Mark Webber, Red Bull, Sepang, 2012

Pirelli: tyre rules may need bringing up-to-date

2012 F1 season

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Mark Webber, Red Bull, Sepang, 2012Pirelli have suggested F1’s tyre rules should be revised to improve the action on race weekends.

Last year F1’s official tyre supplier raised the possibility of bringing back qualifying tyres to encourage drivers to set times in all parts of qualifying. However the plan failed to gain the support of teams.

Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery told F1 Fanatic: “We have said before that it is somehow frustrating for the fans to see that some of the top ten drivers do not go out any more in Q3 to save tyres.

“Whereas we also understand the teams’ side – it adds an extra element of strategy for them – it might be worthwhile to open a discussion on whether the tyre regulations should be modified as today’s rules were mainly written for a time when tyres lasted for a whole race.

“It is not our role though to push for changes but we are happy to discuss with the teams, the promoter and the federation should they feel a need for modifying the current tyre regulations.”

Hembery was speaking in response to this article:

2012 F1 season

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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61 comments on “Pirelli: tyre rules may need bringing up-to-date”

  1. ChimpSafari
    1st May 2012, 12:57

    Pirelli keep making me like them more and more.

  2. A logical, well-thought out response.

    I’m starting to wonder what Pirelli are doing in F1..!

    1. Yea, it would be totally too simple solution to allow Q3-cars to use extra set of softer compound in Q3.

  3. Here’s my proposal: bring three compounds of tyres to races instead of two.

    One of these compounds is designated the “prime”. Every team uses it. The other two are the options, “Option A” and “Option B” (I’ve always thought the use of the word “option” was a weird one, since “option” implies that there is more than one alternative). At the end of FP3, the teams must designate which option they intend to use for the rest of the weekend, and return the unused option tyres. This, I think, would encourage a wider range of strategies because it’s becoming apparent that some cars are performing better on different compounds.

    I would also amend the rule stating that the top ten drivers must start the race on the tyres they qualified on. I get that the idea is to prevent drivers from abusing the tyres for the sake of one-lap pace and then switching to a fresh set and suffer no disadvantage, but it is not making any difference since everyone is qualifying on the same tyres. Instead, I would rewrite the rules so that all drivers must start the race on the same compound as they qualified on. So, if I use the options to set my fast lap, I must start the race on a set of options, but not necessarily the set of options I qualified on.

    1. JPQuesado (@joao-pedro-cq)
      1st May 2012, 13:12

      Your three tyre compound idea is a good one. It would really add a different challenge to the Grand Prixs1

      1. My concern is that everyone would always just pick the same compounds. Ideally, it would work best if the Prime and the faster Option A meant the driver would need a three-stop strategy, whilst the Prime and the slower Option B made a two-stop strategy possible.

        It’s a question of getting the differences between the tyre compounds right so that both strategies are equally valid.

    2. The use of the word ‘option’ has always confused me too. Particulalry as there is the ‘compulsion’ to use them!

      1. The terms are older than the regulation.

    3. Love it.
      I was thinking of a similar concept.
      it’s definitely one that will bring a variety of strategies, without completely overhauling the system.

    4. MSC is right. Tyres are getting way too much attention, a year from now pretty much everybody was saying it’s great but today I’m not that excited about those 12 laps lasting tyres :(.

    5. I have a (slightly) different proposal:
      Bring FOUR compounds (maybe even FIVE), and let the DRIVERS use whatever they want, the compound that let them be fast. Also, ban the childish rule stating that the top ten drivers must start the race on the tyres they qualified on.

    6. I’d guess that the term “option” is used because it’s easily understandable in radio communications, and easier to say than “alternative”.

  4. Firstly, let me just say that I think it’s fantastic that Hembery has responded to the article on this site. Nice one Keith.

    Personally, I would just let anyone on the grid qualify and start the race on what they like. No special qualifying tyres as such, just an independent allocation of option and primes for each session. The bit I find most unsatisfactory at the moment is that 11th can sometimes be a better place to start than 8th, 9th or 10th. That can’t be right and although @prisoner-monkeys suggestion in his second paragraph above would help, why not just sever the link between quali and race completely?

    I have to be honest and say I don’t quite understand the teams’ position on this one.

