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Pirelli promises lively races as it nominates race tyres
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Pirelli promises lively races as it nominates race tyres
Posted By: James Allen  |  16 Feb 2011   |  5:08 pm GMT  |  44 comments

Pirelli has announced that it will supply the hard and soft tyres from its range for the opening four rounds of the 2011 season. It has made the announcement now, with two official tests still to come, in order for the teams to work on dialling their cars in to the selected tyres.

You'll see plenty of this (Darren Heath)


However what they did not mention in their statement today is that the soft tyre for the next test in Barcelona and the opening races, will be different from the one that the teams have tested with so far. This keeps the teams guessing a bit as it has been the tyre the teams have used as their reference thus far.

The drop off in performance has been pretty steep in the first two tests and the revised soft tyre will likely be a notch harder and more durable. Certainly the requirements of the opening four circuits, Bahrain, Melbourne (where it can be unexpectedly cold sometimes) Malaysia and China are quite different. But with so little time for Pirelli to develop their tyres, chosing the hard and soft from the range – the ones which have been most developed – is the safest route to go. The degradation on the hard tyre has been quite high too.

There is no doubt that the tyres are going to be a big talking point in the early races – they are the polar opposite of what we had last season with drivers able to pit on lap one for the hard tyre and go to the end of the race.

Pirelli says that it wants to promote exciting racing, putting the onus on the teams’ tacticians to come up with the best strategy, “Pirelli’s aim is to have two pit stops at every race, helping to increase the spectacle,” said its statement. It looks likely to achieve that goal, judging from testing.

With a combination of a large step in performance between hard and soft (although that may come down a little with the revised soft next week) and the high degradation rates, the conditions are potentially a perfect storm for creating unpredictable races. The best teams (with the best tyre model in its simulator) and most adaptable drivers will find the best way as always.

“This decision has been made in accordance with the track characteristics in the Middle and Far East, which offer high grip and a wide variety of speeds and corners, as well as ambient and track temperatures that are likely to be high,” said Pirelli.

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44 Comments
  1. Stuart says:

    Good on them for getting stuck in. In theory bad tyres will make the brand look bag, but I think most will appreciated a brand that are truly ‘racers’. Good on them. Big thumbs up!

  2. Not too sure how i will feel about lively races due to tyres! It might get a bit hard to follow for your average punter!

    1. Born 1950 says:

      Seems to me that it will be a lot easier to follow than it was when they stopped for refuelling. At least the position on the track is the actual position in the race and it’s up to the skill of the drivers, engineers and tacticians to make the most of what they’ve got at their disposal.

  3. Brian says:

    What I find a bit strange is the mixed environmental messages F1 is now sending out – KERS is back but now we get effectively “disposable” tyres to help with overtaking.

    Refuelling was axed so overtaking happened on track rather than in the pits – surely this is an admission that overtaking is now only possible in the pits or where one car is on failing tyres.

    Perhaps Pirelli should try an ultra-hard tyre at one of the races which gives less grip but lasts a whole weekend and see what effect this has on the race…

    1. Michael Grievson says:

      Good points made here. Especially about throw awY tyres.

      With all the marbles left off line there won’t be much overtaking either

      1. Aussie Rod says:

        I strongly disagree with this.

        Overtaking happens when a faster car is behind a slower car and has a performance advantage large enough to execute a pass.

        If the teams spend all day Friday and all day Satday sorting themselves out in the order of quickest to slowest, then when the race begins chances are all you will see is field stretch. You need VARIABLES to mix up the racing and make it exciting. Take away the variables and you get dull races. The best examples of this are races where lots of testing is allowed and that have good consistent weather. Bahrain and Barcelona spring to mind.

        Pit stops, limited set-up time, variable weather, saftey cars, grid penalties, mistakes etc are all variables that mix things up and give us something exciting to watch. Unfortunately these are all typically rare events and can not be relied upon to make racing exciting.

        The biggest variable on an F1 car is the tires. For the past few years Brigestone has made tires that are so good (ie can last the entire race without performance drop-off) that it has removed this variable. Most fans seem to realise this is a bad thing for F1.

        What Pirelli appears to have done with their tires is make the differences betwen the compounds noticeable and generally increase the wear rate, which will result in more pit-stops and different strategies. This can only be a good thing for F1.

        Tires that last an entire race weekend? Might make for some good publicity but will be horrible for racing. Also the suggestion that the Pirelli’s are ‘disposable tires’ is unfair. All tires in all racing series around the world are disposable.

      2. Born 1950 says:

        At least they’ll be discarding tyres because they’re worn out — not because they’ve come in for refuelling and they ‘might as well put new tyres on’.

