Boullier criticises Pirelli tyre tweaks

2013 F1 season

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

  1. BarnstableD (@barnstabled) said on 16th May 2013, 18:44

    Completed agree with what Boullier has said here: As much as I’m not too keen on the current tyres, I’m much more opposed to moving the goal posts mid-season. I am not saying it will, but if it does favour one team during the rest of the season, it will leave a much sourer taste than the current tyre problems will.

    It obvious from that amount of criticism from many teams and fans that Pirelli have failed to produce the type of tyre that the sport wanted. This is their problem – for teams that have created a car that works particularly well on these tyres, as Lotus have intentionally done, then it is unfair to alter the compounds just to please some struggling teams and upset fans.

    I would also like to know how Pirelli got around the rule against changing tyre compounds mid-season without consent of all the teams (as Scarbs pointed out the other day).

  2. BasCB (@bascb) said on 16th May 2013, 18:47

    To me this reads more as Lotus doing their part to influence how much Pirelli changes the tyres, urging them to make as little change as possible.

    I do agree that its not great to change the equipment in the middle of the season, but its for sure that Pirelli cannot do nothing when people are seeing delaminating tyres several times during the weekend. Its clear that there is not much scope for explaining that actually its safer to have the tyre delaminate than having them deflate and be shredded to pieces. And off course it does seem like there were far more of these problems with the current tyres than we have seen for a very long time.

  3. StefMeister (@stefmeister) said on 16th May 2013, 18:57

    Im actually kind of split on this as while I agree that changing things Mid-season isn’t good & that perhaps it isn’t fair on the 2 teams that got the tyres right, However on the other side I have hated every race so far in 2013 purely because of the effect the tyres have had on the ‘racing’ so I am glad to see them changed.

    The problem for me in Spain wasn’t so much the fact we saw a 4-stop strategy, It was the fact that they were having to do a 4-stop strategy on the hardest 2 compounds & still having to conserve the tyres as much as they were.
    Yes we had 4-stops in the past but the difference between 4-stops in 2013 & the 4-stops of 2011/2012 is that in 2011/2012 there was nowhere near the same level of tyre management & you still saw drivers able to push hard & race the cars around them.

    While I would prefer as few pit stops as possible (The 1-stoppers of late 2011/2012 were not boring afterall), I don’t mind 2/3 or even 4-stop races as long as you see drivers pushing hard & racing one another. What we have seen in every race this year is drivers been told to slow down, To hit a pre-determined lap delta, To not race the cars around them & as Button pointed out there lapping slower than GP2 cars & are only a few seconds faster than the GP3 cars. Thats the absurd part of F1 2013 in my view.

    The thing which irritates me about the way Pirelli go on about the tyres is that they say there’s 2 options, The extreme deg we have seen so far or so called boring 1-stoppers in which Red Bull win.
    Why not mention the ground in between, Tyres which allow drivers to push but which still suffer from a sensible level of wear?

    I also think that talking as if anything other than the current tyres would see Red Bull win amounts to nothing more than trying to scare or at least concern fans who don’t want to see Red Bull/Vettel win a 4th championship into supporting the current tyres. Its pure PR nonsense.

    Also why is it acceptable that the sole tyre supplier can even suggest that they have the power to determine who wins & who loses? Pirelli should not be thinking in terms of who fans do or don’t want to see win, They should be thinking about whats best for F1 as a sport.
    If they are making decisions based around fans not wanting Red Bull to win then they should not be in F1.

    • Max Jacobson (@vettel1) said on 16th May 2013, 19:20

      @stefmeister +1!

      Also, I don’t really know where this mistaken assumption that it will benefit Red Bull is coming from: if it’s going to benefit the faster cars which are harder on their tyres at all, surely Merc would be the ones getting a helping hand?

      I don’t even agree with that though: if we are reduced to 2 stops, Lotus will simply try a one stop. The situation won’t change, just that the racing will improve!

      • obviously said on 16th May 2013, 19:34

        The difference is Red Bull will be more competitive on 2 stopper than Lotus on 1 stopper, while at the moment Lotus is faster on 2 stops than Red Bull on 3 stops.
        That’s what’s wrong and I’m sure you are aware of it too.

        • Max Jacobson (@vettel1) said on 16th May 2013, 19:40

          I can understand that, but they still have an advantage nonetheless. It’s not like Red Bull will suddenly run away with it is all I’m saying, and the racing will probably be better for the changes.

          • chiliz00 (@chiliz00) said on 17th May 2013, 7:54

            But are you not agreeing in this comment that RBR will benefit hugely if the tires allowed them to stop twice over a race distance. As you have agreed that RBR is faster than Lotus when stopping twice which they cannot do currently and I think this is exactly what is wrong with this change during the season. This is exactly why people see RBR as the biggest beneficiary of this change in tires at least that’s how I see it.

