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I'm Matthew Somerfield, a freelance journalist focused on the technical elements of Formula One. It has been a pleasure to provide content via this site for the last 5 years, which has led me to several paid freelancing jobs along the way. I'm currently plying my trade with Motorsport.com and working alongside the legend that is Giorgio Piola.

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25 Apr 2013

Pirelli have come under fire from the teams, media and fans alike this season with tyre issues once again being a go to topic before, during and after the race(s).  For anyone that follows my work you will know I'm an advocate of Pirelli's aggressive tyre design and believe it has enhanced the sport.  Many talk of the drivers needing to heavily manage their cars throughout the race but this has and always will be a trait of F1.  In the past drivers have had to conserve fuel, use less engine revs etc so this is not a new trend to F1, what however is new is the perspective of some fans.

I have been watching F1 for around 25 years, which in comparison to some corners of the media is not a long time.  We have however since the emergence of Red Bull and other key drivers had an influx of new fans, which of course is not a bad thing.  However for me some of these fans lack the perspective that the elder fans have in terms of the history of F1.  I for one do not want to go back to the days where each GP is decided by virtue of a drivers qualification position, Pirelli's role in the return to overtaking in our beloved sport has been critical in my opinion.  Their tyre design has lead to a return in focus to the symbiotic relationship of mechanical grip vs aerodynamics and aids the driver feel his way into the corner.  The degradation we see aids in the strategic element of the sport we lost when F1 reverted to no refueling in 2010 giving the driver and the team a decision to be made throughout a race weekend that can have ramifications to their overall result.

Pirelli have talked openly about the option of re-specing their 2013 tyre choices and with a heavy heart this morning I opened a press release from the Italian Tyre manufacturer describing a change to their hard tyre compound from Barcelona onward: Pirelli Press Release

From Barcelona onward the Hard tyre will return to a compound specification much closer to it's 2012 counterpart, this means a 2 stage gap appears between that and the Medium compound of tyre.  With Pirelli reporting a gap of between 0.5 & 0.8 secs between their 2013 compounds a larger gap of between 1.0 & 1.5 seconds could be seen between the Hard and Medium compounds (Most likely around 1 second) essentially removing the chance of the Hard and Softs being run in a GP again this year.

The change in compound of the Hard tyre should allow for a wider variety of strategy but I fear that certain teams will yield a much larger advantage with this change than some others and could springboard their title chances from here onwards.  (The Medium tyres usage will become crucial throughout the rest of the year)

For me the Pirelli's add to the challenge of F1 enticing the designers, engineers and drivers alike to make decisions that will impact their race and moreover their season.  Pirelli have followed their brief from the FIA to create both a strategic element to the racing whilst also enabling overtaking, the teams in my opinion should respect this and engineer their own races more effectively.  (In other words, stop bitching and get racing)
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5 comments:

  1. My problem with the tyres has not been with the compounds not lasting, but the artificial use of two dry compounds, both of which have to be used in the race. Give them one compound, designed not to last the race distance, thus ensuring pit stops, but take away the lottery of the two compounds.

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    1. Actually, it is not about driver's capability to manage tires, but about the SREC being used to artificially recreate anti-lock and anti-skid electronic controls. Isn't it a pity to hear that Kimmi missed his start because he switch to the wrong automatic launch program ! Unless you enjoy searching through lines of computer code, I do not see how the fans could appreciate that. Now, who remember those days where all F1s were leaving 100 m long skid marks at each start ?
      JMH

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    2. Its a good point JMH but the same for every competitor. As we know any advantage that can be gained in F1 can and will be taken by the teams/drivers...

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  2. stop bitching and get racing. summed it up perfectly.

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  3. Matt
    Looks like Red Bull will love this move. Unless it could be shown that the majority of teams were behind this move then it smacks of behind the scenes manipulation.

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