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F1 test analysis: A couple of graphs to get you thinking..
F1 test analysis: A couple of graphs to get you thinking..
Posted By: James Allen  |  22 Feb 2011   |  7:36 pm GMT  |  215 comments

We’ve heard a lot recently about the Pirelli tyres not lasting long and how this will affect race strategy this season, with three and even four stops a possibility at some races, based on current wear rates.

I’m grateful to my old friend and colleague Kaz Kawai from Japanese Fuji TV, who has patrolled the pit lane with me for over 20 years, for sending me some graphs illustrating the difference in the way the Bridgestone and Pirelli tyres function.

We had all got used to the dependability of the Bridgestones and in fact they had gone too far to the conservative side, with performance which was too perfect. Don’t forget that they developed their technology in the days when they were engaged in a tyre war with Michelin, who were very scientific in their approach and hard to beat.

But once Michelin pulled out and Bridgestone became sole supplier, with the same tyres for everyone, what we were left with was tyres which were too good.

Take a look at this graph from last year’s pre season testing at Barcelona, held in similar conditions to what we experienced this week.

You can see the consistency of the lap times, how little they wear, in fact the trend is upwards, showing that as the fuel burns off the laps get faster. The tyres were so good the fuel effect was significantly greater than the tyre wear.

Contrast that with the second graph (below) from Sunday’s long runs on Pirelli tyres. The trend is dramatically the other way, despite the car getting lighter as the fuel burns off and this is a graphic illustration of tyre degradation in action. It’s what the engineers and drivers are trying to find a solution to in the testing.

Look at the steep drop off in performance in the final lap or two before a stop. It’s really dramatic. As for the difference between hard and soft tyres, look at Webber’s graph, the blue one, his second set was new soft tyres and the third set was new hard tyres – there’s quite a significant difference in the rate of drop off, I’m sure you’ll agree. The softs last around 12-14 laps the hards around 20-22 laps.

Making the tyres last a couple of extra laps more than your rivals will be one of the critical areas this season in being competitive in races.

I’ve picked a graph from testing last season for comparison, rather than the race because the conditions are the same. Pirelli say that their wear rates will be less severe in May at the Grand Prix because the tyres are designed for a higher working range temperature than we have at the moment.

I think it’s a fascinating picture and very easy to understand.

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– Fact#4 Bollywoood actresses show their sexy bodies by wearing

very tiny and limited clothes. Cate Blanchett did win with the Supporting Actress Oscar

for her role as Katharine Hepburn in the move.

His role as a streetdancer Jimmy in the 1982 movie

Disco Dancer brought him acclaim and recognition in the Soviet Union.


Interesting data. Have been thinking about the upcoming season. The data may indicate that 2011 will not be as close as 2010; we may have a driver or team completely dominate. The 2010 data showed that the lead drivers could maintain track position for almost a whole stint hence reamining competetive if a lead driver had a problem. The drop off in times in 2011 indicates greater variation between drivers/cars. Some drivers will have to concentrate entirely on smooth driving to maximise tyre life. They therefore may find it difficult not to fall that critical pit stop behind. This may allow the driver or team who gets it right to completly dominate irrespective of all the pass assist gadgets. I will be surprised if 2010 is repeated.

F1 2010 to kill time until March

Fantastic stuff James! About the Merc and their cooling issues, how much laptime do you think they are sacrificing at the moment? Seems their update kit might be worth more than the other teams judging by their “tone” in the press. Might the Merc not be so bad after all? Next test will be very exiting to follow.


The thought just came to me about the 2013 Tyre regulations.

James do you know if there are any plans in the works. I have heard rumours of the desire of tyre companies to go to larger tyres, including rim sim up to 18 inches up from the current 13 inches.

2013 is a reasonable time away to make any changes with go with the new turbo cars.


That has been discussed since Michelin floated it. Not sure where the teams and FIA are on this in their discussions


very informative analysis from Sam Micheal at


shortly according the Sam

Ferrari and Redbull are front at least 0,4sec from the second group which consist of renault, williams, rbr, sauber than comes the third group where mclaren and mercedes are currently in.

this is what Sam mentioned about mercedes and mclaren

“It could change. McLaren is clearly in trouble and so is Mercedes, so they are bringing stuff to the car and could easily switch up into that top group. The times that they were doing, especially on the qualifying-type runs, were nowhere near quick enough to go to the first race like that. Nico (Rosberg), I think, did a 1:23.1 with the Mercedes while Felipe Massa’s 1:22.6 Ferrari run wasn’t even low-fuel. Ferrari could have dipped into the 1:21s for sure. But, saying that, Mercedes has a massive upgrade package coming for Bahrain so maybe they will jump up there.”

you can read the full analysis from above mentioned link.


James, thanks for this very interesting article. The most obvious thing is just how much slower the cars are this year. We heard how innovations like the F-duct could trim half a second a lap and a double diffuser maybe a bit more and so on but here, without those devices, the cars are five to six seconds a lap slower than last year. Is this down to the tyres? I thought that if tyres degraded faster it meant that they were softer and provided better grip and the trade-off was between durability and speed. Is that correct? If so, with these tyres lasting for so few laps they should be really fast! Have Pirelli somehow produced a tyre that is both slow and short lived? Or have the cars lost so much performance from other changes?


No it depends on how developed they are.


So this is a feature of Pirelli being at the start of their stint in F1 and if we could somehow bring next year’s tyres from Barcelona testing through a time machine and use them now we would see much less of a difference? OK, I think I get it, thanks James.


Examining the graphs a bit and forgive me if it has been mentioned before, for Massa, laps 39 to lap 50 seems to have hit the sweet spot for time and tyre performance. Vettel’s 42-57 stint too looks very good.


Some additional detailed analysis and graphs here:


I think the issue here isn’t tyre specific. The sophistication of the modelling, computing and analysis departments at the bigger teams means that no matter what you do with tyres, pit stops etc etc there will be a favoured strategy that emerges. The days of alternative strategies being made to work by drivers & engineers were down to instincts, one guys gut against another and both backing a different option. You get the occasional maverick blimp that because of an un-modelled factor will give a deviant result but in the main statistical modelling and analysis done to the nth degree will always choose a favoured approach. Moreover the more data they collect during the season the more convergence you’ll see.


About 0.4 sec between Red Bull and Ferrari.

Sam Michael “We know how the aero platform is, and we take photos of the cars, and we have no idea where everybody is. So the journalists don’t have any chance to predict it.”


MOOOAAAARRRR, James, moar, we must have moar!!!!!

Seriously, this is fracking good stuff. Thanks!!


The idea behind rapid tyre degradation is to improve the spectactle with more pit stops (2), but in reality it will serve to reduce the actual racing because any spirited driving such as overtaking will effectively be stymied.

I don’t think the powers that be have thought it through properly as they could have kept similar compounds to what Bridgestone supplied and simply had a mandatory 2 stop strategy. As it is, as others have said, it will become a tyre conservation contest that isn’t really what we want to see.


I tried to read most of the comments but did anyone else notice how much larger the redbull advantage is this year ?

Though i don’t think we will see a processional race at all this year. The degredation in lap time is extraordinary they races will be like nothing we have ever witnessed. I cant wait, bring on Melbourne! and enjoy the last year of these beautifull (albeit already slightly emasculated) engines.


This is really interesting. Although I would love to see a graph of more historical testing to see how the Pirelli compares to tyres in the Michelin era for example. I don’t know if you or anyone else has that information.

The Pirelli’s were always going to be more of a challenge for the drivers. At the moment you could say they may have gone slightly too far. However the wear is only going to improve as temps increase so come the start of the season a 1 stop/2 stop decision may be marginal which can only be good for excitement levels.


Interesting stuff.

Sorry for being completely off topic, but what is your old mate Steve Rider up to nowadays? It seems ages since I saw him covering any sport on TV; it must have been BTCC that I saw him cover last. Are we going to see any more of him on ITV or any other channels do you think?

I am a fan of Jake Humphrey – who I think has revolutionised sports presenting to an extent – but I still rate Steve as the best sports presenter out there (along with John Inverdale, actually) and I think it’s a terrible shame that he’s nowhere to be seen these days.


Steve does stuff he enjoys, BTCC on ITV, not sure about other networks. He does loads of presentations etc. Saw him recently, he’s fine.

