Daniel Ricciardo, Toro Rosso, Shanghai, 2013

Pirelli swaps soft tyre for medium in Bahrain

2013 Bahrain Grand PrixPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Daniel Ricciardo, Toro Rosso, Shanghai, 2013Pirelli has revised its tyre allocation for the Bahrain Grand Prix.

Formula One’s official tyre supplier now says it will bring its hardest selection of tyres for this weekend’s race, the medium and hard compounds. It previously allocated the soft and hard compounds for this race.

The 2013 soft tyre was used for the first time in China last weekend. But drivers found the tyre degraded quickly and no one spent more than seven laps on it in the race.

Motorsport director Paul Hembery said the decision to change the allocation for Bahrain was made before last week’s race: “When we made the allocation choices for Bahrain in December of last year, we had not done one winter test, let alone a race.”

“Our initial choice for Bahrain was soft and hard, but once we had seen the new generation of our tyres run in Malaysia, a track similar to Bahrain, we decided that the combination medium and hard would be better suited for the Bahrain circuit.”

Despite the change to more conservative tyres, Pirelli predict another busy race in the pits: “We expect about three stops per car, although we?ll have to wait to get some running in on Friday before we can look at the data and make a more accurate prediction,” said Hembery.

The soft and medium compounds were used for last year’s Bahrain Grand Prix.

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83 comments on “Pirelli swaps soft tyre for medium in Bahrain”

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  1. I hope this isnt Pirelli bowing to the teams. They were asked to make an exciting tyre, so they should deliver it. China was a completely different track where the front tyres get chewed up quicker than normal.

    1. I don’t think they’re bowing so much as realising the soft tyre probably needs a bit more work.

      1. Does it? The tyre is the same for every team. They’ve all tested it, so should know where they stand with it.

        God help us when the super soft is needed in Monaco…

        1. @jamesf1 the stress on those tyres is so much higher at China or Bahrain (specially with the heat) than at Monaco, tho.

        2. Well the Supersoft and Soft are the 2 to be used in Canada

        3. Ken (@myxomatosis)
          16th April 2013, 17:27

          Yes they’re the same for each team but they’re still crap. Like Keith said, no driver used it for more than 7 laps in the Chinese GP. SEVEN!

    2. I hope this is exactly Pirelli bowing to the teams. An exciting tyre does not equal a ridiculous, no more than 7-lap durable tyre. Bahrain is a completely different track as well, where the dust and sand on track degrade the tyre faster, so a more durable rubber is highly welcomed.

      1. (@andrewf1)

        I hope this is exactly Pirelli bowing to the teams. An exciting tyre does not equal a ridiculous, no more than 7-lap durable tyre.

        +1, was about to type almost exactly this myself. It’s good Pirelli have finally noticed that a tyre disintergrating is not in the best interests of racing.

        China’s softs would’ve been fine if they were to be used merely as quali tyres, but in the current formula they can’t, and things got utterly ridiculous last week.

      2. I hope this is exactly Pirelli bowing to the teams.

        Don’t hope for that. Individual teams will push for whatever tyre is best for them, and pretend that they’re doing it for the good of the sport.

      3. @andrewf1


        We don’t need an arrogant who ignore the opinion of other stakeholders like teams and drivers.

        I think they’re try to make it look that it as their own decision (arrogance) when it’s clear that their softs ruined the race and probably affected their brand negatively.

        I’m looking forward to Canada!

        1. +1

          I honestly think its better to have a tyre company who go “Alright, this isn’t working as well as we thought it would, we’ll re-shuffle the deck and come up with an alternative.”

          It’s not like Spa 2011 where Red Bull were just ignoring Pirelli’s advice, its been an issue across the teams. this way they can go back and have a look at the tyre construction for the soft before using it again.

          1. At the same time, we were faced with the same problem last year: the teams complained bitterly about the tyres. And yet, by the middle of the season, they understood the tyres so well that the complaints simply melted away. Did anybody protest the tyres after the German Grand Prix? I can’t recall a single complaint, much less a chorus of them. Even the drivers who were the most critical – Mark Webber and Michael Schumacher – quietened down before long. The tyres worked in 2012 once the teams and drivers understood them; it was just a matter of figuring them out.

            I think we need to take the teams’ complaints with a grain of salt as they will always lobby for what is best for them. Are they really struggling as much as they are making out, or are they just trying to get out of doing some work and maybe pick up an advantage along the way?

