Start, 2013 German Grand Prix, Nurburgring,

The winners and losers since the tyre change

2013 F1 seasonPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Start, 2013 German Grand Prix, Nurburgring,When four drivers suffered sudden tyre failures during the British Grand Prix, and several of their rivals narrowly escaped similar dramas, Formula One had to react. Pirelli’s tyres, already under scrutiny following other failures early in the season and criticised by some who felt they were too fragile, were always going to be a focus of attention.

But from the moment the decision was made to revise the tyre compounds mid-season, the competitive order was inevitably going to be changed. How a car uses tyres is naturally one of the most fundamental determinants of performance, because the rubber is where it makes contact with the ground.

Of course it’s impossible to say definitively how much lap time teams have gained or lost from the tyre changes and how much of it is down to car development and set-up changes. But with most teams scaling back their 2013 programmes to focus on 2014, the alterations to the tyres will have had a measurable effect.

Which teams have gained and lost the most since the change? Here’s what the data has to say.

Who’s gained – and lost – the most

The table below shows how far away each team was from the fastest time set at each race weekend so far (as a %) during the time the original 2013 tyres were used (Australia to Britain) and since the revised tyres appeared (Germany to Singapore) and the difference between the two:

Until Britain Since Germany Change
Red Bull 0.40 0.03 -0.37
Ferrari 0.70 0.77 +0.07
McLaren 1.56 1.23 -0.33
Lotus 0.72 0.62 -0.10
Mercedes 0.06 0.32 +0.26
Sauber 2.21 1.32 -0.89
Force India 1.35 1.66 +0.31
Williams 2.54 2.26 -0.28
Toro Rosso 1.72 1.30 -0.42
Caterham 4.25 4.36 +0.11
Marussia 4.20 4.92 +0.72



Nico Hulkenberg, Sauber, Monza, 2013The biggest change in performance by a team since the tyres were changed occurred at Sauber. After a poor first half of the season they have moved closer to the front-running pace.

Had Nico Hulkenberg not had a problem with his DRS during qualifying in Singapore it’s likely they’d have had both cars in Q3 for the first time this year. Hulkenberg gave the team its best performance of the year so far in Italy, qualifying third and finishing fifth.

The team credit some of their recent gains to aerodynamic improvements with the troubled C32. They had already started to see the fruits of their labour at Silverstone. But the problems they were having with rear tyre degradation in particular seem to have been eased by the new tyres.

Toro Rosso

After a difficult 2012 Toro Rosso made many changes to their technical department behind the scenes. They seemed to spend the opening races of the season getting to grips with their STR8 but made a big step forward with it around the time of the Canadian Grand Prix.

Since then Daniel Ricciardo has only been out of Q3 once. But their race pace has not always been as good, indicating they are not yet getting as much out of the tyres over a race stint as they can over a single lap.

Red Bull

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Monza, 2013With a fourth consecutive constructors’ championship in sight and Sebastian Vettel on the verge of a fourth drivers’ title this team has a greater incentive than the rest to keep pushing on its 2013 development programme as long as possible.

They’ve been uncharacteristically strong in low-downforce trim this year, winning in Belgium and Italy, both of which took place after the tyres were changed. But as the graph below shows since then they’ve either had the quickest car over a single lap or been little more than a tenth or two away.

Early in the season Red Bull were the strongest critics of the current Pirelli tyres, questioning their safety and claiming they inhibited them from using the maximum performance of the RB9. At the time Pirelli stressed their desire to avoid making changes which might be seen as favouring Red Bull.



The team which appear to have lost the most performance because of the new tyres is Marussia. They began the season ahead of Caterham but slipped behind as their rivals began to make progress with the CT01.

Since the new tyres came in the gap has opened up despite Caterham themselves falling further away from the pace. Marussia are still ahead in the championship but it remains to be seen how long that will persist as Caterham continue to out-pace them.

Force India

Adrian Sutil, Force India, Monza, 2013The most visible effect of the new tyres in terms of the championship has been at Force India. They scored 59 points on the original tyres and have added just three in the five races since they were changed.

On the softer compounds Force India were often able to make one pit stop fewer than their rivals, giving them a vital strategic edge. That is no longer the case. Making matters worse, their close rivals McLaren, Sauber and Toro Rosso have all gained from the change in tyre compounds.

“There?s no doubt that the tyre change had an impact on things,” said Paul di Resta ahead of last week’s race. “Plus, a lot of the teams have caught up with us for whatever reason, whether it?s updates or the nature of the tracks. All we can do is keep working away to try and find some more performance.”


Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Singapore, 2013Early in the season Mercedes were often the team to beat in qualifying but tended to over-tax their tyres in the races, dropping back. The more conservative tyres might therefore have been expected to play into their hands.

It hasn’t quite worked out that way. Their inability to run the revised tyres at the Young Drivers’ Test due to their ban won’t have helped matters.

However their average performance figure has been dragged down somewhat by a poor performance on Saturday at Monza. Nico Rosberg was hampered by missing final practice due to technical problems, while Lewis Hamilton had a scrappy Q2 and ended up going out after being held up by Adrian Sutil.

Rosberg nearly pipped Vettel to pole position in unusual circumstances in Singapore and the performance gap between the two in race was exaggerated by the Mercedes driver’s mid-race handling problems. The balance of the season may not yet be as one-sided as Singapore suggested it would, though Mercedes are likely to be full steam ahead on their 2014 programme by now.

