Pirelli and F1: A storm in a team cup

Were Paul Hembery a racing driver would surely rival Kimi for the moniker of ‘iceman’ in terms of his ability to remain unfased when bombarded with criticism. Andrew Benson of the BBC tweeted him as saying, “It’s rather bizarre. We’re only doing what we’ve done for the last two years and we don’t understand why you’re so excited. Unless you all want us to give Red Bull tyres to win championship. With one-stop processional races, one team would benefit. Them”

Hardly surprising we’ve seen Red Bull team boss, Vettel, continually attacking the 2013 Pirelli rubber. A rather sullen faced Sebastian when asked how the team had performed replied in Spain said, “we are not driving to the pace of the car, but to the pace of the tyres”.

There were 2 heavyweights of F1 money in Barcelona this weekend and one of them decided to use his presence as a platform to attack Pirelli. Dietrich Mateshitz has been quoted by Lauda, Marko and others but for the first time spoke himself on the matter of F1’s 2013 tyres.

“Everyone knows what happens here”, he told John Noble. “This has nothing to do with racing anymore. This is a competition in tyre management. Real car racing looks different. Under the given circumstances, we can neither get the best out of our car nor our drivers.

“There is no more real qualifying and fighting for the pole, as everyone is just saving tyres for the race. If we would make the best of our car we would have to stop eight or ten times during a race, depending on the track.”

The hyperbole is now getting ridiculous and intellectually moronic. 8-10 stops would have been the best strategy for a Red Bull? If that is the case then the genius that is Newey has royally screwed up with his RB9 design and the team are rightly being punished. Except of course – who is leading both F1 championships?

My reading of the situation (and I’m sure others will prove this with charts and data) is that despite Horner’s assertions to SKY that “3 or 4 stops would have made no difference to our race”, had Red Bull been quicker to react in changing Vettel’s strategy it certainly would have meant he had a chance of challenging for the podium.

Having reviewed some of the TV commentary, it is clear there is an agenda in the media which is anti Pirelli. Martin Brundle, an experienced commentator, was clearly confused as Alonso pitted for the second time believing Kimi had the race in the bag. Yet the Spaniard was around 9 seconds behind the Finn and closing after his stop for new tyres at 3 seconds a lap. Sorry Martin that’s just poor – and I tweeted him at the time #NotHardToRead

Of course being made to look silly in front of millions  – sorry a few hundred thousand viewers is embarrassing, but that responsibility sits with the ‘expert commentator’  who apparently objects to being made to think hard about what is happening rather than making the same annual benign comments about a processional event.

Rob Smedley speaking to SKY regarding the 2013 tyres said, “It’s really challenging for us, and now we really have to think about it as the race unfolds”. Isn’t this what we want from everyone involved with Formula 1 – a real challenge? Maybe the commentators need to adopt the same attitude instead of the lazy observations like, “my pit stop chart only goes up to 4 stops” as the perpetual drone about tyres continues to pour through the screen.

It’s as though there is a big fight for the heart and soul of Formula 1 playing out before our eyes, so I thought we’d muse briefly together over what exactly is Formla 1; and what should Formula 1 be?

Formula 1 at its inception was really a mostly de-regulated series. This was broadly what the specifications rule book looked like for nearly 10 years.

1950-1951
1500 cc with comprssor or 4500 cc without
No weight limit
425 hp at 9300 rpm-710 kg (1951 Alfo Romeo 159)
1952-1953
750 cc with compressor or 2000 cc without
No weight limit
175 hp at 7200 rpm-560 kg (1953 Ferrari 500)
1954-1960
750 cc with compressor or 2500 cc without
No weight limit
290 hp at 8500 rpm-730 kg (1955 Mercedes W196)
280 hp at 7600 rpm-630 kg (1957 Maserati 250F)

The technical innovations during that period of time included the introduction of disk Brakes (1951), First non-turbo producing 100 hp/1000 cc (1953), Direct Injection (1954), Desmodromic valves (1954) and cars with the engine in the back.

