Pirelli keen to avoid claim of Red Bull favouritism

2013 Spanish Grand Prix

Mark Webber, Red Bull, Circuit de Catalunya, Barcelona, 2013Pirelli are wary of making too many changes to the current generation of tyres which might be seen as favouring Red Bull, who have persistently lobbied for more conservative compounds.

In the wake of yesterday’s Spanish Grand Prix Christian Horner said cars should not be making four pit stops per race.

Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery said that while Pirelli do not want to produce four-stop races, it did not want to be seen as favouring Red Bull either:

“You can imagine, though, if we make a change, that it might be seen that we’re making tyres for Red Bull in particular,” he said.

“That’s been the comment made in the media that Red Bull are pushing to make a change and if we do something that helps them you can understand that Lotus and Ferrari won’t be happy. So it’s a very difficult situation we sometimes find ourselves in.”

Hembery says this year’s tyres are degrading more quickly than they would like because of the increased performance of the cars:

“The cars are certainly pushing a lot harder than what we’ve seen in the past. The downforce levels are getting close to 2011 when the cars had blown diffusers. We also are seeing that with our new structure of tyre we’re pushing much harder the compounds. So combine those two together and we find that we really are working the compounds much more than we have done in the past.

“We don’t get to see the cars, of course, until we get racing with them. We don’t have any in-season testing, we don’t have access to those cars for testing so unfortunately we do have to learn sometimes when we’re actually at the race event.

“We will make changes, we want to bring something to Silverstone to make sure we are back on track, we’re at two or three stops. That could mean compound changes, structure changes, we’ll decide that within a week.”

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146 comments on Pirelli keen to avoid claim of Red Bull favouritism

  1. Swindle94 (@swindle94) said on 13th May 2013, 17:17

    Everybody is on the same tires, so it is definitely fair “racing”. Ferrari and lotus should not be punished for working all preseason on understanding the tires. And red bull is not harder on their tires because of downforce. Mercedes is easily the worst and they don’t have as much downforce as red bull and maybe even Ferrari. Pirelli needs to supply the two hardest compounds for any race they’re worried about extreme degradation. By the end we’ll have no complaints about the tires,just like the previous two years.

    • DaveW (@dmw) said on 13th May 2013, 19:21

      It’s fair but its not “racing.” It would be fair if every finalist in the men’s 100m race had to run in flip flops (and Usain Bolt may not win, if some people are bored of his winning) but it would not be much of a race.

      • Fisha695 (@fisha695) said on 14th May 2013, 7:24

        “I learned to approach racing like a game of billiards. If you bash the ball too hard, you get nowhere. As you handle the cue properly, you drive with more finesse.” — Juan Manuel Fangio

        There is also another legendary quote out there from the old days but I don’t remember who said it or how exactly it was said, it was something along the lines of “A race is getting to the finish line first in the slowest time possible”.

  2. Yoshisune (@yobo01) said on 13th May 2013, 18:15

    Red Bull isn’t that bad, though. They won two races, they are leading both championships. Yeah, maybe they aren’t as consistent as Ferrari or Lotus, but Red Bull is not doing that bad at the moment. But still, they are complaining. I don’t think it’s because they are so arrogant that they want to win every race, but it’s because working with these tyres is not pleasant for the drivers, for the teams and for the fans.

    Besides I wouldn’t be so sure that by changing the tyres Pirelli is going to give Red Bull the championship. Actually, there’s nothing to suggest that. For all we know Mercedes could be the fastest.

    I understand that it’s not great for Ferrari and Lotus: they have done a very good job with 2013 spec tyres, and changing them might be regarded as unfair by someone, I get it, but we have a bigger problem, I think. Pirelli shouldn’t think about who wins the championship, it’s not their job. They have to balance this tyre degradation issue, because right now it’s not racing and it’s not even good for the show.

  3. Dan Harrison said on 13th May 2013, 18:29

    I’m seriously considering ditching my Sky subscription. I think they could possibly face a case from Trading Standards for billing F1 as motor racing. They could get away with calling it motorsport. But it’s not racing. What we have in 2013 is a Degradation Derby. And to my mind, it’s a poor spectacle.