2013 car performance chart

This interactive chart shows how far off the pace each car has been at every race so far this year (as a %):

Australia Malaysia China Bahrain Spain Monaco Canada Britain Germany Hungary Belgium Italy Singapore
Red Bull 0 0.25 0.91 0.28 0.42 0.14 0.53 0.67 0.12 0.05 0 0 0
Ferrari 0.98 0.49 0.32 0.36 0.62 1.28 0 1.53 0.48 0.51 1.38 0.45 1.02
McLaren 2.78 0.66 1.38 1.49 1.33 1.71 0.81 2.28 0.97 1.46 1.44 0.89 1.4
Lotus 0.53 0.39 0.29 0.88 0.57 1.28 0.35 1.5 0.51 0.26 1.11 1.02 0.21
Mercedes 0.48 0 0 0 0 0 0.02 0 0 0 0.97 0.52 0.09
Sauber 2.65 1.55 1.88 1.72 2.07 2.77 2.21 2.86 0.93 1.5 2.45 0.37 1.37
Force India 1.78 0.41 1.91 0.98 1.61 2.04 0.77 1.26 1.45 1.49 1.68 1.41 2.28
Williams 3.43 1.22 2.81 1.92 3.15 2.69 2.01 3.07 2.57 1.8 3.06 1.37 2.48
Toro Rosso 2.26 1.59 1.6 1.78 1.75 2.47 1 1.28 0.92 1.43 2.07 0.54 1.52
Caterham 4.96 2.92 4.59 3.2 4.88 5.45 3.23 4.75 3.96 4.56 4.97 3.17 5.12
Marussia 4.41 2.33 4.25 4.17 4.95 5.44 3.01 5.02 4.1 5.54 5.15 3.98 5.82

How Pirelli’s tyres and tyre selection policy has changed

Tyres, Caterham, 2013From the German Grand Prix Pirelli began introducing revised tyres with Kevlar belts instead of steel. Since the Hungarian Grand Prix the tyres have been similar to the 2012 constructions, though retaining the softer 2013 compounds.

Pirelli’s tyre selections for each race have also become more conservative. At the beginning of the year, despite the softer 2013 compounds, Pirelli used the same tyre selections for some races and in Australia even opted for a softer combination than had been seen in 2013.

This quickly changed and a harder mix was chosen for Bahrain, Spain, Canada, Singapore, Korea and Japan. A harder selection was also planned for Hungary but once Pirelli decided to make tyres more conservative it reverted to the same combination used last year.

The forthcoming Indian Grand Prix will be the first time since Australia that a softer tyre mix has been chosen.

2013 F1 season

Browse all 2013 F1 season articles

Images ?? Sauber, Red Bull/Getty, Force India, Daimler/Hoch Zwei, Caterham/LAT

87 comments on “The winners and losers since the tyre change”

  1. If you look at this video
    , RBR is just brilliant (and has the money to develop parts rapidly) in the R&D-section. And subsequently making the new parts work on their cars! Like keith says:

    Of course it’s impossible to say definitively how much lap time teams have gained or lost from the tyre changes and how much of it is down to car development and set-up changes.

    I think in the case of RBR it has a lot more to do with their incredible R&D departement!

    1. Where abouts is your desk in the R&D department Gilles?

      1. Anyone else think that @keithcollantine would make a great TV pundit, even for podcast?

        1. Michael Brown (@)
          1st October 2013, 0:53

          He has done commentary as a guest in the past

      2. Somewhere far away from a computer or electronic device!

        1. I think that much of the car development this year has centered around getting the maximum out of the tires by, for example, expanding their prime operating window, their durability etc etc. Given how much a part of the story Pirelli has been, I’m not so sure changes to the tires mid-season, and car development during the season, are all that unrelated.

  2. As always, remove the gimmickry and lets see who is the best at going fast over a sustained period of time. (Driver’s too)

    1. Just a completely random thought: I wonder how F1 cars would fare if they used tracks as appose to wheels, as then the contact patch would gets telly increase (and it’d be hugely interesting how they try to minimise resistance on the straights and maximise it in the corners; also perhaps how the contact patch varies on each side through a corner)!

  3. I think it is a combination of factors how the cars have evolved during the season. But changing tires sure didn’t help make things easier. As was the case during last years, RBR has excelled in pace development, but I don’t think is only related to the tires change.

    1. I think it is a combination of factors how the cars have evolved during the season.

      I agree.

      But changing tires sure didn’t help make things easier

      I disagree. I think that preventing delaminations, and explosions, was always going to help, and we also saw that some teams started to go a surprising distance on a set of tires during some stints, post-tire-change. We just haven’t been seeing quite the cliff effect as we did before. The tires have become less the story than before, although still a big part of it. Therefore I think while the tires are still a big part of what the teams have been doing with their cars to make them work better on the second-half tires, they have at least been able to concentrate on other aspects of their cars now that they aren’t spending all their time trying all possible castor, camber, pressure, swapping combinations under the sun and having the variance of the weekends temp and humidity conditions throwing a wrench into it all anyway.

  4. Shreyas Mohanty (@)
    30th September 2013, 10:47

    Surprising there’s no mention of Ferrari in the loser’s list. And Merc have benefitted from the tyre change IMO, they have been lacklustre a little bit due to bad luck in qualifying.

    1. Well, the figures show that they’ve virtually stood still relative to the fastest runners before and after the tyre change (+0.07%), but they are largely based on qualifying pace. Ferrari’s strength in the early part of the season was its tyre management, which allowed them to make up positions in the race after poor qualifying, but this advantage has largely been removed thanks to the tyre changes.

      1. It didn’t, really, as they already didn’t have the pace to catch Red Bull (and even had issues with Mercedes) in Monaco, Canada and Silverstone, three completely different circuits. They were already losing much ground as it is.

      2. Maybe Ferrari didn’t lose much, but compared to the other top teams, they did.

  5. Basing the performance chart on qualifying times (which is effectively what you do if you use the “fastest lap over a race weekend,” barring weather effects) only tells half the story. Many of the races in the early part of the season were won and lost based on how the cars worked on tyres that were going off, rather than on fresh tyres. Average race lap time might tell us more, although all methods have their flaws.

    Now the tyres don’t go off quite as drastically as they did in the earlier part of the season, this element has largely been removed, and teams that designed their cars to be kind to their tyres have been punished at the expense of the tyre-chewers who made lots of noise in the direction of the media. Regardless of whether you think the racing’s been better since Germany, it’s still wrong that the goalposts should be moved mid-season.