In 85 races during that decade, 25 drivers were killed. Formula 1 was about engines and taking on death itself for the glory of winning. Over the subsequent decades F1 evolved and the challenges in designing cars that won races and titles were different too.

By the turn of the millennium, Formula 1 had become progressively more regulated and had changed beyond recognition from the days of Ascari, Fangio and Moss. Big, big money dominated the sport, such that it has been suggested Ferrari spent $100m a year on paying Bridgestone to develop tyres for them to win 6 consecutive constructor titles from 1999-2004 with Schumacher winning 5 consecutive driver titles from 2000-20004.

The sport had also become one which was highly technically regulated, but the team with the biggest budget could extract the final extra fraction of a percent in performance required within the regulations to gain the advantage. No longer could a Moss in a Cooper beat the might of a Ferrari. The sport’s popularity wained with some traditional fans due to processional races and predictable results.

President of the FIA, Max Mosley, felt the strategy would be to reduce the advantage of big money, by restricting spend. He could not get the teams to agree to this, so he changed the rules to prevent them spending money in certain areas. Qualifying engines disappeared almost overnight and the teams in a compromise were persuaded to over time to restrict somewhat the resources they consumed.

In brief, F1 racing was boring to most and so ‘the show’ had to be brightened up or sponsors and TV revenue would collapse. Then the Empire that Ecclestone had built may have ended back in the fields from whence they came.

Enter KERS, DRS and Pirelli.

Here is not the place to debate the finer technicalities of each of these solutions, yet we eventually got this weekend what the architects of F1 want. Records tumbling at a circuit where the race has been won from pole 18-22 years, once from third on the grid and 3 times from qualifying second. The podium drivers all started form outside the top 3 grid positions.

Do we want the driver on pole position to win each race?

Change is always hard to take, and the status quo is more palatable than a radical future. However, what is certain is no body in F1 wants a return to the dominant era of Ferrari (unless it’s their team who becomes dominant) and this is what Pirelli have delivered.

Conspiracy theorists may suggest from the opening comments above that Pirelli have in fact developed anti-Red Bull tyres. These tyres do indeed penalise the high rake, downforce solutions Newey has rattled off year after year. Interesting, a handicap system based on previous winners?

Back to the race. What I saw on Sunday, was a team refusing to bow to pre-race computer simulation mentality of lap delta times setting their actual strategy. 3 stops was 6 seconds quicker by most people’s number crunching.

I have felt at times like a lone voice this year continually stating that this modern computerised race planning appears to  drive the teams toward a race strategy that makes the fewest stops possible. That is why we hear delta times being quoted and Rocky telling Vettel it’s the last 5 laps that count.

Yet this weekend, that mould was broken.

Ferrari knew they did not have a car that could make the front row on Saturday. They planned their qualification efforts accordingly, saved a set of tyres and decided to reject the calculations driving most towards 3 stop wisdom and commit to 4 stops in the race.

Alonso, a renown great starter, charged hard made up 2 places knowing he could use his tyres to the full – and on the limit of grip with tanks brimming with fuel he made it past Hamilton in a thrilling move around the outside of turn 3. Fernando drove stint 1 like a man possessed – as though he was doing qualifying – it was incredible to watch.

I tweeted a number of media people and commentators making the point the race was being won by the team not driving to delta times but driving the car flat out until the race was in the bag. Will Buxton has written about this – so I’ll not replicate what he says eloquently – though with a greater use of the vernacular than maybe TJ13 would us 🙂

Interestingly, Andrea Stella was interviewed by SKY following the race. He insisted that Ferrari never give Alonso delta times, he drives by the feel of the tyre – knowing when he can and cannot push. The team have a pre-race strategy of how many laps they will do for each stint but are adaptable to changing this if either driver or team make the call to do so.

