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. DaveW (@dmw) said on 16th May 2013, 23:28

    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.

  2. Irejag (@irejag) said on 16th May 2013, 23:55

    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.

  3. obviously said on 16th May 2013, 23:57

    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. :)

  4. Joakim-75 said on 17th May 2013, 0:51

    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.

  5. fangio85 (@fangio85) said on 17th May 2013, 0:52

    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 :)

  6. Chris (@tophercheese21) said on 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.

  7. QuadQuantum (@quadquantum) said on 17th May 2013, 4:24

    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

  8. Yusha (@freebird78) said on 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.

    • DaveW (@dmw) said on 17th May 2013, 15:15

      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: http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/michaelschumacher_ferrari_magnycours_2004_1024.jpg

      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.

  9. Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 17th May 2013, 9:30

    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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