    I’ll still take an interest in what’s happening, of course, via websites and the Beeb and newspaper coverage. But F1 is definitely losing its appeal to me as a sporting contest. Sure, it’s an interesting technical challenge for engineers, but I’m finding it boring. To me, it’s as if F1 – in its desire to increase excitement – has done the equivalent in football of widening the goal so that we can see more goals per game. Sure, it ensures that you’re seeing the ball hit the back of the next much more and the end of boring 0-0 draws, but when your granny could score a hat trick every game then the gimmick has gone too far.

    I found myself during the Barcelona race wondering if someone would have the balls to ban all aero devices so that we could go back to driver versus driver, with real dicing. What I want to see is speed, bravery and racecraft triumph. Not tiptoeing round to keep the tyres in a workable temperature window, tricky as it may be. Perhaps I should just go and watch Formula Ford instead.

  4. Pandaslap (@pandaslap) said on 13th May 2013, 18:30

    I was bored to death by Sunday’s race but Will Buxton’s post-race commentary has started to change my mind.

    “What Ferrari did in Spain was to completely flip the script. Rather than going into the race and telling their drivers to hold back, they told them to push with everything they had. Four stops was always their intention and it caught everyone else off guard.”


    With the massive difference between qualifying pace and the conservative race pace we saw in Spain, it is not difficult to imagine that – if a driver pushed from start to finish and got tires whenever he needed them – more stops could have been possible.

    Maybe the ideal solution for Pirelli is not to change the tires (thereby opening the door for accusations) but to simply bring more of them. It might be a riot to watch the drivers constantly charging, setting faster and faster times, darting in for tires, and repeating the process. After all of these highly controlled races, a rubber-shredding manic run to the finish might be fun to watch.

    As I see it, simply bringing more tires would allow Pirelli to kill two birds with one stone. No bending to the will of one team or another and they give the fans what we have been missing – more flat-out racing.

    • DaveW (@dmw) said on 13th May 2013, 21:40

      Not so sure. Buxton wasn’t driving the Ferrari, Alonso was. And Alonso says he was not driving anywhere near the limit. The data show he was several seconds off his fuel-corrected ideal time at all times. Ferrari was just the least-affected car. There is no case that teams could deal with the tires by just stopping a lot and going fast. If that were true then Mercedes would be dominating this season. They have up to .5s on the field in raw pace but got lapped. Im sure it crossed Brawn’s mind to put the hammer down and just keep stopping but your ability to make up 20 seconds in pace for every extra stop you make diminishes with more stops, because you have less time on the track to make the time.

      • Pandaslap (@pandaslap) said on 13th May 2013, 23:32


        The issue with the pace of the field, and the Merc in particular, is that they immediately went into conservation mode. Buxton is right to point out that Ferrari bucked that trend and that that gave them a competitive advantage. If more teams follow Ferrari’s lead, the overly cautious approach might give way to better racing.

        • DaveW (@dmw) said on 14th May 2013, 5:15

          Ferrari did not buck anything. Other teams stopped the same number of times and Alonso coasted just as much as others. The car was just relatively better. Buxton started an urban legend. Parking behind rosberg in stint 1 whike he creeped around like the mini train at the mall the kids ride was not conservation mode?

  5. StefMeister (@stefmeister) said on 13th May 2013, 19:39

    The thing which seriously irritates me about the way Pirelli & especially Paul Hembrey are playing the tyre debate is that there making things out as if there are only 2 choices, The sort of extreme degredation we have now or the rock solid tyres of 2010.

    Its a false set of choices which completely ignores the big gap in the middle which I feel they should be aiming at.

    There’s also this ridiculous argument that anything other than what we have now would help Red Bull win the championship something I don’t think would be the case.

    I was also reading comments on AutoSport where he goes on about how they have been going this extreme since 2011 & have done nothing different this year which is clearly completely false when you actually go back & look at the tyres they had in 2011.