  4. Klaas (@klaas) said on 16th May 2013, 19:14

    Guys can you please explain how did Pirelli got to change the tires mid-season? From what I know, in order to change the tires, the tyre supplier has to obtain the agreement form ALL teams. How the heck they got Lotus to sign the deal if Boullier is not OK with it, and I think neither Ferrari is.
    I think it’s better for the sport’s credibility to bear a couple of 4-stop races than to change the rules in the middle of the game and conciously swing the balance towards teams who couldn’t do a proper job under the initial rules. I follow other motorsport series where you also hear a lot about ‘saving tires’ in the drivers’ post-race interviews but I haven’t heard any team boss complaining that ‘this is not racing anymore’ once they’re not dominating every event.
    As Kimi Raikkonen said: that’s how F1 is at the moment and it’s the same for everybody. Let the ones who did a proper job rip the fruits of succes this season. Next season it will be a new formula and people will complain about new things because they’re never happy: they had extra-durable tires that made cars going to the limit in processional races, now they have less durable tires and oh, poor fans have to watch 82 pit stops (it’s like they are getting to change those tires). They had a team and driver dominating the entire season – too boring, next season starts with 7 different winners – too unpredictable. It’s difficult to overtake in F1 – booring, processional racing. Introduce DRS – booring, artificial/too much overtaking. Drivers speaking their mind – childish, cry-baby, whiner. Drivers strictly following the PR lines – corporate robots and the list can go on.
    P.S. I think the media also have their share of fault as they tend to make a lot of ado from nothing. Many times I watch and enjoy a F1 race and reading afterwards that the race actually s*cked. Same thing is about F1’s issues, most fans would’n mind about tires, pit-stops, DRS before some pundits come pointing to them as such BIG DEALS and ruin any pleasure of following motorsports.

    • Max Jacobson (@vettel1) said on 16th May 2013, 19:31

      @klaas I’ve discussed that in an earlier comment.

      About the fan complaints though, that is because F1’s changes are far too polarised: there is plenty of middle ground, like 1/2 stop races and a DRS which doesn’t allow drivers to cruise by halfway down a straight. We can also have close competition without it being so unpredictable I might as well spin the wheel and pick one team to win the next race. Drivers also don’t have to be rude with their speech but can say what they like (within reason).

      I do think you are also not taking into consideration different fans have different opinions – that’s why we try to find a compromise that most like, which clearly isn’t what it is now judging from the rate the race results on this site.

      • Klaas (@klaas) said on 16th May 2013, 20:01

        We had 1/2 stop races in the previous seasons after which teams asked Pirelli do make less durable tires and it was logical to expect 2/3 stop races and maybe 4 on tyre-eating circuits – a situation that we have today. I can’t imagine a ‘weaker’ DRS allowing to do any overtakings at all so one must stick to what we got at the moment or invent a different overtaking-aid system. Last year’s so many different teams winning didn’t have anything to do with blind luck as they proved to be competitive throughout the whole season, the fans simply weren’t accustomed to such a small gap between the teams’ performances.
        But most important I think everyone would agree, that is against the spirit of any competition to change the rules the middle of the game even if they are imperfect. Any feeling that the balance of power was purpousely swinged towards some teams would turn away fans from F1 more that any extra pit-stops.

        • Max Jacobson (@vettel1) said on 16th May 2013, 20:18

          @klaas we didn’t have any 4 stop races if I recall correctly last season, and the ones in 2011 were excusable because Pirelli didn’t have any data for the tracks as they were new to them obviously. Besides, in 2011 when we had 4 stops the racing wasn’t this bad.

          I could imagine a weaker DRS working perfectly: drivers don’t have to pass under DRS, it only has to make up for the ground lost due to dirty air. What I would do though is just use it at places where it is needed, like Spain or Hungary. If we have to have it at all races though, use an Indycar-type solution as a stop-gap to reducing downforce levels (what DRS was supposed to be anyway).

          Last year was all due to who got the tyres in the right window: the grid was very close I agree (that undeniable) but we definitely saw a form guide arising as the season progressed, so the opening races said to me only that it was all down to who hit “the sweet spot” with the tyres.

          About the last part though, I partially agree expect for the fact this eventuality is written in the regulations which I’m not going to explain again as I’ve already discussed that.

          • Klaas (@klaas) said on 16th May 2013, 20:37

            I was clearly talking about the current season with 4-stop races not 2012. As I said with less durable tires for 2013 it was obvious that there would be a need for more pit-stops so most races would be 2-3 stoppers, 4 on some very abrasive surfaces.
            About the DRS, I think teams are considering far more options than we are talking about on this forum and if they didn’t come up with the ones you proposed it’s probably because they’re not worth it.
            Sweet spot for tires. Aren’t the tires included in the list of factors that are supposed to improve the show? They were meant to be that way from the beginning as with heavy-duty, all purpouse tires the cars would finish mostly in the same position as they qualified and we wouldn’t have to wait about 2 hours on Sunday to find out who the winner is.