This makes Alonso’s win even better for me. A driver – driving by feel – on the edge round turn 3, at the circuit de Catalunya. Awesome. Now maybe , Red Bull will stop running computerised F1 races. Let them try their 8 stops and Mercedes should desist from trying to turn Lewis into a manager of tyres. #CRAZYIDEA. Let him race like Alonso did.

Apparently this was all the talk throughout the race on the NBCSN – how Ferrari were racing hard and not conserving tyres. I so wish I had that feed. The playback’s I’ve watched are turgid and for me if SKY don’t change their ways with this relentless drivel and negativity over tyres – I for one will be checking out either the BBC or an NBCSN feed from anywhere I can get it.

Hembery agrees 4 stops is probably 1 too many, and a tweak in the tyres will be given consideration. Yet give me Spain 2013 over Korea and India 2012 – every time.

The far bigger questions to which serious thought and attention need to be applied are, what is F1? and what should F1 be?. This should include ensuring we have exciting F1 racing which is no simple task in an era of uber reliability and little penalty for driver off track excursions and error.

The sport must grapple with these issues together with that of the spending gap between the biggest and smallest competitors and by comparison the noise over Pirelli is a mere distraction – and a relative storm in a tea cup.

However, for now, Ferrari have set out their stall and challenged the others to race them hard – and see who is best. Is that not what F1 is about?

 

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54 responses to “Pirelli and F1: A storm in a team cup

  1. Great read Judge, enjoyed that a lot!
    For the price of 1 pit stop Ferrari raced flat out for 66 laps and got rewarded with a victory, fenomenale!

    • How do you define ‘flat.-out’, please. cars lapping a massive six seconds slower than in qualifying is flat-out?? It was like watching Usain Bolt compete in Dutch wooden shoes!!

      • Hi Danilo

        A fair comment but if you have a few minutes, read this article by James Allen from 2010. It discusses the infamous Istanbul Red Bull collision and fuel matters surrounding Vettel’s ability to launch and attack on Webber.

        This race was pre Pirelli and clearly demonstrates drivers have not been driving flat out for some time – a clever management of resources available has been happening for quite some time.

        Computer simulations have been running F1 races for quite some time and the teams easily manipulate each car they run. At least on Sunday Ferrari went against all the simulations, acted on a hunch even and let their driver feel the tyres and understand how hard he push and when

        http://www.jamesallenonf1.com/2010/06/f1-strategy-cutting-it-fine-on-fuel/

        • I’d forgotten about the fuel levels that teams run. If I remember right it’s a maximum of 160 litres that a car can use. We automatically assume they fill them to the brim, but commentators constantly remind us that these cars are actually set up with less fuel than required to finish the race. Hence fuel saving modes.

          One other thing, I have been trying to find Paul Hembrey on twitter to ask they don’t change the tyres. I love what Will Buxton said but also found this on JAonF1 today, by Aberaccus

          Fernando Alonso’s Barcelona winning race time was only 7 seconds off last year’s winning time. Sebastian Vettel’s race time was 20 seconds QUICKER! He was quicker in China too. The way Red Bull have been telling it, you would have thought we’d been running foul of the two-hour race limit. Funnily enough, the race that was slower was Bahrain – Vettel’s winning time around one minute slower than the time he won the race in in 2012, or some one second a lap, and yet Red Bull were not complaining after winning in Bahrain. I wonder why?

          • Good point, and the cars have recovered most of the down force they lost in last years regs change too – which means they are harder on the tyres.

            Pirelli have to guess how the teams will develop the cars and its a balancing act. We’ve only done 5 races, trust me by the last 5 we’ll be seeing fewer stops.

            So if 4 stops in Barcelona – a traditional borefest – means Korea and India are more interesting than last years 1 stop trundles we have to accept that early season racing will be different – and more ‘irratic’ – as some describe it.

          • Excellent post TJ13, a bit late to the debate but I have said before that preserving your car has gone on for a long time – rarely have drivers gone flat out for the whole race. Hadn’t appreciated how much Alonso was on it.

