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On track action likely to be more limited in 2011
On track action likely to be more limited in 2011
Posted By: James Allen  |  04 Mar 2011   |  12:20 pm GMT  |  197 comments

When I was at the Barcelona test recently I had a few discussions with engineers about some of the ramifications of the behaviour of the new Pirelli tyres.

The Italian firm has said that its brief is to create more short-lived tyres, prompting more pit stops, but one of the interesting possible side effects of that is that drivers will spend less time on track during practice and qualifying, despite needing time to perfect adjustable wing and KERS usage.

Track time will be tight with limited tyre life (Darren Heath)

There is always a trade off in practice between saving tyres and getting enough set up time. Also with testing being so limited now, many teams use the Friday practice sessions to test new components or aerodynamic developments for future races. The trade off here with the short lived tyres will be interesting.

The real problem is that it’s very hard to evaluate a change. If you set a time with one set up and then change it, the lap time will drop because of the tyre performance so it’s tough to work out what the effect of the set up change was!

The rules say that the drivers have 11 sets of tyres. They have two sets of hard and one soft set for practice. They must give a set back of primes after first practice and a set of each back after second practice.

That leaves eight sets for Saturday and Sunday, of which a set of hards and a set of softs must be given back before qualifying.

With the performance we have seen so far in testing, where the tyre performance drops off by as much as six seconds over the life of the tyres and the hard tyre lasts around 20-22 laps, it’s likely that a car will not be able to do much meaningful running on Friday, compared with the Bridgestones, which were good for a race distance at some venues.

Drivers will have six sets of tyres for qualifying and the race. The drop off in performance after the first hot lap in qualifying means that there is no point in staying out for a second lap, as the next lap is at least a second slower. So drivers will attempt to do just one run in each of the three sessions. Of course anyone in trouble in Q1 or Q2, or who does not expect to make it through Q1, can throw extra sets at it, but the front runners will not be able to do that. Certainly Q3 will be all on the one lap.

“In qualifying, it takes at least three sets, but only if everything goes perfectly. Perhaps you have a yellow or red flag, or make a mistake. Then a set is done straight away, ” Sebastian Vettel said recently. “It’s not like you can recycle a tyre again and then get a second run. These days the pace drops by one second.”

It’s also going to be tight for front runners in Q1 as the gap in performance for used tyres compared to new ones, means that even a Red Bull or a Ferrari will be taking a chance trying to get through Q1 with a used set, as they did last year, in order to save tyres for a second run in Q3. So all roads point to Q3 being a single lap challenge for pole, as it was a few years ago.

The scope for mistakes is great. There should be enough excitement going on we may not need to turn the sprinklers on…

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Sounds like a recipe for PR (PiRelli) disaster. Also, what's with the spectators in the grandstands who pay insame amounts of money and get to see the cars for just a couple of brief moments during the weekend? Is it fair? I think the cars are the main attraction, so you naturally wish to take a good look at them and soak up the atmosphere.

Of course, it'll probably result in a better TV show, but no point in attending any races this year I guess. Too much money for not much value, testing was more than enough for me personally. I mostly pity for Melbourne fans, as it's likely that half of the field will be eliminated at the first corner in the pure 2002 style...


I agree with this post, on a number of scores.

Firstly, Pirelli can't possibly expect to earn "good PR' if every race some commentator proclaims that their tyres don't last anywhere near as long as the Bridgestones. It matters not how contrived the rules are... it matters not how many instructions Pirelli might have been given to specifically deliver short lived tyres... for the average Joe Public, short life span equals poor tyre.

Next, is it fair? I agree with you... the cars ARE the main attraction, and the rules are now so dreadfully contrived in relation to having to give back certain sets of tyres yada yada yada during the process. Quite frankly, it's eating away like a cancer at what the sport of Formula One is truly meant to be... ya run what ya brung, and if what ya brung is better than everyone else, ya get rewarded for it.

Third, yes Melbourne will probably have a massive pile up on the first lap - however, to be fair, that's potentially possible at any track with a long start straight and a slower first corner - Monza is a notable example.

Nonetheless, I think the time has ariived for the FIA to consider making qualifying a true open qualifying session once again, at least 90 minutes long, 2 sessions on each Friday and Saturday, and then paying full points for positions on the grid, and THEN starting every race in reverse order, paying the same points for finishing.

Now THAT would make for an exciting season.


Disagree with your 2nd post.

It doesn't matter if they last forever or not or if they are faster or slower, it just depends on how people refer to them as.

If every race they are referred to as slower Bridgestones with that don't last as long then they will get bad PR from teh public.

If however they are referred to as a different style of tyre designed to produce better racing than the Bridgestone's. THEN it will be great PR saying that they (Pirilli) have produced better tyres for F1, then people will think 'oh, so Pirilli knows how to make appropriate tyres'.

And what do you mean about qualifying being a 'ture open qualifying session again', since when did F1 have a qualifying session that paid points for all grid positions followed by reverse starting them.

