Drivers concerned by “extreme” tyre degradation

2013 F1 season

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Circuit de Catalunya, 2013F1 drivers were surprised by the high levels of tyre degradation seen in testing at the Circuit de Catalunya.

McLaren’s Sergio Perez described the rate of drop-off on Pirelli’s new tyrs as “extreme”.

“It’s very difficult the degradation,” he said. “It’s a big surprise. Normally in winter testing always we see a lot of degradation but never this much.”

“The tyre is difficult to do two or three laps with,” he added. “So while you do a lap you start fighting the degradation so it’s pretty difficult to learn anything from your car and from the balance.”

“I definitely hope it changes because if we have this situation in Melbourne we’re going to see something like seven, ten stops to manage the race!

“Sure, we always see a lot of degradation in winter testing. But obviously all the teams are learning from the tyres, especially us, we have to learn a bit more about the tyres.”

Perez said he felt there was little a driver could do to manage the degradation once it sets in:

“I think as a driver obviously you can help the tyres to last a bit longer but at the moment we are learning from the tyre and it’s the tyre is so easy to… it’s basically very weak and it’s very little the driver can do now to help the degradation.

“It’s a big concern at the moment but as I say we’re still learning about the tyres.”

Nico Hulkenberg echoed Perez’s view, saying it was “quite challenging to make them last and get some proper testing underway”.

“[They're] degrading pretty quickly and then the continuity and the consistency hasn’t been there today and that makes testing very hard,” he added.

Hulkenberg said there was only “a lap or two” when the driver could get a feel for the car before the tyres went off.

But he stressed the situation may change between now and the first race of the year: “Today this test is difficult, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the same in Melbourne.”

“But come Melbourne if it is the case then yeah, maybe it can be more of a lottery or the one who uses them better or really hits the sweet spot can do better.”

Ricciardo described the new tyres as “challenging”, saying: “I’m not sure if they’re doing what they thought they would.”

“Some of the working ranges for the tyres have changed this year, I think they all have actually. Maybe we’re just not reaching the working range to really see what the tyres are supposed to do.

“It’s still early but let’s say, for example, today was quite a challenge. Quite a bit of marbles and stuff as well, particularly some guys on long runs I came behind it looks like they’re shooting rubber pellets at me.”

Asked whether it was realistic to use the super-soft tyres for the first race of the year at Melbourne, Ricciardo said: “I think last year they went conservative with some races so it’s good they’re changing that approach.

“I think it’s nice to have a few pit stops for the mechanics, it’s god to get them involved. It creates sometimes more opportunities and changes to strategies.

“I’m not going to criticise their approach for now. It could be good but… I don’t think Melbourne’s going to be as cool this year so I’m sure the tyres will probably work differently.

“I don’t think it’ll be a one-stopper at this stage, I think we’ll be in the pits a little bit!”

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57 comments on Drivers concerned by “extreme” tyre degradation

  1. Liam Stroud (@comabvbsixx) said on 20th February 2013, 19:01

    Slightly worrying if the tyres are doing that at low track temperatures, surely?

    Although I think seven to ten stops is an overstatement if there ever was one. We heard the pundits saying, “This will almost certainly be a four stop race”, and then guys were pulling out one stop master classes. ie Perez. So, I guess if the maestro is worried, that says it all.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 20th February 2013, 19:04

      @comabvbsixx

      Slightly worrying if the tyres are doing that at low track temperatures, surely?

      Not necessarily – lower temperatures doesn’t necessarily mean tyres will last longer. For example, it can just cause graining, so the tyres would go off more quickly than they should. This is partly why some of the drivers are saying the picture will be different in Melbourne.

      • Liam Stroud (@comabvbsixx) said on 20th February 2013, 19:45

        I hadn’t considered that. Although thinking about it I guess a colder track would be more abrasive?

        Hm. Speculating is always confusing.

        • vjanik said on 21st February 2013, 10:16

          a colder track is more slippery. the car has less grip and this creates higher tyre degradation.

          dont forget that drivers are always complaining. lets wait for the first race to judge.