I agree about Jake. He has great ability and is very likeable


Hi james, I know this is way off topic as far as this article goes but just a quick question.

Any idea why we dont see more intresting in-car cameras in f1? We had that helmet camera on coulthard at brazil a few years back but since then its vanished.

CART managed a brilliant visor-cam 10 years back-

And BMW used something similar during testing-

Since its clearly possible to do in a way which doesnt interfere with the driver why have FOM not come up with something similar?

Also we seem to have lost some of the angles we used to have, We used to have cameras in the mirrors, and on the rear wings yet we seem to have the same 2-3 static angles now and i think its time we got some more,especially since we have the onboard broadcast avaliable via the bbc.


As an aside, why has my previous email address apparently been blacklisted? Changing it by one letter has enabled me to post comments again.


No idea. There is a spam filter, it must have fallen foul of


I suspect the fact that the camera housings are now a regulated part of the car, and a designed part of the aerodynamic package, has resulted in less flexibility in terms of on-car cameras.


Interesting comparison. Looks like we will find out who can preserve tires. Sad that we have to wait longer to find out.


I clearly remember so many times Schumi would put in a 20 lap stint that had each lap being faster and faster. Saw Kimi and Fred do it as well. Latest example was Webber at Hungary.

I guess I am jaded but this is what I like to see, the driver deep in the zone and pushing harder each lap.

To me this is racing at it’s purest!

This year will be about how easy you can treat the tires and the only ‘pushing’ I’m afraid we will see is in Q3….


Very Interesting post, congratulations and thanks.

After seeing all those long runs I’ve remembered one that really amazed me when I saw it, look at this 14 laps long run Fernando did the first or second day:

1:26.833 -1.992

1:27.918 +1.085

1:27.078 -0.84

1:27.469 +0.391

1:27.461 -0.008

1:27.713 +0.252

1:27.448 -0.265

1:27.953 +0.505

1:27.797 -0.156

1:28.326 +0.529

1:28.405 +0.079

1:28.110 -0.295

1:28.869 +0.759

1:29.034 +0.165

That would be clarely on top of the graph.


Really exciting article and equally exciting comments. I really believe we have many different variables like driving style, strategies, car setups etc. in action due to higher tyre degradation and looks like we have all the ingredients for a cracking F1 season. Just wonder why some drivers have been moaning and complaining about the tyres giving Pirelli bad publicity. I fear that’d force Pirelli to go Bridgestone route and start making those control tyres that last forever and drivers complaining they can’t make their fronts work in quali.

And I feel sorry for Pirelli, they have listened to the teams and the fans, taking note of the fan reaction Montreal got and going for tyres that warm up quicker and degrade quicker as well. Unfortunately they’re taking stick for it. But as a true and loyal F1 fan, when my bike required a tyre change a few weeks back, I went for shiny new Pirellis.



Your answer please (select any one which you think is the best answer)

Formula1 is all about:

a) Viewers and Entertainment

b) Drivers and Pure Racing

c) Teams and Strategies

d) Energy Drinks and Brand Names

e) Money, Market and Glamor

Rest can also answer…


F1 is all about the best of the best, pushing everything to the limit


I agree. Which is why I think drivers should be able to push the car to the limit. Tyre conservation? Bit of a long-distance sports car thing, not F1.


It is F1…………


Just want to add that I also find the comments here as interesting as the original posts. Fascinating stuff.


Fascinating, thanks.

Go Pirelli!


Hamilton is leading from Vettel and the tyres they qualified on are just beginning to go off. Alonso is in third, a few seconds back.

As soon as Hamilton thinks his tyres are going he has to pit, because he can’t risk Vettel letting Hamilton go past the pit entry then diving in himself. Vettel would come out the pits on better rubber and then when Hamilton does pit he’d most certainly be behind.

So Hamilton has to pit early. Vettel might choose to follow him in (probably would). Alonso will might wait a longer still.

At the end of the race Hamilton and Vettel have pitted twice and will both try to do the last 22 laps on tires suited to no more that 15 or 18. Alonso, having spaced his stops better is flying on the following his pit stop with 10 to go and should catch Hamilton and Vettel, with KERS and an adjustable rear wing and fresher boots…

This is my vision of 2011…


Here’s another; think Singapore last year, Vettel follows Alonso all race, pops him on the last lap because he can use his rear wing adjuster and Alonso cannot..


Push to pass? Ugh… I imagine they will need to restrict it from being used by the front runners. Can you imagine the uproar if a driver holds back until the last lap, use the button to pass and… wait for the ratings to drop like NASCAR.

I just had a thought, why not only allow the rear wing to pass up to your qualifying position, after that you are on your own. Sounds good to me! Qualify in 2nd, start the race, pit for tires, fall back a few spots, push the button to pass back up to 2nd, but if you want 1st place you have to earn it.


First of all, many thanks for this info James. As always, very invaluable. Looking at the graph and gradients of each drivers I have come to the following conclusions/assumptions:

– We know this already but the graph confirms that the Ferrari seems gentle on its tyres than others. Gradient is very smooth which shows good consistency.

– The Red Bull, similar to Ferrari but a slightly steeper angle suggesting it may be a little harder on the tyres. Also, noticed that Webbers times drop off a lot faster than Vettels. Could it mean that he’s struggling to manage the tyres? Or it may just be that he was on a different program.

– As for the Mercs. They may be slow but don’t seem far off Red Bull in terms of tyre degradation. And Schumi seems to do be doing job of managing those tyres.

(Would like to see a graph with Mclarens info :))

Moving onto the tyres – I admit, at first I was concerned but it may not be too bad. It’ll just create more strategy and make it a more fascinating spectacle to watch. I agree, if the tyres have a significant marbling effect, the drivers will think twice about going off line to overtake. But I don’t think that would be too much of a problem. I hope not! There may be a big difference in performance between tyres but thats down to the teams and drivers to manage. All will face the same challenge. I guess eventually, teams will work out the fastest and most efficient tyre strategy for a race and a trend MAY follow. But of course, that can vary from one track to another. At the end of the day, they’re all going to be racing each other… which I’m sure we will all enjoy 🙂

I feel this will be yet another epic season. Roll on!


That’s really interesting. Thanks, James :).

As for the argument that the degradation will be slower in warmer conditions: will it be warm enough in Barcelona during the final tests to check the wear rates in such conditions?

Spain is warm, but it hasn’t been as warm as e.g. the Malaysian or Singapore GP, so I think it’s still a bit of an unknown how the tyres would act when it’s really hot. Will the teams be able to learn something more about it?

Apart from that, one part of me still says “great! more pit stops, more fun, more racing, more entertainment!” while the other one remains cautious being afraid that it might turn into a gamble and hazard with too many pit stops. But I do hope it will make the show more interesting.

I also thought that maybe the new tyres will let us finally see how much truth is there in all the popular beliefs concerning drivers and their abilities to look after their tyres. After all, everybody says that Hamilton isn’t too kind for his tyres, while drivers like Alonso, Kubica and particularly Button are much better in this respect. However, the Bridgestones didn’t really let us see it. Maybe, with the Pirellis we’ll be able to verify all these assumptions and this (I think important) ability will become a crutial factor while racing.

The season can’t start too soon :).


I wonder if the Pirelli wet and intermediate tyres degrade as much as the slicks. If they do degrade heavily, won’t the cars be even more nervous and twitchy in the wet, resulting in more mistakes and accidents?

We had the same thing when grooved tyres were introduced for 1998. They made the cars inexplicably twitchy and cars that prospered under slick tyres (Williams and arguably Prost) failed to make a mark under new regulations.


Outstanding post, well done, thanks James.


What’s interesting is that Martin Brundle commented that the McLaren was sliding about more than the other cars.

I wonder if this is simply because the tyres weren’t up to temperature rather than an issue with the car itself.

If so then Pirelli’s recent statement that the tyres will perform better at higher temperatures could suggest that Mclaren might find the sweet spot for the tyres when it comes to race day.

As a McLaren fan it’s wishful thinking I know!


Well, they haven’t done their testing so far using their proposed 2011 front wing (i.e. the one they showed at Berlin).

Hopefully, things will improve once they do use that front wing come the next test.


