Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Shanghai, 2013

DRS and tyres: Has F1 got the balance right?

Debates and PollsPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Shanghai, 2013The 2013 season is the third year in which F1 has tried to produce better racing using the Drag Reduction System and having Pirelli produce tyres that degrade rapidly.

Both have undergone changes this year. Pirelli has produced a new generation of softer tyre compounds and almost every track will have two DRS zones this year.

However it has opened a debate over whether Formula One has gone too far in altering the sport to make it more entertaining. Has it got the balance right?


Following complaints from some drivers the Drag Reductions System can no longer be used freely during practice and qualifying this year.

To ensure it still has a significant effect, an extra DRS zone has been added at most tracks which previously only had one. The last three races all had one extra DRS zone compared to last year.

Has that made DRS too powerful – or not powerful enough? Do you think F1 has got the balance right? Cast your vote below and have your say in the comments.

What effect is DRS having on F1 racing in 2013?

  • DRS is having a very positive effect on F1 (3%)
  • DRS is having a positive effect on F1 (32%)
  • DRS is having a neutral effect on F1 (11%)
  • DRS is having a negative effect on F1 (38%)
  • DRS is having a very negative effect on F1 (16%)
  • No opinion (0%)

Total Voters: 539

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In the previous two seasons with softer tyres we’ve tended to see lots of pit stops and strategic variety in the early races, but by the end of the season the teams understand the tyres better and one-stop races become more commonplace.

In response to that Pirelli have produced softer tyres this year. But concerns they may have gone too far, voiced by Red Bull among others, have led them to change the hard tyre to a more durable compound.

Are this year’s tyres too aggressive? Has the move towards softer compounds produced better racing since 2011? Cast your vote below and have your say in the comments.

What effect are the current tyres having on F1 racing in 2013?

  • The current tyres are having a very positive effect on F1 (11%)
  • The current tyres are having a positive effect on F1 (30%)
  • The current tyres are having a neutral effect on F1 (11%)
  • The current tyres are having a negative effect on F1 (24%)
  • The current tyres are having a very negative effect on F1 (23%)
  • No opinion (0%)

Total Voters: 531

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  • 177 comments on “DRS and tyres: Has F1 got the balance right?”

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    1. Sports change and evolve to create a more exciting package. Football removed the rule allowing players to pass the ball back to the Goalkeeper for him to pick it up.

      I know there are a lot of racing purists who wish to see “skill only” overtakes but you have to admit that the amount of super exciting races has exponentially increased in recent years.

      China 2011, Canada 2011/12, Hungary 2011, Valencia 2012, Abu Dhabi 2012, Brazil 2012, Malaysia 2013 (Webber – Vettel fight was intense).

      You have to go back to Japan 2005, Brazil 2008 to find some truly epic races.

      The racing at places, that are historically boring, like Bahrain, Hungary and Australia has also increased the excitement immensely 2011 onwards.

      Abu Dhabi is the best case in point. The championship deciding race in 2010 was like watching a train and expecting the carriages to overtake each other. Fast Fwd >> to the 2012 race and there was over taking galore. Imagine that race replaced the championship decider of 2010 and can you imagine the level of epicness… ala Brazil 2012.

    2. Chris (@tophercheese21)
      4th May 2013, 7:23

      I voted:
      DRS is having a negative effect.
      – However, it has the potential to have a very positive effect, its just that the FIA have gone for complete overkill this season to compensate for the restrictions in Qually and Practice.
      – If they tone it back to just 1 singular zone, then the races (which is where points are awarded) would be better.
      – Also, the FIA needs to think more carefully about where they put a DRS zone(s) for a track. Just because a track has a massive straight, doesnt mean it needs DRS down it, in fact, DRS should never be put on the longest straight (bar Monaco) because that’s where cars have the best chance to overtake anyway. It should be placed in a less obvious place, so that you can position the cars to have a “possible” overtake, not an easy “hey lets open slot and fly past the guy 100m in front” type overtake.

      Neutral for Pirelli tyres
      Because they can always make the softer tyre more durable.

      But they aren’t . :\

      They need to:
      Make the Soft and Super-Soft MUCH more durable (4-7 laps is pathetic).
      Make the Medium slightly more durable.
      Leave the Hard tyre as is.