    • Absolutely as Keith said could be the reason but I do feel Pirelli may have overstepped the mark: I liked the tyres last year and I felt that was a good balance which should be maintained, more degradation would just lead to very slow lapping in the races for conservation which doesn’t make for good viewing.

      I like Pirelli’s approach, but they could be a little bit more Bridgestone.

      • GongTong (@gongtong) said on 20th February 2013, 23:25

        I too was a fan of last years rubber. Many people, however, weren’t. The complaints about it being a lottery were constant, which is why it surprises me that Pirelli have taken this route (If it was indeed what they intended).

        I think perhaps aiming to force an extra stop or two was a good ambition, but two things clearly concerned the majority of viewers. Firstly the driver’s not being able to run flat out for long enough during a race and secondly the fact that the drop-off was so sudden and severe.

        It certainly sounds so far like they’ve missed an opportunity to win back some of the non-believers. BUT… We will have to wait until Melbourne to find out for sure.

        • Mike (@mike) said on 21st February 2013, 2:16

          By the end of last year, it was regularly a one stop strategy that was being used.

          Pirelli wants 3-4. Hence why they have increase the wear rate.

          You can’t tick every box, and compared to bridgestone, Pirelli are getting rave reviews, s they will be inclined to keep doing what they have been.

      • sumedh said on 21st February 2013, 5:03

        but I do feel Pirelli may have overstepped the mark

        I agree with you. But I think it is necessary that Pirelli overstep the mark. Don’t forget that teams change their cars throughout the year by adding updates. These updates surely go a long way in making the car kinder to its tyres. On the other hand, Pirelli cannot develop tyres throughout the season.
        Which is why in every season (even in 2010-Bridgestone) we saw that the pit stops became fewer and fewer as the season progressed.

        So, if Pirelli don’t overstep their mark and the first race of the year is just a 2-stop race, the races in the second half will be really really boring.

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 21st February 2013, 7:14

      I loved reading this quote –

      “It’s very difficult the degradation,” he said. “It’s a big surprise. Normally in winter testing always we see a lot of degradation but never this much.”

      because if I am not mistaken, its almost completely what Trulli said after having used the Pirelli’s for the first time when they entered the sport 2 years back.
      Just saying

  2. DaveF1 (@davef1) said on 20th February 2013, 19:04

    “if we have this situation in Melbourne we’re going to see something like seven, ten stops to manage the race.

    Surly he’s exaggerating, the tyres can’t be that be that bad. If Perez thinks he’ll be making 7-10 stops I wonder how many stops the likes of Hamilton and Maldonado will be making – 15-20?

    • Did Hamilton have any trouble with last year’s tyres?

      If memory serves, on this very track in 2012, he raced from 24th to 8th – overtaking his team mate – all whilst consuming one less set of tyres than anyone else in the rest of the field.

      Perhaps we should pay more attention to what happens on track rather than outmoded assumptions.

      • DaveF1 (@davef1) said on 20th February 2013, 19:18

        @kodongo

        Jeeeeeeez I was only making a light-hearted joke. Lighten up :)

        It’s pretty obvious that Hamilton and Maldonado amongst other drivers can be very aggressive. Does that mean they are tyre wreckers? Of course not. Likewise Perez and Button aren’t tyre Gods that can run an endurance race on a single set.

        Also just for the record, I’m fully aware that Lewis had few trouble with the tyres. In fact off the top of my head I think it was only Valencia when he had tyre problems.

      • jh1806 (@jh1806) said on 20th February 2013, 19:49

        Hamilton’s drive in Spain was the drive of the season in my opinion, he was truly world class that weekend.

  3. sato113 (@sato113) said on 20th February 2013, 19:04

    ‘it can be more of a lottery or the one who uses them better or really hits the sweet spot can do better.’

    i hear this complaint a lot in recent f1. isnt it a contradictory sentence? if you can manage your tyres, ‘use them better’, and find that sweet spot with the aid of a suitable setup, then surely it’s not a lottery at all?…

    • Well if you go and design a car blind (no idea what to expect from tyres) during winter and it randomly turns out that your car can find the sweet spot, while no one elses car can, then that’s a lottery (because it was basically just luck).

      Tyres should play a part, but they should not be the overwhelming decider.