    1. Unfortunately moving the goalposts was inevitable once tyres exploded like that. Those failures could have been avoided if the usage guidelines had been enforced all year but they weren’t. See comment below for why.

    2. Indeed @red-andy, and it gives strange results, because I would hesitate to say that Mercedes has lost as much as the fastest lap indicates. Yes, they are maybe a tad less great on Saturday, but on the other hand we haven’t seen them drop from first row to outside of the top 10 either. So for them, I would call it about equal.

  6. I love the numbers, and as Keith suggests, it’s a mix of tyre changes and car development that resulted in the peak for Sauber/STR/RBR… I would say RBR were mostly happy with the stable characteristics of the 2012 tyres opposite the volatile nature of the early 2013 ones – and when the switch happened is when the R&D power of the big teams was truly tested; Lotus trailed understandably as they lost they’re star engineer and don’t have the means of the top three, while Ferrari failed IMO; they have the means and the people to keep the curve going up and they didn’t. it’s obvious RBR were the best and Mercedes improved immensely too! McLaren had a truck to begin with. (sigh)

    This is an ominous sign for next season, where things might start badly for some teams like RBR, but their capability to turns things around is strong; the only issue is if the Renault powerhouse is a disaster.

    On a side note, the turning point was the Silverstone Fiasco, and while the lobbying from Red Bull and Mercedes helped, they could never have enforced the switch alone, they needed a proper reason and Ferrari + Lotus (more reluctantly) had to concede on safety grounds. So the problem was Pirelli’s lack of testing.

  7. Interesting article which as usual paints a better picture than what we get out of the tv analysts.

    This whole thing does expose something, however: the seeming infallibility of the powers who run the sport to always, always choose the most stupid answer available to them.
    Pirelli already had safety guidelines for the teams in terms of maximum cambers, minimum tyre pressures, and which corner of the car each tyre belonged on. However, these guidelines weren’t part of scrutineering, and they weren’t enforced. Stupid. Pirelli are asked to provide degrading tyres, but aren’t given any way to develop them on the machines they will be used on so they can find problems. Stupid. The sport publicly asks for degrading tyres, then throws the supplier under the bus and hides when a problem crops up. Stupid. The supplier finds a way to do testing, and the Fia can’t even communicate an official ok for it to continue. Stupid. Teams who were offered a valid test don’t check with the fia if it’s okay. Stupid. The ones who don’t take up the offer are allowd to throw a public fit and accuse people of cheating when it goes ahead. Stupid. The contract is up and the ruling body fiddles around until the next year’s car designs are halfway finished before deciding whether the supplier will change. Stupid.

    Stupid, stupid, stupid all the time from supposedly the brainiest sport in the world.

    1. All the more reason for a change, Ward should replace Todt.

      1. A monkey should replace Bernie, but that ain’t gonna happen, he is gonna live till he is 230 :-(

    2. Excellent analysis, Hairs!

    3. Very tidy analysis – @hairs

      the seeming infallibility of the powers who run the sport to always, always choose the most stupid answer available to them

      And the legacy of the 2013 season, besides Red Bull and Vettel dominance, will be the video collage of exploding tires played ad infinitum at the conclusion of the season and at any time in the future when people reference Formula 1 circa 2013.

    4. @hairs excellent analysis. What the FIA needs is a sensible figure who will cut out the ** and lead it with authority, so there’s no dilly-dallying with decisions. The only time in which something has been completed to a deadline is when the tyres needed to be hurriedly changed for Germany.

      1. Lol, while I’m halfway toward jumping on Hair’s ‘stupid’ bandwagon, I feel compelled to add my take. I think that 2012 presented aggressive tires, but none of the ‘stupid’ things happened until 2013 when Pirelli took things too far. So at least all the stupidity surrounding these tires was isolated to this year, and more significantly the first half of this year.

        That’s not to say I disagree with Hairs and am letting FIA/FOM off the hook. I personally think their ‘stupidity’ shows itself with their addiction to downforce, which can tend to create processional races, which caused them to bring in the gadgety tires, and the DRS, to compensate for processions, and it has only degraded the product, and in the end, from recent races, has shown to not prevent the processions at all. That to me is what is stupid. Get rid of the gadgets and the addiction to downforce, and get back to gadget-free, mechanical grip racing, and then we’ll know we are seeing driver vs. driver out there on the track…not driver passing defenseless driver, due to gadgets and outlandishly different tire conditions or delta-time strategies.

        1. @robbie that’s because aerodynamics are by far the easiest means of performance gains and easily the most prolific under the current regulations. So there needs to be a complete restructure to prevent that; a total overhaul. Which would be very difficult and costly to implement.

          I think they’d be far better just redirecting the aero to ground effects and ban front wings, which would cure the problem (and what was the initial idea for 2014).

          1. @vettel1 Cool…had no idea they were considering a ban on the front wings. Are you saying they were also considering ground effects for 2014, or just the frong wing ban?

            I hear you and I do appreciate that what I call for would not be easy or inexpensive. I think you are wording it better in that aero is different from ground effects and I think I keep using the two concepts like they are interchangeable, and they’re not. You’re saying that ground effects are not nearly as affected in dirty air because it is creating a vacuum under the car, rather than having wings push the car down on the track, correct?

            I can understand their hesitancy to ban front wings because they make for advertising space, and they help the exotic appearance of the cars. But I have always thought that at a minimum they could enforce regs to minimize wing useage eg. they use minimal rake at high-speed tracks, so they could be held to Monza style wings, at ALL venues, imho.

            Regarding difficulty, and costs to implement changes…the other side of that coin to me is to ask what the cost is to F1 of degrading the product with gadgety racing that has even the likes of Keith turning toward Indycar for close racing that could see any one of several drivers win on any given race weekend, and no processions.

          2. @ribbie story,co should’ve been more specific there: they weren’t considering (to my knowledge) banning front wings but they were heavily considering placing a much greater onus on ground effects, which would naturally lead to less complicated front wings to balance things out!

            You’re saying that ground effects are not nearly as affected in dirty air because it is creating a vacuum under the car, rather than having wings push the car down on the track, correct?

