2013 Bahrain Grand Prix
But according to Hembery eight of the eleven teams have told them not to change the tyres: “It’s really bizarre because behind the scenes we actually get a lot of lobbying from people telling us not to change things.”
“There’s obviously a media-led point of view which comes from the drivers and then behind the scenes we’ve had a lot of lobbying. I think there’s now eight teams that have come to us, written to us, emailled us and said ‘whatever you do, don’t change anything’. So we’re in a bizarre situation, really.”
Much of the criticism is focused on the extent to which drivers have to back off to preserve their tyres. Hembery said that kind of limitation is not unusual for F1:
“You race to the package you’ve got. In this case it’s tyre-limited in some cases – it’s been like that through history in many ways. You still find at the end of the race it’s going to be the fastest car and the best driver on the day.
“It’s a bit like saying ‘can I have another hundred horsepower more?’ These engines could easily do more. So it’s where you want to take it.
“We got asked to replicate Canada 2010. If you remember that race it was quite a novel race compared to the format of races during that period in time. That’s the input we’ve have and the impact we’ve been asked to continue giving.”
China soft “intended as a qualifying tyre”
The soft tyres used in China came in for particular criticism as no driver spent more than seven laps on them during the race. Hembery said: “We intended that really to be almost like a [qualifying] tyre.”
“It was to push the people that needed to use it to get the time and then you found at the start of the race they had to pit early. The hope there was more of the Q2 teams would take the harder option.
“They didn’t, actually, and we were surprised by that, because that would have enabled them to gain position on the circuit and made it harder or made it more interesting as the Q3 guys come charging through. That was the idea, it wasn’t intended really as a race proposition.”
He added the decision not to bring the soft tyre to Bahrain was made before the race in China: “The Sunday night after Malaysia we thought that race went ahead with really not too many issues so we thought we’d bring the same combination here, being very similar in terms of temperature and quite an abrasive track.”
Hembery said any future decision on whether to change the tyres would be weighed against the effect it might have on the championship:
“We will do a review after the race here on Sunday night and we’ll probably decide what we do Monday, Tuesday before we get to Spain. You’ve got to be careful because if you make changes during the season – say for example we’ve made a change and one or two teams suddenly made a big jump forward you’d be now asking you’ve just favoured a few other people’.”
“So you’re in a bit of a no-win situation. You’ve got to be really careful because if that does happen then you are influencing the championship. If we make changes we’ve got to make it early on. You don’t want to be doing anything after eight or nine races because again that’s going to favour probably one or two teams.
“And also bear in mind we were having the same conversations last year and by the end of the year nobody was talking about it. The teams have the best engineers in the world. The drivers are there are at the top for good reason – they’re intelligent people, they work out how to get the best out of the package and you’ll see the same as we go forward.”
2013 Bahrain Grand Prix
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