Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, 2019

Hamilton says return to 2018 tyres would make races worse ahead of teams’ meeting

2019 Austrian Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton has spoken out against returning to 2018-specification Formula 1 tyres ahead of a meeting between teams, the FIA, FOM and Pirelli tomorrow.

Some teams, including Red Bull and Haas, have called for F1 to bring back the thicker-gauge tyres which were used last year. Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said in Canada it would be “in the interests of entertainment in Formula 1” as he believes the 2019 rubber suits Mercedes better.

Mercedes and McLaren are among those who have spoken out against bringing back the 2018 tyre compounds. Toto Wolff, Mercedes team principal, accused his rivals of “opportunistic actionism” by pushing for the change.

Formula 1 motorsport director Ross Brawn is flying to Austria to attend tomorrow morning’s meeting. Hamilton said he expects the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association to be represented at the meeting and argued against returning to last year’s tyres, saying it would make the racing worse.

“Tomorrow morning they have a meeting [of] the tyre group,” said Hamilton, “We are all united in that so hopefully a driver will be in there. He doesn’t have to say anything but if they’re going the wrong way we [can] say ‘actually, no, that’s not the case’.

“Because I heard for example they’re trying to bring back 2018 tyres which were worse than [this] year’s tyres.

“Last year you had to manage the tyres to a temperature which means you have to do more lift-and-coasting, you had more blistering, it was a lot worse. You couldn’t do, for example, what I was able to do in the last race, or even in Montreal, where I was able to push behind Seb [Vettel]. You couldn’t do that on last year’s tyres, particularly the thicker-gauge tyres.”

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Hamilton echoed Wolff’s words, saying the move was “an example again of different teams pushing for different things for their own personal goals rather than for the sport’s.” He called on F1 participants to “find solutions that work for everyone, if possible, and not for individual gain.”

“It’s to make the sport better, racing in general better. We’ve already experienced last year when those tyres weren’t particularly great.

“As I said we need to go more in the direction of the tyre that worked great in Montreal, if we can have more races where we can push the tyre longer, less degradation, even to the Montreal tyre for example I think would be a good step forward.”

However Vettel said he is open to trying the old rubber. “You don’t know until you try something,” he said when asked by RaceFans.

“We didn’t drive last year’s tyres and this year’s car, with the current pecking order etc… So in this regard I don’t know.

“I think it’s a fact we struggle more this year to get the tyres to work, to get the tyres in the right window, than we did last year. So as simple as that. I don’t know what is the intention going forward, we’ll see what comes out tomorrow morning and I think we’ll take it from there.”

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38 comments on “Hamilton says return to 2018 tyres would make races worse ahead of teams’ meeting”

  1. Typical F1. The teams that have stood to gain the most from the 2019 rubber claim the 2019 tyres provide more entertainment and are much better, whereas the teams struggling with them claim it’s bad for the “show”. A part of me is intrigued to see how much progress the teams have actually made from 2018 without whether their new cars just happens to suit the new tyre or not. Even on the 2018 compounds I expect Mercedes to be dominant.

    1. it’s not only about that. I would personally enjoy seeing all cars racing, rather than, let’s say, about 6. Even with Mercs still dominating, it would be a better f1.

    2. The so called 2018 rubber was introduced in round 5 last year. Mid-season tyre changes are unfortunate, this tyre should’ve not been introduced mid season last year but it also should not be changed mid season this year.
      It would not help racing but it would hurt mercedes and probably bring the top closer to the midfield.

  2. I think it’s become more & more apparent as the years since 2011 have gone on that the push to use tyres to try & artificially spice up the show has resulted in a lot of negative side effects that weren’t considered when the knee jerk reaction to what happened with the tyres during the 2010 Montreal race was made.

    It also makes me think back to what Michelin said they wanted to do when they said they wanted to introduce elements of a tyre war even as the only supplier by giving teams more options to find something within there range of tyres that best suited there car. It’s something they do in MotoGp & Sportscars apparently.

  3. Mercedes won most of the races last year, with thiner tyres or not, so, it’s not like it would change the championship a bit. Teams like Haas who can’t solve their woes with the tyres are the ones pushing for the ’18 spec ones.

    Last year’s tyres were less predictable, and that’s probably what they’re considering “better racing”. Out of nowhere the tyres get blisters and they have to manage it. This kind of stuff. That’s not better racing, it is just the only way they can imagine to challenge Mercedes. And it probably wouldn’t work either.

