Eric Boullier, Renault, Nurburgring, 2011

Boullier criticises Pirelli tyre tweaks

2013 F1 seasonPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Eric Boullier, Renault, Nurburgring, 2011Lotus team principal Eric Boullier has hit out at Pirelli’s planned changes to the 2013 tyre compounds from the Canadian Grand Prix.

“There aren?t many sports where there are such fundamental changes to an essential ingredient part-way through a season,” said Boullier.

“Just imagine for a moment that, because a football team can?t run as fast as its opponent, the dimensions of the pitch are changed at half time. That there are changes to come can be seen as somewhat frustrating, and I hope they are not too extreme.”

Pirelli came under criticism from several quarters following the Spanish Grand Prix, which saw a total of 77 pit stops with most drivers making four changes of tyre.

Red Bull have consistently criticised the tyres since the beginning of the season and Bernie Ecclestone added his voice to the complaints after the Spanish race.

“It?s clear that Pirelli have found themselves in a difficult situation and under pressure from different quarters,” Boullier acknowledged.

He added that Lotus had designed their car to make the most out of this year’s tyres and did not deserve to be penalised:

“Last year, when we were designing our 2013 car, each team received information from Pirelli and everyone did the best job they could to develop a chassis which would make best use of the tyre characteristics. We even ran with some experimental 2013 tyres at the end of last season, to assist us in confirming our development paths.

“As with every season, some teams do a better job than others with their designs, and some drivers are more adaptable than others to the changes of both car and tyre. It is frustrating when you?ve developed a car from a set of tyre specifications which are available to everyone ?ǣ for tyres that are the same for everyone ?ǣ to then be told that they are being changed mid-season.

“That said, we have a team of talented designers and engineers who will be working twice as hard to ensure we adapt to these changes in the most competitive manner.”

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161 comments on “Boullier criticises Pirelli tyre tweaks”

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  1. He sort of has a point. The Lotus guys designed their car to try and look after their tyres and it seems there losing an advantage they fairly gained. But if Merc and RBR can do two stops surely Lorus will try a 1 stopper. But to be fair Pirelli had to change the construction. The delaminations are a joke for Formula 1.

  2. Paul Hembrey explained the delimitation issue last weekend and it’s not due to the compound.
    It’s because they made the supporting structure stronger “less penetrable” so debris damages the tyre and the tread falls apart while the tyre stays inflated.
    Last year the same debris would have caused a puncture.

    This is a separate issue to the amount of pit stops needed during a race.

    Personally I think the compound(s) should remain unchanged, but I am a Kimi fan…

  3. “Just imagine for a moment that, because a football team can’t run as fast as its opponent, the dimensions of the pitch are changed at half time. That there are changes to come can be seen as somewhat frustrating, and I hope they are not too extreme.”

    No, but in football they don’t have different size pitches for different matches. If they did, I’m sure that once in a while they might get it wrong, and it gets changed. I don’t really see how his quote is applicable here.
    At the end of the day, no matter what Pirelli do, there are gonna be loads of people moaning. If they don’t do anything, people will moan that there are too many pit stops. If they do change, people will moan that they’re being unfair.

    The way I see it, the bridgestone tyres could easily last the whole race distance on one set of options (e.g Vettel at Monza, among others). Pirelli were asked to produce tyres that demanded more pit stops. Which is what they have done.

    You can please some of the people all of the time, or all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time.

    1. @minnis

      No, but in football they don’t have different size pitches for different matches. If they did, I’m sure that once in a while they might get it wrong, and it gets changed.

      They do have different size pitches in football, the Football Association regulations state:

      The length of a pitch must be between 100 yards (90m) and 130 yards (120m) and the width not less than 50 yards (45m) and not more than 100 yards (90m).

      Smaller clubs in the Premiership regularly change the size of their pitches throughout the season, most often making it narrower when they’re playing against the top clubs. They do this to allow them to have a more condensed formation (generally with 5 players in mid-field) to make it easier to defend.

      Obviously they can’t change the pitch once the game has started but they regularly change them between matches.

  4. “In 2011, Vettel won the Spanish Grand Prix. He also made four pit stops and there were 77 pit stops in the entire race. There were no complaints from Red Bull then.” – Gary Anderson

    1. @aimalkhan there were also no complaints from many other members of the grid if I recall correctly or Ecclestone himself, so that argument is void.