            Correct: ground effects are of course a type of aerodynamics, but they are far less affected by turbulence. Wing surfaces are heavily reliant on a clean flow of air to maximise efficiency (i.e. greatest pressure differential between top and bottom surface with nominal flow attachment), which is thrown into disarray when the stream becomes inconsistent or generally lacking when following another car. Ground effects aren’t as heavily effected by this themselves, even though they actually create more turbulence (as the high velocity air has to be expelled quickly).

            On the quality of the spectatorship, I think that is more of a purists view Keith has: DRS in particular removes the skill element from overtaking, making it as simple as pressing a button. I agree with that perspective – I wouldn’t mind a P2P-type system which is available for both drivers but a system such as F1 has is just needlessly landing the lead driver with a massive handicap.

            I personally actually like the idea behind the Pirelli’s however, but not the execution. Yes, varied strategies are interesting to watch but they shouldn’t solely dictate the flow of the race: every race should be like Monza, a one/two stop but with to ability to no-stop, an impossibility under the current regulations (and also a rule Keith would like to exclude). So yes, debatable tyres I think are a good concept, just poorly executed.

          3. I apologise, *@robbie!

            I should add that the front wing idea is one of my own reasoning: there were cars in the 1980’s that ran without them and they are notoriously sensitive to turbulent air as they dictate the flow around the entire car (and produce a lot of downforce themselves). So banning them would be a good idea and would save a lot of money IMO.

          4. @vettel1 Fair enough. Thanks. I do remember the front wing(less) Ferrari of Gilles. And that was the era of side skirts containing air underneath the cars. What I also remember about the era is the big fat slicks they had. JV made reference to these back when F1 introduced grooved tires which he thought were a ‘joke’ and was hauled up on the FIA carpet for it. He said at the time, and I paraphrase, ‘give us back the big fat slicks of the 70’s (read early 80s too). They create so much drag down the straights that in order to achieve any kind of respectable straightline speeds you have to run less wing, thus killing two birds with one stone. More mechanical grip and less dependancy or aero due to having ‘smaller’ wings.’

            I know this too would have it’s costs, and likely won’t happen, although I thought I read recently that next year’s tires might be wider, so maybe they are heading this way somewhat. Or at least I’d like to hope so. And again, I balance any costs to what I would call positive changes to F1 against the negative costs of phony DRS passes.

          5. @robbie not next years tyres but possibly after that: Pirelli were expressing a desire for larger radius tyres I think, and possibly wider ones too. Michelin also wanted to introduce low-profile tyres had they gotten the contract, which might be an avenue Pirelli will want to explore also.

  8. I think that to fully understand the difference in tyres there also needs to be an analysis of how long the tyres last in the races. Wasn’t some of RBR’s early season problems a quick drop in performance of the rears during the race.

  9. Are we really sure the conclusion CAN be drawn from these data? What if we looked at this data not knowing that the tyres was changed after British GP, would we be able to pick that race out as the turning point?

    Or simply put, would we notice the tyre change in the data if we wern’t told about it?

    I’m not sure, I looked at the graph trying to find the british GP just by seeing trends, but couldn’t. I’m not sure that we can draw the conclusion that the tyre change is the factor in the preformance development for different teams.

    Perhaps we are just reading too much into this…

    1. @albertc
      Good point. We could choose any race and notice that (on average) there have been winners and losers after that race. Only Red Bull’s graph seems to have changed its direction after Britain, but RBR gets better at the end of every season and it’s likely that out of 11 teams at least one has had its “turning point” at a GP that is picked randomly.

      In addition to that, I think looking at the fastest laps isn’t very telling when considering which teams benefited from the tyre change. For instance, Mercedes was constantly setting the fastest time of the weekend before the tyre change and yet they wanted the change to happen, so obviously their problem wasn’t the pace over one lap.

    2. Well, we know what happened at the British GP, and we know that after that tires were no longer exploding, so I don’t see the need to disregard or unlearn knowledge that we possess, and instead pretend we don’t know about the tire change and instead must look for it in the data in hindsight.

      So changes were made to make the tires safer, and perhaps going along with what you are saying then, it could be said that Pirelli did their job. They regretted needing to change the tires mid-season…they feared appearing helping, or actually helping, any one team, so if you are not convinced that the tire change is a factor to look at in terms of performance development for different teams, then perhaps Pirelli would like to hand you a free set of tires for complimenting them on making the tires safer, while not making their change mid-season a factor for any one team in the outcome of the season.

      1. I’m only discussion the statistical reasoning here. My concern with the conclusion in the article is:

        a) We know what we are looking for (performance change after Silverstone)
        b) We assume tyre change has affected teams differently
        c) We use 13 data points per team

        Again, given the three above, perhaps we read too much into this?

  10. Interesting analysis @KeithCollantine!
    However, apart from the “confounding problem” of the impact of car development and tyre change which makes a change in the mean values there is another inherent problem in comparing these mean values, namely the fact that the incremental over the “fastest” lap. This create to sensitivity problems:

    1. in races such as Monza and particularly Singapore that margin of the fastest car was very big will count heavily.
    2. furthermore, combined with case 1, teams who have a bad day in a race that the winner was very dominant would be over penalised. So for instance, Mercedes might have shown an improvement different results if the Singapore is discarded (since I don’t have the numbers this is a pure speculation that might well be wrong though).

    Therefore, I suggest that the incremental of each team is measured against the median (mean might be too affected by ridiculously slow laps of back-markers) of fastest laps (if we want to further reduce the sensitivity, it’s better to take the average of fast 5 laps for each driver to reduce the impact of one particularly fast lap representative of a drivers performance).
    In this way the baseline for each race is not set by the possible outlier.

    Sorry for the nerdy comment ;-)

    1. Pirelli already had safety guidelines for the teams in terms of maximum cambers, minimum tyre pressures, and which corner of the car each tyre belonged on. However, these guidelines weren’t part of scrutineering, and they weren’t enforced.