      • Please bear in mind, the cars qualify with a thimble of fuel in, to complete 3 laps, 2 coasting laps and a qualifying lap. During the race, they start with around 150 litres on board.
        It was always so, read back over the years, and with the exception of the when you had to qualify with race fuel aboard, race times were always slower.

  2. +1 for this post TJ13, thanks for sharing a bit of F1 History in the middle, for those of us who kinda fell in love with the sport in late 90’s. Now its a show, I don’t know why people complain about tyres so much. Even Paul Hembrey said, we are happy with 2-3 stops and 4 stops is a bit too much, hence they will ensure the race is lively and not borderline bizzare, Period.

    • There are days when I feel old. Usually when people speak of falling in love with the sport in the late 90’s…

      I have watched F1 in Italy and what little was available to us since the mid 70’s. I attended my first GP at Brands in 1982 and I believe I have been blessed to have seen first hand, true genius.
      I look at Grand Prix venues now and barely recognise what I grew up with.

      Simple things like gravel traps and circuit barriers mere feet away from the track. Catch fencing which surrounds the public enclosures now. The paddock which no normal person can get anywhere near to. I remember tyre tests at Brands and Silverstone and sneaking into the garages when the old boy security man was chatting to someone nearby.
      Standing in the back of an F1 garage listening as a team started their engines up and rejoicing at the assault on the ear drums.
      Walking out of a garage when the smell of chemical fuel brought tears to the eyes.
      Meeting Mansell and his family on the inside of Copse corner having lunch, a really nice guy, and being awed by meeting Senna. Chatting Italian to the Ferrari squad and being introduced to Prost and Alesi because of it.

      Sorry, I got carried away 🙂 What a passion

      • Add – chatting to mechanics having a fag break at the back of the garage and stubbing it out inside the back door.

        I think you have seen and heard what many can never know my friend. you are truly blessed.

        • I never realised at the time but I look back at photos etc and rejoice that I experienced it.
          I remember the smell of gauloise in the Ligier garage, lol

          I go to Goodwood as often as I can, but even today, it’s lost the garden party atmosphere of the early 90’s. that was special

  3. Fans have been complaining for some time now that the driver is a very small cog in the wheel of a F1 racing team. In Barcelona we saw perhaps the start of a new era? The able, thinking, performing race driver. I love the perfect qualifying lap with the car and driver against the clock and really enjoy the split screen output that the BBC does after qually comparing the pole with another car – in the last race, Rosberg and Hamilton, but in the end it is GP – racing – not a sprint. Thanks for an insightful piece.

    • Ted – I think you’ll get the battle for the perfect qualy lap a week on Saturday.

      F1 has been a sprint, but i has also been an endurance race. It can’t be both

      • A GP race nowadays is maybe something in between? I see an endurance race as the platform for sports cars – many fond memories of 1000 km races at Silverstone and Brands. Looking forward to the battle for pole at Monaco, then it will probably be a lottery for the race, but nearly always exciting. However the BBC has in its wisdom put this showpiece in the highlights box, preferring to go live to China of all places – maybe they got their passage paid?

          • Oh well, I suppose we should be thankful that we get a free to view service at all. Looking forward to it nevertherless.

  4. Bloody hell, thank God someone is writing rational musings. I’ve got so pissed off with several other F1 opinion & news sites on the Pirelli, frankly I’m amazed a commercial business has kept the faith like they have, perhaps it’s the Italian way? I suppose they’re probably getting more coverage than Michelin or Bridgestone ever got! Bravo Lotus & Ferrari for getting with the modern program.

  5. So let me get this. I’ve paid nearly 300 quid to go to Silverstone and see Alonso and Hamilton drive flat out, pit 4-5 times, and have no idea what position anyone is because I’ll be a spectator there and not listening to the telly and all the commentary and feeds?
    Whatever anyone says, Pirelli have gone too far with these tyres. We need more durable tyres, not like Bridgestone, but something in between. Tyres should allow both the sprinters and the thinkers to thrive over the season. At the moment this doesn’t happen.