      Having such a massive gap between the tyre compounds doesn’t actually lead to a “greater strategy window”, because teams will obviously go for the harder compound and get rid of the soft ASAFP, and just run the prime for the rest of the race. Where’s the strategy in that?!

      And that’s my rant.

      1. Well…if you make the Soft and Super-Soft “much more durable” and the Medium “slightly more durable” you might just end up with Bridgestone tires, mate. It would be better just to make the Super-Soft some kind of a qualifying tire (for Q3, of course) and to improve (all-round) the Soft, Medium and Hard from time to time. Also, Pirelli should learn to work better with the teams, in both sides interest…and to make some bloody better tire designations (unlike China 2013).

        1. Chris (@tophercheese21)
          4th May 2013, 11:08


          you might just end up with Bridgestone tires, mate.

          Well i didn’t mean make the softer compounds THAT much more durable. But they should be atleast be able to be competitive for 14-18 laps.

          Otherwise, they’re redundant, because if its anything less, then the teams just get rid of the option as soon as possible, and there’s no strategy there.

      2. @tophercheese agreed wholeheartedly with your rant!

    3. How about allowing multiple tires suppliers? That way Red Bull won’t be bitchin’ about Pirelli tires (while winning). Every tires supplier has it’s own characteristics and FIA would just have to ensure top quality and some ballance between different suppliers…
      Then, get ride of the DRS, encourage more investment more into KERS (ERS from 2014), bring some 1000bhp V12’s with turbochargers/superchargers (or not) and we would have a real sport…what F1 should be like.

      1. @theseeker that’s a terrible idea, as that’s just asking for every team besides Red Bull and Ferrari to go bankrupt with the cost of yet another tyre war.

        The problem here is emphatically not the tyre supplier, it’s what they’ve been asked to create. Your criticism should be directed at the teams themselves, not Pirelli.

        As much as I’d like those engines also, I just can’t see it happening sadly…

        1. A more open engine/kers formula would raise cost’s, However contrary to general opinion a tyre war would not raise cost’s for the teams.

          The biggest cost to teams from a tyre war in the past came from tyre testing, With testing now banned the cost on teams from a tyre war would be no issue.

          1. I know huge engines is just a childish dream right now, but multiple tires suppliers might be a solution…and with costs not being an issue for the teams this could be the answer. There is some kind of tire war going on right now actually, if you look close, with most teams agreeing to what Pirelli dose and with a few disagreeing. That tire war (caused by multiple tires suppliers) would be better for the teams, FIA and F1 than the current one.

        2. My criticism was directed at the teams, actually. And I do understand what you’re saying. It’s just that reducing cost doesn’t seem right for a sport like Formula 1. I would much rather see 7-8 spending huge amounts of money to be just 0.1 faster than the others, than 11-12 teams with most of them carefully investing. There are some constructors (like Audi, BMW…maybe some privateers) that would love to spend billions, if FIA would know how to attract such investment in the sport.
          [I know Audi said they will not get into F1 as it is not road-relevant, but…let’s be serious. I believe they just don’t want to invest a few hundred millions into engines, KERS, R&D…and wait 2-3 seasons or more, like Mercedes, for some real performance and then underperform, due to not understanding the tires, or invest funds and time into some kind of new development, like DDRS or passive suspension, that would then be banned by the FIA without any real motivation…]

    4. I have voted for DRS and against the tyres. DRS was introduced to make overtaking easier, as there was hardly any overtaking in the years before DRS. Agreed that the effect may be a little to strong now, but we need it in some form. The Aero-war is still the biggest issue in my view. I agree with Briatore (never thought I would say that).
      The tyres are making racing a big strategic farce. A driver cannot push, cannot stray from the race line, cannot risk a lock up while out braking an opponent etc etc.
      I would like to add one thing: ban communication between driver and team. That makes the driver(s decisions) more important and reduces all the strategic c***

    5. Interesting to see the results of this poll.. Once again it appears that the people who don’t like the tyres (The self-proclaimed ‘purists’ who then try to explain why the sport is rubbish) are the ones who shout the loudest and therefore think their opinion is gospel truth. I imagine Keith put this article up to try and gauge current opinion after so many comments about this on other articles. Same as last year, the minority appears to be the ones who are proclaiming to be the majority..