      1. Oh wait, the energy drink company’s boss didn’t have a 45 minutes discussion with Ecclestone after that race so that he complains
        Remember no one was able to heat up the harder compound except Red Bull & McLaren, Alonso was leading that race but when he put the hard compound he was lapped by Vettel & the 2 Mclarens
        So according to you there be someone complaining so the rules get changed !!!
        Not surprised since the Energy drinks moaning campaign is very popular this days

        1. @tifoso1989 the energy drinks company argument is pathetic: they’ve beaten Ferrari the last four years – suck it up! They are a better formula 1 team currently.

          As has been pointed out by @celeste (great comment by the way) the issues weren’t anywhere near as bad and they weren’t making the racing bad because drivers were still pushing: that is the only issue here, the fact it is making “the show” worse. I couldn’t give a toss who wins if the racing is good enough.

    2. @aimalkhan people already answer to this. In 2011 there was the soft and hard compound, and they were actually racing. This year were the two hardest compounds and 90% of the drivers were giving instructions to not fight and let people pass.

      1. drivers were giving instructions to not fight and let people pass

        The team who chose a better strategy was telling their driver to push and build a gap enough for the 4th pit-stop. Coincidentally they ended up winning the race. Teams who don’t like the current tires should change their approach and try to do better strategies as they are in equal conditions with their rivals instead of crying and asking for tyre changes.
        @aimalkhan was obviously pointing to RedBull’s yet another piece of hypocrisy. They didn’t mind about 4 stops when they collected the silverware. Back then drivers were saving tires too, the difference is that now some teams are significantly better at this than others.

        1. @klaas Drivers in 4 stops were saving tyres. And they were saving tyres since the start of the race. So, we hace 66 laps of “sunday driving” in the Barcelona sun.

          So you didn´t feel robed to see if Vettel could hold Kimi like he did with Hamilton back in 2011. Or you didn´t want to see Kimi to fight for first instead of let Alonso pass. Or the second part of Perez vrs. Button fight.

          Second since people seen to have forgotten. The 2011 Barcelona GP, was won by 0.6 seconds by Vettel after a last pit stop on lap 48, so tyres lasted 18 laps and racing Hamilton to the very end, not waving him by.

          Back in 2011 people did at least 10 laps in the soft tyre. Not lasting 9 laps on the medium.

          As everybody I like that my driver wins, but I like a good race more. I don´t like Hamilton and Rosberg much, but I feel sorry listening to Hamilton saying he couldn´t drive more slowly, and Rosberg lossing 2 races starting from pole and finishing nowhere near podium. In 2012 tyres made a close fight between the big teams and the middles ones. Now there isn´t even a fight.

          If F1 is going to be a competition to drive slow is not F1 anymore.

          1. I don’t feel robbed at all because I’m used to ‘save tires’, ‘save fuel’, ‘save your engine’ it’s not like this season drivers started to preserve parts of their car for the first time in the history of the sport and until then we only witnessed driver pushing for 110% everytime. With the constant rule change, we’re kind of getting a new formula every season. This season is more about tires (and for a couple of seasons it’s still more about aerodynamics), teams agreed to race in these conditions and they all started from nil with the new rubber so you expect the most powerful technical team (as RedBull used to call themselves) to suck it up and solve their issues but not to hold private discussions with Ecclestone and get the rules bent for them.

          2. @klaas sorry, but it has never been this amount of “save tyres”, and it doesn´t made sense in sport thats it´s legendary for dirvers “fighting” on the track not to be able to do so.

          3. @celeste F1 is what it is at the moment, everybody knows that. As I said, all the players knew what they were getting into before the start of this season. Some teams made those tires work for them and now they are being unfairly penalized. But it’s such a convenient thing to bring out the ‘for the sake of hard racing’ and ask to change the rules your way once you’re out of aces in the sleeves. Those Pirelli tires are so black, not a single grey area to exploit – what an outrage!

  5. BS, BS and BS, Ferrari and Lotus didn’t “get” it at all, the truth is that they are not by any means fast, merely able to cruise less slowly than the rest of the pack.

    Get rid of that rubbish rubber…

    1. @tvm

      the truth is that they are not by any means fast, merely able to cruise less slowly than the rest of the pack.


  6. I´ve been saying this for a while now and I´ve been called heavily biased. Eric Boulliere says it and a bunch of people now agree. Ironic.
    RBR should just man up. MERC has criticized but they are concentrating on their car, not trying to get the tyres changed. The lobying done by RBR is outright shameful.

    1. @karter22 well tellme where did Red Bull asked for tyres to be changed? They, the same as every driver in Barcelona, Mercedes, lots of the fans and the media pointed out that they didnt like the tyres.
      Pirelli was the one that decided to change them because they knew they have screw on the sporting side and on the safety side. Actually I´m sure that Pirelli is not shy when it comes to fighting Red Bull as they did in Bélgica 2011.