    • Take a radio. Listen to James Allen on Radio 5 live (better than Silverstone circuit feed – trust me). Watching any F1 race – EVER – has been hard to understand without timing charts or audio/visual commentary

      • Prefer to listen to the sound of the engines, but in any case, don’t want it to be even more confusing than it currently is.
        And to be honest, I don’t ask for processional races, I don’t ask for a return of the Schumacher era, I just want 2, max 3 stops per race as it always used to be.

        • There’s an easier way to reduce the number of pitstops. Make the pitstops longer. So reduce the number of guys who can service the car, make a stop time loss ~30-40s again and the trade-off favours fewer stops.

          Just a thought…

          • Interesting suggestion. And what really is the problem?

            Do people really care how many stops there are. If you want a sprint race for the fastest car, what is more engaging – no stops and a procession from start to finish on one set of tyres? (we’ve had this) or a sprint race broken up by pit stops?

          • Call me a cynic, but I believe the main reason for fuel pitstops and subsequently tyre stops is the perfect medium for sponsors TV time. How many times have we switched to a pit stop when there is action on the track…

      • Nicely reasoned article…
        Way back in my past I was a regular attendee at Brands where the commentaries were provided by Tony Marsh (I think his name was – apologies if that’s wrong – whoever it was was brilliant) and I always seemed more aware of how everyone was performing than I have from subsequent TV presentations. Most of the time we see no more than the top half dozen cars, unless one of the slower cars crashes… is how it seems to me…

    • Just my 2 pennies..
      I have been attending the British GP since 1982. In fact all F1 races on British soil, so that includes 1983, 85 and 93 European GP’s as well as a few on the continent.
      I have been to LeMans, 1000kms, Thoroughbred GP’s, Goodwood Festival of Speed and Revival, Classic Motorsports, Indycars at Rockingham and Brads, Drag Racing, MotoGP and WSBK.
      I have even been on a circuit testing my Formula Ford race car with a classic 70’s March on track also.
      I came out of Luffield and accelerated. I heard a scream of a Cosworth V8 behind me and this bright orange March came past. A lucky owner who sadly couldn’t drive. He braked so early for Copse, that I passed him before my braking point and watched with interest as he came past again before we got to Maggots. I digress

      I tried the Kangaroo system one year but found it ruined for me the GP experience.

      I love the noise, the smell and the sights of a race. Especially true of an F1 event. I enjoy the harshness of an F1 gearchange in a 70’s F1 car and the bass rumble of a turbo charged 80’s car. The scream of a V12 and the explosive energy from a current car.
      At Brands, if you stood in the right place, you could see practically all of the Indy circuit, but everywhere else just a small part of the track. Either way, you will never get the full picture track side, only on the TV.
      Yet, how many times has an F1 driver said they saw something on the big Diamond vision screens around the circuit?

      It’s far too simple to throw criticism at Pirelli, and if Ferrari has any veto power they will be speaking to Todt about not allowing the compounds to favour RBR domination.
      I’ll be at Silverstone again this year, and will indulge in the experience of a F1 car at speed, yet I will enjoy the Festival of Speed far more, yet there is no competition there.

      • hear hear, most of what you get at a motor race is the awe, noise and indeed the detail of what’s going on. I live near to Brands and Snetterton and at the latter I love to sit by the esses after the back straight and just look at how the cars brake into the tricky high speed curves. You simply do not notice those details on TV of professionals balancing their machines on the edge and that more than makes up for the lack of understanding the race as a whole. This even goes for BTCC races and they’re often no more than 15 laps. The race as a whole? This is why we now have Sky+ for later 😉

      • I get what you’re saying but FanVision came a long way from its original form Kangaroo TV.

        My first F1 experience over 30 years ago was one stoppers and no big screens or anything. I hadn’t a clue what was going on but loved the sound and sights at the circuit.