    Im sick & tired of hearing & reading Paul Hembrey trying to frame the debate as either this or 2010 & im sick of hearing him suggest that everyone who dislikes the current tyre situation must want to see processions in which Red Bull dominates.

    Stop treating us like idiots, We know there’s more than 2 choices, We know there’s a middle ground & I would suggest that middle ground is where most fans would like them to go.

    Lets get tyres which lose performance but still allow drivers to push hard & race, We had that in 2011 so its clearly possible & I don’t recall many complaining about the tyre effect that year, I at least preferred it to what we’ve had since.

    Im an Alonso fan & should have been thrilled with yesterdays race given he won, However for me everything about that race was unsatisfying & even Fernando’s passing Raikkonen for the lead (And eventually the win) left a sour taste in my mouth & was an unsatisfying thing to watch because it was obvious that Kimi never bothered to try & hold him off & basically just let him go (Something Kimi later confirmed).

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 13th May 2013, 20:48


      im sick of hearing him suggest that everyone who dislikes the current tyre situation must want to see processions in which Red Bull dominates.

      Correct me if I’m wrong but I don’t believe Pirelli have ever tried to justify the current tyres by saying it gives people a chance to beat Red Bull.

      • celeste (@celeste) said on 13th May 2013, 21:10

        @keithcollantine They are saying that if they change the tyres RBR will win, wich is the same:

        “Unless you all want us to give Red Bull the tyres to win the championship. It’s pretty clear. If we did that, there would be one team that would benefit and it would be them.

        So if they don´t want to changes the tyres just because of RBR is silly, to say the least. Yesterday race was boring and confusing. When Kimi say he doesn´t race Alonso because of tyres, Vettel dn´t defend againts Kimi because the same, Checho saids he shouldn´t have run in Q3 to save tyres, and Lewis is going backwards is something wrong with the sport.

        • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 13th May 2013, 21:51

          @celeste Yes I’ve just read that now and had come back to mention it!

          And no, I don’t think that is a very strong argument. It sounds more like them taking a swipe at some of the criticism they’ve had from the media.

          • celeste (@celeste) said on 13th May 2013, 22:10

            @keithcollantine I think Pirelli and specially Paul Hembery thinks to much of himself attacking RBR and not taking listening to other teams, drivers. He is not only saying changing the tyres will help RB but he is saying that it will “only help RB”.

            I think it is pretty clear. There is one team who will benefit from a change and that is them.”

            A tyre supplier shouldn´t have this much weight on the results, and when nobody is talking about the drives but about the tyres we know we are in trouble.

  6. rampante (@rampante) said on 13th May 2013, 20:04

    Been a long time since I posted here but I need to remind some of the younger viewers that the sport has been dogged for decades with changes. If you are over 50 you will remember the aero advantage, over 40 the turbo era. Over 30 the auto everything seasons. The sport changes and those who lose out complain. This is not a game where the rules change to keep people happy. Everyone knew about the new tyres, only some modified the car to suit. F1 cars do not run at 100% and have not for a long time. Limited engines, gearboxes and the loss of T cars saw to that. The subject of complaint has changed, the sport has not.

  7. mhilgtx said on 13th May 2013, 20:04

    So by the Ferrari fans logic, RBR had all the tire issues all figured out in Bahrain and Ferrari was the team that had not designed their car appropriately for the tires. By the way Vettel was ahead by well over the 23 seconds required for a pit stop and could have finished there but decided to pit to ensure his tires would last.

    This is just extremely selective thinking colored by a recent win.

    The tires at the very least need to be made safe, as of now they are not.

  8. rabster said on 13th May 2013, 20:06

    With these tyres you may as well not take part in qualy as grid position now means nothing. For years no one complained about the pole sitter winning races now it doesnt matter. Your better off sitting it out and saving tyres.

  9. Jay Collard (@jcollard) said on 13th May 2013, 20:39

    The astounding irony being that Red Bull themselves are heavily responsible for current dissent among current F1 fans, in that no one wants to watch the same driver win everything at all times (i.e. the Schumacher era, go look at those plummeting ratings to see how well they liked it)

  10. StephenH said on 13th May 2013, 20:57

    Could someone please put up the closing laps of Monaco ’92 and educate some of these Johnny-come-lately RBR / Merc fans on why conserving tyres doesn’t mean poor racing !!

