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18 May 2013

I've already written at length this week about the Pirelli situation but I find myself at the keyboard once more, it's a topic that I feel compelled to write about as any decision made has significant technical ramifications for the season ahead.

Autosport / Jonathon Noble ran a piece last night (17/05/13) declaring the FIA's position on Pirelli's intention to make changes to their tyre range ahead of the Montreal GP.  The crux of the story centres around the FIA's insistance that changes only be made to the Italian tyre manufacturer's product on the grounds of safety.

Having already explained the 2013 tyres from a technical perspective on Monday: Pirelli - Are they really to blame? the tyre manufacturer released a statement on Tuesday declaring their intent to make adjustments to the construction of the tyres from Montreal onwards.

This came off the back of criticism before and after the race weekend from some teams and media alike, but whilst there were some on the back of Pirelli, both Will Buxton and Joe Saward produced equally great pieces highlighting the charms of the Pirelli rubber.



It's no secret that both Red Bull and Mercedes have put pressure on Pirelli since the start of the season, lobbying for change, and although I believe the media have made a great deal of the situation their criticism must weigh heavy on the heart.  Was the scene pictured above the straw that broke the camels back? I doubt it, but it's not often we see the likes of Bernie, Lauda, Wolff and Horner sat around a table chewing the fat with Paul Hembery.

I feel sorry for Paul, he is taking the brunt of the complaints after each GP at the moment.  as we can see in his usual post race 'The race according to Paul' below he has the look and sound of a man very much carrying the burden of the world on his shoulders.  (I thoroughly recommend watching his post race videos btw)



So why do we see Red Bull, Mercedes and Bernie questioning the Pirelli's? Well they're looking after their investment from a commercial point of view, make no bones about it, money makes Formula One wheels turn.  Being bested by other teams doesn't sit well with these teams and makes life difficult with their board of directors.  FOM (Formula One Management) have the commercial interest of the Sport to look after and so too are being lent upon by these teams to affect changes, however it's the FIA that set the rules of the sport and so their renewed show of defiance will perhaps antagonize the situation.

I have spoke to fans on both sides of the fence and all give good arguments for and against this years Pirelli tyres, but the facts remain that the teams themselves seem to be poorly managing the situation.  The tyres aren't made of cheese, going off after half a lap and they are consistent, giving up grip early on and fading away.  The teams however are intent on making the stints last longer and so ask their drivers to drive to a delta, a situation born out of managing the progress of the Lotus.  Ferrari however realised that by driving flat out in Barcelona and having one additional stop that they could hold off the Lotus.  Watching the race back it is marginal, with Kimi's race being hampered by Vettel for 3/4 laps but this really only highlights the Lotus' great tyre usage.  So teams, I challenge you, stop pussy footing around put some extra fuel in the car and go racing.

The fact of the matter remains that any change to the tyres, large or small will have an effect but with the FIA ruling out changes lined up to reduce degradation levels we can expect only a small nuance of the degradation level to change.  The tyre failures we have seen so far this season may have looked spectacular but they have in most cases allowed the driver to either conclude the lap they were on or get to an area of safety.  The construction of the tyre allows the tyre to deflate when impacted by debris but be rigid enough to support the car, this however leads to the tread pattern overheating at which point it delaminates from the tyre.

Hopefully some clarity will arise from Pirelli / Paul Hembery in due course in regard to the change we may see for the GP's ahead, but by the looks of it the debate will continue to rage on until the teams get a handle on the tyres later in the season (just as they do every year).
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3 comments:

  1. The way I see it, the latest clarification from FIA via autosport.com is to make clear that the changes Pirelli are making are for safety reasons and I believe that has been Pirelli's angle all along. So my feeling is that the changes announced earlier in the week are going ahead as planned. Many in the press (including you) have overlooked or downplayed the failures (buying into the noise Hembrey was making), while that has been Pirelli's and FIA's main concern all along. As soon as I saw the first failures, I knew Pirelli would be forced to change the tyres sooner rather than later. Even if only from an image or advertising point of view. After all, Pirelli is in this for raising their image or profile. Pirelli may sell the changes as minor, but as you yourself know, changing parts of the structure will have an impact on the physical properties of the tyre. The true impact will only be seen when they run in anger in Canada.

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    1. I too fear that the changes needed to rectify the delam's will be significant enough to change what we have seen so far. In regard to the delam's I personally feel what we currently have works and is much safer than a tyres complete carcase removing itself from the rim. As you say, time will tell, but I hope the swing isn't too monumental.

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  2. Something came to mind just reading a few sites and the safety of the tyres.
    Has everyone conveniently forgotten Red Bull at Belgium in 2011. Considering they were the runaway car that season, they dominated qualifying with the softer option and asked/ demanded that Pirelli issues new tyres because they were worried about tyre integrity around the fast corners of Spa.
    This was because the camber they ran with had caused blisters on the inside shoulder and they feared for the longevity.
    All the other teams declined this and iirc, stated they could withdraw if they chose, because ultimately they had decided to run with this specification, one that Pirelli had already informed the teams should not be exceeded.

    RBR are bleating now because they feel they have Bernie's ear regarding F1. In 2009, they were harder on their tyres than any other team but this was never an issue with Bridgestone, they had to work to overcome this. Also, we all know from the last 3 years, that if RBR didn't qualify on the front row and control the race, they destroyed their tyres quicker than the opposition.

    Between 2000 and 2004, Newey and Byrne went head to head with Mclaren and Ferrari. These are both legends of the sport, yet Newey is regarded as the aero master.
    One thing that was always obvious during this period of racing was that Byrne had the foresight to build a car that may ultimately be a few points down on ultimate downforce compared to Newey's, but it had a far wider footprint of performance than a Newey car.
    Isn't it the same now, Ferrari and Lotus have understood that these tyres would not give ultimate grip, so have designed machines that access 95% of performance, whereas Newey has led a team chasing 100% but the times when the tyres would allow this are limited.
    Just my thoughts..

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Whilst I'm trying to keep atop of the blog you may have noticed of late that there is less content appearing. For those of you that haven't realised, most of my work has now been moved over to Motorsport.com where I'm working with Giorgio Piola.

I'm still doing the technical image gallery for each GP with the continued support of friend of the site Sutton Images. However, as always my time is limited and so this might not be updated as quickly as it once was, so keep checking back.

As some of you may have found out already I'm also working with the Missed Apex crew on their podcast from time-to-time, either doing race reviews or dedicated 'Tech Time' shows.

I've embedded the latest version of the podcast below and will update this a frequently as I appear. However, please head over to Itunes if you want it to appear in your player when episodes are available. The show is great to work on and has a great lineup of 'regulars' but has also enticed some bigger names recently too, with Will Buxton and Bradley Philpot on shows during the summer break.


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