    • Robbie (@robbie) said on 20th February 2013, 19:54

      I think the implication here is that most will not luck into the sweet spot, just as we saw for the first half of last year as the teams learned more and more about the tires, and still found themselves at times handcuffed by them in the second half, hence the ‘lottery’ reference. I think what he means is that most of the guys they will be racing against at a given time will be struggling on their tires, and I think it is a shame to see top drivers winning or losing not because they have performed better or worse as a driver but because the team/car/driver combo performed better or worse at tire management. Sounds to me from Perez’s comments that even though it likely won’t be the extreme of 7 to 10 pitstops per team (surely Pirelli aren’t even able to transport that many tires to a given venue) it sounds like tires are going to be too influencial on the races, imho. Of course I’m being mindful that tire conservation has always, and will always be part of racing in all categories, but this sounds ‘extreme’ even at 4 stops. Having the cars out there for 2 or 3 good laps per stint while they limp around the rest of the time, playing ‘dodge the marbles’ does not sound very ‘pinnacle-ish’ to me.

    • HoHum (@hohum) said on 20th February 2013, 21:00

      Yes tyre conservation is easy, all you have to do is slow down a bit, what’s the problem?

  4. Valentino (@valentino) said on 20th February 2013, 19:04

    How about they bring a rule where you have to use three tire compounds, and they make the super-soft last 5 laps, softs 10, mediums 20? :D

  5. Alex (@smallvizier) said on 20th February 2013, 19:09

    I wonder whether what Perez is feeling is all down to the tires.

    Last year his Sauber was famously kind to its tires. On the other hand, the McLaren often had problems – usually in Button’s hands, but also sometimes in Hamilton’s.

    It seems quite possible to me that, irrespective of changes to the tires, this year’s McLaren simply gives them a harsher time than last year’s Sauber did. Would Perez be able to tell the difference? The only way he’d have to compare it fairly would be through simulator time…

    • I’m sure his mechanics would tell him how the tyres are compared to last year.

    • GT_Racer said on 20th February 2013, 19:41

      If it was just Perez making these comments then you could say that, However everyone has been suffering from the same sort of degradation & many drivers have been complaining about it.

      If you read Kieth’s article he also quotes Hulkenberg & we know that the last 2 years the Sauber has generally been very good on its tyres.

      There was also an Autosport article earlier where Vettel, Alonso & Rosberg said almost identical things about tyre behavior.

    • HoHum (@hohum) said on 20th February 2013, 21:06

      Funnily enough Buttons problem with the tyre was an inability to keep them UP to temperature, Lewis had no such problem which I believe is due to his “aggressive” driving style, but don’t dare suggest Lewis is hard on tyres or his worshippers will stone you to death.

  6. I really hope tyres are not as influential this year as they were early last year as I loathed the way the tyres were affecting things early last season, I got much more enjoyment out of the later races where drivers could puch a bit more & actually race.

    If it is a return to early 2012 or even worse then I’ll be cancelling my sky sports subscription, Ditching F1 & buying an ESPN subscription so that I can watch Indycar instead!

  7. JB (@) said on 20th February 2013, 19:21

    Gutting news..

  8. GT_Racer said on 20th February 2013, 19:25

    I saw it reported earlier that in an 8 lap stint on the hard compound, Hamilton’s tyres fell off by 5 seconds & I heard of similar things about other teams & drivers.

    I was also told by an FOM cameraman who’s filing there that the feedback from teams & drivers has been extremely negative & that someone from Pirelli hinted that what the tyres are actually doing is nowhere close to what they were expecting.
    Also said that there was a lot of very worried looking Pirelli engineer’s looking at used tyres today trying to understand what was happening.

    If the tyres are still acting like this by the time we go racing then I can see the early races been a bit of a joke!

    • dkpioe said on 21st February 2013, 2:47

      i wonder if hamilton on his fastest lap of the day went too fast and ruined his tyres? is it sensible to do a qualfting lap when you are on hard tyres and need to do a 20 lap stint?

  9. Fer no.65 (@fer-no65) said on 20th February 2013, 19:29

    Relax guys, after the first 8 races, it’ll be fine.