      Pirelli gave up and decided to change the tyres because of the media and the fans outrage, surely they know they got horrible PR specially when every big newspaper in Europe talked very Little about Alonso winning the race and attacked the tyres int the sport section in the monday.

  7. Anyone tyred of talking tires? … sorry, tired of talking tyres? Ecclestone wanted a minor “spice up”, Pirelli blew it to 4/5 tyre changes and a few delaminations. Drivers, engines, tracks, the weather, even DRS and team orders, hardly get a mention any more — it’s all tyres, tyres, tyres. Motor racing in general, and F1 specifically, have always had a tyre engineering, management and strategic component, but this has become omnipotent, the only thing that counts, the word everyone uses, the “be all and end all” of F1.

    Bouiller is right about not changing mid-season (even the rules are clear, bar Hembrey fixing the delamination safety issue.) Just give all the teams the mediums and hards at every race left on the calendar, and get back to a good old tyre war next year.

    Everyone’s happy to see Honda bring back “engine competition” so what’s wrong with bringing back Michelin, Goodyear, whoever, so we can see drivers actually race each other rather than pussyfoot?

  8. It does seem insane to me. Yes, insane.

    Instead of encouraging the teams that have allegedly been suffering (among this minority, Red Bull, the WDC and WCC leaders, I’ll remind you) to adjust their cars to closer meet the demands of the tyres, the supplier has instead adjusted their tyres to closer to the demands of said teams. This is quite clearly unfair. Or at least, more unfair than leaving this supposedly fixed variable (same for ALL teams) alone.

  9. i don’t believe it’s going to matter too much for lotus, they will manage the new tires just as well.
    on the other hand, it’s unfair that as soon as the two teams with probably the highest budget out there start to complain and pirelli actually follow up to it. it is concerning to see how much power these two teams alone have, simply because “they can afford it”. makes me dislike them even more…

  10. it works out well for mercedes no?

  11. Boullier makes some good points and some lousy points. In general, the comments are not smart. I disagree with the approach of trying to accuse Pirelli of trying to balance out the competition rather than changing the characteristic of the racing. Renault may find themselves wanting or needing a compound change to favor them, and when that happens, the other teams will be throwing these comments in their faces. It’s not good advocacy.

    The more important aspect of the change is the construction, not the compounds, that is what really mucks up design assumptions. Renault could well come out ahead on this basis. So the should really keep their mouths shut until we see the results of the change.

  12. It isn’t about what Boullier feels is a penalty to his team. The tires suck and that is all there is too it. The racing is boring and not worth watching (yet I watch anyway). F1 like every other sport is meant to entertain, and this season has not been entertaining because of the tires. With that said, the only opinion that matters is that of the fans, and we want this change, it doesn’t matter what Boullier or the other teams want.

  13. Wouldn’t it be awesome if new tires make Red Bull even less competitive relative to Ferrari, Lotus and Mercedes. :)
    God, that would be some poetic justice. :)

  14. Lets say that you play a familiar board game with your friends. To make the game more interesting you and your friends invent some new special rules that you all agree on. During the game you notice that one of the new rules is actually quite bad and decreases the enjoyment of the game (not necessarily for all players). However, the game is still fully playable even if some of the players seem to have an advantage due to the bad rule. What to do?

    1. Finnish the game with the AGREED rules and change the rules for the next game.
    2. Change the bad rule and continue.
    3. Declare a winner and start again with changed rules.
    4. Nullify the game, change the rules, and start again.

    In my opinion points 2, 3 and 4 can only be applied if ALL players agrees. Also, changing the rules in mid season sets a bad example for future seasons.
    Obviously, if there is a clear safety issues special veto could and should be used. But I also think that all teams would agree if that was the case.

    In my opinion the current tyres are not a safety issue as long as the teams have the brains to follow tyre wear during the race.