THAT is ridiculous idea. Racing is really simple by nature and complex by thought. Your worried about a pile up at the start of each race, so what happens when all the fast cars with more downforce then have to get around and outbrake the front cars with less downforce.

Can you remember Valencia last year with the Lotus vs Red Bull. THe lotus required twice the distance to brake. Imagine if the HRT was going first, the track not that wide remember, has 2 HRT's braking way before the braking zone. The next cars swerving around, the cars behind not knowing what is happening and someone with quick reactions then hits the brakes before plowing into the back of a Virgin doing 80mph less. Guy behind does a Kimi (youtube it) and because he can't see plows right into the back of the other. THe guys at the back at completely caught out again and Massa jumps off to the grass to avoid and hence loses control (like Suzuka), ramming the cas also doing the same down the line. The HRT finally makes the corner along with about 1/4 to 1/3 of the field, the rest and either caught behind a massive blockade of cars that could double as a prop for Les Miserables.

Is that really what you want to see?

Reverse grids are horrible as they punish the good and privlige the bad. It is very contrieved and just reeks of 'trying to put on a show'.

THe racing should be very simple.

Cars all qualify - preferably in a small lbock so we have ontrack actions

Cars line up on grid in order

Cars race around track

Whoever gets to the finish first wins, 2nd 2nd etc...

To have a reverse grid you have to give an incentive to qualify at the back and then make it easy enough for people to get through.

Simply make it easier to pass. How come people could pass back in the 90's more than today? How much if you go within a second of the car infront your tyres burn out?

Why not simply just give the cars less drag. I don't care if it's less downforce (pref not though) or ground effect or limiting the suspension to make them harder to drive or whatever. I don't care aslong as if a driver lets call him FA is behind a slower driver in a slower car called say VP and maybe a 3rd driver called MW is behind FA in an even faster car than both, then quite clearly FA and MW should easily pass VP and then MW should find it hard, but should be able to pass FA.

Why aer we even talking about changing the way qualifying has worked and maing it for the show, and then wetting the race track, and putting the slow cars at the front and then giving points for those at the back and then putting wings to make the cars easily about to pass. THen giving a shortcut and the a medal for this and that. That is stupid, that isn't racing, thats just a lazy video game maker making Formula 1 VIIXXXXXX and adding 'crazy fun features' to make poeple buy it again.

Imagine if your went to watch soccer and they made the pitch wet to make it harder to run and then changed the goalposts in distances from each other depending on who is playing better, and then gave points for having a smaller goal post and then had set times when 3 players had to be off the pitch butonly for one side and then etc.. You wouldnt watch it, sure it would be quite different and more goals and more excitment but it wouldn't be soccer anymore.


You wrote "Why are we even talking about changing the way qualifying has worked and maing it for the show, and then wetting the race track, and putting the slow cars at the front and then giving points for those at the back and then putting wings to make the cars easily about to pass?"

Well... to be fair... I didn't mention all of those areas in my previous post... you did. However, the same answer covers all of those questions. Namely, Formula One in particular (and motor racing in general in most of it's elite categories) is no longer about building absolutely the fastest possible racecar - if a Formula One car was built using every bit of banned technology since 1982, we would witness a 700kph racecar - a car way, waaay to dangerous for both driver and spectator alike.

By definition, the rules that the FIA hand down each season are contrived (for want of a better description) to apply the sweet spot between viewing numbers and technological innovation. And many, many people make their living from it - including our esteemed James Allen. There is your reality. And it applies to Le Mans prototype racing through to NASCAR as well - Lord knows there was huge despair at the drafting at this year's Daytona 500. In short, when you artificially try to slow down engineering capabilities, everyone tends to end up with identical capability.

My point is this... once you, or anyone accepts that Formula One exists to meet that sweet spot between viewing numbers and technical innovation, then you have a large vista within which you can operate. And clearly, starting a Grand Prix in reverse grid is an interesting concept - one which would truly place a premium on the racer's racer each Grand Prix, but it's also a concept which would only work obviously if Teams and Drivers were paid equal points for qualifying as well as race day itself.

Another alternative is to open up the drawing boards to technical innovation once again and to restrict fuel flow rate, But that's another discussion for another thread.


Agree with your first point. Then the key thing is it's the same for everyone.


Geez I sure hope not, Melbourne this year will be my 1st ever live F1 race. Hope to get my hard earned cash worth. Mind you I will be in the stands at turn 1/2 so at least I'll see the chaos up close if it happens. 🙂


Good luck, mate! I'm hoping there won't be too many casualties, so that people in the grandstands can have some fun.


the new quali format has been good. shame the tyre are returning us to "one hot lap" scenario


I do not agree, I think the new scenario will mix it up in a natural way. I do not agree with the moving wing nor the push to pass button, they are going too far.

As for the rain on command :<) OMG.

Let us hope 2011 does not see a single car too far ahead which will spoil the opportunities.