      They have been enforced in the past. A couple of years ago some teams were running their tyres at greater than the recommended camber angles, leading to tyre blistering. The FIA issued a “rules clarification” making the “recommended” camber mandatory. There is no good reason this could not have been done this year – except for the fact that it aided certain (non-RB) teams to be able to run their tyres the “wrong way around” and at lower than recommended pressures. The FIA did not want to hurt these teams and help Red Bull, who were not engaging in these practices, so things were left as they were until Silverstone and the exploding tyres.

      Although some people are claiming that certain teams (chiefly Lotus and Force India) “designed their cars around the original 2013 tyres”, in fact they were exploiting a loophole which could and should have been closed, and which would have been closed if not for Charlies fondness for interpreting the rules to try to artificially level the playing field.

      1. Although some people are claiming that certain teams (chiefly Lotus and Force India) “designed their cars around the original 2013 tyres”, in fact they were exploiting a loophole which could and should have been closed, and which would have been closed if not for Charlies fondness for interpreting the rules to try to artificially level the playing field.

        Care to elobarate? I was not aware of that.


        1. There’s nothing to elaborate, I explained it in the comment. Certain teams were ignoring the Pirelli recommendations about how how to use the tyres, because they discovered a performance advantage in doing so. This had the side effect of making the tyres prone to failure. The FIA could and should have simply banned the practices in question – but then, doing so would have hurt some teams and helped others.

          1. I see, I thought you were talking about a different loophole used by Lotus and Force India. I only knew about Mercedes switching the tyres left/right.

          2. Mike, Mercedes seem to have come late to the tyre switching party. Other teams were doing it right from the start of the season.

      2. if not for Charlies fondness for interpreting the rules

        Charlie Whiting is race director – he’s not responsible for enforcing the technical regs. That’s the scrutineers’ job.

        Unless you’re talking about a different Charlie of course ;)

  11. typical how red bull benefited from the changes. do they ever not???
    imagine if red bull were harmed by the changes. we’d see a thrilling championship.

    1. @sato113 pretty much all of the rules tweaks over the past few years have been as a result of something Red Bull were doing on their car, and designed specifically to stop them doing it. The fact that they’ve managed to repeatedly extract the best solution from the technical regulations doesn’t mean that the changes were designed to help them. Quite the opposite in fact.

      1. im not saying changes were designed to help them. i just believe changes always end up inadvertently helping red bull

        1. Could you give examples?

          1. helping indirectly sometimes…
            this year Ferrari lost out from the tyre changes. this helped red bull for sure, their closest challenger died out.

        2. It’s not that the changes help Red Bull, it’s that Red Bull makes the most out of the changes. Like them or not, you can’t deny they’re doing an outstanding job in every area.

        3. @sato113 it’s not that changes help Red Bull at all, not by any means. They’re just better at adapting to changes.

          Very few changes since 2009 have actually helped Red Bull: their DD was banned at the end of 2010, so their performance advantage decreased. Then their off-throttle EBD was banned at the end of 2011, and again their performance advantage decreased. Then multiple loopholes were closed during 2012 to their detriment, such as the “hole” of Bahrain to Monaco and the engine maps in Germany.

          Not to mention that the flexible bodywork regulations have become much more stringent over the years, again an area of Red Bull advantage. And then most key to this discussion, the 2013 tyres at the start of the season also hurt Red Bull.

          So if anything, the rules have been deliberately formulated to hurt Red Bull.

          1. ‘Very few changes since 2009 have actually helped Red Bull: their DD was banned at the end of 2010, so their performance advantage decreased. Then their off-throttle EBD was banned at the end of 2011, and again their performance advantage decreased. ‘

            these were banned for all teams though. Red Bull’s performance decrease as did others. they were still ahead of the rest.

          2. @sato113 so were the tyre changes!

            It’s a matter of who they affected most and their intent, and the answer to both of them is clearly “Red Bull” and “to cap Red Bull’s advantage” respectively, which they did – momentarily.

            So no, I stand by the fact that the rule changes of late are definitely designed to “close the pack up”, besides the tyre change which was on the grounds of safety.

          3. I have to agree with that @vettel1, they have good, and cntinuously improving understanding of their car; Their development potential as shown in the video @gdewilde posted possibly allows Newey and his team to quickly try tweaks, thus testing their understanding. Rule changes then can be incorporated in the ‘where are we going with this’ thinking.

    2. A famous golfer once said: “The harder I practice, the luckier I get”.

  12. The loser in these tyre changes is Pirelli itself: they have a poor image since the beginning of the year, even if it would be worse if they had done nothing. The Silvertone race was catrastrophic for everyone, and mostly Pirelli.

    The winner is credibility of F1: tyres that could last 5-7 laps was a ridiculous situation. That gave a bad image of the sport.
    Same thing for the number of pitstops: it’s sometimes hard to follow what’s happening with 2 stops per car, so with 4 stops it’s just impossible.
    Moreover, drivers were complaining about these tyres, as they were unable to push. That also was ridiculous.

    Of course, it increased the domination of Vettel. But I think it preserves the sport, wich is far more important.

  13. The idea that anyone has been harmed by the changes is a fallacy. Every single team benefited from the change to a more durable tyre, because every team were being forced to compromise their performance in order to work around the tyres. The biggest ‘winners’ then are not those who were handed a big gain, but simply those who had been harmed the most by the less durable tyres at the start of the year.

    What I do find interesting is that the new tyres have actually changed the order very little. The fluctuations in performance over the course of a year show no great spike or dropoff at a specific race; hand this graph to a person who doesn’t know when the tyres were changed, and they would likely struggle to pinpoint when it happened.

    1. This is false. You work to the specifications as you find them. Rightly or wrongly, every team has to use exactly the same tyres, so they have to design their car to suit them. The teams who did a bad job complained loudly in the media and were rewarded by having the specifications changed mid-season.

      Every component on an F1 car comes down to a matter of compromise – weight, aerodynamic efficiency, conforming to the rules and so on. The tyre performance was nothing special in that regard.