Lets hope so, at least we haven’t seen any photos of the infamous green paint on the McLaren this year.


Very cool James! I think it’s a good thing and look forward to the season. Given this data i’ll be curious to see how Button gets on.


Superb insight.


Apparently, the tyres aren’t gripping to the circuit as well because less rubber is being laid down on track. So there will be a surprising amount of grip off-line, which should aid overtaking surely?


I doubt very much there will be better grip off-line. If the tyres are throwing marbles of rubber off then off-line will have dramatically less grip.


Assuming there is the equivalant or more marbles than before.

If there is considerably less marbles from the Pirreli tyres then there could be instances of two slighlty different racing lines developing over a race weekend at certain circuits.


Well if there are going to be marbles like in those pics when the tyres are working properly at the right temperature, then you can forget any overtaking at all. It will be entirely down to tyre change stops.

Why cant we have tyres from the 1970s when they wore down to the “canvas” but still allowed overtaking off line even only if after a couple of laps of cleaning overtaking line area first, now with this year’s tyres you will need a snowplough to go offline. 🙁


Wow thanks for sharing those images, I walked the Montreal circuit last year after the race and I certainly didn’t notice as many marbles as that!


theres been significantly more marble build-up offline in the 3 tests so far.

here is an image from the 1st day at valencia-

and from jerez-

you want really soft tyres that wear/degrade at these levels, this is what you get.


“The tyres were so good the fuel effect was significantly greater than the tyre wear.”

That’s sort of to be expected, isn’t it? These tyres where developped during a time when there was refuelling, tyre competition, and a stint when tyres had to last full races (2003, I think).

Another thing. I think it’s logistically very impractical, but does someone else think it might be a good idea to let the teams choose which two tyre specs they’d like to have in each race? I see good and bad points and can’t make my mind up whether it’d be positive or not.

One thing I think would be positive, though, is to end the need to use both specs in the race. As I saw other commenters advocating it as well, is there any chance of a poll, Mr Allen?


I think having to use both specs is a key part of what made last year exciting.


its what hurt the racing in many cases though.

alonso admitted after monza that he wasnt really pushing button because he knew he could jump him when they made there mandatory stop.

if there had been no mandatory stop alonso would have had to push to overtake button harder & we would have seen a better race for the win instead of alonso just been conservative and waiting for the stops to happen.


most people have mentioned how Button’s driving style will suit the new Pirelli tyres but for the drivers with a more aggresive driving style how easy will it be for them to adjust their driving style to suit the tyres? how can they go about this -can this be achieved through endless hours in the simulator or only through actual track time in F1 car?


IMHO, it depends on the driver. Some can adapt, some cant.

You feel comfortable with a car that is setup to handle how you like.

MS likes one that he can put the front in, and just handle what happens at the back later.

Jenson likes a more solid planted rear end, so he has always struggled with snappy cars.

As you saw last year, some of the changes to the McLaren on the EBD Lewis quite liked how snappy it became, and Jenson didn’t.

I did read a couple of drivers did have to change their style last season with the different front tyres, so it is possible.


From a marketing angle, I am left scratching my head at Pirelli’s intentions here. To constantly hear your product associated with “I had to come in, the tyres had gone off so quick”. So they may be the experts in the ability to make trick tyres that suddenly fall to pieces after 10 laps, but what will the general public all make of this? If the association with F1 is that they make crap tyres, many ordinary purchasers may wonder if they will need a refit to get in a couple of trips to the shops!

Bridgestone clearly understood these implications and remarked upon this rational. I am just wondering what long term advantage there is in F1 for Pirelli.


I think the difference is though, that Pirellis main selling points on the road are more about performance then longevity (P zeros as an example).

Which is why I wouldnt dream of putting bridgestones on any of the sports type cars I’ve had (other than family runabouts).

hopefully buyers would understand that.


I spend a lot of time in work looking at graphs similar to this, unfortuntely the subject matter is far from as interesting!!!

Thanks James, this type of stuff is what we love to see, beyond the normal press coverage available.


The shift from durable consistent Bridgestone tyres to the more dynamic Pirellis could be the single biggest and best change to F1 for a few years in my opinion.

You can keep your KERS and shove your adjustable rear wings! Take away the grip from the drivers and we’ll see what they’re made of. The good ones will rise to the top regardless.

I just hope Pirelli dont get spooked and go conservative. Let’s see some races finished on bare canvas! Bring it on, I can’t wait!


Only 1 team with 2 drivers on the diagramm to compare without differences in cars. It seems that Redbull is trying out what is best:

quick first round (Webber), slow first round (Vettel), …

Even Vettel seems to be slower first 1-2 rounds after a tyre change the speed for the next rounds seems to make more than up to what he lost in the ‘slow’ 2 rounds.

So the problem i am seeing:

You leave box with new tyres just a bit in front of another car. If you now try to keep ahead you ruin your tyres quickly in this first round after a pit stop.

So is it better to let the other car go, instead being 2 seconds slower each of the following 10-12 rounds because you ruined your tyres?

With kers, automatic flaps and you are knowing that a too fast first round will cost you the time equivalent to a pit stop…. Will drivers even try to defend their position when returning to track after a pitstop ?


Tyres that get slower the older they get ? god forbid !

Managing the gearbox, engine and tyres was once a vital skill for any successful F1 driver. The engine and gearbox now take care of themselves so at least tyre preservation skill will once again be a factor.

3 of 4 stops per race? not a problem, we have been there before in the peak of the Turbo days…..drivers with brains did quite well….just ask Mr Prost


actually back in the turbo days the most common strategy was not to make any pit stops at all.

stick on a set of the hardest compound avaliable & run the whole race without making any stops.

you could run a softer compound & plan a stop or 2 if you wanted, but with the tyre selections avaliable you were never forced down a specific strategic route like they are with the new pirellis.



I’m with you on this one.


James this looks like there will be so much overtaking that getting a clear piture of what is going on in a race is going to be difficult.

Before when a pass happened on track it usually meant something significant had taken place, but with such hugly differing pace due to tyre wear and stratergy, an F1 race may be confusing to watch… It will have lots of action though!


This season is indeed going to require fans to pay close attention, maybe even take notes! It will probably also require more “brain lubricants” to enhance the picture.


Hopefully it isn’t the sort of “action” you get in a NASCAR race.


Pretty interesting stuff. I see, however, a major problem – drivers not driving. I will quote Lewis Hamilton, who’s known for his rather aggressive style of driving : “I wasn’t really driving, most of the time I had to nurse the tires”. I’m sorry, what ? You are not going to pursue Vettel or Alonso til your very last point of grip ? Perhaps not. Vettel himself added : “There’s a great amount of small pieces of rubber laying on the ideal line, so we have to be more careful and break earlier”. Truly thinks the tires need more development … We would rather hear quite often : “Preserve your tires, this is critical and this will save us the last pit, whereas your opponent X will have to stop again, don’t bother that you are 0.5 sec. slower than him, let him pass you.”

I truly hope I will be proven wrong. And to make myself clear – funny and less durable tires – YES, unpredictable and unreliable – NO. One more pit stop – OK, as long as it brings different strategies and that potentially helps the show, just not messing too much with the sport. We need driving and battles, not extreme care for the tires – they are not the most important component of the sport.


That’s exactly right and that’s what it looked like standing trackside at Turns 11/12. He was mighty frustrated. You could tell from the car’s body language and the way he was with the throttle. Not a happy bunny


Hmm, is that what the fans come to see. Lewis Hamilton nursing his tyres?

Think back to 2007 when Hamilton burst on to the scene. Did he excite you because he drove with car conservation in mind?


Conserving the car & tyres has always been part of F1. And yes, it IS exciting – because the combination of driver skill and car performance is what F1 is all about. Performance doesn’t just mean raw pace – it also means looking after the tyres.


So it seems that the MP4-26 has the same weakness as the MP4-25; lack of traction and mechanical grip. And these new regulations will hurt Hamilton because of his aggressive style and will need to adapt; then again you mention that tyre management was more important in the 80’s, when tyres were more marginal, and it was Senna who prospered (with his attacking style – you would expect he would have wrecked his tyres with the way he stabbed on the throttle at each corner)


The difference being that the tire changes could happen in concert with refueling. I believe that the weight of the fuel played a bigger role in lap times compared to tire wear.