    1. That rule was introduced to create a quandry for the drivers – do they push hard on their qualifying lap and set a great time, but chew up enough of their tyres that they have to pit sooner in the race? Or do they hold something in reserve and set merely a good time in qualifying, but have a few extra laps of life in their tyres come race day? The alternative, letting everyone start the race on whatever tyres they want to, would put too much emphasis on qualifying. As we saw last year with Red Bull, a great qualifying car was a massive advantage because Vettel could get out front early on and build up enough of a lead that it didn’t matter how much life was in his tyres relative to everyone else; by the time the first set of stops was over, he would remain in front. Perhaps the closest we came to the FIA’s intentions with that rule becoming reality was at Spa, when the Red Bulls were forced to pit early because they had exceeded Pirelli’s camber recommendations in their setup and the FIA refused to let them change their damaged tyres (arguing that Red Bull knew perfectly well that those camber settings could damage the tyres). Even that did very little to stop Vettel.

      Ultiamtely, the rule hasn’t worked – but you can’t really fault the FIA for trying to create a scenario where the race was decided by race pace and not qualifying position. I don’t really see any alternative to it, short of putting cars into parc ferme-like conditions at the end of FP3 where they would submit their race setup to the stewards, then be free to make whatever changes they wanted to for qualifying and restoring their race settings at the end of the session. I think this might be a good idea because qualifying and the race are almost two entirely different forms of the same sport. One emphasises finding the perfect lap at any given moment of time, while the other involves twenty-four cars racing over fifty or so laps. Perhaps taking things to the other extreme by further separating qualifying and the race in terms of what is needed and what is available to the drivers would be the answer. Give the teams and drivers unlimited KERS, unlimited DRS, purpose-made tyres and even allow off-throttle blown diffusers just for qualifying, and then change the format so that each driver only gets one lap to set his fastest time. Then, when the race comes, limit the KERS and DRS, give them the race tyres and ban OTBD.

      1. I completely disagree. As an F1 fan I want to see a proper pole position shootout each weekend. I don’t want tire strategy to be a big factor here.

        I’m fine with it being an influence. You should start on the same *compound* you qualified on, as your race start pace should be related to your qualifying pace. But not the actual physical tires… they should get fresh ones to start the race.

        There will always be a setup compromise between qualy and the race, which is fine. But “saving tires” should have no place or reward in qualy. It’s bad entertainment and counter to the spirit of racing. Sitting in the garage to save the tires, gearbox, engines… screw that.

        1. @tigen

          As an F1 fan I want to see a proper pole position shootout each weekend. I don’t want tyre strategy to be a big factor here.

          I’m fine with it being an influence. You should start on the same *compound* you qualified on, as your race start pace should be related to your qualifying pace.

          I don’t think you can guarantee a “proper pole position shootout” while still allowing race strategy to have “an influence”.

          Even if you just link the compounds drivers use in Q3 and at the start of the race you’re still allowing the possibility that a driver may sacrifice their qualifying performance to be in a better position in the race.

          Granted, the past two-and-a-bit years have shown that drivers will almost always pick the softer tyres anyway. But what you’re suggested would only make it less likely that strategy considerations would prevent us from seeing proper qualifying, rather than making sure of it.

          1. You’re right, what I suggested wouldn’t ensure a pole position shootout. In fact I’m open to just scrapping all the rules and allowing starting on anything.

            But I think from past observation, just having fresh tires would remove most of the qualy problem. For example, trying to save tires in Q2 would almost never be a concern. Once in Q3 they might choose hards, but as you said this is rare. And with the compounds being closer together, using fresh hard tires could still be competitive at some circuits (I recall some talk of soft tires degrading in mid-corner…)

            I’m not sure “proper qualifying” needs to be 100% independent of the race. I’m open to that idea, I suppose… making qualy a dedicated time trial shootout and letting teams switch up everything for the race start.

          2. (Actually there’s no way to be 100% independent… even with setup changes allowed, the teams won’t be able to develop the setup optimally for qualy + race without some compromise in focus. But this is not my concern so much as the obvious issue of “saving tires in qualy”.)

        2. As an F1 fan I want to see a proper pole position shootout each weekend. I don’t want tire strategy to be a big factor here.

          That’s why I suggested taking qualifying and racing to extremes, separating them so that they are two disciplines of the same sport.

  5. I couldn’t car less about the occasional force india or sauber sitting out Q3. I’m only watching the big teams.

    1. Nick.UK (@)
      1st May 2012, 14:01

      @sato113 Sauber are clearly moving forwards, they could well become a big team in the future. Personally, I would like to actually see their advances with my own eyes. Also does that mean you enjoyed seeing Alonso sit out of Q3 in Bahrain…?

      1. Chris Normal
        1st May 2012, 16:45

        I understand what he’s saying. I believe that there will only be a couple more occasions where cars that have very little chance of advancing sit out of Q3. I agree that this is not enough of a detrimental situation to bring about large rule changes and that it ultimately detracts little entertainment. On the other hand I do think that the tyre rules could use a tweaking.