      1. @red-andy I disagree with this. The tyre data was very limited due to the nature of F1’s testing setup. Teams made a best guess about what the tyres were going to be like. As with this year, teams will be well into the design phase of the next car with virtually no meaningful tyre data to work from. The result is going to inevitably be pot luck. I’d agree if they’d all been able to pound round on the next season’s tyre at the very start of the design phase, but they weren’t.

        You’re also not correct – each car has, shall we say, a maximum possible performance. The driver will drive to a certain % pf this maximum performance, in order to preserve tyres. None of the cars on the grid could, before the tyre change, drive to 100% of the car’s capability for a race duration. That’s still the case now, of course, but the point is that every team will be able to exploit more of the maximum potential performance of their cars now that the tyres have changed. Every team has taken a step forwards in performance over a race duration. The real question is which ones were suffering the most to start with, which have now been able to make a big step forward, where others were already driving to close to the limit anyway.

        1. @mazdachris: You are pretty wrong about this. :)

          First of all, tire data for the following season is available to the teams in the form of specifications. I am not sure as to the precise date this happens, but it seems to be sometime at the beginning of the second half of the season. Luck and guessing have very little to do with the work that goes into any F1 car.

          Secondly, that’s only partly true and you are contradicting yourself. F1 is very complex in terms of engineering and getting more out of the tires is much more than “driving to a certain percentage of tire capability”. Since it’s mostly thermal degradation that destroys them (pushing the tires when they are not in their operating temperature), a lot of the car’s and rim’s design plays a role in the durability of the tires.

          If you have two teams, team A investing 50% of its R&D efforts into their car working well with the tires and team B investing just 30%, it’s obvious that if you alter the tires characteristics mid-season, you are simply giving team B an extra 20% of free R&D over team A. And keep in mind that this view is over-simplified and doesn’t take into account the fact that each design choice implies a lot of compromise.

          1. I think you’re making a lot of assumptions about how F1 cars are designed. The most important principles of designing the car are all aerodynamic. Maximise downforce, minimise drag. The team which does the best in that respect will have the fastest car. The suspension and chassis setup will be a pretty secondary consideration – they’ll factor in the range of movement and the range of adjustment. As long as they can cover off the ‘regular’ camber, toe, ackerman, etc etc, ranges, then they should be covered for pretty much all eventualities. The issue with tyres, specifically in the case of the 2013 construction, is that they degraded faster the harder they were worked. The fastest car will, by nature, work the tyres harder than the slowest car, other that issues like wheelspin and understeer etc. The major factor is simply building a car which is well balanced and doesn’t slide around; the Red Bull met this criteria, but by nature of the fact it crushes the tyres into the ground harder than anyone else’s car, thanks to higher downforce loadings, the tyres fall to bits. There’s also an issue surrounding the downdraft diffuser blowing causing thermal deg on the tyres. But none of these issues are specific to the Red Bull. They are universal – every single team from Red Bull through to Marussia have these exact same issues. The problem simply being that Red Bull were the most hampered by the characteristic of the tyres.

          2. @mazdachris: They are not assumptions, they are simply facts for anyone willing to understand that designing an F1 car always means compromise. Compromise downforce for top speed (because of drag), compromise tire life for more corner speed etc. You over-simplifying everything just to prove your point.

            Regarding tires, all tires degrade faster the more they are worked, not just the 2013 ones. A car sliding around will destroy its tires by wearing them out, while a car that is planted (like the RB) will simply generate much more thermal energy in the tire. The key here is to hit the sweet-spot. Since the 2013 tires were spec’d in terms of how much energy they are able to withstand and what’s their temperature window, I find it quite amusing that a top-team (being RB, Mercedes, doesn’t matter) starts complaining only after a few months of actually using the tires, when they had the specs available for many months before. The only explanation that I can find is that they overshoot the tires with their car’s specs and started complaining after discovering it. Any engineer can tell you that not being able to work according to a part’s specifications is a design flaw, not a strong point.

          3. Your assumption is that the teams were working from a comprehensive dataset which would give them a very good understanding of exactly what the tyres would be like. I’m saying that this is simply not true. Even with 1000km of track testing you can’t be totally sure how a tyre is going to behave on race day, where the temperature and track surface conditions are variable you can’t predict. F1 is not, despite all its efforts to the contrary, an exact science. Trying to extrapolate how a car which exists purely inside a designer’s head will work with a set of tyres which exist purely as a set of numbers on a spreadsheet is never going to provide you with a reliable model, no matter how detailed the data may be. The fact that even the teams who were crying foul about the changes were also guilty of running well outside of the manufacturer’s spec attests to this fact. The tyres introduced a fundamental limiting factor, about which nothing could be done. Every single team suffered massive degredation and a very narrow operating temperature which was hard to stay within. This randomising factor hurt teams which relied more than others on a consistent tyre. But don’t fool yourself into believing that there were teams who weren’t suffering these problems, because that is simply untrue.

          4. @mazdachris: You are obviously not familiar with the concept of specifications so, if you don’t mind, I would prefer to end the discussion here. Having the technical capability of anticipating how your car will work before you actually build is a characteristic of a very good engineering team as well as the capability of modelling the car-tire pairing beforehand.

            Yes, the entire field was suffering, but some less than others, that’s why these teams were considered to “play” the new tires better.

            Anyway, you have your opinion, I have mine, there’s no need to push this any further. The others can read the arguments and decide for themselves.

          5. @alex_88, if you were correct about the tyre specification being all the teams needed to design a car to suit it then the same would be true for the car as defined by the specifications, in which case a computer program would design the best car and all teams would build identical cars. Fortunately there is allways more than one way to skin a cat no matter how tight the specifications.

        2. @MazdaChris

          You’re also not correct – each car has, shall we say, a maximum possible performance. The driver will drive to a certain % pf this maximum performance, in order to preserve tyres. None of the cars on the grid could, before the tyre change, drive to 100% of the car’s capability for a race duration.

