Tyre, Singapore, 2015

FIA to do away with ‘designed to degrade’ tyres

F1 Fanatic Round-upPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

In the round-up: The FIA will request Pirelli produces high-performance tyres for F1 from next year, bringing a six-year spell of ‘designed to degrade’ tyres to an end.

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Comment of the day

Bernie Ecclestone’s ‘time ballast’ idea gets a big thumbs-down:

I think the ‘ballast for winning’ idea is simply an excuse for badly managing the series. F1 is the premier open wheel motor racing series, and so handicapping should be considered an anathema. Every car that is on the starting grid should have the same rules to comply with, and if one car wins all the time, so be it, at least the result is honest.

The fact is Mercedes won last year because they had the fastest car, it wasn’t their fault that others couldn’t catch up, it was the fault of others. Whether that is the other teams fault or the FIA’s token system is another matter, the fact remains Mercedes should present the best car they can make at a race, and that is exactly what they did, it is the fault of others if other teams can’t do the same.

All a handicapping system will do is force Mercedes to make their best car, and then tune it down so it is just faster than the competition. In the end you’d end up with rigged races and a rigged championship.
Stephen Crowsen (@Drycrust)

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91 comments on “FIA to do away with ‘designed to degrade’ tyres”

  1. “Another idea mooted by Ron Dennis was a ‘Rookie Cup’ with reserve drivers doing a sprint race in third cars. It didn’t get support…”

    I actually like this idea. It would be great to see the reserve drivers in action, and it would give them much needed seat time. I guess it was shelved because of the added costs. Sad. Very sad. It would have added something positive to the show and give more value for money to the fans at the circuit.

    1. They already have a “Rookie Cup” its called GP2

      1. That’s the problem I have with it. GP2 would with suffer and the Rookie Cup would be full of pay drivers and Carmen Jorda…

    2. Look at the point where it brings back 3rd cars – and the cost involved

  2. Autosport tweeted a chart about the overall distance covered by engines this week, and it is rather interesting. Mercedes engines have already covered over 7,600km this week, whereas Honda have done just under 1,200km. If we see similar amounts next week, that’ll mean that Honda will have covered almost 13,000km less than Mercedes in testing – more than 2 seasons worth of Grand Prix distances. That’s desperately worrying for McLaren. How can Honda possibly catch up with just one team?

    1. @jackysteeg Whats also interesting is that Ferrari has only done the same millage as Renault in reality, given that the Toro Rosso & Sauber are using the 2015 PU, which if the rumours are to believed is quite abit different to the 2016 Ferrari PU so the data the gather from the 2015 PU isn’t going to be that useful for Ferrari in terms of their championship bid.

      1. Sauber is running a 2016 PU.

        1. sauber will run a 2016 pu this season. this test they run a 2015 spec car with a 2015 spec engine

      2. Only Toro Rosso use the 2015 PU. Haas & Sauber use the 2016 PU too

        1. Except sauber ran a 2015 car, with 2015 PU in the first test.

    2. @jackysteeg – the engines aren’t a redesign though, they are just an evolution. Nevermind testing- think how many miles the Mercedes PU did last season compared to the Honda! They don’t stand a chance of catching up!

      1. @petebaldwin – Which is exactly why Mclaren should have let Honda power other cars this year. I get why they don’t want RBR to use Honda as RBR would probably beat Mclaren at their own game. But they need as many teams pounding out miles/km just to get data.

  3. Better late than never, as I have written before on the subject of made to fail tyres, it may or may not be Pirellis fault that they supplied what was requested but it beggars belief that they are claiming they can’t immediately (or ever) make tyres as capable as F1 was using over 10 years when track records were set at around the projected 2017 lap times.

    1. sigh….”over 10 years ago…”

      1. Over 10 years ago the cars were a 100 kilos lighter @hohum

      2. That’s not what I read Pirelli is saying, @ hohum.
        “Pirelli chairman Marco Tronchetti Provera told () that it could produce whatever the F1 wanted”
        “but (Pirelli) says it needs more track testing to fulfil its work”

    2. @hohum maybe now your record can stop skipping…

      1. THIS!!!! Brilliant.

      2. @johannes, I really, really hope so.