Do you think thst there will be less overtaking on track as well, James? Personally I believe there will be less for two reasons:

1. More pit stops means more opportunity to gain places using pitstop strategy, rather than having to do it on the track. I wonder why they didn't just reintroduce refuelling if this was the intention.

2. The amount of marbles off the racing line will make it very difficult to overtake.


Pirelli have already said that they don't want marbles, in order to make more than one line a possibility. They also said they expect the amount of marbles will be smaller even with current compounds once we have the expected temperatures (weather at all tests was very different from expected race temperatures), and that they will work on the compounds if marbles turn out to be a problem nevertheless.


@ Paul Kirk,

...neither are the different cars they are using.

That has nothing to do with driver skill either.

Thats engineer skill - the same engineer skill that will produce a car that can cope best with the high wear rate, and everyone is on the same tyres, and all start with the same sets of tyres.

In the same way that all the cars have rear wings.

Also if a driver is on tyres which are 10 laps old and another guy can 'cruise' past him, its Finally. FINALLY created the opportunity for a driver to get passed another driver, if he is on a completely different strategy.

High degradation tyres, KERS, and adjustable rear wings, will, I hope, manage to do what the FIA have been trying to do for years but with no success - to give the drivers the opportunity to overtake.

Lets flip it round - lets say they were all on super tyres that lasted for ages i.e. 2010 - where is the skill in the guy infront keeping the guy behind? It had nothing to do with skill, it was due to the amount of turbulence generated that the driver behind didn't have a hope of overtaking, even if his car was 2 seconds quicker.


Good points. I think there will be more passing because of the difference in lap times from new to used tyres, regardless of the rear wings etc


Lets face it James - We watch and like a Nascar racing - F1 is just becoming like a Nascar race with degrading tyres, plenty of pit stops, car at different places at different times. Winners winning just because they haven't made a late pitstop. ( Nascar races are longer though so easier to fit all this lot it in )

Nascar also has MANUAL car changes to change handling as the track changes ... we just dont see these in F1 although the back room boys are doing it.

Tony Stewart testing a F1 car next week ..... somethings afoot here !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


More passing, but perhaps meaningless passing as cars on differently aged tires jockey for position throughout the race. It will certainly keep the commentators busy trying to sort out who is really in the lead throughout the race. Unfortunately, it may also confuse the fans!

Gimmicks to increase "excitement" of a race are just that... Gimmicks.

We want to see the world's best racing cars being driven by the world's best drivers. When Alonso passes Vettel, or Hamilton passes (hopefully) Kubica, or Kobayashi passes whoever happens to be in front of him, or any driver passes another we want it to mean something. We want it to be something that the driver had to earn with a combination of skill and technology. Not by pushing a button at the right time or by following the pit stop advice of some risk mitigation software.



I think perhaps you haven't thought it through. Consider that most of the rules in F1 exist to do one of two things.

First there are rules regarding safety, roll hoops, side intrusion protection, wheel tethers, nose cone crumple specs, fuel bladders, etc....

Second are the rules to control cost, engine life, gearbox life, material limitations, testing bans, etc...

Now with the moveable rear wing for 2011, the moveable front wing from 2010 and to a lesser extent KERS (or rather the implementation of KERS) we see a third category of rules whose primary objective is to introduce "excitement" by making it easier to overtake.

That being said, a rear wing isn't a gimmick, it is an aerodynamic device used to make the car go faster around a track. A rear wing with a moveable flap that can only be used by a car following within 1 sec and only for a 600m section of a straight is a "gimmick". No part of the moveable wing satisfies either a safety or cost savings concern, it exists solely to promote artificial overtaking on a straight.

KERS is a little different, the technology behind KERS is great. The limitations on it's use are a bit odd. I think KERS should be unlimited, the teams should be free to regain as much kinetic energy as possible and they should be free to apply it when and how they wish. The current limitations on KERS do not exist to promote safety or cost savings. The limitations exist to create a "push to pass" button.

Your point about the new "add-on" technologies of KERS and the moveable rear-wing being fair does not make any sense to me. Since when do the specs in F1 exist to level the technological playing field to make it fair? Defined pieces of tech have no place in F1, outside of measures to cut costs, that is for lower series.

As for these gimmicks being inexpensive, perhaps the moveable rear-wing is, but KERS? KERS is probably the most expensive bit of tech on the cars, especially when you consider the cost to performance gain.

On to "sitting behind not being able to do anything"... Apart from the season finale, which I think can mostly be blamed on the track, when do the cars sit behind one another? Sure the top 3 or 4 teams can't pass each other, but they run within a few tenths of a second of each other. There really is no appreciable performance advantage between the top cars. Now if Vettel or Hamilton starts p20 you will see a great deal of passing, up to p7 maybe. Each position up the food chain in F1 increases the difficulty of reaching the next level exponentially, that is why winning in F1 is the lauded achievement that it is. It is very rarely a gift.


Or because one driver's tyres are 10 laps old and the other's are new! Circumstances like that have nothing to do with driver skill.