Racers are racers, and I think they’ll be ok. But racers are also whingers at time (we all know that) 🙂

Im not a tyre expert, but the last thing I want is tyres like last year. If it takes a little while to get the compounds right then so be it.

I think people have short memories of they believe conservation of tyres is and never had been part of f1.

Three stop blast or two stop conserve. It will be good to watch.

But as always, how about you wait and see before writing off the season and the tyres.


Does anyone know how this degradation compares to that at the height of the tyre war?

Would be interesting to compare the drop off rates.


What in these charts is presented is very interesting stuff, but perhaps all the apprehensions concerning tires are rather premature and people in Pirelli know what they do.

Perhaps it’s like fears when refueling was banned and there was much of rumor of boring races and after proved vice versa.

James, but if it’s correct, Pirelli was going to refine compounds before 1st race or do they already test final options?


Yes they changed the soft for this last test. Main change was higher working rage temperature


I think the biggest impact from the new tyres will be quali – your position in quali will still be important but nowhere near as important as before. Let’s hope I’m right.


I don’t think you have thought this through. What those graphs show to me is that no one will be starting on the softs, only those who want to grab the headline for a lap or three.

If you have insufficient a gap, to pit and come out in front of the pack, you are on a losing strategy. Every car from 10+ will have the qualy pace on the softs, but be starting on the hards. Any decent car that qualy’s on the hards and finishes 5-9 ahead of cars qualy on the softs will be the winners.

The alternative is the Hamilton scenario, a glorified egg and spoon race. Where the over riding influence is not racing, but conservation.


The way I see it – more pitstops means more time to run in free air means race pace is king. Am I wrong?


From Webbers data it shows the following for

softs, 2nd set

laps 12-17, an average lap time of 1:29.2

laps 17-20, an average lap time of 1:31.3

laps 20-23, an average lap time of 1:31.8

hards, 3rd set

laps 27-37, an average lap time of 1:30.5

(looks like he had to back of after 37, then came back on, so disregarded)

when you then consider his times for starting on hard or softs and comparing the difference.

After 5 laps, a gain of 6.5 secs on softs

After 8 laps, a gain of 4.1 secs on softs

After 11 laps, a gain of 0.2 secs on softs

Now a couple of factors we need to put in here, what distance do we need to go on the softs to avoid a 3 stop strategy becoming a 4 stop strategy? What gain are you going to get out of the softs if they have been compromised during qualy, the start or the first lap? And what ever you do, don’t flat spot them in the first lap. What is the difference going to be with various fuel loads?

The big question will be where you come back out in the field after pitting. Here you will need to factor in that your car will be a couple of seconds faster than the back markers. But unless you are pitting after 5-8 laps, your race strategy is severely compromised, even anything on the softs looks bad if you have a team mate 4 places behind you and on hards. This is solely based upon the times shown for Webber and this does not mean that will be the actual data for any race. But this certainly shows the possibilities of what might happen.


You have to start on soft tyres if that’s what you qualified on and everyone will do that as softs are worth 8/10ths / sec a lap


If you start on the softs and find you have to pit for new tyres before you can get clear of the pack, it’s a losing strategy if you have insufficient a gap for the circuit. Qualifying on the slower hards further down the field can win in the end. If those that qualy on the softs cannot get clear of sufficient traffic, they will be losing time.

If you have to come in after building up an 8 second gap on your team mate, you will lose time stuck in traffic. It’s easily possible that a 3 stop strategy with 2 x hards followed by the last stop on softs will give you an advantage where you have significant tyre degradation. With the bonus the softs will get the best time on a rubbered in track at a time when they may get far more than the 8-10 laps those who start with them will.

This all depends upon how the tyres degrade and the gain they give per lap on that particular track on that day. Get tyres that are too flaky and it will not improve anything, just everyone shoe horned into the same strategy.

Qualy is going to produce it’s own problems, in that if you are on softs you will want a new set to start the race. Something that’s going to be difficult to master when you have significant short term gain for the softs. You can easily see even the top teams having to use their soft options in qualy more than they would like.


I disagree James, I think if the Red Bull\Ferrari have a speed advantage over the field, we may well see them taking the harder compound option in Q3 and then running away in the race once the soft tyre drivers pit.

This of course all depends on the tyres behave on a warmer track


Adjustable rear wing also makes quali position less vital than before


Is Pirelli’s goal to manufacture a tyre with controlled, optimum drop-off, for example 0.3 seconds per lap? Has anyone calculated exactly what reduction in lap times between stops will provide the best racing?

Would be interesting if the tyres can be tailored to each track, providing consistent degradation.

Respect to the pit crews who will be under the spotlight again, however, I hope the championship won’t be decided in the pit lane.


“I hope the championship won’t be decided in the pit lane.”

almost certainly will be now 🙁

bring back the good old days where the racing was done on the track and not in the pits!!!!!


Whilst I think we have gone too far the other way with respect to tyre wear rates, it will definitely sort out the men from the boys. Cars will be on the limit more often showing up those whose faults have been masked by machinery all this time.

I envisage lots of overtaking moves where both cars are sliding around and probably into each other. Basically a wet race in dry conditions. Will make for great slo mo replays with armfuls of opposite lock being applied and the car basically doing its own thing. Bring it on!!!


Interestingly Martin Brundle made a comment on twitter that there are a lot more mistakes, and he liked what he was seeing.

Back to the days of people actually making mistakes in F1 because the thing isnt just on rails all the time 😉


I was with him on Monday afternoon out on track and that’s right. Especially at the end of a run where the tyres are going.


Or rather, he can preserve the tyres well. not great english from me there.


I’ll get hammered for what I’m about to say, but I think it will play into Jenson Buttons hands 😉

If it comes down to keeping the tyres, he has proved time and time again (as has Alonso) that he can not kill the tyres.

It could come down to the one or two laps extra at a decent pace.

Cue derisory comments….


I visisted the test on Friday and Sunday. As it was my first time I really enjoyed it! On sunday I sat at twisty part at the end on the circuit and had a nice look over a quite a large part of the circuit. All drivers locked tires and missed their apex, specially at the end of the run. I was most visible when the Red bull (MW) Ferrari (FA) en Merc were doing race simulations. The last 3-5 laps in nearly every run are full of small and larger mistakes. Worst of all was the Mclaren. In both longish runs Lewis did on sundayafternoon he was almost unable to drive the car in a straight line after a few laps, short shifting as much as possible. The back-end flipping away alot. However as it was the first couple of longish runs for the Mclaren I am sure they can sort is out. They have to…..


Hi James

Have you see Jarno Trullis comments on about the massive inconsistency over say 3 laps.

He said the pirellis give understeer then oversteer and are very inconsistent and require some more development.

Thats probably the most negative comments I have heard so far


Bearing in mind its only him thats said it, perhaps thats a problem with the Lotus not the tyres?


That’s what I was thinking. It also sounds vaguely like the issues he was having at Toyota, quick in one stint poor in another. So it could well be the way the car is working, never the less everyone else is running the same tires so its not as if Pirelli were picking on 1Malaysia.


Strategy and tactics is good for nascar, but this is F1! Make the tire last for the entire race with NO drop in performance and let’s see who has the fastest car on a given weekend!


How is it better when only speed of the car determines everething? Do you want to see RBR winning every single race?


Sorry, but tactics have always been a part of F1.

Different numbers of tyre changes have been a part of F1 since they created quick change wheels.

How slow a lap time do you think you’d get with a tyre that lasted the whole race.


I agree 100% – tactics are a vital part of F1, they give it an extra dimension


I loved the pit stop strategies in the days of refuelling, especially when not knowing the fuel loads.

The difference then was the drivers could go close to flat out during the race.


In relation to Andy C he might of won them races, but Ferrari is about championships!


Which is why I still think the Chris Dyer thing stinks…

How many times have his decisions won races for Ferrari. but lets not open up that can of worms again 😉


Interesting but not unexpected. I had a set of pretty good Pirelli all weather road tires on my car a few years back and their wear rate was high. Super grip, with a price.


In that case I’ll buy the bridgestones 🙂


I had P zeros on my Porsche for about 8000 miles before they needed replacing.

But what a fun 8000 miles they were !

I’m glad to see them in F1.