    3. @hohum – Everyone has rightly criticised Pirelli but they’ve always (somewhat fairly) hidden behind the excuse that they were asked to make useless tyres. It’s open for debate – “designed to degrade” doesn’t have to directly translate as “awful”…..

      There is no excuse now though. Show us what you can do Pirelli and prove that indeed, you are a respectable company that can make fit for purpose tyres. You have A LOT of brand damage to undo!

    4. The torque output of the hybrid engines is much, much more massive than anything Bridgestone had to deal with, and there’s no traction control.

      You might even say the new cars are “all torque and no traction”. ;)

      1. That is bull… There are throttle maps…. And 22 super talented drivers…

        Tire grip overall is low. Pressures are high, and durability is artificially low.

        Considering Bridgestone and Michelin made 13 years ago groved tires with seemingly more grip, and even few years ago Bridgestone made just fine tires… There is no reason to belive Pirelli cannot make much better tires.

        Now they can suprise us all mega style and deliver 1-3 seconds faster and properly durable tires… Maybe even 18″ rims.. Make em good!

  4. I know that driver weight is all part of the sport, just like horse racing – but it really irks me when talented drivers are almost forced to lose weight to keep their seat. (That may be extreme…)
    Hulkenberg, Ricciardo, Sainz… The list goes on.

    Like we saw a few years ago, getting some of the drivers to these extreme weights takes a toll on their health.

    Why can’t the FIA enforce a minimum driver weight, which could be made up with ballast? I know it’s not the silver bullet, considering lighter drivers could still have the edge with extra ballast placement, but surely some kind of rule around driver weight could be thought up?

    1. Because that won’t make F1 more exciting, apparently.

    2. This year the FIA are bringing in a ‘Biggest loser award’ for the driver that loses the most weight by the end of the season

      1. @brawngp ‘Hungriest driver award’ ;)

    3. @peterz, I fully agree. It really annoys me, as there is such a simple solution. I think it’s just a matter of time before a minimum driver+seat weight is implemented, and they’ll be all like “look how clever we are”, while it should have been implemented years ago.

      1. @me4me Classic FIA. Just like customer engine cost caps should have been in the rule set from the start in 2014. It’s high time the FIA had a FISA representative again to deal with F1, so Todt can go off and do his road safety work.

    4. Couldn’t they just introduce a minimum BMI for the driver, that way teams would not be able to bypass driver weight.

      1. @mulsanne And that leaves taller drivers slower due to no lack in actual driving ability…….

        1. They could just use a minimum weight for drivers + chair. 100kg as an example.

    5. I always wonder what Justin Wilson would have done in F1 had there been something like this in place.

    6. This… Make minimum driver + helmet + balast placed at driver COG 85kg. And its done. I am sure no proper driver weighs over 80kg anyway.

      Might force Massa in to retirement, but might also help raise female audience figures, when them boys start looking like men.

      1. Just make drivers wear fat suits (padded overalls with weight in them) so when they are dressed they all way the same. Imagine Massa going from 58kg to 70kg with a fat suit it would bring great entertainment when he gets out the car.

        1. The suits are already unbearable thick and flooding them in sweat.

      2. @jureo I think the minimum weight did rise by 80kgs (515kg to 595kg?) when driver weight was incorporated to the car weight in the mid-late 90s. Just need to add any of that ballast to the seat’s COG now.

  5. Is there a “Has Rio spun today?” site yet?

    1. sunny stivala
      26th February 2016, 4:37

      the problem with “Has Rio spun” is his entry to the formula grid left only three British drivers on the grid, this/yours is the by now the best famous and well known of British spins like “crashtor” and others before them.

      1. Oh right, British F1 drivers are a dying breed.. Atleast Champions are going strong.

    2. His name is Rio and he’s dropped it in the sand,
      Fixing that Manor’s going to cost them fifty grand…

      1. Good one haha

      2. A season of Duran Duran spoofs?

        Fine by me :)

      3. Hahaha :)

      4. With their weight loss all the drivers will be Hungry Like a Wolff

    3. I’m not as concerned by the spins, as I am by the truly awful lap times. It’s like every time he got in the car, it reverted to 2014 spec.