    3. I agree, I think Pirelli have done a good job and the story for me is how cars that concentrated on race setup over quali are coming to the fore. It evens up the field. Now there is a price to pay for trashing your tyres in quali even if you are on pole. Pole isn’t a given right to the win and Pirelli have reduced the dominance of aero, giving other options and strategies to more teams. The first 2 races had varying conditions but it is clear that some teams can make the tyres work well and they fact that they can still get it wrong only adds to the spectacle. No one wants to see a team run away with it anyway. Of course all the teams would have to agree to any changes made to the tyres and that is definately not going to happen. No one os going to hand dominance back to Red Bull who would arguably be the biggest winner in that scenario. Alonso’s race proved that there’s nothing wrong with the Pirelli’s.

      1. Whilst I also am happy that Vettel didn’t win I don’t want F1 ruined in order to prevent the fastest cars driving fast just to mix up the winners.

    4. @jamesf1, what’s exciting about a tyre that’s glued to the road, but only for 2-3 laps.

    5. They were asked to make an exciting tyre

      I doubt that very much. But if that is what they were asked to do then they failed dismally. The first three “races” of this season have been dismal spectacles consisting of drivers trying to mange their tyres from start to finish.

      1. I doubt that very much. But if that is what they were asked to do then they failed dismally. The first three “races” of this season have been dismal spectacles

        @jonsan – Disagree. I found the first three races to be very exciting spectacles.

    6. I think it is good that Pirelli have listened to the teams, as their struggles have made for less exciting racing for the fans. Although I do think there should be an element of tyre conservation, it shouldn’t be the dominant factor in races as then it just becomes slightly farcical.

      Hopefully we will see it being possible to make two stops realistically all-round with the harder compounds, as that means that although the tyres still have an influence, all genuine overtaking won’t be done in the pits and hopefully also the drivers are closer to 100% on the limit rather than 80%.

  2. Good call, I think. clearly the soft tyre needs some work done to it to make it a bit more race-efficient – it doesn’t seem suited to greener tracks at all. It might perform a bit better at somewhere like Silverstone or Catalunya – somewhere where the racings a bit more regular and theres more rubbere buildup.

    1. indeed. And the really hot weather at Bahrain surely would have made it even harder to keep everything working here

      1. I’m pretty sure they tyres would have melted into puddles very early – probably around the end of the pitlane!

        1. :) Anyway, i heard the teams count the soft tyre in term of corners instead of laps. Looking forward to GP this weekend to have a proper action-packed racing.

      2. Yes, and the sand always causes Bahrain’s track to be more abrasive than most. Good call.

  3. So, this theoretically means a car that’s fundamentally quick, but not so good on the tyres will be better? So possibly Mercedes and Red Bull have better race pace than before, but will Lotus and Ferrari maintain their performance.. Just seems that as this is the same tyre allocation of Malaysia, it could be that way.

    1. I don’t think so.
      The F138 (as well as the F2012) proved to have a rather poor pace on the soft tyres (remember Silverstone 2012), but seemed to have a more decent pace on the medium compound, while the other top teams looked superior on the soft tyre, especially Lotus. We saw the teams running every compound this year so far, excepting the super soft, so there shouldn’t be any surprises produces by the tyre selection, regarding performance.
      Also, don’t forget that in Malaysia, Alonso was pretty quick. If it wasn’t for that abandon he would’ve probably been on the podium…or maybe he would’ve won.
      It just seems unlikely, to me.

  4. Hm, was it yesterday when they mentioned that they would not be changing anything before Barcelona?

    In the end it means they will have the same compounds there that were used last year, even if they are now named differently.

  5. Wow, that’s a last-minute change! I expect the soft tyres are already on their way to Bahrain, or perhaps even already there. At least it’s not the other end of the world from Pirelli’s production bases.

    If this is a case of Pirelli buckling under the pressure from Christian Horner et al., then I’m really surprised, but perhaps Pirelli feared that the soft tyre would fall apart in Bahrain, in which case there is something wrong with the compound.

    I actually quite liked the strategic implications of the soft tyre in China though, and although it was not a proper race tyre, the medium was just fine so it was interesting to see how teams handled their soft-tyre stint.

    Regarding the medium-hard combination, in Malaysia the hard tyre did not seem any more durable, but certainly slower, so it will be interesting to see whether the medium will once again be the race tyre of choice. If again the medium proves the tyre of choice, then this will be similar to the tyre situation in 2011, where the softest compound was usually the preferred race tyre, and the harder only used for the final stint.

    1. The strategic implications weren’t so much the problem.

      It was more the fact no one was allowed to defend in fear of their tyres falling apart.

      Good move, Pirelli!

