Ferrari and Lotus “got lucky” with 2013 tyres – Newey

2013 F1 season

Ferrari and Lotus were lucky the Pirelli tyres introduced during the winter helped them become competitive, according to Red Bull’s chief technical officer Adrian Newey.

Speaking on the Sport und Talk programme on Red Bull’s television channel Servus TV yesterday, Newey disputed the claim the two teams had developed their cars to suit the original 2013 Pirelli tyres better.

“We had a big change over the winter, an unexpected change,” said Newey. “Pirelli introduced a new tyre which was much more sensitive, it was very easy to overload it and because our car, a lot of its lap time is under braking and in the high speed corners, where you’re putting a lot of load into the tyres, we couldn’t really exploit that without the tyres going off very quickly.”

Adrian Newey, Red Bull, 2013“So that tyre change hurt us and helped some other people, such as Lotus, Ferrari perhaps. For me that was purely luck.

“I think Lotus and Ferrari are making making big noises about how clever they were over the winter to read that far. But to be perfectly honest they were just plain lucky, we were a little bit unlucky, and of course the the politics take over. So it’s been a challenging year but a very rewarding one.”

Lotus and Ferrari won three of the first five races but haven’t taken any victories since. Pirelli revised its tyres following the British Grand Prix in which several drivers suffered high-speed tyre failures.

Red Bull felt “fragile” at mid-season

Newey said in addition to pressure from Ferrari, Red Bull were also worried about Mercedes’ form in the middle of the season.

“It’s been a difficult season at times for us,” he said. “We started off, strong result in Malaysia, one-two in the second race. And then kind of our competitiveness went up and down a little bit.”

“It was a very close fight, Ferrari were very strong early in the season, Mercedes came on strong sort of around Monaco time. So come that middle of the season point we were not… we were in the lead of the championship, but it felt fragile, it felt as if Mercedes particularly at that point were on a roll.”

Newey admitted their focus on developing a car for next year’s rules change may have been compromised by their focus on securing the 2013 titles:

“We kept pushing, we introduced quite a few changes to the car, updates some in Hungary just before the summer break, then more in Spa. And that seemed to give us momentum.

“I guess really we’ve kept pushing all the way to Singapore in terms of introducing new parts, even Japan, which you could look back on now and say perhaps we pushed harder than we needed to because in doing that of course it’s taken resource off next year’s car.

“It didn’t feel that way at the time, it felt as if we needed to keep pushing and it’s been tremendous to have this roll that we’ve had at the end of the season.”

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176 comments on Ferrari and Lotus “got lucky” with 2013 tyres – Newey

  1. Krichelle (@krichelle) said on 5th November 2013, 18:04

    I actually realized, that whenever other team besides RB won, it was down to mechanical failure, tyre problems, traffic problems. Which means, that Mercedes, Lotus and Ferrari can’t beat RB in a fair fight. Look:

    -Australia: Kimi won because Vettel had tyre wear quite high.
    -Malaysia: RB one-two but Mercedes were there. However, Alonso was on 3rd place in the first lap, so had he not had the front wing damage, we wouldn’t have known the outcome of the race, most likely Alonso could have challenged Vettel and Webber.
    -China: Alonso, Kimi and Hamilton finished ahead of Vettel only because Vettel started at 9th place.
    -Bahrain: Vettel won there.. Yeah. A track he wins a lot. No need to explain.
    -Spain: Alonso won because RB had tyre problems. *Start of politics*
    -Monaco: Rosberg won just because of the track’s nature, by qualifying on pole, don’t forget the safety car and red flag.
    -Canada: Vettel won. First race of the season wherein drivers were able to maximize performance of the car without tyre wear issues.
    -Silverstone: Hamilton would have won this race and Vettel would have finished 2nd. Change tyres starting Hungary forward announced. Rosberg won this race by Hamilton and Vettel having bad luck.
    -Germany: RB won. However, the safety car might have helped Vettel won this race. Lotus said that the safety car might have cost Romain or Kimi a chance to win.
    -Hungary: Hamilton won this race because Vettel was stuck in traffic. But, Hamilton is a master of the Hungaroring so no surprises here.
    -Belgium-Abu Dhabi: Nothing to say with tyre wear.