        I hesitate to say this because I know people find it tough to find the money to attend a race these days, but if you want to feel the cars – race day is not your best option.

        I know Jerez is in danger of being dropped, but for £300, you can go to 3 days winter testing (flights from UK, car hire, hotels track entrance) if there are 2 of you. You get nearer the cars than on any race day and they are on track 8 hours a day. You get a far better feel of the cars and longer experience than at Silverstone for 90 minutes.

        Alternatively, go to Silverstone for Friday and Saturday. You’ll get 280 minutes of practice and 45 minutes of qualification. Watch the race on TV.

        I don’t want to sound like a spoiled brat because I’ve been to more F1 track days than I could count – but the original point was ‘its hard to understand a race at the circuit with Pirelli tyres’ – I disagree – its just hard to understand an F1 race at a circuit full stop without AV assistance.

        What you only get at a race is the sound of 22 engines screaming at the start, and the sound of the snake for the first few laps. Then most fans don’t get start/finish line tickets due to price and availability

        • Not sure if wife would want to go to 3 days, but I may well be up for that next year.
          I used to love the tyre tests at Silverstone, it was 30 minutes from where I lived and would go for a few days each time. Brilliant.

  6. The only reason there is so much bitching, handwringing, whining and crying going on by the media is that a forgone conclusion is not one anymore (ie that pole-man or second wins it), wasnt that the whole point.

    The ones whining are the ones who are not winning, be it teams or supporters.

    Like so many are saying, the tyres are the same for everyone, the ones that arent winning just need to work harder to fix their cars, and its not exactly a new problem for Mercedes, theyve had the same problem for the last 3 years, you would have thought they would have fixed it by now.

    I’m glad a little lateral thinking is causing an upset for the ones that thought they had it easy.

    There’s more to a car than just downforce!

    • Welcome VFFLW

      I believe this is your first comment. Every few years the pack gets shuffled whether because of regulations, tyres or whatever… and you are right… downforce has been dominant for a few years – these tyres challenge that philosophy – and what is wrong with that?

      I believe it is clearly an anti Red Bull (downforce) move, but technical sports regularly correct the rules to prevent one entrant being dominant. CF rules on Olympic short track cycling for London 2012.

  7. Something comes to mind, judge, about a comment I just made.

    The only time that RBR haven’t mentioned tyres was Malaysia and Bahrain. Obviously the RBR wins.
    But could it be that, in both those races, Ferrari and Lotus were not at the front? More specifically Ferrari.
    Kimi may be a threat in the WDC but Grosjean is not consistent enough to challenge Webber throughout the season. But Massa is. Which means Ferrari are fearsome competition for the WCC.
    Allied to this is Alonso finally has a car that is competitive. If he hadn’t tagged the back of Vettel and lost his wing the following lap, or having touched it, it lost a little performance, there is every chance he would have been fighting for victory.
    If the DRS hadn’t stuck open in Bahrain, every journalist and site were stating Ferrari were the strongest for race day.

    Vettel romped to victory in Bahrain yet had a race time slower than last year, 1h 35m 10s against 1h 36m 00 this year.

    It would seem that when Ferrari is competitive, they have to race faster than they would like.

    • My sources at RBR tell me they are worried that Ferrari is way ahead of them this year – regardless of the table to date. Worse than that, Newey’s design may be fundamentally flawed to deal with the 2013 tyres. Much depends on the tweak Pirelli are now offering from Silverstone onwards.

      Alonso has win.win, 2nd, DNF and 8th – due to a DRS failure. Imagine his points had he finished all the races as has Vettel. Remember Ferrari and Alonso were the kings of maximising points from whatever hand they were dealt in 2012.

      From what I hear, the perception at present among the teams is that Alonso is the big favourite win the 2013 WDC – maybe by a fair margin.

      I’m not so certain, because Lotus are still playing computer simulations. Should they let Kimi go racing it could be very interesting.