  15. I agree boomerang, as long as pirelli don’t change the sidewall hardness. Clearly the ferrari is no better than the red bull as far as tyre deg goes, both Massa and Alonso had to stop four times to kimis three, so lotus has best deg. Massa even struggled arguably more than vettel with graining. I think the problem with the rb9 lies with exhaust and diffuser design. The softer side wall in these tyres means more tyre squirt into the diffuser, which I think makes coanda exhausts less effective at sealing the diffuser sides. If I’m right, this would mean getting air through the side pod undercut to the top of the diffuser, making the centre section stronger, would be more useful. Red bull use the ramp design, which is great for directing the exhaust to the diffuser sides. The downside being the undercut air only has a small channel to flow through under the ramp. Sacrificing flow to the top middle diffuser for big gains in sealing the sides, to run a larger rake angle, worked brilliantly last year, but more tyre squirt from this years tyres would counter this. Ferrari has a big undercut in their sidepods this year, and keeps the chimney style (for lack of better name) exhausts. This would provide much better flow to the top centre of diffuser, especially as they have tightened the bodywork considerably there. I honestly think red bulls design would work much better with last years tyres, not because of deg, but sidewall stiffness. Ferrari seem to have changed almost every piece of rear bodywork this year, and I think they have a car with more room for development. Red bull have taken an if it aint broke, dont fix it approach, and I don’t think their rest bodywork design is as good with these tyres, they complain because they know this I think. I know lotus has the same ramp exhaust design, but as I said, their advantage is in deg, not performance, and seeing how their car performs so differently in different conditions tells me the ramp is not the way to go, it doesn’t provide consistent downforce this year, and I’m willing to bet tyre squirt is the big reason. Just my opinion, call it educated speculation :)

  16. Chris (@tophercheese21)
    17th May 2013, 3:31

    I just dont know who to side with anymore.

    On the one side, I feel that the changes to the tyres are necessary because what we saw in Barcelona was a disgrace. Drivers should be driving flat out. Not going for a pedestrian stroll on a Sunday arvo. I’d be okay with a 3-4 stop race if the drivers were pushing 100%. But because they were go so slowly, and still had to pit 4 times just made for a waste of a Sunday afternoon.

    And on the other side of things, Barcelona is probably the highest deg track Formula 1 visits all season, and from here on out the tracks get drastically less tyre-hungry.

    All in all, i think this change will benfit Formula 1 as a whole in the long run of this season from a viewer’s standpoint, because it means better qualifying (I.e. All drivers going out in Q3), and better racing because the drivers will be able to push the way they should.

  17. I absolutely agree with Lotus’ argument here. This affair has distasteful echoes of the changes the FIA made to off-throttle exhaust blowing 2011 for the British GP which at the time seemed to be an effort just to stop Red Bull from dominating the season. It seems that making races entertaining is becoming more important that F1 being an actual sport. Shame we can’t see a bit more integrity.
    Red Bulls argument that the tires are holding back their car doesn’t hold any weight. They knew what the tires were going to be like when they designed the car just as Lotus did, and yet pressed on with their high performance design regardless. They should adapt and stop whining because pressing for changes mid-season is not what sport is about

  18. Yusha (@freebird78)
    17th May 2013, 7:11

    I completely agree with Eric Boullier. Michael Schumacher stopped 4 times in Magny Cours in 2004. Very famous incident. I don’t remember what the discussions were around that time and why Schumacher stopped four times but to exert pressure on the tyre supplier to change the compounds because a couple of teams cannot get their heads around the tyres? Didn’t Vettel stop 4 times in the Spanish GP in 2011? What happened now? Why such a hue and cry about a 4 stop race in 2013? Pirelli is using a 2010 Renault to develop 2013 tyres. They are not allowed to test in season to limit cost. The FIA does not allow them to use a 2012 or 2013 chassis. The teams do not agree on anything and the status quo remains. They have not supplied Pirelli the tools to do such a precise job which is required to design and develop tyres which work on all the tracks in differing conditions.

    1. The Magny Cours thing is completely immaterial. For one thing, there was refueling back then, which meant that more stops meant running lighter/faster when you were running, which was the key to Schumacher’s win. The fact that Ferrari are bringing this up as a basis to keep current tires is really bizarre.
      Thus posted Keith:

      More generally, Ferrari and Lotus are making a mistake by trying to scandalize Pirelli for helping Red Bull. The time may come very soon where they want to go to Pirelli with clean hands and ask for reasonable, ostensibly competitor-neutral changes to tires, and they will not want Pirelli, and other teams on the sidelines, to tell them to go pound sand.

  19. He added that Lotus had designed their car to make the most out of this year’s tyres and did not deserve to be penalised

    I think that’s a definite overstatement by Boullier on two counts:

    First of all, the teams did not get to sample the final compounds for 2013 until testing began. Since Lotus designed and built the E21 before they got their hands on the 2013 tyres, it’s a little difficult to have built the car to be gentle on those tyres when they had no idea how those tyres might perform.

    Secondly, if they built the E21 to be gentle on its tyres based on what they experienced in 2012, it’s unlikely that they will be penalised much, if at all. Pirelli are simply altering the exact make-up of the rubber, but the tyres are likely to retain many of their characteristics, particularly in how they gain their heat and lose their grip.

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