'We want it to be something that the driver had to earn with a combination of skill and technology.'

But KERS and adjustable rear wings are part of the technology. All the teams have them at their disposle, and its whoever uses it the best - in the same way all the cars have rear wings, and engines.

how is a driver overtaking using kers any more artificial than a driver who is in a better car than the guy in front?

If anything, having these add-on technologies like KERS and rear wings is actually very fair, because they are defined pieces of tech in the rules, available for everyone to use, and you don't need to have a high budget to use them.

I hope that with kers/rear wing adjustability, Finally drivers will be able to get close enough to do that overtaking manovre, rather than sitting behind not being able to do anything.

fans of this 'its artificial gimmicks' argument really haven't thought it through...


Totally agree, well put. Another artificial gimmick-gone-wrong to get in the way of the spirit of Formula One which has always been about finding the best drivers and the best designers, allied with the best team managers.

When over-dictated by control tyres and regulations, pit-stop strategies become simply boring. The idea of having 3 or 4 pitstops in a race fills me with inertia. Pitstops should be an optional part of strategy - they should not be dictated either by regulations or by the tyres that poor Pirelli are told to produce. (Perhaps Pirelli should take their name off the tyres altogether to avoid poor publicity. They could bear the name 'Berni' instead.)

The only part I am looking forward to in terms of the new regulations is the return of KERS, which is genuinely interesting technology with practical applications. The restrictions on its use, however, are stupid, and the packaging demanded by the regulations means that only one avenue can be explored by some of the most creative (and best-paid) engineering minds in the world. I'd love to have seen the flywheel approach developed along with all sorts of other options, but the regulations just don't allow for creative flair any more. F-Ducts, double diffusers and front-facing exhausts are just tinkering on the fringes. We are getting to the point where road cars are more technically developed than Formula One cars. How can that be right?


I agree, well said


This adds yet another suite of variables to the question of who will win in 2011. Anyone who is unusually efficient at setting up their cars could perhaps save a set of tyres for Quali. This will put a premium on acurate simulator work prior to the race, which perhaps in turn explains the testing behaviour of McLaren.

It also suggests that anyone with a setup problem will struggle for the entire weekend, or even several in succession. In effect, this is a tightening of the restrictions on testing.

Add to that the fact that some drivers are better at single-lap qualifying than others - Mark Webber used to be brilliant at it, forever qualifying his Jag further up the grid than his pace warranted, and Seb Vettel showed last year that he's pretty handy at it, as well. Ferrari, on the other hand, seemed to have a lot of trouble getting heat into their tyres back then, and every car since has reportedly had the same problem to some extent or another.

So I would expect this to push McLaren and Red Bull forwards, leaving us with McL vs Ferr, and Red Bull in front, just like last year.

But on any given weekend, this increase in the number of critical variables and reduction in ability to recover from getting one of them wrong can only make the results more unpredictable. Will we get to the last race with 7 or 8 drivers in contention for the title? Unlikely, but wouldn't that be epic?


James do you think that the tyre allocation should be increased in light of the extreme degradation of these tyres? Is the there any scope for the FIA to allow that - unanimous team decision?


Maybe Pirelli should take the hardest tyre to each race and just allow them to use it in practice sessions. Maybe one set in each practice session. It may sound like a crazy idea, but it would allow the teams to put mileage on parts and work out if their new bits are providing more downforce. It would give the spectators and ME something to watch.

I appreciate that they have to run the actual tyres they will use in the race to properly setup the car and work out what will happen in the race.


And in fact Pirelli have already said in an interview that they would be in favor of increasing the allocation if FP running turns out to bottleneck on tyres. I don't know why James did not mention this.


Well they can't unless the FIA Sporting Regulations are changed. These are what dictate the number of sets of tyres.


But are those regulations actually "sporting", or are they more like "dictating", "managing" or "manipulating"?



I think they do need to increase the allocation and allow a maximum number of sets of any kind. No other restrictions, run what you want when you want and let the racing take care of the results.


Sounds like a no-brainer based on what James says here. I love watching the Fridays, with the intelligent commentary that goes with it. It's going to be a bit deserted by the sound of it. And even harder for new drivers to get up to speed. Does Bernie want all drivers to be over 35, or something?


No work office hours. Come home and watch the red button coverage or I player if it is not on the red button. Occasionally I can work from home and watch live!! 🙂


Completely agree with this. I love nothing more coming home on a friday from work and sitting through 3 hours of practice. I am sure an element of common sense will prevail and the right number of tyres will be allocated. Remember, also the other limiting factor is engine mileage so they won't need many more sets.


You work nights then ?


Shouldn't they just increase the number of sets per weekend?


They will have to if they want people to keep watching...

Sergey Matvienko

James, do you think tire allocation limits will be increased? I'm concerned that as a result of tire saving we will have to watch empty track most of the Friday and Saturday.