    • Roger2012 said on 20th February 2013, 19:35

      In which case you won’t see me until race 9.
      Having to put up with the DRS is bad enough without having tires ruining the racing as well.

      I’ll wait see how it goes but i can see 2012 been my final year following f1 after 38yrs sadly as frankly i hate the way things are now with all this artificial meddling & gimmicks :(

      • Fer no.65 (@fer-no65) said on 20th February 2013, 19:56

        How’s it different from 2012?

        Personally, I rather see all drivers struggling than all drivers having uncompromised races. I admit, the concept (to some extent) and application of DRS is not good, neither is the tyres degrading massively. We’d all love to see the kind of racing we saw back in the day but that’s just not possible anymore…

        • Roger2012 said on 20th February 2013, 20:13

          My point was that I didn’t like early 2012 because of the impact tires had on races, i watched 2012 anyway, however i wont keep watching watch 2013 if the tires act as they did last year & drs is still too effective.

        • Robbie (@robbie) said on 20th February 2013, 20:13

          Of course it is possible. Less unpredictable tires, and less downforce please. I want to see an apples to apples comparison amongst drivers, not which team/car/driver can conserve tires better. I see nothing ‘pinnacle’ about watching a bloke lose spot after spot because within half a lap his tires became worse than useless.

          • Fer no.65 (@fer-no65) said on 20th February 2013, 20:58

            less downforce please

            Aerodynamics will never ever leave the picture. Cars will always depend on it, and that just kills it. I mean, considering how engineers work, they’ll always find a way. Always. The possibilities are infinite, and rules will never have the upper hand on what creativity and engineer can do.

            That said they are all suffering the same problem. If one car or driver can conserve their tyres better, well, they are doing a better job…

          • @fer-no65 – I saw something on an article on Top Gear about adaptive aerodynamics (link, second paragraph). If that was achievable through the regulations essentially you could put high downforce set-ups everywhere and have stability control. This isn’t forbidden by the regulations currently but would be difficult to achieve due to the certain restrictions on ducting air, but it just serves to illustrate there are many alleyways unexplored with regards to aerodynamics!

        • HoHum (@hohum) said on 20th February 2013, 21:12

          Why is it not possible any more to see the kind of racing we would all like to see?

          • Robbie (@robbie) said on 20th February 2013, 22:07

            The regs could always be designed such that the wing angles, surface areas etc could be restricted. The cars could be regulated for the undercarriage to be a half an inch higher off the ground than they are now. The rear diffuser could be completely removed. My point being, of course within the regs the engineers are going to find downforce, but the amount of downforce they can find could be seriously curtailed if F1 so desired it. Just as they have done in recent years with the removal of so many extra carbon bits around the car, and last year with changing the exhaust regs to curtail EBD. I simply don’t get F1′s insistance that downforce is king and therefore dirty air is such an overwhelming factor that they need gadgety tires and DRS to promote passing. It’s beyond me. Sticky tires and much less downforce to me equals seat of the pants passing by the drivers, not by gadgets.

            I prefer to see drivers do a better job of driving. I don’t watch racing to see who can conserve tires best.

          • Fer no.65 (@fer-no65) said on 21st February 2013, 0:06

            @hohum @robbie the gains on downforce are massive. They’ll never ban diffussers, wings and all that thing. There’ll always be room for improvement, and the dependency of aerodynamics might change for better or worse, but it’ll be there.

            Look how many times they’ve raised, lowered, shortened, widened wings over the past years, and yet they keep getting more and more downforce. Specially if they continue to restrict engine regulations, aero’s all they have. I doubt it’ll ever change.

            I mean, not even the ban of winglets and all that stuff on the sidepods changed vastly what happens on track.

            It’s a personal view, ofc !

    • 8 Races, 8 different winners.

      So, will it be the Caterhams, Marussias, Torro Rossos and Force Indias standing on the Top for the first 8 Races :) One can only dream!