    1. Did we see any races in 2018 where we saw the 2nd place driver hunt down, shadow and pressure the leading driver for as long as Hamilton did in Canada 2019? Or like HUL did to Kimi did in France? To me, the 2019 tires are clearly better for racing then the 2018 tires.

      1. How do austin and monza not qualify towards that?

  4. Neil (@neilosjames)
    27th June 2019, 18:08

    “We developed a car that worked with the tyre we knew we’d have, so we want to keep it.”

    “We developed a car that doesn’t work with the tyre we knew we’d have, so we want to try a different one.”

    I don’t believe in keeping on a pre-agreed course for the sake of keeping on a pre-agreed course, but in this situation I think the 2019 tyres have to stay. All the teams knew last year what they’d be like, so it’s their responsibility to get on top of them.

    (but -200 points to Pirelli for continuing to make useless tyres)

    1. @neilosjames Yes, agree completely.

      Indeed it’s a shame that Pirelli promised a wider operating range for the 2019 tyres and in fact they made it even more narrow.

    2. Perfect answer. And both sets of tyres are bad for racing anyway, so yeah.

      1. Peppe (@turbopeppino)
        27th June 2019, 19:45

        Well why don’t they just bring 2019 spec tyres for Merc and McLaren and 2018 spec tyres for whoever wnats them then? Pirelli builds their tyres on demand and asks teams a few weeks in advance for quantities? Sure they haven’t thrown the old molds/templates away?

  5. People always said that a reason against a tire war was because it wasn’t fair for a teams performance to be hampered if there tires weren’t as good as the one used by other teams. Yet is what we have now really any better?

    On the surface everyone may have the same tires; But is that really a positive given how a Mercedes is going to work the tires completely differently to a Williams? The tires may work great on the Mercedes which is putting more loads through them but the tires aren’t working all that well on the Williams which isn’t able to put the necessary load through them & therefore isn’t able to switch them on.

    And it’s then easy to say that the other teams should simply figure out how to better use them but it isn’t as simple as that because for starters nobody really understands what they do or don’t work the tires the way they do. I guarantee you that Mercedes don’t know why there car suits the tires any more than the other teams don’t know why there’s don’t suit the tires. It’s more down to lucking into a car concept that suits the tires than anything else.
    And with the lack of testing there’s no time to really figure it out & come up with changes before it’s too far into the season to really make a difference, Not to mention that most teams don’t even have the resources to put that big of a focus just into figuring out the tires.

    The tires as they are aren’t really ideal but I don’t see what you really do to fix that given the constraints F1 puts on all parties.

    1. @gt-racer Mercedes did put a lot of effort into getting the tyres to work for them:
      https://www.motorsport.com/f1/news/mercedes-w10-much-kinder-tyres/4336842/

      Other teams could have done the same, but instead they apparently went for an aero efficient car with too little downforce or a high rake car with too much drag.

  6. What a load of rubbish. You’re telling me you need 7 teams to agree to a mid season major regulation change (all tyre compounds reverted to a previous specification) yet all 10 teams need to agree on regulations for a future year’s championship?

    F1 regulation is a mess. Mercedes did a fantastic job with this year’s car, much better than almost everyone else. Mclaren have done a superb job getting on top of these tyres too. I bet Renault can’t wait to revert them so they can take 4th in the constructors through regulations not on track. And to think it was only recently people were up in arms about the championship being decided by penalising a driver, not the results on track….

  7. What about bringing back refueling? I know that’s a bit of a touchy subject, but that seems like an alternative way to alleviate the tyre problem. Institute a fuel capacity such that teams have to make two or three stops. If the tyres only need to last 15-20 laps max, that’s a narrower problem to solve and a range of five different compounds (and possibly constructions) designed for that purpose should give teams more of a chance of hitting upon a tyre that works for them.

    I know the conventional wisdom is that refueling led to boring races and passes in the pits, but I’d argue that was due to the cars not being able to pass in the first place, which is a separate problem that needs its own solution in 2021. After all, IndyCar has refueling and yet we still see plenty of overtaking on track.