Not even remotely related!


Sure it is – they can only manufacture F1 tires with the technology they have for road tires. Bridgestone’s road tires improved enormously as a result of F1 involvement. It will be interesting to see what Pirelli make of the opportunity.


Fascinating Post James. There’s endless amounts off fluff and vague comment about F1 at this end of the season. Sorry to mix metaphors but we’re starved for real insights and this is real food for thought. I’m so grateful you are posting this stuff.

I do promise to buy a book if you can keep it coming!

For me, the tyre result is great. This will restore a facet of the competition that was lost. Its going to add far more to F1 than the playstation boost buttons and shifty wings.

The pit wall will be earning their keep this season. Fast car + fast driver isn’t the only equation this year. Old school race craft, judgement and strategy will be needed.

Vettel’s weaknesses were only temperament and experience last year. This season will prove if he is now a complete driver.



Lots of tires + lots of wear = lots of marbles / one line

Consequently, passing is inhibited even when a massive performance advantage is present. Not encouraging.


that is a very interesting point you raise, I think it will be when the drivere in front makes the mistake, the driver behind will take advantage, similar to canada last year? or the year before?


Thats great insight! Thanks James Allen. The high degradation will force teams to reconsider multiple pitstop. In fact, FIA may even consider deleting the rules that says one must use both option and prime in one race (dry race).

I think even the tyres alone will make F1 into a great show. You can easily overtake a car with worn out tires with your new tires even without KERS if there is a 3-5second difference!


James, Thanks for this insight. This is great info for the fans.

As I study these graphs I notice that the decrease in lap times is not linear. For example, in Vettel’s third and four stint, the trace goes up and down – third stint lap 5/6/7, lap 6 is 1 second slower than 5 or 7. Similar changes are happening in his fourth stint (lap 7/8/9/10).

The traces of all the drivers have these, almost random, up-ticks and down-ticks.

Is this because the drivers are catching traffic or is it because the Pirellis are inherently unpredictable and the balance changes lap to lap or there is graining?

Thanks again for posting the wealth of information.


While this issue is for the technical side of the teams to improve the efficency car to help reduce tire degradation this is not going to be a quick fix and definately not one that can or will be fixed before China (Thats assuming they can do something – they are all smarter than me, so I will assume they can). But what we are not focusing on here is how much more work each drivers race engineer will have to do. While they are having to work out when to pit thier man, they also have to consider the wear rate of his competitors and where they may slot in. There will also be an element of luck in this, but also, one lap late could be the difference between 1st and 3rd. Take for example Canada last yaer when Webber was leading, but everyone was catching him very quickly. One would argue that Webber should have pitted a lap or 2 earlier. Getting this right this year will be so much more important.


I would love to say I hope it stays like this however I feel in 24 months time the the pirelli graph will be identical to the bridgestone.

Until then………. Let the mayhem begin!!!!!

I can easily see someone (prob Lewis or kobyashi) ruining their tyres on lap 1 or 2 and pitting starightaway!!

James what have you heard about a mclaren front exhaust similar to that of Renault?


yep, another great article.

haven’t seen anything like this level of insight and clear analysis anywhere.

best F1 site on the web imo.


Very interesting, but alas maybe rather useless in many ways.

Obviously the teams applied different Balast to both drivers using each tyre. At RBR for example, Webber is about a second a lap on average quicker on the Super soft tyres (unlikely), while Vettel held the same advantage on the softs. (also unlikely).

Maybe they were using the wing or KERS in some runs and not others and that is not shown.

But most interestingly are the medium tyres. Webber was faster but then dropped each lap while Vettel was slower and more even.

Maybe Webber wanted to see how much they were degrading and drove as fast as he could and threw caution to the wind and that’s what caused it. But is seems out of the blue, and I doubt Webber is struggling with the Mediums given his other time degradation on other tyres.

Rather interesting but still just a grain of salt.

Great job though James


Remember that in a race simulation they will only be able to use the rear wing adjust for 600m each lap.


True, but in testing and in quali they can run it freely and why leave testing the wing and KERS to such a small part of each lap if it can be tested more on each lap? Has to be done for quali anyway.

The medium tyres intrigue me the most though.

And then Schumacher with the soft, barely losing anytime during his run while everyone else lost as per normal.

Maybe Schumacher will be able to control the tyres more than others? (would stop those who put his 5 ferrari titles down to the BS tyres crafted for him though)


I have never said that I think it was all Schumacher.

Schumacher’s 5 titles are Ferrari were due to him being a great driver at the time, combined with Bridgestone tyres designed for his style, combined with technical excellence in car design. Sure, not always the best car, but he was never out of contention and was more often than any other driver, far into the lead.

I think how schumacher uses the tyres will be rather interesting. We have seen that he hasn’t liked the previous tyres and that he can’t adapt his style within the year, so what will happen this year.

The great point of interest is though that these tyres have both

*Good front end grip

*Bad range of turn in grip

That makes it interesting, because we can’t just say for example ‘Vettel willl be better because he likes front end grip’ because it appears that he (a bit like Alonso) likes a great degree of grip at the turn in. That puts him back a bit.

Button doesn’t like cars with more front than rear end grip, yet is very smooth and can drive with the rest of the tyre, and added to that can make it last longer. So how will he go?

It’s not night and day and it appears most drivers will lose something and gain something, but who loses more and/or gains less and who can make up for it is yet to be seen.


you better start crossing your fingers from now that he does ‘control’ his tyres better than other drivers or else what you claim as BS may not be BS after all..???


This is really going to change qualy. It’ll be 1 hot lap and in; repeat as needed.

If the Q3 ppl still have to start on the same tires they qualify on perhaps the best place to be on the grid will be #11 ?


Top 10 do still have to start on the tyres they set there best Q3 lap on as far as i know.

Something else to consider is that drivers are restricted to 6 sets of tyres for qualifying (Unless they have changed it for 2011?).

If the tyres are only giving 1 fast lap then maybe we’ll see less running through qualifying. Instead of going out & doing several laps each run as we’ve seen since 2006 with the current quali system, Maybe we’ll only see 3 laps (Out/Fast/In) each run.


in Q3, maybe the fastest car\driver will aim to set the time on the medium\hard compound and then wait in the garage with a set of softs on waiting to see how much he slides down the ladder in regards to quali position.

Starting 5th on medium\hard may bring more benefits than starting on pole with a set of softs

This year is going to be a nightmare for engineers\race strategists.


I wonder if there is any ‘heat cycle’ effect?


Thats terrific insight James.

We’ve all been relying on twitter and daily reports through the winter but to graphically see the dropoff in performance is much easier to comprehend than anything I have read upto this point.

Great post James!


This is how it used to be in the so-called “good old days”.

Personally, I’m not complaining.


thats actually incorrect. we’ve never had a range of tyres dictate exactly how many times each driver will have to make a pit stop.

back pre-1994 (before refueling) we often saw drivers run no-stop races by selecting the hard compound tyres. and we also used to see drivers run medium/soft tyres and run 1 or 2-stop races.

you had 4, sometimes 5 compounds and could run whatever strategy you wanted to run. pick the hardest & no-stop, pick the Medium & 1-stop, pick the softest & 2-stop.

if you wanted to start on one compound and switch to another you could also do this.

the beauty of what we had back then was that you truly never knew what everyone was doing. were they on the hard’s planning not to stop, were they a more medium/soft compond planning 1 or 2 stops, were they starting on one compound planning 1 stop to switch to another & so on.

also you often had strategy changing on the fly and much more driver input relating to strategy. schumacher for instance won his 2nd gp at estoril in 1993 because they planned to run the softest compound all race and do 2-stops. however before his 1st stop schumacher asked the team to switch to a medium compound and scrap the planned 2nd stop (because car performance was better than expected, his pace was good & he was well placed position-wise to make the switch work) & it got him the win.

the way the tyres are this year is too restrictive to me because its going to force at least 2 or more stops.

and regardless of how well you look after the tyres you will still be limited to 2 stops because the tyres are designed to force you to make at least 2 stops, pirelli have said that more stops is there goal.

teams should be allowed to pit as often or as little (or not at all) as they like, it should not be forced to be x stops simply because thats what the tyres dictate.


Yeah I also think they should go back to the Pre-94 way of handing tyre strategy.