      2. I didn’t actually notice he did!

        1. that’s right! nobody did… FOM left them out of the coverage completely

    2. Raikkonen basically sat out (not completely intentionally but related to saving tires) and the Lotus that weekend was in contention for the race win.

  6. If we’re considering tinkering with the tyre rules we might as well make the case for some wholesale changes.

    I’d open up the rules completely. Limit the number of sets used each weekend in the same way as currently, but allow the teams to bring any combination of compounds with them. No requirement to race on the tyres you qualified on, no requirement to use any particular combination of tyres during the race. We no longer need artificial rules like the two-compound rule to get people talking about the tyres, which is why Bridgestone insisted on them being introduced – they do that well enough anyway.

    Adopting this approach, we’d see a wider variety of strategies and we’d avoid the spectacle of teams being hobbled because the tyres they’re forced to run don’t work very well on their car.

    1. Why must I always agree with you? I hate that I always agree with you :P Great idea though!

    2. Although sounding good,
      It would be way too expensive to fly all those tyres in to every race, hence why the limited compunds were introduced in the first place, to save cost.


  7. No, not a mention of qualifying tyres again! I dislike the idea immensely. However, I’m all for reviewing existing tyre allocations and their mandatory use in a race, given that the rule really suited the Bridgestone tyres more than Pirelli.

    As a spectator, I’m not really bothered if a team or two decide to skip Q3. They’ve earned their position to be there and it’s up to them how they decide best to use it. If they feel they can benefit from that approach more on race day then more power to them.

    1. I am surprised at your qualifying comment. No one seems to be addressing the real problem with the Pirelli tires and it is the F1 rule on numbers of sets per race weekend.

      The vast majority of fans agree that how quickly the Pirellis crumble is good for racing. That period where a driver must choose between a worn out tire and the potential for a new tire is thought to be exciting. The results of that decision can make or break results of any team.

      The problem as I see it is that when any team is preparing for the entire weekend and must decided that if their only chance of getting to the final lap on Sunday will only happen by not qualifying is wrong.

      A simple solution would be to allow teams a set or two more that could be used if needed. The number of sets could vary from event to event. Pirelli certainly have the means to do this and F1 would benefit by putting an end to this reputation damage that Pirelli that has created.

      Nothing needs to be changed other than bringing more sets of tires to each race.

      1. Hmm, I’m not convinced that it’s even that big of an issue. It depends on your view point really. Teams are limited to a certain number of engines and gearboxes (unless they’re willing to take the relevant penalties) which is just another element of the formula.

        In the grand scheme of things, a couple of drivers missing a 10 minute session doesn’t bother me an awful lot. I’d like to have them there but I’m happy for them to sit it out if it helps them during the race.

  8. The only thing that needs scrapping is the must use both compounds rule.

    If you get rid of that then the teams are free to set-up their car for either compound, or a compromise that uses both. The number of possible strategies in the race increases markedly then, just on that basis alone.

    But wait, there’s more. By scrapping that rule, teams theoretically have the option of going the whole race on one set of tyres. That won’t happen right now because they wear out too quickly. However, Pirelli will be able to make the tyres last longer and still retain the same strategy elements. At the moment you know everyone has to stop at least once, so Pirelli has to make a short lived tyre to ensure there is at least the possibility of a 2 stop strategy being quicker for their to be intrigue — 2 stops or 1 what will they go with? — Get rid of the mandatory stop and you get the same situation with a longer lasting tyre — 1 stop or not at all? At the moment it’s more like 2 stops or 3, but we expect it to reduce as the teams get a handle on the stops through the season.

    Just getting rid of that one rule gives the strategy in qualifying a harder edge too. If you can use softs the whole race, how many of them can you afford to burn in qualifying?

    If I was Pirelli and this change was made to the regulations, I’d take the opportunity to differentiate the compounds a bit more. I’d make the prime tyres a little longer lasting. This would give the teams real options when it comes to the race.

  9. teams theoretically have the option of going the whole race on one set of tyres. That won’t happen right now because they wear out too quickly

    Some might do (or at least try) the Monaco Grand Prix one on set of hards, judging by Vettel’s performance last year.

  10. If your going for qualifying tyres you would have to give them 2 sets for Q3, If you only gave them 1 then we would just see everyone do 1 run rather than the 2 runs we often see currently.

    However if they want to spend extra cash bringing qualifying tyres to each race, I would much rather see them spend that on bringing 3-4 dry compounds to every race rather than the 2 they currently do.

