At times Pirelli’s position within the sport could be described at best as between a rock and a hard place.
Originally given the remit, “to produce tyres for Formula One that should be changed two or three times during a race” as boss Paul Hembery has repeatedly explained, Pirelli have never been given the tools with which to do the job properly. In a vain effort to cut costs, the FIA have mandated a slash in testing over recent years and this has caused F1’s tyre manufacturer huge headaches. Even in the fairly stable regulations of the latter years of the V8 engines, Pirelli experienced difficulties with unexpected and highly unusual temperatures on race day and teams deliberately refusing to run tyres within Pirelli camber and pressure guidelines.
The result? Exploding tyres and failures due to damage frequently sent the critics finger pointing at the Italian marque.
It is fair to say that when the introduction of the 2014 Power Units came along with their then unknown torque outputs, Pirelli were forced into producing more robust rubber on safety grounds and history appears to be repeating itself for 2017.
Pirelli are now being asked to supply not only bigger, wider and grippier tyres, but rubber that degrades less harshly. “We are changing the design philosophy of the tyres,” Pirelli’s F1 chief Hembery confirmed to Russia’s Championat.
“We will make them less sensitive to temperature, so there will be less degradation or performance drop. The drivers will be able to attack more rather than build a strategy to work with the tyres, as they do now,” he said.
“…in 2017 you will see a very different product from Pirelli. Only time will tell if the races are better or worse. Since we came into Formula One, there has been more overtaking than ever, but from next year it will depend on the drivers and the cars. Don’t blame us if the races are boring!”
It could be Hembery’s qualified comment on the potential quality of the racing, means he is already bracing himself for another round of Pirelli lambasting.
Niki Lauda revealed the new chassis and engine rules are the result of a “compromise” agreement. “Whether it fulfils expectations remains to be seen,” the Mercedes team chairman told Auto Motor und Sport. Of course compromise can be a good thing, but as legend tells us the camel was the result of a committee who set out to design a horse.
Sauber’s veteran team manager Beat Zehnder also appears somewhat nervous over the agreements on next years regulations. “Will the 2017 regulations be better for the show? I don’t know. I hope so. At the moment I have my doubts, although I hope that I’m wrong.”