      • Fascinating insight. I was chatting to Craig Scarborough at a Shell event that I won as a prize on JAonF1, he was saying similar things about Ferrari, RBR and Kimi.
        During winter testing, Vettel was constantly critical of the tyres and people said it was all sand bagging. It suddenly makes sense now why Vettel ignored team orders.

        I’m glad Ferrari has had two poor races early in the season, it almost seemed that because they were competitive they’d forgotten last years campaign. In some races, different strategy would have won the race, Monaco a case in point.
        The decision to take a risk in Malaysia was to win the race, whereas last year they would have pitted because it was damage limitation.
        Maybe, Malaysia and Bahrain has refocused them fully

  8. I’ve been watching F1 since about 1988, so I’ve watched the periods where one car dominated, but don’t seem to remember thinking that I was getting bored of it. I think what I like about F1 is that for most of the time I’ve been watching, it has been a battle of drivers skill and ability to extract as much speed as they can, from the equipment provided. Days when I’ve been upset at what I’ve seen are ones like when Schumacher had the win handed to him, because the fastest man/machine combination on the day wasn’t allowed to win. I think, if Red Bull got their wish, ended up being 3s a lap faster than everyone else, I could accept that the best car and driver had won the race. I don’t for one minute think that they would have it that easy but I would know that I’ve seen a true display of engineering excellence and driver skill. It would be up to the other teams to find that extra pace, just as now they are working on tyre durability. I did not find it exciting watching on board with Raikonnen and in each corner, he was visibly coasting, rather than attacking. I want to see drivers attacking and pushing the limits lap after lap. We are in a weird situation now where WEC is a series of qualifying laps between pit stops and F1 is worrying about endurance from its tyres! How do we know that, now we have DRS and KERS, racing would not be better now anyway?

    • No disrespect Simon. but you may be in the minority – which is perfectly fine… yet the Schumacher era is probably the most controversial period of F1 and people still passionately debate the events surrounding that time today.

      It certainly is a significant influence on why we have KERS, DRS and Pirelli today – which says a lot.

      • I understand what everyone is saying, and it’s all very well put, I am just stating what I prefer. I just find the action a little underwhelming now, apart from Alonso around the outside of Hamilton, I’ve not seen much that has the ‘wow’ factor, it’s just all too easy to overtake now.

        • Hi Simon

          I do have a of sympathy with your views. But we must look at circuit by circuit and Barcelona has been a pole sitters delight for 18 out of 23 years. Front winner row 21 out of 23 years.

          The winner this year was the driver and team who raced the hardest on the tyres – did not play delta time computer games – which were also happening in the Bridgestone era.

          There are a number of F1 people I count as ‘in the know’ who believe the teams’ conservative attitude is the problem more than the tyres.

          Good to hear from you.

          • I think Monaco is going to be fascinating.
            Lets say hypothetically, Alonso qualifies third and they all get through the first corner in order, he can’t overtake easily, will he repeat his actions from last year, run slower than the leader to save his tyres , then when they get ready to pit he’s able to catch and blitz the laps pre stopping and then emerge in front? Or will someone use the hardt for qualifying in Q3 and then run late in the race . I can’t wait

          • Absolutely!!! I’m looking forward to Monaco this year more than any time I can remember.

            The run longer strategy for stop 1 – or go for the undercut strategy – is less clear now than ever for this race.

            We’ve had eras of F1 where running longer was the best route and conversely like in Barcelona the ‘undercut’ first stop was the best route.

            Its not clear which of these will work best in Monaco. Isn’t that exciting?

            The reason is because overtaking is so much easier due to the tyres.

          • Just on the Monaco race, should Merc find themselves with a 1-2 again, do you think they should use teamwork and allow whoever gets to the first corner ‘1st’ to get away from the pack, with ‘2nd’ holding everyone up? Might be their only chance this year.

            I realise how hypocritical this is given my earlier comments, but I think I’d like to see if this could be achieved.

