Drivers concerned by “extreme” tyre degradation

2013 F1 seasonPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

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”

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  1. I’m sure Pirelli are watching closely and collecting all the data they need. Plus I don’t think they have actually made all the tires for this season yet, so based on testing feedback they’ll have time to produce tires for Melbourne or the first 4 races with some changes put in (provided teams, drivers and Bernie agree to it).

    I agree that tires shouldn’t drop off the cliff after just 2 laps. Maybe the drivers were complaining because they need more laps on a new tire to set a good qualifying time. Maybe after 2 laps when the tires have dropped off, it is stable for longer which is ok for the race but not when trying to set a qualy time. The engineers know best though.

  2. Personally I like the idea of tyre management, I like the idea of drivers having to deal with this situation. There is nothing more boring in racing than a driver scampering off into the distance and only stopping once, on tyres that are predictable, as we saw in the Bridgestone era. Each driver is different, and if you notice, the top drivers always find a way of making any circumstance work in their favour where the lesser drivers struggle. The ban on refuelling and the use of Pirelli rubber were two massive steps in the right direction for this sport and for motor racing.
    Also, its not uncommon for racing drivers to complain. You never here of a driver who is 100% satisfied with their car or tyres etc etc. If its not one thing its another. As they say in the army, the only time you worry about a soldier is when they ‘stop’ complaining.

    1. I hear what you are saying, but I just don’t think that the only option to drivers being held back and so limited from pushing by cliffy degrady tires, is boring processions. And I think it can be just as frustrating for a fan to see his/her favourite driver suddenly falling backwards because within half a lap the tires became useless without warning.

      We’ve seen durable tires, and we’ve seen the opposite, so we know they can come to a middle ground very easily if they wanted. The processions, or the runaway racer, had as much to do with cars being unable to pass cars, even slower cars, due to the dirty air effect, such has been their dependancy on downforce. But rather than dial down the downforce, they brought in the gadget that is DRS. And that to many is just as damaging to the sport as processions. Phony passes that leave the one being passed look defenceless, and give the passing driver a device that made his job easy in what is supposed to be the pinnacle of motorsport, doesn’t seem F1-like to me at all.

      I remain steadfast in my desire for compromises. Tires that are predictably good for about 20 laps, that are definitely better when new, and that give the team a couple of laps warning before they’re shot, combined with far less downforce dependancy, and no DRS, is what I would like to see.

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