  6. How is unsafe driver weight still an issue? It seems the FIA could create a simple rule to resolve this. The first rule I thought of when JEV had his issues was to require a minimum weight for the driver plus his seat back, but after further thought I realized that may not be feasible depending on the customization of the seat design. Or would it be feasible?

    Any rule would have to be worded such that teams wouldn’t ask their drivers to lose excessive weight to then just add more ballast in an ideal location. Maybe the “driver ballast” location could be specified, ideally near a typical driver’s center of mass, such as near their lower back. The rule could be written to be slightly advantageous for a smaller driver, but not so advantageous that we see these unhealthy tactics being pursued by drivers.

    1. They could make it so that the driver, helmet, gloves and seat weigh the same.

      1. @w-k Make them put the ballast in the gloves and helmet, then the tall drivers will have the last laugh.

      2. @w-k that’s exactly what I recommended

      3. It’s such an easy fix too, sure, the seat will mean the cog is slight further down and back, but hell, that’s not nearly as bad as it is now.

    2. You have to be careful adding weight to the seat in case there are any safety implications for driver extraction. This is from the Formula 1 website:

      In order to easily extract a driver from a car in the event of an accident its seat must be removable with the driver in place and his seatbelts fastened. The seat must be secured by no more than two bolts, which can be released using a standard tool issued to all rescue crews.

      1. Thanks for sharing, I didn’t know that, but it doesn’t affect the idea. If they can extract a heavy driver, they can extract a light driver with ballast that weighs the same as a heavy driver.

    3. Slightly advantageus is just code word for Lets do it.. In F1 speak.

      Seriusly… If countries pass Law, for models not to be umderweight, if Ski jumpers have rules preventing them from being underweight…

      Why not F1, this is just crazy. Man driving 360km/h in to the breaking zone weakened by malnutrition. Why even bother with health and safety if health is ignored from onset.

  7. While not specific to any topic today, I’ve been bothered particularly this week by the need to change rules to “increase the popularity of the sport” re: qualifying etc…

    I say particularly this week, because we’ve just been through an excruciatingly long off season with little news, then we get to the first week of testing where there are an untold number of stories to cover and what does the FIA and the teams do? They drown out all these stories that fans have been waiting for for months, with rule changes that take the focus away from their on track product.

    Don’t get me wrong, I still read as many stories as possible but I’m sure I still missed some. And while I read them all, can we all say they were as I depth as they could have been?

    This week has been a marketing fiasco for F1. The product is selling itself and they choose to drop some bombshells on their fans at the same time. The stories this week were a mile wide and an inch deep when there was plenty of time to ensure everything got its proper attention.

    1. Really great comment COTD for me.

      So much news that could/should have been coming from the team’s testing and the drivers testing and we get silly rule changes.

    2. Definitely the COTD for me as well. Too much talk of trying to fix what isn’t broken, mixed with Bernie’s signature cynicism, has really downplayed what an exciting time of year this could (and should) be for F1.

  8. sunny stivala
    26th February 2016, 4:48

    this latest qualifying format was actually Bernie’s second chose, his first chose was reversed grid. this interference with the rules of the game after teams has been planning their strategies for the new tyres forced on them comes bang three weeks before the season racing starts, to cap-it up all this interference with the rules of the game is being pushed forward by the commercial rights holder who is not supposed to have anything to do with such things, that is exactly why I say, when Bernie is gone, most of F1 problems will follow him out.

    1. I’m cautious about that – Bernie might be a disease on F1 but there are plenty of other sub-humans out there who could take charge…

    2. I think they need a new rule– No new rules between Feb. 1st and the end of the championship.

  9. Given how popular the driver of the week is on this site I don’t agree with Hamilton on the driver of the day topic. 100% it should have no championship bearing or race influence like fan boost does, that is just unsporting and turns it into reality TV. But as a bit of fun and fan engagement, well like I said a lot of us that come on this site enjoy having a bit of discussion on drivers merit beyond just who won the race.