    2. D. Clark says:

      Well said. Very mixed messages coming from F1. Set some rules, stick to them and go racing.

  4. Sounds great, we know what happened an Canada last year when the tyres degraded…but that was becuase the teams didn’t expect that to happen, they were caught out and this is what created the spectacle?

    If the teams and drivers know they will degrade and plan for 2 or 3 pits stops, then surely it won’t make much difference really, it will all be planned before hand.

    Don’t want to sound negative, but do you know what I mean?

    Hope im proved wrong though!

  5. Richard Elder says:

    Sounds promising, at least more pit stops and tyre degregation will give us something interesting during the race, because it already sounds like the new adjustable rear wings will fail in their purpose.

    1. JJ MUPPET says:

      I agree with the tyres not lasting the whole race, how Bridgestone thought it was good for their image to make F1 potentially more boring (on occasion as it has been good for the last few years now) I will never know, all F1 had to do was make it mandatory for two stops a race and Bridgestone were off the hook?

      As for the flappy wings… NO NO NO.

      KERS? I think it is a mixed message anyway as Ferrari and Mercedes produce brutal sports cars which guzzle fuel. My car (and no it is not either) is currently costing a fortune in gas, KERS would do nothing to help me.

      So good on Pirelli, I think I will go buy a calender!

      I never said that about Bridgestone.

  6. James says:

    When you are the sole supplier of tyres and a new one at that, what better way to get people and the press talking about your product !

    Although there will be phrases used lie “the tyre performance was the reas on for…..”

    there will alos be alot of positive comment when dull F1 was brought to life by a tyre company.

  7. Seán Craddock says:

    It will b interesting to see what the strategy teams use. Could it be start on softs, pit for hards, and then finish with more softs? That could b exciting to watch with good action at the start and end, although it could b v exciting to watch contrasting strategies, pit for softs and pounce on a guy still on hards.

    James, do the top 10 still have 2 start on quali tyres? Because the degredation could b a big issue for those guys couldn’t it?

    Say if Massa r some1 doesn’t make it to Q3, the advantage of fresh tyres must b much bigger than b4

  8. The other Ian says:

    With the additional Type testing McLaren did with regards to the first 2011 test, here’s hoping that it improves the chances.
    I can’t say I’ve been impressed with their performances so far. “Short of parts”. Please…

  9. Rohan says:

    Um, the info I have from Pirelli’s statements made at the press is that only the super-soft tyre will be changing between now and Bahrain, while the construction and compounds for the other three tyre types will be the same as those used in the most recent test.

  10. tank says:

    Passing in the pits isn’t as exciting as passing on the track. Think maybe that the teams will get a handle on tire strategy in short time.

    Off topic James, but now that Heidfeld has been confirmed at Renault, do you think he will drive for the full season even if Kubica recovers early? If the car is good and Heidfeld somehow brings in some podiums, would Renault still likely give the seat back to Kubica?

    By the way, I took some neat photos of Kubica (and others) when I was at Spa last year, up eau rouge (in the wet) and at les combes… If you’re interested in viewing I’d be happy to share!

    1. Yeah do share, even on flickr, if it’s not possible here. Im a Professional albeit wedding photographer, but I would just would love to shoot a grand prix, i’d pay, I’d give away my images to an agency to charge, it’s pure;y for the experience, my 2 passions combined in life….

      1. Hope Tank doesnt mind me saying this, but he emailed me some pics, some really good shots.

        Would be great to have an area on the blog for users to maybe upload some of their own images from GP’s , get a fans physical view point – great info to know where to stand to get view points from image you like

        Thanks for sending these Tank, I was really impressed

      2. Hisham Akhtar says:

        Try the group on Facebook for Formula 1 fans

        http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/group.php?gid=2204694843

        Also James, if you wanted to join it would be amazing. It’s a very active group with plenty of discussions.

  11. Jason Evans says:

    With the steep drop-off in performance of these Pirelli tyres, does this equate to more rubber coming away from the tyre thus leaving marbles off the racing line? If it is, then we might not see much more overtaking this season either.

    1. Gold Loaf says:

      Exactly what I was thinking. I hope Pirelli wont fall asleep after getting their tyers on reasonable level and try to work on with the problem of marbles. But when people get very excited about more pitstops and find the situation satisfactory, it is very unlikely.

      It is a question of taste as well, but I dont think more pitstops is a good thing. Firstly, the more pitstops, the higher importance of how the mechanics do their work, leaving more exuses for the drivers. Secondly, passing during pitstops is safer than attacking on track, many drivers would probably rely on that, just like in the refuelling days.

