps we should bring back refuelling. I used to dislike refuelling because I wanted to see overtaking on track, not the pit. But it creates varied strategies. Alternatively we could artificially designate a maximum lap life for each tire instead of just waiting for the tires to fall apart. This would reduce marbles and reward driving to the limit, but reduce the strategic aspect. (The artificial aspect is somewhat moot because the existing tires are artificially unstable.)

    • artificial racer said on 9th May 2012, 18:48

      Also, DRS and KERS, combined with refuelling would be a thing we’ve never seen. Compared to the 90′s, there should be more opportunity for overtaking without relying purely on pitstop.

  12. JPS said on 9th May 2012, 19:06

    F1 is dead. Long live F1.

  13. AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 9th May 2012, 19:28

    Sensible words from Whitmarsh. I can’t imagine any driver or team would truly be happy with being defeated by the tyres. Changing them is easy. Learning how to use them isn’t, but it carries much more prestige.

  14. Bullfrog (@bullfrog) said on 9th May 2012, 20:56

    Hopefully the hard tyres will be more like driving on boiled eggs.

    Barcelona’s the first time we’ve seen them in a race this year, so I hope they are quick as some people are predicting (less than half a second slower than the soft tyres, according to the guy from Williams) – and more durable too, so they can be used strategically, and not just avoided, as they were last year in Spain.

  15. caci99 (@caci99) said on 9th May 2012, 21:16

    The really concern I have with these tyres, are the marbles they do leave on the track. The off-racing line on the track is undriveable. We already experienced Trulli-trains in China. Yes, it is one race out of four, but yet… No one was daring to try a pass out of the racing line, and those who dared were severely punished. There are tracks that are 10m or more wide, but the racing line is merely that of a car, what’s the use of the rest of the track?
    One more thing that is disturbing, is that drivers can not set fast laps as a stint is coming to an end, rather they do it in the first couple of laps of the stint, and then everything falls to monotonous laps.
    As for the argument that teams will catch up and will learn how to treat these tyres, why do we need teams to spend time and energy for that? If they will catch up, what is the point? They have developed a car that knows how to treat tyres, oh yes, this is the aim of a Formula 1 car.

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