          That’s hardly relevant. Each component of the car only works within certain limitations, which is a long way from “100% of the car’s capability,” whatever that means in the real world. If you tried to run an F1 engine at 17,000rpm for the whole weekend it wouldn’t last very long. So you design the car to make best use of the engine as it actually performs, not as you would like it to perform in your imagination.

          You seem to want to treat tyres as if they are separate from any other component of the car. Yes, they are a standardised part, and that’s a whole other debate to be had, but that makes it even more important to take them into account when you’re designing your car. A team would get very little sympathy if it hadn’t taken into account the specs of the common ECU that all F1 cars use.

          1. I’d agree if we were just talking about degradation but we’re talking about tyres which delaminate and explode. Tyres which are so sensitive and so far from meeting the demands of a modern F1 car that even those who ‘did the best job’ (I.e those who guessed correctly) were having to use them in a way never intended by the manufacturer just to make them survive a suitable period of time. The tyre was basically not fit for purpose and had to be gently nursed around the track slower than the predicted race pace of the cars.

            The issue is not that those with the fastest cars did a bad job, but rather Pirelli made a tyre which wasn’t fit for purpose. The data they supplied probably didn’t suggest to teams that they would explode. But they did. So to say the teams had accurate data is not technically correct.

      2. The tyres were not changed because of anybody “complaining loudly”. They were changed because they had to be before somebody was killed or injured.

        There has been no change in results at the top of the table since the tyre change. Prior to it Red Bull were on top with Ferrari and Mercedes in a tight battle for second and third. That remains the case today.

        1. @jonsan Exactly. It only got to that point because of teams complaining loudly that the tyres shouldn’t be changed, on the basis that their rivals were being more disadvantaged than they were. Despite changes having been made to compounds and construction in previous seasons with no complaints made. All based on a variable (tyre life) which nobody could have predicted before they showed up for pre-season testing. This idea that the teams all had a good idea of what the tyres were going to be like and that some teams “did a better job” of building their cars around these requirements is just nonsense.

        2. @jonsan, mostly of that were the teams putting excessive camber on the tires and changing them around the car (not using the tires on the position they were designed for). Next, Pirelli replaced the steel belt with a kevlar one, that being enough to not have any more tires destroyed mid-race.

          There was no good reason to also change the compounds, other than Pirelli having enough of the media scandal that FOM/FIA brought on them by requesting certain characteristics from the 2013 tires.

          So, just to be clear: tires blowing up was because of using steel belts instead of kevlar, reverting to 2012 compounds only played as a disadvantage to the teams which designed their cars according to 2013 tire specifications.

          1. If they did such a great job of designing their cars around the tyres, why were they having to put the tyres on backwards and run camber and pressures which were well outside of Pirelli’s guidelines?

          2. @mazdachris: I think that the teams touted to get the best out of the Pirelli tires were, in this order, Lotus, Force India and Ferrari. I can’t remember any tire failures on these, besides the belt-failures in Silverstone.

            Please keep in mind that Mercedes’ and RB’s problems were not related to tires destroying themselves, but rather to the tire falling of the cliff in terms of available grip because, presumably, they were pushing them to hard in terms of operating temperature.

          3. Ferrari had multiple tyre failures and Red Bull had none. Perhaps You don’t remember the Ferrari tyre failures because they mostly happened to Massa. But they happened all the same.

            mostly of that were the teams putting excessive camber on the tires and changing them around the car (not using the tires on the position they were designed for).

            All of that could and should have been stopped – but doing so would have helped Red Bull, as Paul Hembery pointed out.

          4. Touted purely by themselves you mean. Of course it’s in their interest to preserve a situation which artificially hobbled their rivals more than it did them. Right up until the point where it became impossible to claim that there was no danger.

            F1 teams were running the tyres well outside of the intended spec. They did this as a fudge to overcome the basic problems with the tyre – that they had a very narrow operating window and they suffered extreme performance dropoff whenever they went outside of this window. All teams were struggling with this, with varying degrees of success. It doesn’t take a genius to work out that those who are being affected the least will be inclined to try and maintain the situation.

            But certainly, nobody was driving flat out.

          5. There was no good reason to also change the compounds

            They did not change the compounds. They are using the 2013 compounds with the 2012 tyre construction.

          6. @alexx_88

            mostly of that were the teams putting excessive camber on the tires and changing them around the car (not using the tires on the position they were designed for).

            Well, that’s the problem of Pirelli and the FIA not enforcing their desired guidelines rigidly enough. If one team can gain an advantage from having excessive camber, all of the rest of the teams will try and mimic this. Then simply it’s a matter of who survives. It’s the job of the authorities to ensure the rules are enforced, not the teams to adhere to them (if there’s a loophole that can be exploited, then you can be sure the teams will use it to gain an advantage. There’s no “spirit of the rules” nonsense in F1).

            Also, not all of the teams actually switched their tyres round and it was coincidentally the teams who didn’t suffer from the failures (Force India and Lotus) who were most proficient in doing so.

            There was no good reason to also change the compounds

            As far as I’m aware, they didn’t change the compounds. They only change the tyre constructions, i.e. replacing the steel belt with a Kevlar one and altering the bonding process to ensure that there were no more delaminations as seen in Spain.

            I can’t remember any tire failures on these, besides the belt-failures in Silverstone.

            Well, that refutes almost your entire argument that omission, as that is where the failures were concentrated and why there were great concerns over the Belgian GP.

            Also, if I recall correctly Massa suffered from a delamination in Spain and I know Alonso had a slow puncture in Spain, perhaps as a result of a partial tyre failure.

          7. @vettel1: I think FIA are to blame here, they (and FOM) requested a certain behavior from the Pirelli tires, they delivered, but couldn’t enforce that the manufacturer’s limits are obeyed.

            Even if we keep Silverstone in the loop, Force India and Lotus did not suffer any tire failure in that race. Moreover, the problem RB and Mercedes (mostly) were having was due to them not being able to keep the thermal energy in the tire low enough and they simply went over the cliff much faster than on other cars. So yes, when changing the bonding process and the belt, they actually altered the 2013 tire specifications, thus making any effort in correctly designing your car to work the 2013 tires, pointless.