    2. MISTER says:

      I don’t think that will be the case. If we all are concerned about those marbles, I am pretty sure the Pirelli are aware of this too and they will make sure this will not happen.
      At least I hope so.
      Looking forward to tomorrow!

  12. Ben G says:

    Bravo Pirelli!

  13. Carlos Marques says:

    It all sounds a bit fake in order to produce unpredictable races…leaves me with a Nascar-ish feeling…

    Lousy tires by design, mandatory tire changes, moving wings for some drivers, no refuling, timed pit entrances, etc.

    Go back to 80s rules where anything went and watch the amazing solutions come out from williams, mclaren, etc.

  14. Tom says:

    I can’t help but feel that the combination of high tyre degredation and KERS/adjustable wings will lead to some big accidents.

    Cars on fresh rubber closing on cars with old worn rubber will be several seconds a lap faster and when you factor in the speed differential leading up to the braking point, I wouldn’t be suprised to see some Webber style acrobatics.

  15. Tim. says:

    Time to go racing !

  16. Thomas in Australia says:

    I genuinely have no idea what to expect from the first race. That’s got to be a good thing right??

    1. well not after last years first race LOL

  17. Andy Fov says:

    With less predictable tyres we’ll get less predictable racing. Even dull races like Hungary could be spiced up by the spectacle of somebody trying to keep his lead through the closing laps on shot tyres.

    Drivers will be able to elect running long on their middle stint to give themselves maximum grip (with press to overtake) in the closing laps. Others will pit early for track position.

    Let’s be optimistic about this. It’s got the potential to be great!

    1. Alex D says:

      Exactly my thoughts. With a variable as…variable as the Pirellis but combined with KERS and adjustable wings, we will witness many different strategies, some cars dropping off while others last longer, cars charging through the field on fresh rubber and possibly, overtaking maneuvers in unusual places.

  18. StefMeister says:

    The thing i hate about the tyre situation (mandatory stop and the higher degradation tyres) is the fact that it is forcing pit stops when i think that like pre-refueling it should be possible for a team/driver to decide if they want to stop or not.

    I dont want everyone to have to stop, if a team/driver decides they want to run a softer compound and have more speed but need to make a stop or 2 then they should be allowed to. however on the other side if a team/driver decides they dont want to stop at all then this also should be an option. and again if a team/driver wants to start on a soft compound planning 1 stop to switch to a harder one this should also be an option.

    Be it refueling, mandatory tyre stops or tyres which wer too fast, its all artificially forcing teams to HAVE to stop and in a tyre situation like we are likely to see this year its forcing them to stop more than once.

    I don’t mind the fact the soft compounds are going to wear, I just dont like the harder ones also wearing at a rate which will require a 2nd stop.

    If people truly want to see more open, unpredictable and varied strategies employed in a race, you have to take the rules regarding pit stops and tyre compounds back to how they were before refueling came in for 1994.

    Give them 3 or 4 tyre compounds and let them use them however they want, the softs last at least 15 laps & have the best performance and the hards can go the full distance but are slower, dont require them to stop and just let them decide what they want to do.

    I think my biggest issue with F1′s direction this year is the idea that the racing isn’t enough & that we need to somehow ‘artificially spice up the show’ by throwing Adjustable rear wings, KERS & rules/tyres which force more pit stops.

    Maybe its just me but Id much rather spend my Sunday watching a race rather than a show. If I wanted to watch a show disguised as a race I’d just watch nascar.

  19. Alan Dove says:

    From a purist’s point of view this kind of synthetic racing is a big turn off. Mind you I get the same, if not more enjoyment watching the cars in Friday practise as watching them in the race. You can really get into watching how the cars behave etc…

    However F1 is a show, and it’s a show that attracts millions worldwide. If it’s to maintain it’s status as an entertaining spectacle then they have to do something. The racing could be incredible and fun to watch. If we suspend expectations of ‘proper racing’ it could be interesting.

  20. james b says:

    I hope there is an unwritten rule not to criticise Pirelli’s tyres as the loser and the winner should always go out of his way to thank Pirelli.

    Obviously I hope it provides entertaing races!!

  21. Born 1950 says:

    Seems to me like Jenson will be rubbing his hands with glee at this news.

  22. Andy C says:

    I’m delighted personnally at Pirellis decision, and the way they’ve handled their move into F1.

    They listened to the teams, the fans and the drivers who said the Bridgestone tyres lasted too long, and they stated what they were aiming for and went out and look like they’re on the right track.

    Funny that some drivers suddenly said, oh hang on a second, the tyres are degrading.

    I think they should do away with compulsory compound usage, and basically just give teams a set number of tyres for the weekend, to use as they wish.