  6. Just a quick note: according to Paul Hembery, this decision was already taken and communicated to the teams before the Chinese GP.

    I have been very critical of Pirelli’s policy of announcing the tyre allocation a few weeks before the actual race, because things like this will happen: Pirelli looks at how the tyres behave during race weekends and base future tyre allocations on their findings. I think this is a very unfair procedure, because decisions like the one mentioned in the article ultimately favor som teams more than others. I honestly believe Pirelli tries to be as objective as possible on this matter, but I still think it’s a flawed procedure.

    What they should do is announce the tyre allocations for the entire season somewhere around the final pre-season test, to ensure no team will be ‘favored’ (indirectly, but still) by Pirelli. And if they can judge that their initial tyre allocation is ‘wrong’, then they may change it under the condition that every single team agrees with that. In my opinion, this is a much fairer procedure and I don’t understand why this isn’t the standard already.

    1. … and please get rid off the colour markings: just give the weekend’s softest tyre a white rim or whatever, to distinguish it from the hardest. In the Bridgestone era, I suspect decisions like the one in the article were common as well, but because they aren’t a bunch of media enthusiasts, they just said nothing – exactly the way a tyre supplier should behave, imo.

      1. @andae23

        Regarding color marks, like they say in Spain “para gustos hay colores”


      2. @andae23 – you can’t really blame Pirelli for wanting as much publisiscity as possible: it boosts their brand, even if it’s not exactly positive!

        1. @vettel1 I guess you’re right, but I can still get annoyed by it! Every time I read “Pirelli will be bringing the yellow soft and white medium tyre…” I just want to break something :P

          1. @andae23 – I personally quite like the colours: they liven the tyres up a bit! Fair enough though :P

    2. What they should do is announce the tyre allocations for the entire season somewhere around the final pre-season test, to ensure no team will be ‘favored’ (indirectly, but still) by Pirelli.

      That itself will “favor” some teams over others. But then, the reason the tyres are changed each season is in fact to favor some teams over others.

  7. Why doesn’t Formula 1 simply have a race tyre (hardest) and a qualifying tyre (softest)…

    1. You mean, like they had for years and years of great racing?

    2. That wouldn’t work. Drivers would not even be able to keep the harder tyre up to temperature on a track like Monaco. And the super-soft would probably last until about the second sector in a place like malaysia or indeed china.
      That is the reason why they have 4 compounds. The trick is choosing tyres that are both fast for qualifying and reasonably durable for the race, with also allowing for alternate strategies.

      1. @bascb, I think @gatekiller means a hard tyre for racing only and a soft tyre for qualifying only, as if I remember rightly was the case in the early 70’s.

        1. Yes, but you would still need to bring different tyres to different races, doing a race on hards that would suit Bahrain, or India in Monaco would mean struggling with horribly handling cars with hardly any grip and graining tyres because the tyres would just not work there @hohum

    3. Thank god someone feels the same way as i do, F1 tyre conservation championship not F1 drivers championship.

  8. Well I hope you enjoy your Vettel lights to flag procession. Send your thanks to @PaulHembery on twitter. Utterly spineless.

    1. If you want to stop Vettel running away with it let’s get rid of 2.04 second pit stops as well, a super hard tyre (same for everybody) will reduce ultimate corner speed and do away with pit-teams losing or winning races.

    2. Last year Vettel was on pole, Grosjean started 7th and Raikkonen started 11th.
      At the finish Vettel was just 3.3 sec ahead of Raikkonen and 10sec ahead of Grosjean!
      Lights to flag procession? maybe, but don’t rule out the possibility of a good race for the Lotus team!

    3. @spawnite – I’ve they’ve built the fastest car I don’t see what the problem is honestly! Be it Ferrari, Mercedes, Lotus or Red Bull…

  9. I think it isn’t Pirelli cavin to RBR and Merc but realizing that the soft needs more work.

  10. Did they really cave in to the teams though? All I’ve heard this week is about how the tyres were rubbish at China and how it makes a mockery of the sport etc. If anything, they’ve caved in to what the fans wanted! The tyres are the same for everyone so it doesn’t make much difference to the teams in relation to each other.

  11. They really need to go back to last years tyres. the competition was still great but they didn’t have to pit a million times.

  12. So, people were complaining about the soft compound all during the Chinese Grand Prix weekend, and now Pirelli have ditched it for Bahrain, they’re complaining about that too??

    There’s no pleasing some people.

    1. Yep there’s a common denominator in fan forums and comment sections like this (and even parts of the media). Lots of complaining and very few compliments.

