Track rage: Why the paddock’s glitterati are losing their grip and calling for tyre change

 

Q: Why have tyres become the hot topic in F1?

A: After Sunday’s Spanish GP clocked no fewer than 82 pit stops, suppliers Pirelli admitted it is considering further changes to its tyres. When the manufacturer took over from Bridgestone as F1’s official tyre supplier in 2011, their brief was to make shorter-life tyres as a way of spicing up races. This brought positives – namely that for the first time in history the opening seven races in 2012 were won by different drivers – but it also confused teams as they struggled to understand the tyres in different situations.

Q: OK, is that all that has changed?

A: No, this year Pirelli was more adventurous with their “made-to-degrade” tyres. There are four types: hard, medium, soft and supersoft, with hard being the most durable but slowest in performance, and supersoft providing the best performance but quickest to wear down. Viewers can even tell them apart. Hards have orange bands around them; the mediums are white; the softs yellow and the supersofts red. Under FIA rules Pirelli bring two dry weather compounds to each race, which they choose beforehand depending on the expected environment.

Q: The drivers’ moaning still seems a bit full-on?

A: Not really. Sunday’s GP at the Circuit de Catalunya provided a prime example of how the differing tyres can lose drivers. Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton, who started on the front row, finished in 12th, and afterwards admitted he was confused as to which tyres to use. Sebastian Vettel, who only managed fourth place, said: “We are not going to the pace of the car, we are going to the pace of the tyre.” The bottom line? Some drivers believe the tyres are creating a false situation.

Q: How much difference does that make?

A: Drivers are increasingly being required to race to the limits of their tyres, rather than the limit of their own ability. Ordinary tyres usually wear in a linear fashion, but when F1 tyres reach their wear limit, as often happens with these quick-degrading Pirelli tyres, the performance can drop off instantly – “dropping off a cliff” as drivers call it. The characteristics of the current tyres make it hard even for the smoothest drivers, such as Jenson Button, to nurse them once they’ve reached the limit of their deliberately short life.

Q: Can Pirelli really do anything about it?

A: That’s unclear, and if changes are made they are not likely to be implemented until the British Grand Prix in late June. Even if there are alterations to reduce pit stops, it could anger some teams while satisfying others – Vettel’s Red Bull have been the most vociferous critic of the tyres.

Sunday’s race saw only two of the topline drivers, Kimi Raikkonen and Jenson Button, restrict themselves to three stops. Afterwards, Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery said: “We aim for two to three pit stops in races and it was just too aggressive today with four.”

News
More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete tomorrow
News
people'I’d rather have Fred and Rose West quote my characters on childcare'
News
Kim Jong Un gives field guidance during his inspection of the Korean People's Army (KPA) Naval Unit 167
newsSouth Korean reports suggest rumours of a coup were unfounded
Arts and Entertainment
You could be in the Glastonbury crowd next summer if you follow our tips for bagging tickets this week
music
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Kylie performs during her Kiss Me Once tour
musicReview: 26 years on from her first single, the pop princess tries just a bit too hard at London's O2
News
peopleSwimmer also charged with crossing double land lines and excessive speeding
Arts and Entertainment
A new Banksy entitled 'Art Buff' has appeared in Folkestone, Kent
art
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

Education, education, education

TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

So why don’t we do it and save some lives?
This man just ran a marathon in under 2 hours 3 minutes. Is a 2-hour race in sight?

Is a sub-2-hour race now within sight?

Dennis Kimetto breaks marathon record
We shall not be moved, say Stratford's single parents fighting eviction

Inside the E15 'occupation'

We shall not be moved, say Stratford single parents
Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Talks between all touched by the crisis in Syria and Iraq can achieve as much as the Tornadoes, says Patrick Cockburn
Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

The Tory MP speaks for the first time about the devastating effect of his father's bankruptcy
Witches: A history of misogyny

Witches: A history of misogyny

The sexist abuse that haunts modern life is nothing new: women have been 'trolled' in art for 500 years
Shona Rhimes interview: Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Writer and producer of shows like Grey's Anatomy, Shonda Rhimes now has her own evening of primetime TV – but she’s taking it in her stride
'Before They Pass Away': Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Jimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style