          • Ok, rather late to the party here due to numerous work obligations, but I will say this, when asked about Pirelli, always the refrain is “give us Canada again”, when Lewis made a late pit stop from the lead and came storming back to claim the victory. Except it wasn’t really storming as anyone with eyes could see Alonso and Vettel were helpless as newborns, and a little math could tell you there were more than enough laps left to make it happen. Still, incredibly exciting to watch as a spectator. It seems like Ferrari finally realized this and gave us a proper battle of strategies, best thought and executed will win.

            Motor racing at this level is always a team sport, and what’s been missing this season(till now) is a team with the stones to take the over side of the bet. If Pirelli do their job right, there should always be 2 ways to win, with the cleverest being able to sort it on the fly and deal with the unpredictable better than the rest, with the driver to execute to perfection the strategy. Watching on DVR, I couldn’t help but think of Istanbul last year(?), when poor Button was switched to “Plan B” thanks to the strategy boffins and sank like a stone, while Lewis replied “sorry, couldn’t hear you” ignored them and stayed out to rule the roost.

            I do believe you are absolutely on it, the excitement comes from the strategic battle times the drivers ability to execute, the less obvious the choice the more fun we have. And frankly, anything that puts finger boy on the sidelines makes me happy (says the fan who stopped following F1 in the middle of the Schumacher Dynasty).

    • It was never boring in the dominant periods because the drivers were at war with one another. Be they Senna v Prost, Mansell v Piquet or Hill vs Villeneuve. All were allowed to race.
      What frustrated fans and the FIA was that Schumacher was favoured on so many counts within Ferrari.
      I’m a huge Ferrari fan, and I know The old man would never have allowed a driver that much control of his cars. Ferrari won races, drivers lost them…
      If MSC or Vettel now actually raced against their teammates, no one would feel cheated.
      In 2004, when he won 13 races, I prayed he wouldn’t gift anything to Rubens. If Barrichello was quick enough, great but don’t patronise the viewers.
      It’s for this reason I believe one if the best drives I saw was 2002 Belgian GP. MSC took off from pole and left him behind at a second a lap, and Rubens was leaving the rest behind at a similar pace. But it was honest ability.
      If RBR design a car that wins every race, so be it but don’t let me hear them issue team orders, let them fight!

  9. Finally the voice of reason! Well said TJ13! James Allen could learn something. NBCSN was spot on with their commentary. Ferrari have adapted and do not rely so much on computer calculations. Everyone else now has to adapt to the Ferrari way and some teams will, while others, like Red Bull will stubbornly refuse.

  10. Great post once again. I’ve enjoyed reading through the comments and seeing what is everyones personal opinion on where the sport should be headed. There was a comment from JB recently. He mentioned that the race pace of the F12013 car was around three seconds per lap slower than the fastest qualifying time of GP2 cars. So….I went to look at the stats to see if he made sense. The fastest Quali time was 1.28.7 for GP2 in Barcelona. The fastest F1 race lap was 1.26.7 by GUT. Average race pace we could say is around 1.30. So JB is kinda right..

    For 2014 it has been rumoured that the cars will be up to 5 seconds slower per lap than 2013. Maybe not that much but it will no doubt be slower than 2013. If GP2 regs remain the same in 2014 (There has been no mention of new powerplants so far. And these things surely don’t drop out of the sky overnight.), it is very likely that the cars from this feeder series will be quicker, if not as quick as the F12014 Hybrids. Being quite the avid follower for the last decade, I’m pretty worried about the direction my favourite sport (or business if you like) is going…

    • Brilliant, had never thought of this! Rather sums up the mess at the moment. Throw into the pot that by the end of the season, everyone will probably(apart from Merc) get on top of the tyres, which will lead to Pirelli opting for tyres made out of candle wax, there could be a very realistic faster GP2 championship!

    • You do know GP2 run naturally aspirated 4lt V8s limited to 10,000rpm if I recall correctly. Take the ref limiter off and they will be faster 🙂

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