          8. Just some random thoughts after reading the above conversation. From what I recall Pirelli saying earlier in the season, the teams were given data on this year’s tires last September. So presumably the teams now have data on next years tires already. But as this year showed, having data is no guarantee of knowing exactly how the tires are going to be once raced in anger. None of the teams, nor Pirelli themselves, knew the problems they were going to have, until the season began. Pre-season testing did not provide the hotter climes for the teams to really discover the true nature of the tires.

            At the same time, we know that in 2012 the tires were aggressive and for 2013 Pirelli tried to go an extra step in that regard…make their tires even more a factor in the show, with the FIA’s blessing, and it didn’t work…they took it too far. Or, failed because they weren’t able to test enough and prevent issues arising until they were into the season in anger. I agree with those who say the reason the teams started using extreme castor, camber, tire swapping etc was due to the dire need to find solutions to these overly-aggressive, car limiting, problematic tires.

            Next year the new engines and chassis should provide some variance (or at least the potential) in what has become the natural order of things from recent years, so Pirelli has already stated their tires will be less aggressive. So I think it is safe to say the tires won’t suddenly be becoming a problem once they race in anger next year.

            But in terms of this year and the purpose of this particular article by Keith….let it be said, as I have said all along, those who thought Mercedes was somehow getting away with some massive advantage with what I call a necessary and badly needed Pirelli tire test, and were going to start dominating the second half of the season, were way overblowing it. Pirelli was never interested in helping any one team, and even expressed their concern about appearing to help Red Bull just by virtue of changing the tires, so why would they want to help Mercedes? That was a question I asked over and over again, and nobody provided me with an answer. And it turns out…they didn’t help Mercedes. As MazdaChris points out, and as I said all along, Pirelli’s intent, once they reluctantly knew that a mid-season tire change was going to be necessary, would ideally help everyone, not any one team. There was nor ever would have been anything in it for Pirelli to actually favour, or be seen to favour, any one team. But there was never going to be any way of avoiding a change mid-season affecting the teams one way or another, in conjunction with their ongoing car development this season that no doubt had to focus very very much on how their cars treated the tires of this year, be they pre-mid-season or post-mid-season. Which is why Pirelli was regretful about how things worked out…about having to do a mid-season change, and why they did a private tire test with Mercedes (symantics of how the test was run aside). To try to find a balanced solution that would see the tires relatively problem free for the rest of the season, with only a small window of opportunity to get them right, without helping or hindering any one team as much as possible. I believe Ferrari and Lotus were most concerned about a tire change helping RBR because they knew that a tire change was going to make for easier to deal with tires for everyone, and RBR has been fomidable for 4 years now, in general, so I think it was always a safe bet to say that RBR would continue to be formidable once the tires were less problematic for everyone.

  14. not convince at all on the fastest lap dependency give how the approach to racing has changed to driving to delta instead of banging fastest lap for whole race

    1. That’s not relevant here as the data refers to the fastest laps set during race weekends, and most (almost certainly all) of those will have occurred during final practice of qualifying.

      1. If so , then this performance chart is actually a Qualify comparison-progression.
        For example , we know ferrari is a bad quallifier from the start of the season . Their efforts are clearly focused on race pace not quallify. So this chart don’t tells us much about them.
        Also i assume the best time is from the quickest driver of each team. Maybe an average between the two quickest drives of both drivers would be more representative for comparing team performances.
        I posted some days ago in the “Alonso-tyres complaining” article something relevant :
        my yardstick was the average points each driver gained in every GP before and after the British GP. The result is different or even opposite between teammates , so its difficult to gave a clear answer to which team is benefited the most. But you can say that for drivers. Both Ferrari drivers average the same as before while in RedBull Vettel scores better and Webber worse. In mercedes Hamilton also improved contrary to Rosberg and in Renault Grossjean improved and Raikkonen was the stable.

  15. that first graph illustrates the trend of past seasons – Redbull and McLaren develop well as the season goes on, Ferrari develop well, but not well enough, and Mercedes fall back as the year goes on – I don’t think the tyres make this time differences, I think it is how the teams work, and it is shown consistenly the past few years.

  16. It just shows what we knew from previous years – RB and McLaren are top in the development race while Ferrari tends to stagnate. Only difference seems that Merc is now also pretty good at developing resp. they don’t fall behind that much.

    1. well it looks like Mclaren took a sabbatical year

  17. Leaping ahead to the 2014 season it is somewhat comforting to realize that tires should not play a dramatic role since Pirelli has already stated the tires will be fairly conservative. Hopefully the tires brought in for the beginning of the season will not need to be changed during the season for safety or any other reasons. Then, we will not have the need for debates like this and the teams can worry about other issues.

  18. I don’t think the tyre changed much to be honest, if you look at some of the races RedBull was pretty quick anyway, Merc was thereabouts. Lets take Canada for example Vettel blitzed that race (this was before the tyre change) he did the same in Monza and Spa as well (after the tyre change). The Mercs were quick in qualifying up until Hungary so it appears that the tyre change only affected them in the races where their tyre wows pretty much ended.

    I think the decisions of some teams to end 2013 development has made a bigger impact on speed. It appears Merc possibly decided to halt this years production as their car hasn’t had any major upgrades after the break, RedBull and Ferrari are the only ones who look to be still putting on major parts, everyone else seems to have stopped. So there are a lot of different factors explaining the changes that coincidentally occurred exactly the same time as the tyre change, making it look like it was all about tyres, which is probably not the case.

  19. The other thing I wonder is how much certain teams were affected not so much by the changes in the tires themselves, but being required to run the tires according to specs. No more changing sides, adjusting camber outside the required parameters, etc. Since some teams were doing that and obviously felt it was to their advantage, it seems it would be to their disadvantage performance-wise to stop doing it.

  20. Kimi Raikkonen set the fastest lap of the weekend at Belgium with a 1:48.296. Red Bull didn’t set the baseline in that race

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