      1. im reading it slightly differently.

        combining the 2 answers (very positive/positive & very negative/negative) its clear that the vast majority feel DRS is having a negative effect while opinion on tyres is split.

        one of the interesting things though is reading the comments, there are those who voted that tyres are having a positive effect yet who also feel that the current tyre compounds could & should be made a bit harder.

      2. As I write this, the poll is 44% negative on the tyres to 43% positive. And it’s 22% “very negative” to 11% “very positive”.

    6. Daniel (@collettdumbletonhall)
      4th May 2013, 12:34

      Get rid of DRS and then decide on the tyres. DRS must go as soon as possible because it ruins the racing, if that goes then we can make a better judgement of the racing with these tyres.

    7. I do not understand why a lot of fans are complicating this tyre issue. The tyres are not helping F1 period – NOT because tyre management has not always been a part of F1, but because it is affecting it too much to the point where between the Pirellis, and DRS, the art of racing, and to a lesser extent, qualifying is now dead. What we have now is the art of managing tyres (it is not even about strategy), trying to qualify in a single lap whilst not using the tyres too much, the art of sub 2sec pit-stops, the art of driving to specified lap delta, and the art of getting to within 1sec of the car in front. Note, the main art missing from the list is “real hard racing”.

      Most people who support the current Pirelli “cheese” tyre claim that managing tyres have ALWAYS been a part of F1, conveniently ignore the main issue – which is tyres have NEVER been this much part of F1. Do most fans remember the face, or name of the Goodyear tyre representative, or Bridgestone, or Michelin? Hembrey has now achieved a Yoda like status, always being interviewed, constantly giving out PR sound bites. Week in week out, race day, qualifying, practice or break, all we hear are – tyres, tyres, tyres.

      Tyres were never specifically designed to kill racing, last a few laps, degrade suddenly and litter track with rubber marbles that means you may be doomed if you come off the racing line. The art of late braking in corners is certainly dead. God forbid you try that on the Pirellis, and you may be sporting a bald patch larger the Kojak’s – that is if the marbles don’t get you. Or you simply wait for DRS.
      Anyone remember the qualifying duels of yore? Drivers coming out again and again trading purple sectors? That is certainly a thing of the pastIn the ast, drivers rarely went out for a single lap in qualifying (unless stipulated by the rules) or even sat out qualifying because of tyres.

      Real racing is now so scarce that we foam at the mouth when we see any, like Bahrain (Button vs Perez), or the fight for the lead at the US GP 2012 (Hamilton vs Vettel). The epic battles between Senna, Mansell and Prost would never have happened in this Pirelli era, banging wheels, sparks flying, all the way into the corner daring each other who will brake the latest. Or the epic battles between Schumacher, Hakkinen and Alonso. We would have certainly not enjoyed Montoya, Raikonnen and Kubica in this era, and we were quite lucky to enjoy a bit of Lewis. Where is the real racing I ask you? Where is proper overtaking? Oh, how I miss F1.

      1. +1

        Thats what I’ve been saying for a while now, Tyre management has to some extent always been a part of F1, But never anywhere close to what we have today.

        There has never been a time in F1’s history where the drivers have had to run around so far off the ultimate pace & in which by driving around at under 80% to a per-determined laptime they have been driving at a slower pace than the support category (GP2).

        If I wanted to watch cars driving around at GP2 speeds, I’d watch GP2.

    8. The funniest thing is that there are quite a few fans who are voting positive or the tires, even though their opinion is based on the 2011 or 2012 tyres (their admission). Just proves that stats based on polls cannot really be trusted as people will read the question the way they want to, rather than the way it is written.
      I mean, how clear can @keithcollantine be??

      1. Agree, I think people are reading the question & taking it as ‘Tyres that degrade quickly’ rather than looking specifically at the current tyres.

        To answer the question, I don’t necessarily mind fast wearing tyres & actually quite liked the 2011 spec tyres, But I think the current 2013 tyres are ridiculous & are having an extremely negative effect on the races.

        They should scrap the 2012 & 2013 tyres & just go back to what we had in 2011, Tyres that did wear but that could actually be raced hard. With the exception of Vettel winning a lot that year I don’t recall many complaints about the tyres.

