F1 Tyre problems on the horizon


The Force India proposal, allowing the teams freedom of choice on tyre compounds is set to come in to force in 2016.  F1 teams can select any 2 of the 4 Pirelli dry compounds with the proviso that Pirelli will withdraw the super-soft tyre for a handful of events where it may be dangerously soft.

The complaint in certain quarters has been that this will lead to confusion amongst the viewing audience and make the life of the race commentator impossible.

Of course, there have been times when the events of a race are beyond the comprehension of the expert pundits, as happened in 2013 at the Spanish GP where four pit stops became the norm.

Pirelli now want to spice things up even further, and are offering a 5th dry tyre compound which would be a ‘super-super soft’.

Given the run of races from Monaco to Austria where Pirelli selected the super soft and soft tyre were selected and the subsequent lack of pit stops, this extra soft tyre looks to be a good addition to the Pirelli range.

The tyres Pirelli have selected for Monza are a step softer than previously (soft/medium), this was something Pirelli also did in 2014 for the race in Spa. This delivered a race in the Ardennes Mountains where two pit stops were the minimum for any driver completing the race – which is of course the Pirelli brief.

Yet the resistance to the Force India initiative and presumably the new Pirelli suggestion, is disappointing. Formula One claims to be the pinnacle of innovation and design in motorsport, and as such it just can’t be dumbed down.

Neither is Formula One a fleeting fancy, where the viewer can tune in and tune out and expect to understand what is going on.

In football, an evolved pig bladder inside the wooden posts and in the net equals 1 point to the team who put it there (mostly). Simples?

Listen to the vagaries of the football pundit’s debate on offside rulings and suddenly the transient viewer is taken to a whole new level of philosophical musings surrounding whether a player ‘affected the course of play – or not’. Not so Simples.

The problem for Pirelli is they have little or no testing opportunities to try out this new super-super soft compound, and with the winter test in Jerez scrapped, it may be just 6 weeks before the opening race when the new compound can be proved.

2017 will be a nightmare for either Pirelli or Michelin – whoever wins the tyre bid. With the rear tyres increasing from 375mm to 420mm along with potentially more powerful engines, at present F1 fans face either exploding tyres or bullet proof rubber that will last for a season.

“With the changes currently foreseen for ’17, you will have a wider rear tyre, I guess a modification to the front tyre, and cars that will have a very different aero load,” explains Pirelli’s Paul Hembery.

“Because the changes are so vast you don’t want to end up in Barcelona in March [at the first test] finding out you’ve got major problems.

“So there needs to be a way found to do testing before that.”

The FIA will have to act on testing and act soon. The 2017 compounds will need a number of test days and with a tight 2016 F1 race calendar, slots for these tests are already tough to find.

As to the woe of the commentator in this new world of multi rubber shod cars, they’ll just have to get with the programme and work harder and smarter to stay ahead of the fans. Who after all are often ahead of the pundit’s pontifications as they watch live timing during the current races.

6 responses to “F1 Tyre problems on the horizon

  1. Not surprising that no one wants to support these changes. Break it down by team:

    Mercedes – they’re winning, why change that? Any changes to tyres will increase uncertainty.
    Ferrari – they’re catching Mercedes, again uncertainty would not be good at this point
    Williams – happy as runners up
    Red Bull – bigger problems than tyres
    McLaren – as above
    Toro Rosso – as above, car looking competitive when everything works so unlike to want to add to uncertainty
    Force India – new car has switched focus from tyres back to car development
    Sauber – likely would support this, as it’s cheaper than developing the car
    Manor – don’t care, need 2016 car and would prefer to keep rules constant until then.

  2. Will it really make a difference anyway? The teams will all run their simulations and come to much the same conclusions, especially with there only being a few compounds to choose from.

    • Certain cars seem to work better with certain compounds though, so there might be more benefit to them if they can run a more optimal strategy? Opens up the option for some variations in strategy too depending on what they think their pace might be like, then it comes down to how conservative or optimistic teams will be.

  3. consider my limited point of view here for a moment. back in the day during amateur racing of FFord and FAtlantic in the USA, we had the choice of Goodyear, Firestone, Hoosier, McCreary, Dunlops, Michelin, Yokohamas, B & G and more. we made a choice based on speed, feel, price, wear, availability, reputation, commitment to advancements in technology and which distributer or sales person we liked or who was willing to give us the tech specs or a “deal”!!!
    the season-long racing was incredible and nobody ever totally dominated.
    I promise you would be blown away knowing I was quite successful running the McCreary softest dirt compound tire on my Titan Mk V FFord and later modified to FAtlantic., and I LOVED Nelson Ledges, Mid Ohio, Watkins Glen, Lime Rock, Mt Tremblont, and Mosport most of all.

    get my drift?? 20 to 50 year olds with no sponsorship could afford to buy any and all the above tires for fun and a cheap trophy.

    F1, FOM, FIA and the teams all need to roll over and die for their BS that they cannot afford a tire war…just provide the testing time and responsible marketing plan and you will see there are nearly 2 dozen tire manufacturers capable of providing a safe and competitive F1 tire…

    • People really need to stop using ‘affordable’ with respect to things in F1. I don’t turn on the tv every weekend to watch billionaires try to save money.

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