        • Max Jacobson (@vettel1) said on 16th May 2013, 21:48

          @klaas I’ve misread it – I interpreted it as you were saying that was the situation in 2012 also – excuse my incompetence!

          Sweet spot for tires. Aren’t the tires included in the list of factors that are supposed to improve the show? They were meant to be that way from the beginning as with heavy-duty, all purpouse tires the cars would finish mostly in the same position as they qualified and we wouldn’t have to wait about 2 hours on Sunday to find out who the winner is.

          I like that brief and agree with it, don’t get me wrong, but it shouldn’t be at the expense of good racing which it wasn’t I believe in 2012 and 2011. That’s why I’m not advocating a change to no-stopping Bridgestones, but two-stopping Pirelli’s. That gives opportunity still for alternative strategies which is what gives us changes of position on Sundays yet still allows for good racing. “Sweet spot” ;)

          • Klaas (@klaas) said on 17th May 2013, 15:26

            @vettel1 Apparently the teams didn’t share your vision about 2 stop races when they decided to go for more brittle tires this year. I don’t understand why people strated to complain now and not back when the decision to race on jelly tires was first published and one could already assume that this would be the season of the rubber-whisperers.

  5. obviously said on 16th May 2013, 19:27

    This change of tires is extremely unfair towards the teams that got it right. In F1 only thing that matters is bettering the opposition and this change obviously penalizes those who did better job, in order to please those who didn’t do that good a job.

    Especially to keep in mind now, is that Red Bull might have been pushing their development down the route that will suddenly give gains, while those who invested their time and money in the previously better development path will find their updates not working, which will bring further injustice.

    There’s no point arguing about 4 stops being too much, because Barcelona was the only race with 4 stops this season, so that argument doesn’t stand. And more importantly, there’s no too many or too few stops in F1; there’s only the faster and the slower strategy, and that’s only thing that matters.

    Also, all that whinging about tires wasn’t representing majority, it was just the case that those who didn’t mind them, didn’t voice their approval as much, obviously.

    Teams that pursued the wrong development paths don’t deserve this free helping hand, because in F1 everything is about relative performance, and that means that Pirelli is penalizing those who did better job, just as much as they are helping those who did poor job.

    I can honestly say that I’ve never been so dismayed by F1 in the last 20 years I’ve been following it. I don’t think it ever even crossed my mind to complain about rules or hope for them to be changed midseason just because Alonso didn’t have the best car, and he didn’t have the best or equal-best car since 2007.

    It’s rather irritating and ill informed to suggest that something is racing while something isn’t, because we will all support the view that benefits the driver we support. So the only fair thing is to simply leave the rules as they are and not interfere for the rest of the season.

    Unfortunately, in the world of politics, it is never about being right or being fair, it’s a bout being loud and being influential.
    My personal view that I’ve voiced before, is that Bernie needs strong Red Bull, because Horner is his only ally among the team principals (might be Totto Wollf now too), and he needs them to be competitive in order for their words and votes to carry more weight.

    It’s all politics and I just hope Alonso finally wins his 3rd title this year, so that I can say good buy to F1. I’ve never felt that new or strange rules or dominant driver were spoiling my enjoyment. It was always lobbying and politics ruining the racing. No tires, no rules, no supremacy. Just politics.

  6. Tayyib (@m0nzaman) said on 16th May 2013, 19:31

    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.

  7. Merv (@) said on 16th May 2013, 19:44

    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…

  8. minnis (@minnis) said on 16th May 2013, 19:45

    “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.

    • beneboy (@beneboy) said on 16th May 2013, 22:35


      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.

  9. Aimal (@aimalkhan) said on 16th May 2013, 20:14

    “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

    • Max Jacobson (@vettel1) said on 16th May 2013, 20:19

      @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.

      • Tifoso1989 (@tifoso1989) said on 16th May 2013, 21:01

        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

        • Max Jacobson (@vettel1) said on 16th May 2013, 22:11

          @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.

    • celeste (@celeste) said on 16th May 2013, 20:21

      @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.

      • Klaas (@klaas) said on 16th May 2013, 20:53

        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.

        • celeste (@celeste) said on 16th May 2013, 22:55

          @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.

          • Klaas (@klaas) said on 17th May 2013, 15:43

            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.

          • celeste (@celeste) said on 17th May 2013, 16:38

            @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.

          • Klaas (@klaas) said on 17th May 2013, 17:14

            @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!

  10. tvm (@) said on 16th May 2013, 20:22

    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…

  11. karter22 (@karter22) said on 16th May 2013, 20:38

    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.

    • celeste (@celeste) said on 16th May 2013, 23:20

      @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.

  12. Paul A (@paul-a) said on 16th May 2013, 21:58

    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?

  13. electrolite (@electrolite) said on 16th May 2013, 22:31

    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.

  14. Rigi (@rigi) said on 16th May 2013, 22:32

    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…

  15. sato113 (@sato113) said on 16th May 2013, 23:05

    it works out well for mercedes no?

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