    Well done Pirelli! What we have now is the real possibility of a three stopper beating a two stopper, such is the pace difference between the tyres.

  23. Olivier says:

    James, the GP2 Bahrein Grand Prix has been canceled this Weekend. Is F1 going to have 19 GPs instead of 20 this year? The teams need to know by the end of next week in order to cancel their shipments, don’t they?

    I love your out of the box thinking and writing. It proves to be prophetic!

    1. Olivier says:

      My mistake … this comment should be part of the previous article :s

  24. A.B says:

    I think its important that we hear about how the tires will perform. At this point the impresson fans have of the new Pirellis is that there’s something wrong with them, but actually they’re degrading more or less according to plan. Just because their performance is atypical to what we’ve seen in the past from Bridgestones and Michellins doesn’t mean this is a failure.
    I read yesterday that Felipe Massa likes the new tires, and there are probably others who will find that the new tires suit them, others will not. Probably worse off is Mclaren who are having teething troubles with their car and are not getting enough time on the track.

  25. Chris Q says:

    Might a massive gap between hard & soft performance mean that everyone has to qualify on softs, thereby actually reducing the scope for different strategies?

    1. Stone the Crows says:

      When qualifying and starting the race in dry tyres, drivers who make it to the third qualification session must use the tyres they set their grid time with to start the race. So it could very well be that they use the softer compound to get to Q3 and then use the harder compound to qualify and start the race with; especially if they don’t want to run a very short first stint. From what I’m reading the the medium compound for instance is losing a full second of pace after one lap, and then after that remains consistent for about ten laps, after that it must be changed, because you lose too much time. So it very well could be that one stragegy is to qualify with the hard tires.

  26. F1_Dave says:

    i dont get the facination with people wanting more pit stops?
    if you have a situation where everyone has to make 2-3 stops then we remain in a situation where drivers will just try and jump another car in the pits which leads to less passing on the racetrack.

    there should be less stops in f1 and not more, especially more which are somewhat artificially created by both types of tyre wearing too quickly.

    the whole idea that somehow pit stops create better racing is ridiculous as all it does is take the racing off the track and into the pitlane which leads to less racing/passing on the track.

    i agree with the poster above who said they should be given all 4 compounds at each event and allowed to run them however they want with no mandatory stops and an option with the harder tyres to make no pit stop at all.

  27. Erik says:

    Oh come on!! Stop coming up with good ideas and spending the entire pre season wrecking them!!

    I for one would love to see high tyre degradation. Imagine scenarios where Vettel romps off into the distance, blows his softs early and we see him getting reeled in by a Ferrari for the next 10 laps setting up a pass. Exciting to watch.

    If the teams keep moaning then we will just get another exciting aspect of F1 turned into vanilla. Much like the movable rear wing – how much has that been stifled, jeez!…

  28. Hendo says:

    There are still some ‘variables’ that should be removed to make the races more interesting.

    As it is, everyone will start on the soft compound tyres at every race (top 10 – doesn’t matter after that because there is no ovrtaking ‘coz everyone else is stuck behind Trulli).
    The rules should allow you to use any tyre at any time. If you want to try and run the whole race with the hard compound, go for it.

    If that’s too out there – maybe you have to run your qualifying tyres at some point during the race but not necessarily at the start. Then you would see some on a short stint on softs and some go longer on the hards.

  29. Mike says:

    The fact that the tyre company is able to have such a big impact in determining team strategy is a BAD thing for F1 which is SUPPOSED to be the pinnacle of motor RACING.

    This encompasses high quality engineering and skill, which is now thrown out because the tyres are intentionally made not to last more than a few laps without falling apart.

    Why should Pirelli be able to decide how a race should be run?

    Why should Pirelli be the sole determining factor in how many pit stops are run?

    Why should Pirelli be effectively able to decide a championship with gimmicky tyres?

    The team are the ones competing and should be the sole ones deciding on their own strategy. There strategy should not be limited because of tyres that are designed to last a short length of time or because the FIA stipulate they have to stop once.

    Give all the teams at least 3 compounds and then let them decide how to run them. The softest compound should wear fast but not too fast, the Medium should wear slower & the Hardest should last for an entire race.

    As a Die-Hard F1 fan of 40+ years who loves watching actual RACING & have attended more Gp’s than I can remember, I feel bitterly dissapointed in F1′s direction.

    Nowadays it seems like there catering purely on the casual fans who don’t understand what actual RACING is so need gimmicks to keep them constantly entertained for every lap & this is at the expense of the long time F1 fans who understand every single aspect of the sport & what real racing actually is and who helped make F1 what it is today.

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