I'm asking about this


Pirelli (Paul Hembery) answered this during the Autosport Live coverage from Barcelona:

"Steve Winter from Dubai asks: Do you think the higher tyre degradation will further limit the amount of running on the Friday of race weekends? Teams already limited their Friday running to preserve tyres for qualifying and the race. Could a solution be to increase the allocation of Friday tyres?

PH: We'd certainly consider increasing the allocation if that became an issue. But from the conditions we have at the moment you could draw bad conclusions. If the teams are talking if they had to race in these conditions tomorrow, eight degrees first thing in the morning, then they'd be on a two-stop strategy. We believe they'd be on a two-stop strategy if we had the normal conditions for Barcelona."

Time stamp 15:02 here:


Nice work Knuckles

Remember when the number of engines a team can use in one season was limited and FP1 was so quiet as teams only ran an installation lap? Let's hope we don't return to that scenario

Unless FOTA agree to tyre development testing in FP1 I think we are in for some boring Friday's...

Let's hope they are right about the warmer track temperatures bringing about an improvement in performance, although I think that we'll be waiting for Malaysia to test that theory. Melbourne has been wet and mild this summer...

Bernie's sprinkler idea is redundant as the Pirelli's perfomance characterisics will provide enough spice to each race.


Of course that's just Pirelli's point of view, and the FIA said nothing about it. Plus, a few days ago Pirelli came up with the idea of using in-development compounds in FP1, to have some testing. Apparently that was discussed with FOTA already. If that happens if would obviously change the picture completely and would increase the difficulty for teams to test their own developments. It would still make up for a lack of running though for the spectators.


Pretty obnoxious decision by Pirelli. They knew their tires wouldn't last long yet they reduce the tire allocation. Clever.


FIA made that decision,not Pirelli.


Let's hope that everyone accepts Pirelli's proposal of trying out developmental tires (or should I say tyres) during FP1... seems to make more and more sense from every angle (development for Pirelli with no in season testing and a shortage of tires during the weekend)...


I don't understand James, you seem to be on the Pirelli bashing bandwagon. There should be enough excitement wihout the sprinklers? What are you saying exactly anyway?..

If I recall correctly F1 was packing bricks 12 months ago because Bridgestone decided to quit. Instead of everybody bashing Pirelli up for their current products,they should remember to be thankful that F1 isn't running on GP2 rubber.

It's the same for all concered anyway, so people should just get on with it. Pirellis not lasting? How about this, get the TEAMS to build more forgiving cars... instead of dumping on Pirelli. So it's a different product than the Bridgestones, wasn't that the whole point? Who wants to see a precession of perfectly tyred cars? THAT'S what was wrong with the Stones in the first place.


The rear wing has already been stifled, leave this last exciting aspect of the new season be.


Eric your 'representation' of the 'readers' is rather presumptive!

I for one am very worried that between the FIA and Pirelli they have got the tyres wrong this year. I think there is a serious chance KERS, the movable wing and a whole load of individual teams development tech is going to count for zero as the tyre fall off over rides everything and turns the races into a shambles of tyre fall off induced overtaking left right and centre with no clear picture of how the race is truly unfolding.

A second a lap fall off sounds like they have misjudged it to me!


A second a lap falloff may sound like that to 'you'. But that's my point. Who are 'you' to judge that, and who am 'I' to judge otherwise? And that goes for everybody else too I believe including the media. We haven't seen anything yet? I may prefer to see the falloff as I personally believe that it will generate some exciting clashes (i.e. Button is easy on the tyres, and Hamilton is not, yet Hamilton is faster over a single lap), but I can understand the concern some may have. All I am saying is that this website is not alone in reporting negatively on Pirelli. I think Martin Whitmarsh said it best a few days ago that this is exactly what Pirelli were briefed on and everybody just needs to chill (Check out ESPN F1). My apologies if I came on too strong, I just think they stifled the movable rear wing and would hate to see the same thing happen with the tyres when it's such an opportunity for chaos and excitement.


Eric, you're saying "we" want this and "we" want that, I suggest you rephrase that and use the word "I"! You're obviously very biased along with your 1 or 2 friends. (If you're lucky!)



Man overboard!


As often is the case with media comentary, it eventualy gets echoed by the readers. You only have to look at the alarmist reactions of some of the readers here towards the tyres, it's clear that many are forseeing gloom and doom. This despite the fact that not a single race has been run, and the only evidence we have that this will be a disaster is what a few are reporting in the media.

I don't work for Pielli but I do tend to feel a bit sorry for the poor chaps over there who are getting beaten down for not measuring up. Again, without a single race being run. I'm sure they imagined a very different scenario when they decided to re-assoiate themselves with F1..

I actually would have much prefered Michelin to get the supply deal (18" low profile rubber), but since Pirelli got it I think they should be given a chance to show what they have before people write them off. Remember Bahrain last year? Apparenty it was going to be the worst season ever becaue wee saw one bad race but things turned out alright didn't they?

This is the same thing. People need to just chill and give Pirelli a shot. 4 or 5 bad races go by, fair enough, but right now they need to work without growing puplic pressure.