    Conclusion: Red Bull are only beaten if they encounter problems like tyre wear, mechanical failure etc. Without these occurring, RB is still the fastest car out there. But, Lotus and Ferrari used RB’s weakness to win.
    Look closely, almost all the races Vettel didn’t win were only because problems occurred that time and that Lotus, Ferrari and Mercedes used their own car’s strength to beat them. Still, however, RB is the fastest car out there if in a fair battle, negating tyre wear, mechanical failures etc.

    • Tifoso1989 (@tifoso1989) said on 5th November 2013, 18:51

      I actually realized, that whenever other team besides RB won, it was down to mechanical failure, tyre problems, traffic problems. Which means, that Mercedes, Lotus and Ferrari can’t beat RB in a fair fight. Look

      That’s a total PR politic from Red Bull, everyone in the team from Marko, Horner, Vettel & Newey are following it

    • Corrado (@corrado-dub) said on 5th November 2013, 19:34

      OK, but being “stuck” in the traffic and having mechanical problems is not part of the game or what ?!?! You’re talking like Vettel was supposed to win every race from the start, but those other drivers bothered his “journey” ! Wonder what would have happened if Ferrari would have been luckier too and switched to Bridgestones in 98 (which was a better tyre than Goodyear), if they would have switched to Michelin too (which was a better tyre than Bridgestone) !

    • Ben (@scuderia29) said on 5th November 2013, 19:36

      you explained what happened in the race, but didnt explain your point about teams not being able to beat them in a fair fight, every race this season has been a fair fight, no one was given an unfair advantage at any point in the season. If Red Bull lost via anything but a DNF then they were beaten fair and square.

      • Krichelle (@krichelle) said on 5th November 2013, 21:12

        (@corrado-dub (@scuderia29 (@tifoso1989

        When I say fair fight, I meant if you take out tyre management, mechanical failures, traffic problems, that on pace. Out of all the top 4 teams: Ferrari, Lotus, Mercedes and Red Bull, Red Bull will win because of the overall pace. Just take an example Canada where that was the first race of the season where drivers were able to push like crazy, and not just go to the tyres limit. Vettel still won by a large margin. This is what Newey was saying earlier in the season that the tyres are slowing down the RB9’s performance. If there was no tyre management, or simply said tyres lasting like in the early part of the season, and instead tyres like last year or Bridgestones, Red Bull is still fastest car out there.

        • Ben (@scuderia29) said on 6th November 2013, 10:32

          @krichelle nobodies doubting that vettel and red bull are the fastest package out there, but the fastest car doesnt always win, theres a huge list of reasons why the fastest car might not win, take Alonso’s wins last year, at no point was the ferrari the quickest car but down to tactics or great race craft alonso won races. We also saw Nico Rosberg win..and even maldonado in the williams! when red bull dont win..its not just because they were unlucky

  2. I think it’s a bit unfair to read the headline, jump in the comment section and whine about Newey being arrogant, disrespectful etc.

    Newey’s comment is interesting, actually. He said that they didn’t know too much about how the new tyres when developing the 2013 car. Of course Ferrari and Lotus will say that they knew everything about the tyres and they built the car around them.

    I don’t know what to believe. To be honest, I don’t find difficult to believe that the tyres were a question mark before the first test in Spain, after having seen how badly Pirelli has handled some situations in the past few years.

    So, yes, everyone is going to take sides on this, but I don’t think that Newey’s statement was that bad.

    • I just posted something along these lines as a response, that’s exactly how I felt.

      Every single team is currently working on their 2014 car yet nobody has even smelled the new Pirelli tires. The ink on their new contract hasn’t even dried yet. I don’t see how you can end up with a car that’s good on unknown tyres without a good amount of luck.

  3. BradandCoffee said on 5th November 2013, 18:21

    How can you say it was luck for Lotus when they’ve been able to make the 2nd tire work as well?