  11. In an article on Autosport Paul Hembrey said this-

    “There is a strange misconception in that drivers don’t push. All four winners were pushing

    Nico Rosberg said that when he won at China he wasn’t ever pushing the car as he was driving to save the tyres so Mr hembrey is clearly not stating facts correctly.

    He also said in the same article-

    but right now that’s not really what the majority is asking

    The polling & comments on various fan websites suggest that he is again not using facts.
    On james allen’s website for instance a poll showed the majority don’t like the current tyres & 85% of fan comments were also very negative on the current tyres.
    similar polling & fan comments ive seen done elsewhere show identical results.

    some degredation is fine, however this year pirelli have gone way too extreme & made tyres the main story of the race.

    best thing pirelli could do is bring more than 2 tyre compounds to every race, the fis should then drop the rules about running both compounds & about the top 10 starting on the tyres they qualified on.

    then just let the teams run the tyres however they wish, hard compounds can go a full race non-stop at the expence of performance, medium/soft’s have better performance but wear requiring 1-2 tyre stops.

    what we have now with all tyre compounds designed to wear out too quickly, top 10 having to start on qualified tyres & everyone having to run both compounds is way too artificial & gimmickey.

    1. The polling & comments on various fan websites suggest that he is again not using facts.

      Hembery was referring to what the teams were asking them for.

  12. Is this an indirect acknowledgment from Pirelli that Schumacher assessment is correct?

    1. @brollocks – No. Pirelli clearly stand by their tyres, but that doesn’t mean that the rules relating to tyre use can’t be tweaked to make their role within the sport better. If Pirelli were agreeing with Schumacher, they would be changing their tyre compounds completely.

    2. @brolloks I don’t see how – Schumacher was complaining that he didn’t like having to conserve his tyres during the race. Pirelli have said that the rules have not necessarily kept up with the change in philosophy of what teams want from the tyres.

  13. Here’s my recommendation: give each team one set of hard and one set of soft compounds in Q1 and for teams reaching Q3, one set of soft.

    1. @trophicip The problem here is the tyres for Q3 would have to be mounted on wheels in advance of the session without knowing who was going to reach Q3. So you’d be asking Pirelli to mount up 24 sets of tyres in the knowledge that more than half of them wouldn’t get used.

      1. In that case, give one additional set to teams reaching Q2 over those that dropped out in Q1 and another set to the teams that got to Q3. They would not have to hand out the new sets until race day.

  14. lets not forget, this is Pirelli saying the FIA need to change the rules for better racing? The FIA told Pirelli to make a tire like that so the action would be on track and in the pits. It wouldnt be Bridgestones that lasted the whole race and you had no one pitting. FIA wants to see Pit Stops it gives more excitement to a race to see whos going to pit and when and what tires they are going to use. Pirelli needs to just make tires that dont suck. The FIA doesnt need to change the rules. THe racing is fine. The tires they are using for the racing are not. Make the tires better not falling off the cliff in 3 laps, but with a steady deg curve that the teams know and can predict but also allow for pushing all the time by drivers. I like watching but not knowing that everyone is just cruising around to save their tires just to be able to make it to the next stop, not actually “racing” just riding around. The rules are fine. Make a soft tire that last 15 +laps. The harder 20-23. Most races are lets say btwen low 50s high 50s low 60s in laps? Start on softs pit at lap 15 come in pit again lap 30-35 the on the harder to finish the race. Then you would have people racing bc the race will be coming to a close having “raced” all the way until the end, then the tires fall off right as the race is ending. Fighting for a spot in the points with the tires wearing out as the laps are closing is better than not racing at all staying in position bc your tires are already dead (better for fans)

  15. Pirelli are showing again what a good job they’ve done engaging with the fans – they’ve moved the PR game on from what Bridgestone done. I wonder why they didn’t get these “Bridgestone” rules changed as soon as they came back to F1? Were they treading carefully, to make sure they won the contract?

  16. I think Pirelli have over done the tyres. They are way too fragile for the elite motor racing formula.
    It is just ridiculous to watch the cars, after several hundreds of millions in development, having to tip toe around the track even when its not raining.
    1. The tyres are killing overtaking.
    2. Tyre wizards are mere mortals.
    3. Qualifying is on the endangered list.
    4. There is probably a single opportunity to get past a car with a similar pace.
    5. You are better off letting the slightly faster car behind past, than trying to defend.
    When are we going to have real racing instead of the wheel of fortune.