It's disrespectful.


Get some perspective. This blog is analytical by nature, its not intended as judge, jury and executioner. James is always very balanced in his writing imo.


How is this Pirelli bashing? It's analysis. I'm not saying it's a disaster, am I? Look at my last line.


Your comments are bordering on Pirelli bashing. I'm sure Pirelli would not agree that what you are saying is positive? The entire F1 world seems to be taking a negative spin on this whole tyre degradation issue insead of embracing it for the turmoil and excitement it will cause. Check out Martin Whitmarsh's latest commnents on the Pirrelis... ESPN F1 has I think.


Erik, do you work for Pirelli by any chance?


Again, I'm pointing out some interesting considerations, nowhere do I say that this is a disaster..


Hi James,this is Kasey,the reporter you've met in Korea from F1 EPXRESS magazine.

I don't know your e-mail address but here are some questions about Chinese Grand Prix that I really hope you can give us your answer,thanks!(Sorry for puting them maybe in the 'wrong place') .

1.What's your first impression of Shanghai?Has it been changed in the past 7 years?

2.Chinese is my th(please put a number before th) favourite Grand Prix in Asia.The reason is

3.What's the most extrem comments you've heard about Chinese Grand Prix?

4.Chinese Grand Prix has made another contract for 7 years.what do you think can be imporved for the Grand Prix?


HI Casey, email me at - I'll answer your questions. Thanks


Sounds to me that Pirelli have messed up big time. The other day there was talk of a minimum of 3 pitstops and sometimes even 4, now were hearing that the cars can't practice because the tyres won't last! I thought the idea was to provide more entertaiment not less! Not going out on track and spending half the race in the pits is not what F1 should be about, qualifying will now be a lottery of who can avoid the red/yellow flags on their one and only run, great fun! The problem that needs to be addressed is the initial dropoff in performance to provide a decent window of opportunity for all the drivers. Either that or the teams need more tyres.


No Pirelli did not "mess up"

They built the tires F1 told them they want.

Also they have nothing to do with the allotment - its FIA Rules.


I agree that Pirelli were working towards a FIA directive but they have not got that right yet. Qualifiers that lose over a second within one lap and give a driver no hope of a decient gid position if there is a yellow is a waste of time. Sure if the driver messes up he pay's the price but the tyres need to provide at least some consistency otherwise we are likely to see trains of cars all following the one who's tyres are oldest.

More tyres will help Pirelli catch up with the development.


Posts like this are the reason Bridgestone refused to produce more interesting tyres: many in the audience cannot be bothered to follow the news and think that the company sucks.

1. Pirelli was ASKED to create tyres like these.

2. Pirelli already said that the lack of rubbering-in and the amount of marbles is due to the temperaturs being much lower in testing than at races.

3. They have also said that they are willing to change compounds if (2) proves a problem.

4. In addition they said that the high degradation we have been seeing in testing will become much less at proper temperatures.

5. Webber said that we should remember how drivers were shitting themselves over degradation in 2010 winter testing on Bridgestones, but when racing started it proved to be no problem, and he expects same to happen in 2011.

The links for all of these are in the News section on


Let it not be forgotton that F1 cars do as little running as they can get away with thanks to the engine rules. The tyres will add another variable to the weekend, too many times in the last couple of seasons we've seen soft tyres have no advantage over the harder compound.

Also with a ban on testing teams will have little choice but to use FP1 & 2 to try things out, and that means getting on track.

I like the idea of drivers not having the option of relying on tyres that don't go off to get them out of jail when they make errors in qualifying. What you'll see is who can consistently put the laps in and who can't. In previous seasons that's not proven easy to establish. Likewise we'll start to see who the thinking drivers are, who can manage a car as well as drive it quickly rather than who has a quick car and can drive it quickly. These are the reasons that people like Senna & Prost are so highly regarded. An exceptional driver (i.e. one who has intelligence and speed) in a less superior car should be able to make more of an impact this season, whilst someone who is quick but not intelligent will perhaps suffer.

I really believe that higher tyre degridation is a good thing for the sport.


Excellent reporting!

On the artificial rain (sprinkler) idea: it IS as daft as it sounds. What if they use it at half of the Grands Prix, but it rains naturally at the other half? Then every race will be wet....can Bernie stop it raining also? He may be all powerful but he's not God.


I get that Bernie wasn't serious. But then I remember what one F-1 insider said to me 'when Bernie makes a joke it becomes a law and when Max makes a law it's a joke.'


For me it's too artificial


To be totally honest I am completely fine with the idea. Why not randomly throw in some rain? The only rule for me would be that this only takes place randomly...not always...but at the boring tracks....of which there are several.

I've been a fan for a long time as have many, but who are we kidding, some of the races on these newer tracks are downright boring. The last race this past season was absolutely dreadful...I'd brought friends who were not F1 fans in to watch the big season end race...the climax. i figured there would be a little there are in most sports. Nothing. There was hardly anything for new fans. Even for me it was a terribly boring anti-climatic finale. Nothing is worse than that. I say randomly throw water on the place if it adds a little spark, so long as its equal for everyone, who cares? If its fair and leads to some overtaking at these new tracks that Mr Tilke makes but never seems to grant viewers excitement...sign me up.