    Hamilton’s right that it’s just filler material, but there’s nothing wrong with a bit of fan engagement.

    The other ideas are terrible though, big Ron’s suggestion for a rookie sprint cup is actually brilliant so obviously that got shot down.

    1. @philipgb Its like the man-of -the match in cricket.. So someone like Verstappen in Hungary-2015, gets the driver of the day award, which makes for missing out on the podium.

  10. And the 31-year-old (Hamilton) has now ridiculed new plans for a “Driver of the Day” award that is voted for by fans after the GP.

    I think he is wrong. We celebrate the winning driver too much and see the winning team and WCC only as a side show. Even the driver coming in 3rd gets a bottle of champagne, whereas the person representing the team only gets wet!
    F1 is a team sport, just like football. Imagine that in football the Champions League cup would be awarded to the top scorer, and the winning team merely getting a mention.
    F1 is probably even more a team sport than any other sport I can think off. The last two years show that quite clearly. There are few people claiming that Hamilton and Rosberg are the two best drivers in F1 at the moment, yet they ended up at the top of the WDC leader-board. It is all (or to a very large extent) due to the team.

    Please champagne and big trophy for winning team (honourable mention for winning driver), and a second trophy for the DOTW (I prefer that some experts appoint him/her rather than the fans).

    1. Agreed. Actually it reminds me of the tour de France where the most spirited ride gets recognised, not just the winning one.

      1. @coldfly, the thing is, if you look at the way that the fans react, most of them react more strongly to the fortunes of an individual driver rather than a team – it is much easier to emotionally connect to the highs and lows of an individual driver, whilst a team lacks that personal touch.

        Even when it comes to discussing teams, posters here tend to associate most strongly with a particular individual within the design team. Looking at some of the comments on the car launch threads, when talking about the SF-16T, everybody talked about Allison and his influence, but I honestly doubt that most people here could name more than one or two of the other highest ranking designers within Ferrari without looking them up.

        For example, we saw Ferrari make major strides in terms of their power units last year, and yet I cannot remember a single poster here who made any reference to any of the designers within their engine division, even though they clearly made a major contribution to their performance upswing in 2015.

        Even in the case of Mercedes, whilst people here can talk endlessly about their engines and how effectively they’ve dominated the sport in recent years, and yet could anybody here name the head of Mercedes’s engine division?

        People celebrate the winning driver because they are a visible manifestation of the success of the team and because the physical effort of driving the car is immediately apparent to those who watch. The intellectual battle of wits off track, however, is often not visible to the public and is often something that they don’t care about either – and even if they do, most of the time people latch onto a single identifiable public figure and tend to ascribe all the success and failures of the team around that single person, rather than acknowledging the collective effort.

  11. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
    26th February 2016, 8:09

    I agree with Lewis: this new qualifying system will make very little difference, and I fail to see how it will make any difference to the operations of the top teams.

    As a mechanism for putting faster cars in the pack, it simply doesn’t work: it will mean that early bankers in Q1 and Q2 are more important, but all laps completed in qualifying are vital as it is. At the most, the impact on the top teams will be they will need to put more fuel in for banker laps in case of error/traffic, and run slightly earlier for their final run in Q3.

    However, presuming that Mercedes are fastest again this year, why won’t the conventional approach (an early 95% lap on prime in Q1, an early 90% run on options in Q2 and two essential 100% runs in Q3) work with this new system?

    1. However, presuming that Mercedes are fastest again this year, why won’t the conventional approach (an early 95% lap on prime in Q1, an early 90% run on options in Q2 and two essential 100% runs in Q3) work with this new system?

      @william-brierty I think the short answer is that the procedure won’t change, at least while they can only get one quick lap out of a set of tyres.

  12. Mercedes’ reliability is jaw dropping. At the rate they’re going they’ll win every race, finishing 1-2, lockout every front row and do it all on a single PU for each car.

    1. Not if Seb has anything to do with it.

      1. Assuming the SFIG is fast enough and reliable enough ;)

      2. Ferrari haven’t shown anything that would concern Mercedes.

        1. Who’s to say Ferrari has shown their whole hand though? They’ve set some fast times but it doesn’t seem like they were really pushing to the limit when those were accomplished. Or maybe that line of thinking just stems from my hope for at least 2 teams making a championship push.. A lot of questions will be answered in Melbourne.