      • Robbie (@robbie) said on 21st February 2013, 15:52

        @fer-no65 I don’t disagree with you that downforce will always be a factor. I just suggest that they could easily set the teams back a good amount with the proper regs, and let them get back to work clawing back the downforce from a far lesser level than they are at right now. As you say, they have made changes to the regs, the wings etc, and yet the teams have found the downforce, but it was not without effort, and it was obviously within aspects available to them that they were able to claw back the downforce. Throw a big enough change at them and they’ll still work expertly at gaining as much downforce as possible, but let’s see them suddenly have half the downforce they currently have, to then start working back up to where they are now. Meanwhile, the need for phony DRS passes and ultra degrady tires to create a show would be erased.

        Back when they brought in grooved tires and JV called them a joke and got hauled up on the FIA carpet for that, he opined that what they should do is give them back the big fat slicks that F1 used in the 70′s. And even if that won’t happen the principle of his idea was imho very very sound. He claimed that the big fat slicks would kill two birds with one stone. Mechanical grip would immediately be there, plus they created so much drag down the straightaways that in order to achieve any kind of respectable speeds you had no choice but to run less wing, and you didn’t need as much wing in the corners anyway because you had the mechanical grip. So…mechanical grip with less aero dependancy/dirty air effect equals seat of the pants racing, and drivers with confidence to push their cars to the limit and attempt passes without being able to rely on passing cars only because their tires had fallen off the cliff or because they themselves had a device to operate at the back wing. And no processions either without faster cars unable to get by slower cars because they are in their dirty air.

  10. Peter_GH said on 20th February 2013, 19:30

    So were just going to hear about nothing but the tires again early in the year, Was hoping that had been left behind in early 2012.

    Was hoping this year’s tires would allow the drivers to race harder rather than have to cruise around conserving tires all day.

    Maybe i’ll give F1 a miss this year as all this stuff to ‘artificially spice up the show’ is starting to really turn me off!

    • dkpioe said on 21st February 2013, 2:51

      they are hardly cruising with 5gs through the turns. they are all in the same boat, let the best man win!

  11. Jason (@jason12) said on 20th February 2013, 19:31

    Nursing tyres to the finish line….
    Oh not again!

  12. KaIIe (@kaiie) said on 20th February 2013, 19:32

    Is this article a straight copy/paste from last year? I remember reading the exactly same whining, and look what happened: four stops maximum.

    • Jason (@jason12) said on 20th February 2013, 19:49

      It’s not the number stops that was the problem, but how drivers had to tiptoe around the circuit to avoid more stops.

    • bosyber (@bosyber) said on 20th February 2013, 19:55

      @kaiie that was my first thought too. I do think several seconds drop of within ten laps sounds like quite a lot, so maybe it is really an issue, but I doubt it will be a lottery. :t year it still were fast cars and driivees wimning races, just not always a Ferrari, McLaren or RedBull – The problematic Ferrari worked well in the rainy races it won,after all. That was partly due to the field being closer again with ebd’s banned.

  13. Zantkiller (@zantkiller) said on 20th February 2013, 19:57

    Sounds to me like the tyres weren’t working like they should and this is a one off situation.

    I wouldn’t worry about it.

  14. AdrianMorse (@adrianmorse) said on 20th February 2013, 20:07

    I think even in the Bridgestone era Barrichello was complaining in winter testing that there might be five or six stops in Melbourne, and none of that ever happened. Even if this year degradation is much higher than before and people are really running out of tyres in the opening races, I am open to it. Maybe some early tyre dramas will create memorable races, with midfield teams (like Mercedes ;-) fighting for the win.

    If after a few races it turns out that the whole thing is getting too silly (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kgbU8e-_Jl4), I am sure Pirelli will step in and do something about it.

    • Robbie (@robbie) said on 20th February 2013, 22:14

      Yeah I do agree that Pirelli will step in, especially if as some have suggested here the Pirelli folks are in fact surprised themselves at ‘extreme’ degradation. My concern is that early tire dramas to me may only create memorable races with asterisks beside them. “Oh ya…those were those races back at the start of 2013 with the goofy tires that Pirelli had to do something about before there was mutiny within F1 and amongst the fans.”

      The good news is that we know Pirelli can do much better, and it is simply at the behest of F1 that the tires are as they are, same as last year.

  15. cyclonetog said on 20th February 2013, 20:49

    Does Perez know his tyre allowance?

    Pretty sure it WON’T be a 10 stop race lol.

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