Come right out and say it, James. It's a stupid idea. I'm positive Bernie isn't serious but it's a little ridiculous he tosses out ideas like this just for some press. Makes F1 look ridiculous.


The US GP promoters have come out in favour of the artificial rain idea.

Saying it's "brilliant"

"Racing on a wet track would be spectacular and add a compelling element for fans.

True talent always shines in the wet.

And teams with smaller budgets should rejoice because rain is racing's ultimate equalizer.

And Austin is in a perfect position to create an artificial rain effect because construction of the track is in the beginning stages."


Forget the olive stuff... just coat the track in oil. ANd then then if there is any wheel spin the whole thing will go up in flames like an afterburner. NOW THAT would be exciting to watch! Sure an F1 can may be faster on the straight, but under braking it would take a while and catch up.

And then what about the car behind? Running through fire? It would require cars to be built better and more saftey work would have to be done which would then feed on to road cars allowing people to survive fireball explosions like in old Holywood films!

That is a definite idea. Add oil to track.

- More excitement

- More actions

- Even when the cars aren'tinfront of you you can watch fire chase others

- F1 cars blasting through fire at 200mph

- Adds saftey

- Ties in to roadcars

- BEST OF ALL... It may even had to overtaking


water would evaporate anyway. maybe they should use olive oil or something. plenty of that in Italy.



Jodum5 says:"Makes F1 look ridiculous".

Agree completely. Bernie loves to joke about serious things? Allright then. This is how he see the nearest future:

2012 - FIA introduces a new system, which randomly picks a driver, who is going to have a deadly crash on track. A fake death of course. Drivers simulating pain, actors playing doctors(shaking their heads with serious faces) just to make things exciting. The computer would randomly set cars on fire and operate ramps which make cars turn over more often...

2013 - Another big rule change. All rivers must flow backwards during the GP weekend.

2014 - More rule changes. Provisional end of the world. "This is going to be a cracker" he says.

2020 - Normality returns. Bernie steps back.


I don't think he was very serious. Incidentally Gazzetta dello Sport reports today that it would cost £3 million for Monza to fit a water system. Apparently to cover the track would take 350,000 litres of water - not very environmentally friendly!


I said it's akin to having automatically widening goalposts in football elsewhere. Can you imagine the FA saying "it'll give the fans more goals, and that's what the fans want." It's lunacy.

If this does reduce the amount of practice time used, the allocation of tyres HAS to be increased. Or perhaps they can limit each drivers allocation to eleven sets then use as many as they want with their third drivers?


Bernie's idea is insane and if implemented might tip me over the edge - I watched F1 since 74 and this could mean the end for me. But just to be fair, football *did* change rules for offside, return pass, delaying, tackling, and other things, all ultimately in the interest of increasing chances for the offensive. And it turned out really well for football. Of course they did not come up with something stupid like sprinklers to be turned on during matches ...


Wasn't that his point? That any artificially induced race excitement is as valid as any other?


I agree completely. Part of what makes a wet race exciting is that its (relatively) unexpected, unplanned and there's little you can do about it. To me it similar to the so called 'phathom cautions' in Nascar.


Odd - your title and final sentence seem to convey opposite things.

If F1 is pushing for more apparent on track action, would the next step logically be to:
1) only permit the car behind to use KERS, just like the front wing.
2) to compliment the retrograde tyres, revert to 80s style wings and downforce levels.

I'm not saying I actually want to see those things, but if the future of F1 is more 'show' than traditional purist racing, then I think 1) and 2) should be the logical extensions required.

As I'm personally a racing purist enthusiast, does anyone have any recommendations for other racing categories this year?


Yeah, many saloon car classes provide close and exciting racing with slipstreaming and passing occuring frequently! This is mainly because they're not being stuffed up by aero effects. Then there's the classic/vintage racing events, once again not being effected by aero. Btw, you'll notice that those classic events are well patronised too, by fans and entrants alike!



I think F1 is still going to be the best. Despite all the rules, regulations, restrictions and politics involved it really is the best drivers in absolutely amazing machinery. I must admit though, LeMans Prototypes are gaining on F1 though.

I think your #2 is precisely what they need to do, maybe not to 1980s levels, but they definitely need to do away with significant amounts of downforce. Any car that can go flat through Eau Rouge at 300km/h has too much downforce in my opinion.


Agreed; limiting downforce is the way to go, creating an excess of power over grip. The grip needs to be progressive though, to give the most skilled drivers the opportunity to shine through -- in such a way that we can see their skill in controlling a sliding car. Anyone who has watched old footage of Ayrton, Mansell, Prost and the like in the cars of the early 80's will know exactly what we're talking about.

Having said all that, I'm really interested to see how these high-wear Pirellis work out this year.


