Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, Circuit de Catalunya, 2014

Drivers concerned Pirelli’s tyre choices are too hard

2014 Spanish Grand PrixPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, Circuit de Catalunya, 2014Pirelli’s choice of tyre compound for this weekend is too conservative in the view of some drivers.

The official tyre supplier has brought its medium and hard rubber for this year’s race, as it did for the previous two Spanish Grands Prix, but the compounds are harder than those used in previous seasons.

Fernando Alonso said the tyre choice was one of several reasons why he struggled to gain good traction.

“There wasn’t much grip on track today and in general, we struggled a bit more, which was down to a series of factors, including the track being less rubbered-in than usual,” he said.

“On top of that, we have less aerodynamic downforce than in the past and also in my opinion, the tyre choice here is too conservative for this track.”

Sergio Perez echoed Alonso’s view, saying he had a “challenging day” of practice.

“The compounds available for this weekend are very hard and this creates some issues with getting the tyres to work as desired.”

Before the race weekend began Pirelli said harder tyres had been chosen to prevent drivers having to make four pit stops during the race, as was the case last year.

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Image © Ferrari/Ercole Colombo

17 comments on “Drivers concerned Pirelli’s tyre choices are too hard”

  1. You can understand why Pirelli brought the two toughest compounds to the race that is the toughest on the tyres, but I thought the tyres weren’t lasting all that long before they began to drop off. Weren’t most drivers only doing a dozen laps before the drop off began to occur?

    1. Not so simple. If the tyre does not get warm enough, the rubber cracks and scrapes off the rigid tyre. When a tyre is optimal, it becomes like a jelly (for lack of a better word) and is very flexible, which means it does not wear as quick as the colder tyre would. Then if it gets too hot, it is too jelly and wears fast again.

      So to summerise:
      Too hard/cold: No grip and wears fast
      Perfect: Lots of grip and wears normal.
      Too soft/hot: Decent grip but wears fast.

  2. Damned if they do, and damned if they don’t!

    And tbh, drivers complaining usually means they’re having to work very hard, so that’s good.

    1. Agreed, I hope to see cars scrabbling for grip out of the corners and drivers working hard to correct wayward rear ends, but most of all I hope to see drivers unafraid to follow nose to tail and attack at every opportunity.

  3. With all the changes we have had this year, the last thing F1 needed was tissue paper tyres again. I am glad that tyres are not the major talking point again and frankly who could blame Pirellli for being conservative after the bashing they took last year.

    1. @lojen
      I agree entirely. Actually I think the tyres are better then ever. Not completely out of the equation but they still allow the drivers to push.
      Fingers crossed that Pirelli keeps this trend going.

  4. The problem is that the soft is probably too soft, so ideally Pirelli should bring medium and medium… Still I agree that the less conservative approach of soft-medium would have been fine, and at least we would have seen some quicker qualifying times then, because for all the talk of massive development this year, we are still quite far from last year’s times at this track – where the loss of downforce is really felt.

  5. Do the tyres “work as desired” when they’re fitted to a Mercedes?

    1. @bullfrog
      I suspect you could fit that car with bicycle tyres and it would still win comfortably.

  6. Tyre lasting and working range are different. It must be very difficult for Pirelli to make a perfect match, for every circuit. Let’s hope that more rubber on the circuit will make it work better.

    1. I agree that Pirelli have a difficult situation.

      They are restricted to four dry compound types which have to be able to cover 19 different circuits with wide variations in weather conditions, tarmac abrasiveness, cornering loads etc. and work for 11 different cars, whilst at the same time being equally hindered by the restrictions on testing that the teams face.
      Add to that the hostile press they had last year and the relatively large change in regulations, and it is not surprising that they have been more cautious this season.

  7. A tyre that is optimum for a lap time is a tyre that is to fragile for the kind of agressive driving needed to challenge and pass another car of similar performance, racing tyres should always be a little to hard, optimum tyres allow the leader to get away from the pack and should only be used for qualifying.

    1. Indeed @hohum, I just read Keith’S analyses of practice and was reminded of how we had about 4 stop optimal here last year, while now we could see rather 2-3 stops, which to me seems to be far better an average if we want to see cars racing, drivers having to think about how they approach a car to get ahead on track and not a pitstop dance.

      1. @bascb, I don’t like what pitstops do to the racing but I care much more about drivers not being disadvantaged by tyre wear whenever they try to catch and pass the car in front, or as I prefer to call it race the car in front.

  8. Last year it was too soft this year is too hard…. come on! everybody is using the same tyres go and drive!

  9. To be honest I do not understand the complains from Alonso, his fiat cinquecento sporting could very well racing with an standard pirelli 155 80 r13 (40 GBP each on ebay).

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