As I said the other day,

Soft’s = Best performance, High Wear, last about 15-20 laps.

Medium’s = Maybe half second slower, Last around half race distance.

Hard’s = About 1 second slower, Can last a full race distance.

Let the Teams & Drivers run whatever strategy they want just like Pre-94.

I started watching F1 in 1989 so my 1st years of F1 was run with that sort of strategy & I prefer it to what we have seen post-refueling. Past few years I watched a lot of older races & its just Re-Confirmed my view that doing that is the best thing to do.


Hi Guys,

My first post and I just wanted to say that remember the doom and gloom about boring racing before last season started? And it turned out pretty well. Let’s not jump the gun on this season – all these teams are racers and, whether the tires last 2 laps or 22 laps we will still see racing. I think that with not so perfect tires the alternatives in strategy that this opens up for the teams will provide quite a bit of interest for us: and graphs like the ones above add a further dimension to our F1 experience. I can’t wait to get the racing started.


Fascinating, thanks for this insight James!

Would be interesting to look furher in to the stats and see which cars/drivers are easier on the Pirellis!

If wear is not too extreme it will add an interesting element to races, perhaps drivers won’t be able to rely on out and out pace, but need to adopt a smoother style for large sections of the race. As you say making the tyres last those extra couple of laps seems like it is going to make all the difference this season.

And hopefully we’ll see more varied strategies and as a result more overtaking, with cars at various stages of tyre wear!?


Best article yet James.

This should make the racing really enjoyable.

Who then is doing the highest average lap times?

It is all well and good people setting fast laps but they seam almost meaningless against the data you have provided.


I think the tire wear is overblown. F1 cars are never gonna go slow down. When we switched from V10 to V8 everyone moaned about it. Look at us now, we don’t even remember F1 cars used to run beautiful sounding V10’s.

Also it was boring to watch 2010 Hungary when Webber was able to make his soft tire last till the end.

I know all Hamilton supports don’t like the tire wear, but he will mature & learn to make his tires last.

I think Pirelli should make Soft & hard tires last 10-12 & 20-22 laps respectively. That will put the beautiful minds of Brawn, Schumi & Alonso at work for wonderful strategy calls.


Excellent info James and very interesting… keep up the good work!!


The tyres will change the game for the agressive drivers, they will have to adapt or perish!

Patrick McLaughlin

Great insight James.

Keep it coming, cannot get enough of these technical nuggets.

Fingers crossed this is another epic season. Cannot wait for qualifying in Melbourne to see who really has the quickest car.

Roll on weekend of March 25th !


James, given the comments from the drivers about just steering too much wears the tyres out, do you think this will discourage overtaking and take us back to the position where all passing is done in the pits again?


If the wear rate on the tyres stays as it is, as in the softs lasting 10-12 laps and the medium\hard lasting 20-22 laps, we may well get a hamilton starting on softs, pitting once more for softs and then finishing on the medium\hard compound. Compare that to a button who may start on the soft and pit once to take the medium\hard.

I dont believe the tyres will degrade as bad as they are now, Pirelli have already said they will make them more durable add to that the effect of the cold. IMO they should wait till after Australia before making the tyres more durable.


I think the second graph looks a lot more exciting than the first..!! (although admittedly the extent of degradation also looks pretty scary)

I am looking forward to tires actually wearing out again and some different strategies being used. 2 and 3 stops races would be great.


The point is that graph 2 is how it used to be before we got used to perfect tyres


I agree with you to a degree. I can’t remember a time when tires were only lasting 10-12 laps. In 1993, the last year before fuel stops were introduced, 1 or 2 stops was the norm although a few people tried 3 stops on occasion. There were also no pit speed limits in those days which encouraged more pit stops.

The other interesting thing about the early 90’s was the teams had 4 compounds available, A, B, C and D which equates exactly to what we have now. The difference is that Goodyear brought ALL specs to the race and teams were free to choose what to run. Some would start on A’s or B’s and try and run the entire race, others would pick C’s or D’s and have multiple strategies. It could be interesting to have that mix again.

The flip side to this is that teams would probably work out the optimal tire pretty quickly these days and most compounds wouldn’t get used…


After stopping refuelling, last years races became quite predictable apart from Canada where there was high tyre degradation, so this can only be a good thing.
So Pirelli please don’t develop your tyres too much.


Are they still allocated the same number of tyres for a race weekend as last year?

There were a few times last year when they were being conservative with the tyres they were using in qualifying so they wont run out for the race. But if a race uses 4 sets, theyre going to have to be really careful on friday and saturday with them!


Wear =/= degradation. You can get a tyre which is almost down to the canvas but is just about as fast as a new tyre, or a tyre which gets rapidly worse almost from the moment it touches asphalt in anger.


Interesting to see the new tyres start to drop in performance right from the first lap. It looks like a pretty predictable and consistent fall off in the graph though. Not like the old tyres that would hang on for a time and then go off. It was a bit of a guessing game as to when that point was before, sometimes it didn’t happen at all.


James, that is top drawer information right there!

I instantly think that someone like Button will shine in a environment like this, but the drop off is so dramatic that he might lack the confidence to keep the lap times up.

Going to be fascinating to see in the races


When you say the Bridgestone tyres were “too perfect” I’m sure what you mean is basically you could pit on lap 2 and then go to the end of the race on that set of tyres…

…that is boring as far as introducing a difference in strategy is concerned, which would be most welcome this season.

Bridgestone refused to develop high-wear tyres as this affected their brand image, but resulted in predictable and boring strategies.

I want more races like Montreal in 2010 when there were almost as many different race strategies as teams that Sunday!

Good riddance to boring Bridgestones and welcome to exciting Pirelli!


Great observation, James. Really useful.

Tyre conservation, KERS, and rear wing – the drivers certainly have more to juggle this season.

Anything that can promote a mix of different strategies has to be welcomes. Last season the “1 stop at 1/3rd distance” was getting terribly sterile.


” Last season the “1 stop at 1/3rd distance” was getting terribly sterile.” And yet it was exactly what Bridgestone had planed: says “A Formula One tyre is designed to last for, at most, 200 kilometres…”. I actually remember reading from a Bridgestone source at that they hoped their prime tyres would last 200km and their soft tyres, slightly less, but I couldn’t find the source now.

So far, I like the idea of less durable tyres. Let’s see how it works out in racing, but if we can get 2-stop strategies against 3-stop strategies, we’ll be in for great entertainment.


If it all becomes the same then it is boring.

I don’t care if it’s all 1 stop, no stop or 2 or even 3 stop stratergies aslong as drivers CAN do different things.

If everyone pits at the 1/4 mark for a new set and then at teh 2/3 mark again it will be just as boring.

BUT, if Button can do a 1 stop stratergy to Hamilton’s 2 stop then we have some great racing, can Button keep his tyres long enough while posting good lap times? Will hamilton be fast enough to make up for the extra pit stop. THAT is exciting.

Having a 1 stop for Button, 2 stop for most and a 3 stop for a car aggressive on tyres but fast would provide brilliant racing right through till the chequered flag. And if the cars becomes hard to drive with used tyres and it takes massive skill to not destroy the tyres for speed while mainting quick laptimes AND holding the car together for the full distance THEN we have brilliant racing!


I fear we may see Petrov unable to cope with so many changes on one lap


I think the weaker drivers in all the midfield cars are going to have a tough time and there are opportunities for well driven cars from smaller teams


Thanks James for the great inside data provided here.

You give this website something to look out about every time you visit it.

I like the tyres being not as perfect as the bridges were but I hope they will give the drivers a chance to race…

What if you need to overtake someone by outbreaking on the very last moment, what will that do to your tyres?

And, what if you have a flat-spot? How will the car react? Even with the bridges the drivers were feeling some vibrations…

All above has nothing to do with the normal degradation.

Actually, I’m curious and scared at the same time regarding the first race.


Thanks, spread the word!


Lets hope they fix them, this is too far the other way. Four stops will be a joke.


Excellent stuff James!

How do the tyre companies get the data? do the have their own telemetry? Or get it from the teams, or is it a binoculars and ten stopwatches job?

To me it seemed that Massa had the most linear degradation on the third set. The others were all over the place At least if it’s linear it’s predictable.