  4. I don’t know how many of you saw the Adrian Newey interview on Sky post their WCC win in India, when asked about Sebastian Vettel mistakes (if he commited) any in the season, Newey pointed out the Malaysia incident. He specifically said that Vettel also considered that as a mistake.

    Newey repeated the same thing post Abu Dhabi race. Now I know this topic is out of context, but so many people are hell-bent on denying that it was not a right thing to do, pains me. One less win would not have made a dent in Vettel’s greatness, but that win did make a dent in his image. I know many people would say it is easier to say now that Malaysia win didn’t matter, but the fact is we have learnt from Michael Schumacher’s career that winning is not everything. As Martin Brundle said, if Michael had not won a couple of races, he would have not only been hailed a great but also would have been adored by everyone.

    I don’t know if many would understand what I am trying to say here, because I am not sure I have been able to put it properly. Also because I am not sure if this post will see the light of the day,as several of my posts were deleted by F1F for no obvious reasons.

    • BarnstableD (@barnstabled) said on 5th November 2013, 21:39

      Why do fans say they hate team orders and then get upset when Vettel ignores them and gives us some entertainment from the front of the field for once? My guess at an answer: Webber is more popular than Vettel.

      • HoHum (@hohum) said on 5th November 2013, 21:45

        Ask yourself why Webber is more popular.

        • James (@speedking84) said on 5th November 2013, 22:20

          Webber is popular because everyone loves an underdog, but I personally prefer Vettel as a person, I thought what Vettel did in Malaysia was the right thing to do, personally it hasn’t made me change my view on Vettel because if he had let Webber win what would that have achieved, it would have been a waste of points if they went to Webber, no offense to Mark but he cant start an F1 car, he cracks under pressure and he defends too aggressively for someone trying to win a championship (Italy 2009).

    • mda (@mda72) said on 6th November 2013, 2:27

      I get your point & completely agree with it. Goijng back a bit now, Ayrton Senna would have been a far less divisive (and more sympathetic) figure had he kept the moral high ground after Suzuka ’89, and not got his revenge by ramming Prost out the following year. (This is assuming we interpret Prost as being in the wrong in Suzuka ’89, which is debatable.) Also, watching that interview, posted in today’s round-up, which Senna did after punching out Eddie Irvine in 1993 reminded me why I disliked him so much, despite his obvious abilities.

      • @mda72
        It surprising that most of us here measure the greatness of a driver with the same yardstick. A driver has to be ruthless, unforgiving etc. If somebody is doing that, its taken for granted. As you rightly mentioned keeping the moral high should be appreciated and encouraged.

        I would take this opportunity to highlight the moral high of Ayrton, when he jumped out of his car to save a driver from his crashed sorry (pardon for my being not able to give proper reference), that was the greatness of Ayrton. If you have seen the movie Senna, you will know that what Ayrton did in Suzuka, was due to the politics in F1, that how he felt F1 drivers need to be to survive, but I feel he rose above that.

  5. spoutnik (@spoutnik) said on 5th November 2013, 18:41

    they were just plain lucky

    Come on boy stop showing off.

  6. Shreyas Mohanty (@) said on 5th November 2013, 18:48

    @noob Vettel is a racing driver, he is there to race, and race hard. I don’t see why he should go around gifting people wins. Plus, it was the second race of the season and RBR were having serious tyre issues that time, nor was the RBR dominant like it is now. Vettel wanted every point he could muster, considering the margin of his WDC win in 2012!

    • <@shreyasf1fan>

      Vettel is a racing driver, he is there to race

      All are there to race. Move on.

      I don’t see why he should go around gifting people wins

      Well Webber might have gifted him that win, by following team strategy

      RBR were having serious tyre issues that time

      That is exactly the reason why the ‘team’ asked Vettel to maintain his position.

      Vettel wanted every point he could muster

      This is the essence, Vettel thought only about himself, not the team. What if his tyres gave away, no body knew when they would hit the cliff, and with that aggressive driving he put the team at risk.

