Firstly, apologies if this has already been discussed ad nauseum in other threads already. I couldn’t find a way to search for related older threads.
Aside from Vettel’s early season domination, I’ve really enjoyed the 2011 season so far. Racing has been close and unpredictable and the main reason for this – aside from the weather – appears to be the high degradation of the Pirelli tyres.
However, the one aspect of it that has not sat quite right with me is the number of times I’ve heard “tyre management” mentioned during races – for the simple reason that it prevents drivers from wringing their car’s neck. There’s nothing better than seeing drivers like Alonso or Hamilton on the edge and in full flow, lap after lap, but doing so (particularly this season) is more likely to punish than help a driver in most situations.
Is this more pronounced era of tyre management the price we have to pay for great racing, or would it be better for the tyres to degrade based simply on mileage rather than driving style (excluding wheel locking, off-road excursions etc)? Is it the differing rates of degradation for individual drivers that actually keeps things interesting?
For me, the ideal scenario would be tyres that gradually degrade and fall off the cliff (much as they do now), but don’t degrade faster if you push the car harder. That way we’d get to see drivers on the limit and still keep the great racing we’ve had so far.
I’d love to know what everyone here would do, tyre wise (imagine there is no KERS or DRS).
I guess it’s the strategy and simulation that developed during the fuel stop era (or error, if you ask me) They’ve become so used to managing everything, running premeditated strategies – but these often misjudge tyre wear, as they did at the end in Germany last weekend – so why bother?
It was amazing to watch the drivers in the early laps today, right on the edge, struggling for grip. I’d like to see more of that in the dry: drivers wearing their tyres out, whacking a fresh set on and going for it. Pitstops are so quick and the advantage of fresh tyres so great, I’m sure they could make the lost time up. It was ridiculous watching Kobayashi try to wring out his tyres to last till the end of the race – not exactly playing to his strengths was it?
I’d bring back qualifying tyres (as Pirelli have suggested) but just give them to the top 10 in qualifying, so they have an extra set of softer/option tyres in the race. That should add to the entertainment on both Saturday and Sunday.
Great idea Bullfrog! It would be cheaper for Pirelli too than bringing qualifying tyres for the whole grid.
I’ve never liked tyre management but it should be part of a driver’s skills set. The thing about the Pirellis is that wear is far more dependant on car set-up and the tyre life itself. The only thing a driver can do is not destroy them too soon, which I quite like.
Tyre management has always been a part of the sport and it always will be. It is an art in itself, it is just being exaggerated by the higher degradation Pirelli have been asked to engineer into their product. It may not be very “pure” form of racing, but it is still something that every driver has to deal with, so if someone does it better than the rest he should be applauded.
Come to think about it, two of the great Mansell/Piquet battles (at Paul Ricard and Silverstone, circa 1986 I think) were as a direct result of the differing tyre strategies that Nige and Nelson had to run because they were using the tyres differently. There are heaps more examples too if you look hard enough.