        2. @blackmamba They have shown laptimes matching the 2015 mercedes.

          Even is Mercedes surely improves Ferrari looks to be closer this year and they took 3 wins last year.

  13. Apart from the wide front wings, DRS (yawn) and the heavy cars, most of the changes seem quite good to me. Pleased to hear that we’re moving away from the tyre philosophy that led to drivers sticking to time deltas.

    Perhaps if we took away team radio, managing tyres could be a valid driver skill, but those comparing it to the 1980s often forget things have changed. The driver no longer manages the tyres, it was the engineers telling the driver to stick to a lap time.

    1. The drivers still know how the tyre feel, it’s just now the engineers can tell them what is the best pace to use to get the best outcome.

      I foresee drivers being forced to pit needlessly on the last lap again….

  14. I am surprised that the idea of a “Rookie Cup” sprint race got shot down. Obviously it would lead to greater expense for the teams because they would have to prepare a third car, but it would give test/reserve/development drivers a platform to perform which would be good for reputation building (and would allow us to see who was right in “12 second-gate”) and would give fans at the track an extra bit of racing to watch before the main event.

    1. @geemac – Do you think the test/reserve/development drivers would get a look in though? I think it’d just be pay drivers buying seats for a race or two….

      1. Well on that basis we might as well do away with Manor and Sauber… ;)

  15. @drycrust – with the power Mercedes hold over the rules, the engines they choose to supply the their customers with and so on, I’d say it is very much their fault that lots of the grid cannot compete!

    1. @petebaldwin
      “the power Mercedes hold over the rules” – more than other teams??
      “engines they choose to supply the their customers” – not allowed!!

      It might still be “their fault that lots of the grid cannot compete”, that is if you define ‘doing your job very well’ as a ‘fault’.

      1. @coldfly
        “the power Mercedes hold over the rules” – more than other teams??
        Do you not think Mercedes have more political power than Haas or Manor? Or Sauber? Or Force India? As a supplier, they have more political say than any team who doesn’t supply others.

        The rules are what they are – currently whoever has the best engine (Merc) wins. Previously, whoever had the best aero (Red Bull) won. In order to change the rules, EVERYONE seems to have to agree and Mercedes clearly won’t because it would disadvantage them. This is what I refer to as power over the rules.

        “engines they choose to supply the their customers” – not allowed!!

        OK fair point – to be more specific, whilst they may have the same physical equipment, they are not allowed to run it at full power. They don’t have the same lubricants to ensure peak performance. They don’t have the same computer software to manage the engines. In addition to that, when a competitive team like Red Bull came along to buy an engine, Mercedes ran off scared.

        Finally, whilst I agree they are doing a very good job of being better than Ferrari, (their only competitors in Tier 1 of F1), their main wins have been off the track ensuring the rules continue to favour power units over aero.

        1. In addition to that, when a competitive team like Red Bull came along to buy an engine, Mercedes ran off scared.

          I love how people keep repeating this as if it’s the truth, as if the fact that Mercedes (at the time of Red Bull’s enquiry) were already supplying four teams other than themselves and being at maximum production capacity as a result is totally irrelevant.

          You cannot think of this the way you would road car engines. F1 engines are bespoke, and at least partly handmade; do you really think they can just make another 10 engines on a whim, especially of a spec they hadn’t even finalised?

          1. They could make 10 more for sure. But judging by reliability maybe just two more…

          2. They could make 10 more for sure.

            And you know this how? Do you have info the rest of us don’t about their staff numbers, production capacity, liquid assets, factory space, and power requirements? No, of course you don’t; you’re just assuming it’s possible without giving it any thought.

    2. @petebaldwin Given that teams are falling over themselves to get Mercedes engines I don’t get the issue over their engines. Red Bull asked for them, were told they couldn’t have them and then complained that Mercedes were giving their customers a raw deal despite the customers saying they were quite happy. If you want to look at who’s supplying what the only valid complaint is surely that Honda aren’t offering their engines to other teams.