    1. Refuelling is dangerous, so it shouldn’t be rushed. If they want to bring it back then they’d need to have a mandatory stop time, e.g. 17 seconds, and they’d need to have some sort of automatic clutch disengagement system so the car can’t move while the hose is connected to the car.
      Also, after each GP the fuel rig has to be striped down and cleaned of all solvents before it can be transported on an aircraft.
      I think the current system is much safer and fairer.

      1. @drycrust I disagree that it is prohibitively dangerous—I think the risks can be managed to an acceptable level. The clutch-disengagement system you describe is exactly like the one currently implemented in IndyCar (the car is electronically locked in neutral until the hose is disengaged).

        Arguably, by lengthening pit stops so that changing tyres isn’t rushed, refueling could lessen the danger to crews of cars running over them as they leave the pits.

        1. @markzastrow, I believe that the accident rates during the refuelling era indicated that refuelling actually increased the likelihood of the pit crews being injured during a pit stop, rather than reducing it. Although the slightly longer pit stop period might reduce the likelihood of a mechanic being struck whilst changing a wheel, the act of refuelling introduced several other risks that made the situation worse.

          The weight of the equipment meant that multiple people were required to operate the rig, which meant you were forcing a larger number of people to work within a small area – a combination that increased the risk of an accident due to restricting working room even further, and increasing the probability of multiple people being injured if something did go wrong. We saw the number of times that a driver would set off down the pit lane with the hose attached, knocking over their pit crew and often causing quite a few injuries in the process, and there were the rare events where fuel was able to leak out from the nozzle and ignite.

          1. @anon Yes, at the time there were quite a few risks and near-accidents. But I think there are ways to mitigate them and surely ways to design fuel rigs that don’t require multiple people. IndyCar has a single fueler over the wall. Nascar still uses cans. And as I mentioned earlier, IndyCar also has an auto-neutral mechanism that doesn’t let the car into gear until the hose is disengaged.

            Of course, accidents can still happen, and equipment can fail. But I think there are ways to mitigate the risks you mention, if F1 is willing to consider them.

  8. I hope they throw out this idea as another unfeasible stupidity!

    1. @dallein, the indication so far is that there isn’t enough support within the teams for that change to be made.

      The teams which seem likely to want to make the change are Ferrari, Red Bull and Haas: it’s a given that Toro Rosso will also vote for a change, given Red Bull own them, and Alfa Romeo would probably also vote for the change given the technical deals they have with Ferrari.

      As for the remaining teams, it seems that Mercedes, Williams, McLaren and Racing Point would probably vote against. Renault, right now, seem to be adopting a neutral position and aren’t supporting either group – so, right now you have a 5-4 split with one abstention, leaving the pro-change group two votes short.

      It suggests that, despite how outspoken some teams are, they can’t win any vote on the matter right now – indeed, the reason for them being so outspoken probably is the fact that they can’t win a vote right now, so they may be relying on putting pressure on the FIA and Pirelli via the press to change the tyres without it having to go to a vote where they don’t have the numbers they need to win.

  9. refuelling would be good because the cars would be lighter faster… every lap would be a quali lap. or atleast most would be. makebit a rule refill twice tyre change twice.

    1. We had 15 years of refueling and it was very bad. Go watch these races as they are all on youtube. More pitstops where all the teams have to slow down to 50 mph or some crazy slow speed. All the passes in the pits. Terrible. The cars were light and fast before refueling so that really has nothing to do with it. I still wake up at night in a cold sweat thinking they have reinstated refueling. It was almost like a 15 year prison sentence. Maybe worse.

  10. I really struggle to work out who is actually in charge of F1. At least with Bernie there was a man who had a vision. Now it’s three separate groups each with own self interests and little middle ground between them.

    1. Right. I really think this kind of organization needs a dictator. A committee running just doesn’t work at all. Plus Liberty bought high and are worried they will have to sell low. They are going to be conservative since they have too much invested. I just don’t think things are going to work out very well.

  11. It seems unfair to me to change the rules of the game during the season.

    Every team agreed to use these tyres for this season, so they should accept the responsibility and stick to these tyres and instead of trying to persuade Pirelli to go back to last years tyres as they can’t get them to work.

    1. I don’t disagree, but I do wonder if they didn’t really know, or couldn’t have known or found out, until they were racing in anger in Australia. Seems most teams have been caught out figuring out these tires so I sense that they generally knew what the tires were going to be like, or why they might be different than last year’s, but didn’t know exactly what they were in for.