      Anyways, my post was to show what Adrian Newey, being such an integral part of the team, thought about the incident, and deemed it proper to mention it as one of Vettel’s mistake. We are all race fanatics, and trust me the battle between Webber and Vettel was the best I saw this season, but sometimes we need to see the larger picture. I for one, am a fan of the team first, then the driver. I love RBR, and support both its drivers.

      One more thing. After the race, the body language of Vettel and his words did convey that he felt he had done a mistake. I personally was ok with that, but when he re-tracted his apology, that’s when I lost a bit of respect for him.

  7. Shreyas Mohanty (@) said on 5th November 2013, 18:52

    RBR probably has the most arrogant people on the paddock. Vettel’s “balls” comment, and now this. Yep, they are doing a great job. Real class would be putting your head down and work on 2014, because you are getting their behind kicked by Merc and Ferrari next season! ;)

  8. chaitanya (@chaitanyaf1) said on 5th November 2013, 18:58

    Some one give him lessons please… He has lost his mind.. After the winter break , there has been no car as quik as Red Bull(to a least extent MERCEDES), Ferrari and Lotus by far have been out of contention..!! there is a limit for sarcasm Mr.NEWEy….!!!

  9. Tifoso1989 (@tifoso1989) said on 5th November 2013, 19:02

    Newey (the genius) saying that Lotus being adapted to the tyres is pure Luck !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Well the baby of James Allison has proved to be the best car that handles every kind of tyre since last year, maybe Ferrari was pure luck (which i don’t believe because there is no luck in F1, design,simulation,wind tunnels, CFD, testing….., if you get all of these right then it’s not up to luck) but Lotus has worked also the new tyres
    so Newey is following the RBR PR politics which i’m not surprised (i know how much love he has for Ferrari), after all they are paying him millions but why he didn’t left that for Marko (the specialist) or even Horner……….. I think this time RBR are trying to add some credibility to this claim being pronounced by Newey (which i already saw on the forum), he is the genius and everyone who will criticize his opinion will look like an idiot

  10. Michael (@freelittlebirds) said on 5th November 2013, 19:06

    What I take out of that is that Mark Webber is not there and Marko is there. I think that shows the key players at Red Bull.

    What, who said Vettel is #1 at Red Bull? Shame on you, you cucumber!

    • svianna (@svianna) said on 6th November 2013, 16:42

      Very insightful and I fully agree. The fact that Mark Webber was not there for this interview when H. Marko, the “undercover’ team handler was, just shows how this whole team has been setup and managed to make Vettel a hero/legend/superstar. And, kudos to them, they have succeeded.
      I feel a little sorry for Mark because he deserved better than that.

      • Dave (@raceprouk) said on 6th November 2013, 16:52

        Or maybe Webber had other commitments, and couldn’t make it.

        But please, don’t let that get in the way of the conspiracy theory. I wouldn’t want to spoil your fun.

        • svianna (@svianna) said on 7th November 2013, 1:50

          If people are incapable of assessing plentiful objective evidence, they are biased and their ability to discern, compromised. Assuming that Mark had another commitment, why HM was at the interview? People are willfully blind when they don’t want to admit that HM conveys mastritch’s orders to the team, including the underlying policy that Vettel must come ahead of Webber, at all costs.

          • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 7th November 2013, 10:04


            the underlying policy that Vettel must come ahead of Webber, at all costs

            Is that why Vettel was ordered not to overtake Webber in Malaysia?

          • Dave (@raceprouk) said on 7th November 2013, 11:18

            Assuming that Mark had another commitment, why HM was at the interview?

            Because Marko didn’t have another commitment.

            I can’t believe I had to type that.

  11. James (@speedking84) said on 5th November 2013, 19:08

    Clearly he doesn’t undertstand the definition of ‘luck’, because teams like Lotus, Ferrari and Force India designed their cars to be easier on tyres that somehow makes them ‘lucky’, to be honest Red Bull were ‘lucky’ to have the tyre change mid season, so I think Newey is pushing his luck, his team benefited from the mid season tyre change and now he says other teams were ‘lucky’ because their cars worked the tyres better. Maybe if the Red Bull design their car to work well with the tyres next year and win the championship all the other teams and the media should say they were lucky, then Newey will understand that what he’s saying now is nonsense.