      Also, Red Bull currently are struggling to compete despite having at least as much influence as Mercedes. Mercedes have influence mainly because they have been successful, not the other way round.

      1. Lol, doing good job is not a fault.

        Geez, I guess If Mercedes want to, they can make F1 exciting, by artificially managing their pace, to make it seem like Ferrari has a chance.

        But that can backfire and they loose a sure victory.

    3. with the power Mercedes hold over the rules

      You misspelt ‘Ferrari’

    4. Thanks Keith for selecting what I wrote as the Comment of the Day!

      with the power Mercedes hold over the rules

      @petebaldwin Mercedes have the same voting rights as every other team, and they have the same right to forward ideas for rules to the Strategy Group as every other team, so Mercedes don’t get any special treatment regarding the rules. Maybe there is some “don’t bite the hand that feeds”, but is that wrong? Teams vote in a way they perceive best suits themselves.
      I believe one of the big problems for teams trying to catch Mercedes is the token system, but that isn’t Mercedes fault, and it was very obvious from the first day it was mentioned there would be a reduced number of tokens each year, that those that won would win more, and those that didn’t win would win less. That also isn’t Mercedes fault. Yes, the exploited the situation, but that is what any other team would have done.

      the engines they choose to supply the their customers with and so on

      Mercedes have consistently said they supply exactly the same hardware to their customers as they themselves use, and even Williams have said that is exactly what their contract says, that they get the same engine hardware as Mercedes use. Maybe the software isn’t quite so identical, but is that wrong? Mercedes made an announcement this year to at least suggest their customers’ software is very close to identical to what they themselves use.

      They don’t have the same lubricants to ensure peak performance.

      I looked in Keith’s recent article on customer engines, and there was no mention of “customer grade oil”, and even before I checked it I didn’t believe the lubricants Williams, Force India, Lotus, or Manor use were any different from what Mercedes used. There is no way you would even think about using a different lubricant, that lubricant is specifically designed for that engine, that engine is specifically designed for that oil. Why would Mercedes clearly state they supply the same hardware and then not expect Petronas to supply the same lubricants they themselves use? The oil has to have polymers that behave in precise ways to give it the exact combination of thinness and thickness depending on where it is and what it is supposed to do. The V6 engines run very hot because of the huge amount of power being displaced, and oil, besides reducing friction, is essential to cooling the engine. Wrong oil = wrong temperature = wrong performance = wrong reliability.
      So yes, you are right in the sense that if Petronas did supply customer teams with different oils (as far as I know that don’t) then it would reduce the amount of power available, but that would be because the engine would run hotter, which means the components go out of tolerance, which increases wear and reduced life. My recollection is Mercedes engines were the most reliable of all those used last year, and I don’t see how this could have been achieved without the teams using all the same lubricants.
      I stand by my comment.
      http://www.crash.net/f1/feature/199831/1/fluid-technology-solutions-for-f1.html
      http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/2016/01/13/ferrari-and-mercedes-engine-customers-get-a-lot-less-power-ecclestone/

      1. Stephen, with regards to Mercedes’s customers, it should be noted that Williams do not use the same lubricants or fuel as Mercedes does; however, that is by Williams’s own choice.

        As part of Williams’s sponsorship deal with Petrobras, Williams agreed to use fuel and oil products developed by Petrobras from 2015 onwards (you can read about the agreement in the link below). However, because Petrobras couldn’t develop their fuel in time in 2014 due to the deal being signed off too late in the year, Williams were supplied by Petronas for the 2014 season. http://www.f1technical.net/news/19125

        1. The fuel and lubricants supplied by Williams own supplier would be identical to what Petronas have developed for Mercedes.

  16. About time, design to degrade tires are going out the window. But phrasing of FIA has me concerned. I am not entierly convinced until I see laptimes very close to Q3 achieved in the race.

    And finally, the bastion of gimmicks… DRS. I have been thinking, what if driver could use DRS anytime, there was a car infront 1s time gap. Or anytime there is a car 50m infront of you, you get DRS.

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