Lando Norris has blamed Pirelli for the carnage in Melbourne at the restart late in the race. The McLaren driver described the new Pirelli 2023 tyres as “pretty terrible” and not worthy of being used “at the top of motorsport.”
With the Melbourne race now starting later in the year it is now more at risk of a southern hemisphere style winter weekend.
Time of Aussie GP meant colder weather
Add to this the end of daylight savings time on Saturday evening which moved sunset forward 1 hour and this meant the Australian grand prix weekend was held in ambient and track temperatures much lower than historically has been the case.
Pirelli’s tyre selection was ‘safe’ as they selected the C4, C3 and C2 compounds, but they each took longer than ideal to come up to temperature.
Saturday qualifying saw the cars running multiple laps to get the tyres into the proper temperature window before the driver could extract the quickest lap time.
Norris blames Pirelli rubber for chaos
Norris blamed the chaotic restarts late in the race on the Pirelli rubber claiming after the race, “the tyre doesn’t work and, on this surface, with this track temperature, I can’t describe how bad the grip is.”
“That’s why you see everyone going straight on at Turn 1 and locking up.
“I wouldn’t say it’s just clumsy from everyone; it’s just you’re racing and there’s no grip, it’s simple as that. So, we need a tyre which gives us some more grip and actually a tyre that feels like it should be on a Formula 1 car at the top of motorsport. And at the minute, on a day like today, it feels pretty terrible.”
Pirelli switch Imola tyre compounds
Pirelli appear to have responded to the criticism as they announced yesterday their tyre selection for the all important round 6 in Imola, where Formula One will try out the new proposed “Alternative Tyre Allocations” (ATA).
This ATA test together together with another later in the season will determine whether F1 can move further towards its sustainability targets by reducing the sets of tyres for each driver from 13 to 11 during a typical race weekend.
This equates to a whopping 3840 fewer tyres being shipped around the world for a 24 race season. However as with all change, there are naysayers and those concerned how it will impact the spectacle for the fans.
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Verstappen calls out Pirelli choices
Max Verstappen recently commented, “I hope it’s not going to be cold in Imola. Otherwise it’s going to be quite tricky.”
Pirelli have now made an aggressive choice of tyres for Imola selecting the C5, C4 and C3 compounds. These are a step softer and with step more grip than the ones used in Australia.
More interestingly following Verstappen’s comments, Pirelli have chosen tyres with more grip than last year in Imola despite the race being one month later and where the track temperatures will be much higher.
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Pirelli more ‘aggressive’ tyre choice
This would usually be perceived as a more “aggressive” decision by F1’s tyre supplier but following the debacle in Australia ironically Pirelli may well be playing it safe.
The ATA weekend also see a new qualifying format being trialed where the tyres used in each session are preordained.
Drivers can only use the hard compound tyres hard compound tyres in Q1, the mediums in Q2 and the softs in Q3.
This range of tyres will also be used next time out in Azerbaijan where the track temperatures are expected to be high.
However, the extra grip is preferred because of the slow twisty sections of the Baku circuit although Pirelli expects the tyres will suffer from thermal degradation.
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"Half the job just seems to be avoiding people who are a bit out of control and making a lot of mistakes and crashing into people…"
Lando Norris reflects on his P6 at the Australian Grand Prix pic.twitter.com/wBwME6NOzU
— Sky Sports F1 (@SkySportsF1) April 2, 2023