The woefully dull race in Monaco proves only to confirm that the F1 circus visits the principality only for paddock deals, glamour and gossip because actual on track action is close to zero without heavenly intervention commonly known as rain.
And one of the hottest rumours coming from Monaco (apart from those by conspiracy theorists who champion a slower than his teammate Finnish Ferrari driver) being that Ferrari are receiving special treatment with the Pirelli rubber. Indeed even that the tyre itself was designed specifically for the SF70H.
Back in the Schumacher dominant days of the early 2000’s, it was well known that Ferrari’s Japanese tyre partner Bridgestone developed their tyres to work specifically with the Ferrari car resulting in a very one sided affair each weekend. The rule makers eventually hindered that partnership enough to break the Michael Schumacher show and allow the Michelin runners a chance to compete. The result being Fernando Alonso in a Renault two Championship wins.
So to this year, one thing is clear. The Ferrari is patently better on the Pirelli’s than the competition. Mercedes boss Toto Wolff was quoted as saying that “Ferrari is doing better than us and can to get the rubber to work optimally. If they can, we must be able to do that. “.
But have the Pirelli tires been tailored to Ferrari this season?
Pirelli CEO Marco Tronchetti Provera sternly dismissed the rumour, yesterday he stated on the Italian radio channel Rai GR Parlamento:
“It is very simple – the tyres are the same for all. Mercedes has celebrated great successes but at the moment they are feeling a bit of a headwind. I am convinced that they will be back soon. The reason for the good performance of Ferrari is simply that this team has built an excellent car.
Perhaps this progress surprised some people. We should recognise their achievement…”
The insinuation that Ferrari was preferred over the other teams does not stand up to an exact consideration when the Tifosi argue that the data for the 2017 spec tyre was open access to all. And that is indeed true, but what can not be dismissed is that Sebastian Vettel was the first to put up his hand when it came to volunteering for tyre tests when Pirelli were developing their compounds for the coming season.
Pirelli’s chief Marco Provera confirms the fact stating “Sebastian Vettel has worked incredibly well in the development of the 2017 tires, he has always made himself available, others were not available so often.”.
Former Ferrari driver Stefan Johansson had already hinted this stating that “I predicted it in the late summer of 2016 – I bet it will be an advantage, when Sebastian Vettel works with Pirelli for tests. He was the only top driver to have done this. I was convinced that this will pay off for Vettel and Ferrari, and that is exactly what it looks like. “
Johansson elaborates on his theory
“It is hard for me to understand why the other drivers missed this opportunity. If there is a simple shortcut for better lap times, then over the tires. The more understanding you gain in handling the Pirelli rubber, the better. It will be even more advantageous if you, like Vettel, even have an influence on the development. “
“I can not emphasise enough: That was one of the reasons for the dominance of Michael Schumacher with Ferrari. Michael worked day and night with the Bridgestone tires, and in the end came a Japanese product tailor-made for him. Many other pilots had their own trouble to make the rubber work, but they fitted perfectly to Schumi. “
“Clearly every tyre company has its own philosophy of building racing tyres. But if you can make an influence as a driver, it can create a huge difference. More experience with these tyres, which means that you are more confident in the corners, can drive a little bit harder than your rivals. The differences may be slight, but in modern Formula 1, nuances determine whether a team wins or loses. I think it’s all a good thing for Vettel and a shame for all the others, who were less willing to do it. “
Perhaps Vettel was right all along then. How are those balls dandling in the pool Lewis?