      1. Come on man. You have an excuse for everyone. Merc is going to nail down whatever rule they are thrown and the rest are going to not do it as well. These are slim margins and if Merc wasn’t so good the championship could easily be very close at this point and we wouldn’t be arguing about this. They just make it look easy even though it is not. I mean 3.5 seconds to a really bad Williams in qualifying is nothing. I think a spec series like Indycar has a similar spread in qualifying. In the end they are all playing by the same rules so let it play out.

  12. NeverElectric
    27th June 2019, 21:51

    Bring back the 2018 tyres, and guess what happens? Mercedes, with their superior technology and team management, will take half a season or so to adjust their car. By the end of 2020, they will be winning everything again. Come 2021, the other teams will be back to whinging and moaning, and the fans will be screaming “Bring back the 2005 tyres!”
    etc
    F1 is a competition, it is a technology and design competition, and Mercedes represent the very best of German engineering know-how and management. There’s a good reason why the Mercedes-Benz is far and away the best saloon car in its class. With BMW and Audi a close second, and perhaps VW, Toyota coming third. Mercedes are very good at car technology, and whatever engineering pursuit they turn their attention to, they will dominate.
    There are those who are saying F1 is boring, and Formula E is the future. Guess what will happen when Mercedes turn their attention fully to Formula E? In a couple of years they will be the dominant team in the series. And then what will everyone say?
    Whenever you have a technology competition, there is always the chance that someone will get so good at it that they become more or less unbeatable. From a non-Mercedes fan’s perspective, therefore, F1 has reached the point of diminishing marginal returns: it no longer delivers thrill, it no longer delivers unpredictability, and it does not therefore serve any purpose other than as a Mercedes technology showcase event.
    If you are in that group, then maybe it really is time to move on to other sports. For those who have called for Hamilton to be excluded from the championship – yes, some have – or for Mercedes to be excluded…you could do that, but then F1 becomes like those ‘B’ IAAF long-and-middle-distance races at the Diamond League, where the Kenyans are not allowed to run just so the host country’s athletes can win something. When they come on, I yawn and go for a toilet break.
    So…be careful what you wish for!

    1. They won’t need half a season, they’ll continue to dominate from FP1.

  13. Maybe we should just give out participation trophies to all the other teams so they feel better about themselves.

  14. The tyres this year are bad and it’s clearly having a negative effect on the racing but you can’t change the rules half way through a season because one team has them working and another doesn’t.

    If the 2018 tyres would mean that everyone could switch the tyres on and it’d be down to who had the best overall package, it’d obviously be better for the fans but there’s just as much chance it would mean another team would lose performance (someone like McLaren) and that would be punishing them for getting their car right.

    1. As far as I can tell there’s only been one retirement so far this year where the tyre was the cause of the problem, and that was Leclerc’s retirement at Monaco, where he got a puncture in one of his tyres and then drove too fast back to the pits and damaged his car in the process. So Pirelli’s tyres aren’t failing in a race, which means they’re meeting their contract with Formula 1.

  15. Am I right in saying Hamilton and Raikonnen are the only two drivers not signed up to the GPDA?

  16. What a waste of everyone’s time. I think they should focus on spending their time making the future regulations better. Not this rubbish inconsequential argument for the current season. Typical F1 circus. Not attractive at all.

  17. I think i have the best idea to improve f1 …. just make the drivers qualify in go karts/ spec cars .. let them race in the f1 cars … think guys !

  18. Bring in 2020 Michelin tires.

    Meanwhile make it mandatory to use all 3 compounds each race. This will bring in more stops, more strategy, more fun.

    All tires should be made without the show in mind. Single goal should be excellent performance. Enhanced tire performance universally makes the cars better to drive, allowing drivers to push longer periods and further to faster pace. Faster pace brings about less processional races and more driver fatigue. If tires allowed driving on the limit for entire race drivers would be fatigued and more mistake prone.

    Look at recent races for example, Mercedes can push the car, Hamilton comes out fatigued. Meanwhile cars with bad tire management come out frustrated and rested. This would also eliminate some of the spending teams now have to do on tire research, expensive rigs, modeling and super rare experts in the field. End result is huge capital expenditure and less competitive running order.

  19. F1 2019 is rubbish, but changing tires to supposedly improve the show would be absolutely unfair. Kudos to those who managed to improve their cars and understand the tires, the others need to work more or better.

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