  17. My suggestion, Q1 qualifying run on one tyre choice, Q2 qualifying run on other tyre choice, aggregate times and make qualifying list, Q3 teams can use either tyre choice to try to improve time and hence qualifying position. Just a thought.

  18. So we have problems with the current tyres spoiling the show, do we? So that’s why we are having such good races currently? (I think this is verified by Keith’s race ratings)

    Or maybe it’s the DRS? (doubt that considerably)

    1. Where have these good races been?
      not enjoyed a single one this year because there hasn’t actually been any good racing in them!

      I want to see proper racing & real overtaking, Not boring & unexciting highway passes caused by drs & these ridiculous tyres.
      there is no proper racing anymore when you have 2 guys on as equal terms as possible fighting it out, you always have 1 with drs or 1 with better tyres & this ultimately leads to no real good fights & no real good overtakes.

      i would much rather watch a proper race with 10 real overtakes than a ‘show’ with 70 something boring ones.

      this isn’t racing anymore, its artificial entertainment at the expence of racing! f1 has turned into nascar & that ain’t good!

      1. also reading polls & fan comments, majority of f1 fans dont like what the current tyres are doing.

        1. Democracy at it’s best.

          Take a small sample, win by not significant %, apply to world.

  19. With some cars being hard on rear tyres or maybe not able to bring the fronts up to temperature, why not change tyres in pairs across an axle rather that sets of 4 to allow for two different compounds to run if one compound is more suited to one end of a car. If 4 of each are used per race the rules would be satisfied. This could allow for greater experimentation with suspension settings as there would be less necessity to compromise.

  20. Pirelli really need to start making proper tyres that can do several hot laps without a significant drop-off.

    Thats where the whole problem of qualifying comes from, You can’t get more than 2-3 hot laps out of the tyres before the performance drops so some teams are having to use 3-4 sets in Q1/Q2 & finding themselfs in Q3 with too few sets avaliable for Q3 & the race.

    It wasn’t a problem with the Bridgestone’s because you could get good lap times out the tyres for more laps so teams like Force India could run Q1 & Q2 on 2 sets & get into Q3 with plenty of new sets avaliable & enough performance left on there Q2 set to set a decent lap time.

    The problem with Pirelli’s isn’t so much that they wear down after 10-15 laps, Its the rate of which they lose performance when pushed as hard as is required in qualifying.

    All Pirelli need do is come up with a tyre that can handle 6-7 qualifying laps with little/no performance loss.
    When qualifying tyres were banned for the start of 1992 the GoodYear soft compound was able to maintain performance over 5-6 laps so you often had drivers out there pushing for several laps & in race conditions they were easily able to last 15-20 laps (Hardest could often do a full race non-stop, Mediums were somewhere inbetween), They were all very consistent over a run & only starting to lose performance towards the end of the stints.

    Thats the sort of tyre Pirelli shoudl be aiming for, Not tyres that simply fall to pieces from lap 1.

    1. Perhaps the Bridgestone’s were too durable (the softest compounds at least, harder compounds should be durable) but Pirelli have gone way too far the other way.

  21. For all those dissilutioned with F1 & the current DRS/Pirelli formula, I recommend you start following the Indycar series.
    There new car (which uses ground effects similar to what was planned for F1 in 2014) & new V6 engine formula has produced some brilliant racing over the 1st 4 races.
    They don’t have tyres that wear, They don’t have things like DRS or KERS & they havn’t even been using the Push 2 Pass system they have run in past years, However the racing has been fantastic.
    There has been lots of good, close racing & a lot of really exciting overtaking.

    Indycar this year is no silly gimmicks, No artificial BS, Just pure racing & its so much more exciting as a result.

    here is some highlights of the truly exciting barber race-

    1. I did watch last race and it was horrible. I’m comparing it to when it was CART series, Zanardi, Mantoya, Andretti that time. I was staying up to watch races 4AM.

      Remember Montoya overtaking Andretti on outside into first corner, then race was stopped and they had full restart. Andretti commented: “He is not gonna do it again”. Restart, Montoya does same thing :)

  22. Pirelli: tyre rules may need bringing up-to-date

    Yes I completely agree Mr Pirelli, up to date, don’t make those silly 13 inch tyres and force the F1 teams to produce or acquire wheels more in line with todays standards, such as 17 inches.

    Ferrari bang on and on about how F1 is suppose to suit there road going vehicles but I’ve never seen a Ferrari road car with 13 inch alloys.

    1. Road cars try to compensate for tyre stability with lower profiled tyres, while F1 tyres (sides) are way more durable and don’t have to resort to such thing.

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