    2. The Tifosi are happy with the status quo, for now.

    3. @iamjamm Thank you, precisely what I’ve been thinking as I read through the articles about this.

      I personally have no issues with the tyres. They are the same for each team. Each team has designed their car seperately and has had the tyres since February testing. The only difference between all of the teams is the design of the cars. If they design a car that doesn’t work with the tyres, then that’s not Pirelli’s fault, it’s RedBull/Mercedes/McLaren/Ferrari/Lotus/Insertanyotherteamhere’s fault.
      Instead of moping about the tyres, why don’t we congratulate those teams that have made the best out of the situation that all teams have been given. Raikkonen drove a great race in Australia by making the most out of the pace of his car and the nature of the tyres. Alonso drove a brilliant race and qualifying in China, making the best use out of tyres that many teams struggled with.
      Anyone who says that Formula 1 shouldn’t be about tyres obviously doesn’t pay attention. Each car only has 4 contact points with the ground, these contact points are required to make the car move forward (and sometimes, although less frequently, backward).

    4. That’s not correct at all, am I reading the same comments? The ones complaining above are the ones who celebrated the super softs and what Pirelli were doing.

      We all have different opinions. If it make you feel any better, I’m very happy with this news :)

  13. Does this means a redbull dominated weekend in Bahrain? since their car is too hard on the tyres, this will help them the most. or am i read it wrong?

    1. The more G’s you generate the faster your lap, the more G’s you generate the greater the tyre wear, so you might be right, but that is the whole point of F1 the fastest car is supposed to win.

      1. (@hohum)

        the whole point of F1 the fastest car is supposed to win.

        Call me old fashioned, but isn’t the fastest driver supposed to win?

        1. @sgt-pepper, actually yes and no, F1 is different from most other race series in that it embraces engineering excellence, that is why we have a CONSTRUCTORS championship as well as a drivers championship. Enzo Ferarri would not have been interested in a one-design formula and neither would Colin Chapman, Enzo because he wanted to build the best engines, Chapman because he wanted to build the best chassis. With it’s current regulations F1 would never have got of the ground.

        2. Yes, the fastest driver is supposed to win. But part of being fastest, is also being in an adequate car, preferrably the fastest. That means that the “fastest car” will win, as in – the fastest single car is the one having the fastest combination of driver and car.

    2. It might help them the most, but Its more to do with Pirelli having found out that in general the cars eat the tyres more than expected, no doubt Mercedes will also be revieved about it and going on the Chinese race, there won’t be many people who will not be fine with it.

      After all, many were horrified with the softs only lasting until the 3rd sector in china already (or until the 4th lap in the race for Vettel), it would only be worse in Bahrain

  14. Hopefully other F1 innovations will now become prominent, as tyre influence is relegated to the back.

  15. good news for Mercedes this is. bad news for lotus

    1. @sato113 What tyre did Lotus excelled in Australia? What I can sense is Ferrari and Lotus struggling to qualify as well as they did in China.

      1. @peartree yes lotus are fine on any tyre but my point is that if they want their rivals to struggle, the tyre allocation needs to be a soft as possible.

        1. @sato113 Sounds logical but my point is that their rivals have already struggled and more importantly the Sakhir circuit is very abrasive, I only question if the lotus and ferrari will behave as well as they did in this past weekend at a track that is rear tyre bias.

  16. This means that Pirelli will run pretty much the same grade of tyres they did last time in Bahrain.

  17. Do we really want cars circulating around the track doing their own thing. Last race was a lot of “Please and thank you”, enough already. There can be different strategies but not at the expense of racing.

    Good decision by Pirelli. I would rather see only Red Bull and Alonso race for victory, because atleast it will generate a lot of racing behind them. In fact I am looking forward to Webber and Vettel slugging it out, it might be quite awesome.

  18. Chris (@tophercheese21)
    16th April 2013, 15:01

    Good! *Grumpy Cat*

  19. It is quite a royal farce. Why can’t they bring all the three and let the teams decide on their strategy?!

    1. Because it wouldn’t work, if you give the teams that kind of choice than only 3 or 4 teams would bnefit. F1 is about presenting a technical and driver challenge and keeping a balance between the two. Let the teams decide something as important as tyre choice and you give too much advantage to the ones with the most resource. Red Bull have had an aero advantage through AN and previously the rest of the components have taken a back seat. Now the aero advantage has a price, just as the over use of every component has a price and thats a good thing because now a fast car has to combine all the components to gain the overall advantage and thats the pure chalenge of F1.

  20. Sensible decision. It’s clear that Soft and Supersoft tyres are too extreme right now.

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