Unfortunately we don’t know that all the cars were doing the same sort of runs, whether they were aero testing,KERS testing,flap testing, heat testing etc, Nor do we know what loads they carried. presumably if the last longer when heated up properly they will be better under full fuel load.

I read elsewhere that the Pirelli guys were upset that Bahrain was cancelled because it would be the first high temperature test, where the tyres would wear better and not chunk into marbles. Apparently there were a lot of marbles produced. If that goes forward then there will be only one line and no overtaking again.


This is just a graph from the timing data the teams use, its not from Pirelli


Very interesting, on Webber’s (I think, the graphs are very low resolution so I can’t make them out very well) second stint, he had lost 21 seconds after 7 laps had he been able to maintain his first lap pace. So it looks likely we could be seeing at least 3 pit stops per race. Obviously, everyone will be falling back as well but it could mean we will see much more inventive pitstop strategies. And unlike the fuel strategies, the tyre strategies will be much more flexible as they won’t be set in concrete before the race starts.

I assume that the teams will be limited to the same number of tyres as last year, because obviously they will limit the teams to some degree.


What, therefore, you won’t see this season is one driver staying out an extra lap from the guy in front, putting in a hotlap, and leap-frogging a position.


Every driver will adapt to the new pireli tyres…with diffent rate, but how many of us do speculate every year about new regulations being bad for some drivers and good for some others? there were a ban on traction control some years ago, then came slick tyres instead of grooved tyres…but every year drivers adapt just give them time.


Yeah! It’s amazing how many people already predicting a disaster. Moaning is easy, but leads to nowhere.

As you said, drivers must adapt, whether they like it or not. Engineers must adapt and make the most of the stuff, so do we must adapt and get as much fun from it as possible.

I think it’ll be an exciting season. Something different and kind of new.


Last year it was worries over no refuelling, the year before it was ugly cars with huge front wings and tall back wings, the year before that etc etc. But we all know we’re going to be getting up in the early hours for Australia like a kid at Christmas!


Makes you want to be an engineer doesn’t it? Quite right, it is fascinating.


Makes you admire the engineers, for sure. They are amazing people


James, I realise there’s so much material and so little time, but is there any chance of an article on the engineers at some stage during the season?

We know so much about the drivers, cars, tyres and even the team bosses – but very little about the engineers, the job they do and how important the relationship is with the driver, the team boss, the strategist, team boss, etc. And that’s just the race engineer!

Anything that takes us deeper into the world of F1 greatly appreaciated.


Jenson’s soft driving style to care about tyres could become a decisive strategic advantage to defeat Lewis’ aggresive style this season.

But my general view is this will be a disappointing season.

Forget the race will be decided by fierce overtaking battles or sublime aeodynamics packages – the only meaningful factor will be the way to take care about tyres, plus capabilites to use KERS and rear wing the best way.

How very far from actual driving.

Somehow I have already lost a lot of interest about this season that was looking so promising – including a perspetive to be even better than the classic of 2010.


Talk about glass half empty! Sure, the season could suck, but only if there’s a dominant team with a dominant driver (i.e. Alonso). If either the Red Bull or McLaren are competitive, both with competitive drivers, then I think we should be in for a cracker!

There’s plenty of opportunity – given the tyres – to push the guy in front, causing him to wear his tyres sooner, allowing you to attack later in the stint.

This is what racing is really all about: it’s a long haul to make a pass, not just a single-corner maneuver.


Kirk, in order to be able to continue pushing something you need to maintain similar momentum, meaning, if u do the math correctly, ur tires will be wearing at a similar rate to his..


That may be true sometimes but pushing the driver in front involves forcing them to do things they wouldn’t normally do to cover you off – covering, taking different lines, etc. Any small mistake will damage the tyres.

Yes, if everyone drove perfectly then you could calculate the result. However racing is really the art of minimising mistakes. Every driver will make dozens of mistakes during a race, and will often make multiple mistakes on a single lap. These are only tiny mistakes but they will all potentially degrade the tyres.


great as usual thank you


James do you know if any team in particular have coped better with the tyre wear on these Pirellis? Could it be a vital factor if one car is easier on it’s tyres compared to another teams car?


I for one welcome the new tires. Bridgestone’s tires helped create a boring race, luckily other factors played their part to keep the excitement going strong last season.

We saw many races last year where the pole sitter simply drove away with almost no concern over his all but guaranteed victory (minus mechanical failures). Hopefully this season some strategy around tires will allow someone to challenge the pole sitter for victory. Maybe we will again see Vettel snatching pole after pole, but then a challenger pushes his tires to the absolute limit making a go of it in the last corner, drafting down the straight, pulling out of his wake with a speed advantage and a photo finish… I can’t wait!


Yes fascinating – let’s hope they stay that way!


You can’t get something like this anywhere on the web except here. That’s why we love this website. Thanks, James & Co!


Dear James,

As per the graphics show, there has been a difference of 8 to +10 seconds between both tires, do you think we will note the difference in lap times on TV?, i mean do you think tv viewers will notice the cars going much slower?, Thanks!


you’ll notice which cars are going slower when we see cars on newer tyres easily blast by them.

like mark webber said the other day, easy and unexciting passes which will not be spectacular to watch.

tyres are dropping off way too much, ok the bridgestones lasted longer than they shu#ould have (the soft tyres did at least), but i think were going from one extreme to the other.

i believe there were 2 problems with how tyres were used last year.

1 – the mandatory pit stop.

2 – the fact all bridgestones compounds were a bit more durable than they should have been & with little performance difference between the 2 selected for each race.

the fia should remove the mandatory pit stop and pirelli should make the hardest compound hard enough to go a full race but keep the softest compound wearing, not quite as bad as it is now but not too much more durable.

then if a team wishes to use a soft tyres and plan a stop or 2 there able to but at the same time if a team wishes to go a full race on the hards without any planned stops they should also be able to.

tyres should not be intentionally designed to force teams to make x number of pit stops. it should be upto the teams what they do.


Competely agree – they should get rid of the mandatory pitstop. It just smells artificial.


Could just get rid of pitstops entirely since no refueling anyway. Teams could qualify on whatever tire they want and then start the race on a fresh set and then make it work of fail. Pirelli could supply two types of tires: A hard, stable, tire guaranteed to finish the race at a consistent pace but relatively slow, and a softer tire that is much quicker initially but won’t make the distance without careful management. Just depends on what flavour of “manipulation” one prefers.

I still very much prefer the rules in the early 2000’s. Open fuel and tire strategies, with no disclosures. It was much more exiting trying to figure what people were doing and then watching teams adjusting on the fly to beat or cover their rivals stratagy.

And I think they should modify todays “park ferme” rule set to some degree. They could maintain that no major parts(aero,drivetrain, chassis etc) be substituted between quali and race to keep cost down and prevent qualifying specials, easy with engine/transmission unit limits, but I don’t see why they have to prevent changes to suspension and aero set up that can be done without major part change.


Umm… if the prime compound could do a full race distance, then we’d have last year over again – everyone would do one single pit stop, and almost all of them would do it early.

Any strategy that involves losing track position and having to overtake on-track to even regain it gets nuked by intelligence guided by experience, simple as that.


And you don’t think having fresher tyres combined with the rear wing will improve overtaking?

If anything – overtaking might be too easy.


Agree with your two points mate. Getting rid of the stop and making a bigger difference would have been great, that OR forcing atleast 1 stop and having a pretty big gap between the two tyres, sort of a SOFT then HARD or SOFT then SOFT then HARD setup.

The bridgstones, while great endurance tyres were about as useful in degradation terms for an F1 race as these Perellis would have been on my road car.

If you can qualify and then run the entire race on one set of softs then there is a problem.

I’m looking foward though to these new tyres as they are COMPLETELY different. Michelin and Bridgestone were rather similiar overall compared to these Pirellis and as such there are many things to look foward too

*Which drivers can adapt the best?

*Will the front end grip be better for some?

*Will the lack of turn in bite over a greater angle hurt others?

*Will it help in heating for Quali?

*Will they overheat due to some driving styles?

*How will drivers like Hamilton go?

*Will Button be able to take full advantage on all tracks?

*Hamilton and Button are different, but who are the other pairs that could use different stratergies?

And more… looking foward to it!