    • Juzh (@juzh) said on 5th November 2013, 19:57

      Those teams were easier on the tires because they had no downforce to talk about compared to RB. Hardly an overwhelming achievement.
      Oh look, we failed to design a car that could match RB (or merc) on outright pace. Good thing we got tires which will fall apart after 4 corners so we can keep up.

      • James (@speedking84) said on 5th November 2013, 22:07

        Having more downforce isn’t the only factor that affects tyre degradation, if having less downforce decreases tyre degradation then why do Marussia do pit stops? They do pit stops because low downforce doesn’t make them easier on tyres, many other factors come into play. Also if you think the point of F1 is to design a car that is fastest in outright pace then you don’t understand the sport, if outright pace was all that mattered then they would only do qualifying as that establishes the cars outright pace, no tyre degradation involved, sounds like that is what your idea of F1 is.

        • HoHum (@hohum) said on 6th November 2013, 4:16

          @speedking84, your point re qualifying made me think, but on reflection I think you are only part right, F1 unlike other series is about the ability to build the fastest car that can race for 300km, not the fastest car over 1 lap.

        • Juzh (@juzh) said on 6th November 2013, 9:03

          Force india openly admitted they don’t want new tires because their car is not producing enough DF to make them go pop. That was after silverstone. On the other hand, pirelli said numerous times how RB9 puts the most vertical load of all cars on the tires by a large amount (aka most DF). Hembrey confirmed this again during FP2 in india when he had a guest appearance on BBC. And newey says exactly the same thing in this interview. sorry, but I am inclined to believe those guys over some keyboard warriors.

  12. MahavirShah (@mahavirshah) said on 5th November 2013, 19:09

    I don’t understand how understanding how the tyres work and how your car responds to them can be any less technically challenging than designing the front wing or setting up a DDRS system. If anything adding tyres into the equation only makes the whole process tougher, so if a team can understand them and then design a car or strategy around them, it should count as practical engineering. At the same time, I have always maintained that being easy on the tyres was as much of a skill that a driver should have as raw pace. Otherwise, would it mean that Di Resta or Sutil doing a one stop was less commendable than Maldonado or Perez blitzing away?

    I can’t see how you could just get “lucky” in Formula 1. It isn’t like someone rolled a die and called out design strategies. If anything Red Bull can count themselves “lucky” to have Vettel in their team. Maybe they can count themselves “lucky” because the owner isn’t shy of spending those extra dollars required for development.

  13. Breno (@austus) said on 5th November 2013, 20:52

    Even if RB didnt benefit from the new tyres (which they did), two of their rivals, and Vettel’s two biggest rivals this year, lost a bit of an advantage. RB was having trouble keeping the tyres alive, while Lotus did that amazingly (and still do), and Ferrari was better than most.

  14. Patrick (@paeschli) said on 5th November 2013, 21:49

    Someone said that a tyre change mid season never happened before but if my memory is right, something similar happened in 2003. I was very young at that time, can someone confirm?

    • Juzh (@juzh) said on 6th November 2013, 9:08

      2005 indianapolis. michelins couldn’t take the oval sweeper because of new tarmac which was ripping their tires open. Bridgestone were aware of this new tarmac and brought harder compounds to cope with it. All michelin runners withdrew from the race on the formation lap as the tires had been deemed unsafe to race.

  15. electrolite (@electrolite) said on 5th November 2013, 22:50

    Well, with a designer of his calibre, I’d be afraid to question his judgment…

    • @electrolite

      Well, with a designer of his calibre, I’d be afraid to question his judgment

      Why? He’s a fallible human just like everyone else, plus one of his high”calibre” designs killed Ayrton Senna.
      He’s also politically-motivated to deliver a narrative that minimizes the impact of an unfair, unjust mid-season tire change.

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