        Actually thats another point I’d raise, There was very little complaints about the tyres in 2011 & thinking back the tyres were not the biggest talking point of every race weekend. Its been the 2012 & 2013 tyres which have been utter garbage & brought up warranted complaints!

    9. Seems fan opinion on DRS has shifted, I remember the poll’s of 2011 been quite evenly split, Now it seems majority are against it which Im happy to see.
      Was open to it in 2010 when it was announced, but by the end of 2011 was firmly against it & am at the point now where if its not banned I may just turn F1 off because i hate the was its killing most of the racing & just producing a series of highway passing which quite frankly is not that fun to watch.

      Tyres im more open to, Im not against the whole fast wearing tyres thing but think what we have now is too extreme. Scale them back, Make them all more conservative & things would be better.

    10. DRS – Negative:
      For what it was designed to do, it’s not HORRIBLE. It’s just atrocious that FIA/FOM would rather remain so stubborn as to avoid the obvious solution, (ground effects,) than admit fault. So, while looking at it as a single item, I’m fairly positive. The rationale behind it is abhorrent, though, and increasing the zones just illustrates the reasoning.

      Suggestion: If we can’t return to ground effect days, why not reversing the DRS concept? Minimize the rear wing across the board, but give each driver, say twenty to thirty seconds’ usage of another element per race. Throw in the aero wash as an advantage to the leading driver, while the pursuers have the advantage for the rest of the race. Thoughts?

      Tyres – Very Negative:
      Shame on the teams for asking for this years set of compounds. Malaysia and China were difficult to watch, and I found myself longing for a return of the processional days over those shows. Watching drivers surrender positions as if given the blue flag has put me to the point where after a quarter century of being a fan, I think I’m getting ready to stop watching. The only other time I got to that point was May 1st, 1994.

      Suggestion: Just return to the rules where teams can run whatever compounds they like, whenever they like, on much fatter versions of 2012 tyres.

    11. I’m watching tbe porsche racing on itv4 and tyres is the defining factor. its always been a huge part of racing and can be seen even in this racing which is completley different to f1. I see tyre decions are crucial in moto gp and recent wec race at silverstone toyota lost as could not double stint their tyres like audi. Knowhere near perfect but better than bridgestone era or all f1 since the 80s where again tyres had a huge effect. i like that design niw has to focus on mechanical aspects to get the most from tyres rather than just manipulating air, aero was not a major part at the dawn of motorsport tyres were so if anything its more traditional.

      perfect for me but current f1 is the lesser of 2 evils compared to the bridgestone era and the whole of the 90

    12. Ahhhh….why are we moaning about rules set out at the start of the year !!!! A car needing to be 2 seconds faster than another car to pass is NOT real racing…in fact nothing about F1 is real racing…real racing is the faster car in pole and the slower cars remaining behind, who wants to watch that…if anything KERS is underpowered. As for DRS moaning, DRS is a cheap means of combating the ridiculous disadvantage of following an F1 car, DRS moaners should stop watching live tv and invest in 80s and 90s videos of F1.

    13. Steve McGrath (@)
      5th May 2013, 16:27

      In terms of aero – the downforce levels in todays F1 are so high surely you only really have 2 choices if you want the real racing that you see in other racing series and that is

      1. Reduce the overall levels of downforce in the rules
      2. Temporarily boost the cars’ performance with DRS and/or a system such as KERS to allow overtaking

      Otherwise you have exactly what @dcjohnson says which is a need to be 2 seconds a lap faster to overtake – which in itself is artificial (?) (call it different if you like) in comparison to other Motorsports or even the dawn of F1 itself
      DRS is good for me as it can often allow the car that has been passed to repass which makes for exciting racing and the quickest drivers are winning the races so there is nothing artificial in that sense.

    14. just watched the new BRDC formula 4 races for the first time … limited number of tyres for the weekend’s 3 races
      saw interview with winning driver of race 3 ….said he saved a new set for the race and it paid off

      the leading driver after the weekend ? didn’t win a race
      another driver commented about how he drove after the tyres went off

      motor racing was, is , and always will be about managing your equipment

    15. David not Coulthard (@)
      9th May 2013, 1:10

      DRS: Very negative

      I must say, though, that I may be ever so slightly clouded by the fact that I loved 2010 – I don’t think there was anything wrong with it.