Tom Haythornthwaite



Interesting data and graphs. Looks like tires are going to mess things up this year. I am not sure whether I like it yet. Sad that we have to wait longer to find out.

Like Jonathan asked, Is information like this ever published online? I read about teams doing race simulations but no one mentions how many stops they made to complete the race distance…


This is great, James. As always a unique perspective on things.

It would be interesting to compare this set of graphs to others obtained at a later date (during 2011 season) as an indicator of which direction Pirelli are heading in for tyre development?

Will we see a graph that doesn’t have so many peaks and troughs?


Fantastic, James. One of those strange cases of “actually” self explaining graphs.

I can’t understand what Pirelli says about the tyres performing better on warmer conditions. Obviously, the grip will be better. But I’ve always thought that, the higher the temperature, the faster the tyres will wear off.


Colder weather means higher tyre wear. Imagine you have a ruler. If you slap it against a desk nothing much will happen. Now stick it in the freezer for a couple of hours. Now slap it against a desk – it will probably shatter. Same goes for cold weather tracks & tyres.


Really good update from you James


What pirelli are talking about,

the warmer it is the better,

because whilst its cold the tires are hot and are running on cold surface causing a faster breakdown

if the trak is hot the tires warm up quicker and being warm the rubber stays soft and does not breakaway giving longer runs

PS we race in Karts and we go through a lot more tires in winter free practise than in the summer when the trak is warmer

hope this helps to anyone still unclear about why tires breakdown in colder climents

cheers tony K


We’ve seen many times last year how tyres that don’t reach working temperature wear off faster: they slide more, and their rubber does not become elastic enough, which tends to rub it off in chunks.


This should hopefully help with the excitement this year. Which drivers will push earlier to get more from the tyres and which will make them last for longer stints. There will be a balance and different strategies at the beginning of the season. Should favour sine drivers over others. If the McLaren is a good car then Button could be strong this year but I think that will depend on the ability of the car to warm the tyres up, a problem he had with the Bridgestones.

By that second graph the Red Bull definitely looks to make the tyres last longer from that selection.


Thanks for that info James, really interesting. Funnily enough im a motorsport technology student at Stafforshire Uni and we have been doing stuff about tyre degradation at the mo so this is great!

Is information like this ever published online or only available via somebody like yourself?




Lap times from testing are available from Live Timing. This seasons test times are listed @ Clip The Apex in their Barcelona, Jerez and Valencia threads.


Thanks snowy much appreciated!


i think i prefer things this way but think that eventually we’ll end up with a happy medium between what the FIA and the teams want!


Kudos to you and your friend from TV:-)

I love everything about it…I only want Ferrari to put together a perfect season!




Nowhere else can you get this.



Thank you.


Hear hear. We race fans (particularly those who continue to follow the sport in the closed season) are basically geeks. Sure, the gossip and interviews are all interesting as well but James gives us content like this great article. Thanks mate.


Remarkable and worrying.

Are we going to end up in a situation where drivers will not be able to race? I feel sure that some people enjoy an enconomy run but I’m not one of them.

Whilst it gives another dimension to the race, what does this do for engineers? The most vital variable and they find out about it a month before the first scheduled GP.

I suppose teams will have two strategies – everyone a Ferrari, eh? Hamilton on more stops than Button sort of thing.

I can see punctures becoming the norm, with all that implies. Safety out of the window?

Great article. Ta.


Formula 1 isn’t a sprint – it’s a long race and drivers can’t go absolutely flat out from start to finish. It’s always been the case, until recent times when the cars and tyres improved so much that they hardly wear over an entire race distance. I remember F1 during the 80’s when tyre management was even more important than it is now. We used to get incredibly exciting races with some drivers taking an extra tyre stop, and pursuing those on older rubber. That can make for incredibly exciting racing.


I think the difference between 2011 and the 80s is that the choice then was often – as in the Britsh GP in 87 – whether a tyre stop was needed or not. I think that was the most exicing race I’ve ever seen despite there being just two cars in it and it being down to tyre condition.

Here though we are talking about tyres deliberately engineered to fall apart. This is like Indycars suddenly having a full course yellow to negate a lead. Not really what racing is about to my mind.

Further, the norm is that a team will gain a significant benefit from such changes and rather than close things up it actually increases the differential.

I take your point about the tyres not puncturing in testing. Might it be different in racing conditions?

I must admit to being in line with Trulli in this. The regs should be altered to overcome a specific problem – safety, that sort of thing – and not just to stir things up to see what might happen.

F1 used to be nothing more than three sprints during the fuel stop era.


Just because a tire drops of in performance does not mean it is prone to punctures or that Pirelli does not consider safety aspects.

Why are people always so negative and moan before the show has actually started? Why not wait, see and than make a judgement based on facts on not just wild hunches?


I think it’s simply safer to moan before everything starts ;-): you moan and are negative, then the season starts and it turns out that it’s not THAT bad or that it’s actually good, so you are positively surprised and happy.

Then, if you don’t moan and get too excited (positively), expecting great racing you may end up being disappointed if it turns out that the moaners were actually right ;-).

I, personally have some doubts, but prefer to remain positive. However, I do understand the moaners (theoretically at least 😉 ).


wrong attitude in live: negative expectations to avoid dissapointment, so sad, it should really be the other way around!-)


Good point and worth noting that Pirelli didn’t have a single tyre failure in Barcelona


One way or another the racers will race.


Fascinating stuff but I can’t help but feel that such extreme tyre degradation will turn F1 into a tyre conservation competition.

Is this what we want to see ?

Throw in peaky 1600cc turbocharged engines from 2013 and I doubt whether driving the cars will be much fun either.


I do not like the proposed tiny engines of the future.

As for the tyres? as many stops as possible please.

It negates the advantage in quali and allows different driving styles to gain stratagic advantages.


You’ve seen nothing yet, but already moaning.


Great article, annoying first comment.

Yep the last formula one car i drove was a bit boring to be honest:)

Of course the latest n/a “small” v8’s aren’t peaky at all (less than 300nm or torque from about 16000rpm in an engine with over 700bhp sounds pretty peaky if you ask me!!).

The new engine won’t use 1980’s technology, so comparatively they won’t be laggy or peaky. Plus they’ll only need to produce 500bhp (with kers and others) not 1500 bhp as they did in the 1980’s.

Something tells me not too many drivers will be complaining that their car is “not too much fun to drive” in 2013!

I no enough about f1 to know i know nothing, but i still know when other people are wrong.

I’ll wait and see though, hey?


Well said!.. I don’t think the powers in F1 are foolish enough to turn to smaller engines if they was a possibility that that would somehow spoil the sport.


What was the best race of 2010?

Most would say Montreal, where we had high tyre wear!

I know I want to see more pit stops and more chance of different race tactics, which might happen with these Pirelli tyres!


There will be far more tyre degradation than we saw at Montreal.

If the graphs are to be believed, the effect on laptimes at different stages of the life of the tyres could be as much as 10 seconds a lap.

This will soon wipe out any advantage painstakingly built up through the early stages of a stint.


Couldn’t agree more with Chris Mahnken. It would be great to have races where a wily Alonso or Button is conserving tires to go one less stop and attack a Vettel or Hamilton with used up tires.



Not sure of your age, but those of us who remember the days of Senna vs Prost know just how exciting a race between a wickedly fast driver on a 3 stop strat vs a professor on a 2 stop strat can be.

Cars would pit with the tires down to the cords at times, and the races were great. We may finally see some drivers go for totally different strategies, and have both work.


There were a number of variables that made Canada an amazing race. The sole reason was not only the tyres. It was also that that three pairs of cars were within hundredths of each other in raw pace and that the Red Bulls and Kubica used a counter strategy by starting on hard tyres. What I fear will happen is that the team will settle into an accepted rhythm and status quo will continue (albeit with an extra stop).

Also, what of F1’s ongoing commitment to going green? Doesn’t using more tyres on Sunday seem to be out of the ‘fuel burn’ playbook? – to the average non-F1 person, it will seem so wasteful.

Finally, will we continue to see the outrageous overtakes pulled by Hamilton, Kubica and Kobayashi? The high tyre degradation, the higher amount of marbles off-line, the one point per track to use the rear wing trick – these all serve as disincentives to be innovative.

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