    • PeterG said on 13th May 2013, 21:36

      That race had nothing to do with conserving tyres.

      In fact the hard compound they had back then meant they could go the full race without any pit stops with ease which is why it wasn’t uncommon to see people take that strategy.

  11. bull mello (@bullmello) said on 13th May 2013, 22:11

    Tyres + Viral = TYRAL

    That’s where we are now in 2013, no matter how real or imagined. Driven by forces in and out of F1 it is now the lone defining subject of the season so far. Probably not as bad as the doomsayers and the Drivers & Constructors leader Red Bull make it out to be, but it’s now all that many of those covering F1 seem to want to talk about. Pirelli seems to add more fuel to the fire no matter what they explain or announce.

    As some wise folks have stated before, it is the same tires for all teams. Some teams have adapted and are racing better than others. Life goes on. Not complaining that people are discussing it. That’s what we do. The proportion has however, exploded and gone Tyral!

  12. kbdavies (@kbdavies) said on 13th May 2013, 23:05

    Hysterics aside, the main issue with these tyres is that you simply cannot race on them. Yes you can win, but NOT by racing. If every one crawls around in a competition, somebody will still win. This is what a sport should be about.

    Ferrai did not race in Barcelona as claimed by so many people. Lotus did not race, Merc did not race, RBR did not race and McLaren did not race. Not only that, they did not even defend most of the time. This is why the tyres are bad on so many grounds.

    This is also not just an issue about degradation, but the fact that no matter the compound, they start to degrade immediately – after the first lap; irrespective of whether you push or not – again cue the constant tiptoeing on them. Surely, that cannot be right.

    But the biggest nub of it is Pirelli’s incompetence; as they simply do not understand the tyres themselves. All their predictions regarding the tyres have been wrong. From the working temp range, to how long they should last, to how many pit-stops expected on them. The construction is also shoddy, as evidenced by the number of delaminations – 7 so far this year (and we are only in the 5th race. Cue Hembery with yet another excuse again. This time, it is that the cars are using them harsher than expected. He gave a reason for extreme degradation in testing, in Barcelona, he gave another reason.

    Yes, they are the same for everyone, but this does not make them a good thing. If you tied every footballer legs together and asked them to play, it still would not be a good thing, just because “its the same for everyone”? Yes, it’ll make for a good spectacle, but that’s about it. Or am i misssing something here?

    Surely, F1 better than this.

  13. Jono (@me262) said on 13th May 2013, 23:33

    by the number of sudden tyre d-lamination’s on the weekend it seemed to me that Pirelli are headed in the opposite direction or is it a QA blunder? DiResta blowing a tyre down pit straight, I dont understand how that’s not a safety concern right there….if it had been Michelin they probably would have pulled out :)

  14. Fisha695 (@fisha695) said on 14th May 2013, 1:36

    Everybody is given the same tyres, if these people claim to be the greatest teams, engineers, drivers, crewmembers, etc in the world then shouldn’t they be able wrap their heads around what isn’t really a problem in the first place? Maybe the people that travel around with this circus really aren’t the “best in the world”…… Or then again maybe it’s just a case of smart people looking for a complex solution to a simple issue & just simply over-thinking it.

  15. Romesh82 (@romesh82) said on 14th May 2013, 3:47

    First of all tyre are same for everyone. No one is getting an advantage over it. Its just your car design. every one knew how the tyres will be when testing began. If Kimi can manage a podium with 1 less pitstop it means they have a better car on tyres which is some what a Genius car design. Ferrari are doing ok too.
    So i say Redbull Pls stop this rubbish about tyres.. So sad your car design it not the best.
    But i do understand 80 odd pitstops are too much for 66 laps. But then again Cataluniya always hard on tyres..
    So many teams have so many strategies in the race. If we look closely about the race no one was sure who is goin to win the race until they all finished their last stops.. so in a way its good…
    NOTE- This is just my point of view only…

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