    16. The World Endurance Championship is the way forwards, yes you heard me, endurance, because these days, the races are flat-out, drivers pushing to the max, manufacturers introducing new technologies and pushing the boundaries to improve their road cars. Re-fueling, tyres that actually work. Its an F1 Fans dream.

      Formula 1 has sold itself to the uneducated masses who in reality give nothing to the sport, and inadvertantly become a short version of what used to be endurance racing. Meanwhile endurance racing has been quietly transforming itself into a show of engineering excellence, with real performance gains year-on-year. The cars were on average 2 seconds a lap quicker around spa this year, compared to last in pretty much the same conditions.

      Variation exists in the wec, and yes although audi have won more times in the last 13 years can i can count, its still interesting because there are battles in other classes and the question is always, “can anyone catch audi?” and watching people try is truly fascinating, e.g. peugoet and more recently toyota. Porsche are coming back to LMP1 next year, who knows who will follow.

      F1 is dead/on its last legs, i’ve already made the switch, come and join me, you won’t regret it.

    17. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      12th May 2013, 21:16

      Why aren’t people replying to this topic after the original topic was locked? For some reason locking a topic and redirecting them always seems to kill a discussion.

      Could it be one of those things like high degradation tires that just works better in theory than in practice?(tongue-in-cheek)

    18. On the issue of tyres, I sat down and worked out some of the facts to come out of last nights 2013 Spanish GP which are pertinent.

      Qualifying Times:
      1. N. Rosberg 1:20.718

      22. C. Pic 1:25.070

      Race Lap Fastest Laptimes:
      Stint 1 – Lap 1-7: F. Massa L2 1:30.34
      Stint 2 – Lap 8-20: A. Sutil L10 1:28.25
      Stint 3 – Lap 21-36: F. Alonso L23 1:27.73
      Stint 4 – Lap 37-50: A. Sutil L38 1:26.56
      Stint 5 – Lap 51-66: E. Gutierrez L56 1:26.22 (FLAP of Race)

      Note: For point of reference I used WEB as indicator of pit stints as he pitted 4 times and was one of the first of each stint.

      At no point did anyone beat last place qualifier C. Pic’s 1:25.070 in very similar weather conditions, using the same tyre make, compound, and towards the end of the race, similar fuel load. At no stage was anyone in danger of getting close to 1:21, let alone 1:20…

      All of those fastest laps per stint were achieved on the first timed run after coming out of the pits. In Massa’s case, it was on lap 2 after the start of the race. The tyres do not produce multiple laps on pace.

      According to the race records, E. Gutierrez had the fastest car on the day, but finished outside the points in 11th place, and he had no major incident to explain why he finished 11th with the “fastest car on track”.

      Should tyres be affecting F1 in this way?

      2013 Spanish Grand Prix Laptimes and Fastest Laps
      Rosberg on pole as again Mercedes claim front row
      2013 Spanish Grand Prix result

    19. I got Pretty much TYRED with TYREs.
      Make 4 Pit stops still go 80 – 90 % of the Pace and add to this some sudden Delaminations. DRS may help Drivers to over take when they are stuck behind but this Tires are clearly making Nonsense.
      I can’t Understand who was at which position and who was in Which kind of Strategy. Last year and year before it was fun with Wide range of strategies and still exiting and certainly not this year.
      FIA and FOM and Pirelli must remember one thing. Every race can’t be a Spectacle no matter what you do. We have Races like Austin which is a Spectacle with 1 stop but monaco is bored one with 1 stop only.
      Which clearly proves More MORE only leads to destruction and this what Happening at the Moment.
      As a Long term F1 fan i want to see Drivers Racing with Flat out for 80% of a Stint not with 80% of Pace through out the stint.

    20. I agree that DRS needs to go. I love KERS, but I think it would have a much bigger influence on the races if it wasn’t limited. As long as they have enough energy stored they should be allowed to use it whenever they want. That way we would also see the teams trying to produce the best possible KERS system which would appease the car manufacturers and sponsors.

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