Yeah, Born 1950, you're right, but if you were born evan earlier you would have had the real pleasure of seeing Archi Scott Brown, Stirling Moss, Fangio, Salvidory and some of their mates drifting (and I mean REAL drifting, not just opposite lock slides that the new generation calls drifting) through corners nose-to-tail and side-by-side lap-after-lap, AND their tyres would last the whole race meeting and often more.

AAAAHHHH, those were the days!!!



I think this is appallingly stupid. They need more sets of tires. Also, in the races, there will be so many marbles around that there wont be any passing.

They should have hard tires that are slow, but with only a thin layer of rubber so that they don't last long.


just another reason to hate how these new tyres work.

i know these tyres are supposedly what everybody wanted but to me they do nothing but take away from the actual racing on the track which i loved so much for 40+ years.

i want to see good racing and not somewhat artificial racing with speed boosts via kers and the wing adjust as well as tyres which cause the gaps so big between people on different types that we dont see any actual racing.


With you 100%


This season will be exciting for experienced viewers. However, I feel the occasional viewer could be overwhelmed with the complexeties of the race weekend this year.

To those that only dip in and out of coverage every now and then, tyres are just black and round. The significance of the design and the reasons for that specification are unknown to them so it could be confusing to see the pace vary wildly during the race.

Also, the rear flap adjust rules are not untuitive enough for the occasional viewer. They should just let the drivers use them as much as they want anywhere on the circuit and they should be allowed to defend with them too. We want to see mistakes under pressure such as a nervous early press of the Rear wing button on the exit of a corner causing a spin.

As things stand, when a red bull comes up behind a Virgin to pass it, with kers and rear wing activated it will look comical as the Red Bull will zoom by. The speed difference will be laughable.

Also, we don't want to be able to predict when the flap will be used by knowing the section of track where its use is authorised. It would be far more exciting to watch a dual unfold and then when the critical moment arises we are able make the observation "he's got his wing up, will he make it?""

That would be edge of the seat stuff but knowing where its going to happen is dull. It's like fencing with a big cork on the end of your foil. Still skillful but there's no risk.


I agree too. Mistakes made using the ARW would be akin to missing gear changes -- and the effect could be equally as dramatic. Giving the drivers more to do so they have more opportunity to make mistakes is a good way to go and lets the most skilled drivers shine through.


I think we will see this.


Agreed. Nice suggestions, specially the unlimited use of ARW.


Predictable result

Bridgestone reduced the number of sets of tyres year by rear to cut cost down and preserve natural resources on the ground of durability of its product.

Careless bastards comes up with short-life tyre to spice up race without revisions of the sporting regulations - increase of the numbers of sets.

We are going to enjoy boring Free Practices this year!

Conrad M. Sathirweth

I like that we are going to have tyres that will degrade much quicker and bring the tyre managment dimension back into F1 after it had been diluted recently with the durable Bridgestones. However I do want teams to be given more tyres for the practice sessions because without any testing during the season the practice sessions are vital and they should not be further handicapped by having to string out their tyre usage. I would also like to see the rule where cars in Q3 have to start on the tyres you qualified on.


I think many drivers will be without new soft tyres in quali 3.

If there is a big gap between the two coumpounds used on a weekend and the slowest drivers use the softer tyre on quali 2 than everybody will have to use the softer tyre and with only 3 sets of this kind tyre many drivers will go to quali 3 with just one set or even none.

The artificial rain it´s such a bad idea that i won´t even talk about it.


This move to less durable tyres seems at odds with the banning of fuel stops just a year ago. The aim then was to promote overtaking as without the fuel stops the only option would be to do it on track.

The new tyres are lasting between 10-20 laps max and there seems to be a real benefit in conserving them ( see the comments from Lewis / Jenson regarding this ), which would suggest to me that if I am behind a driver, I turn engine down, conserve tyres and try to run one lap longer before my stop. Risking overtaking would be silly as you may flat spot (the already fragile tyres) or just use them up too quick.

The sensible thing would be to have a common policy between tyres / fuel and I would say more durable tyres would provide better overtaking as people would be inclined to 'race' on them, where as at present we appear to be entering a period of tyre conserving, similar to the turbo fuel days, where it is the driver that manages things the best that wins, and that may mean trundling around in 13th and just waiting until it all goes wrong at the front?


Actually a big part of the ban on fuel stops was to save money on carrying refuelling risgs around the world. I agree, refuelling strategy added an extra dimension to the racing


Yeh, but the extra dimension was nothing to do with the drivers' ability to get their cars round the track fast. So I always hated refuelling -- where someone could lose a race because the rig stuck.

It was actually as nutty as the Le Mans starts where drivers ran across the track and jumped in their cars.


On the contrary, did you not ever notice that the driver could make the difference over a track opponent with a quick out-lap or in-lap?

Also, the fact that drivers could be on differing strategies meant they could be racing one another hammer-and-tongs and it be decided on tenths. To me that's at least as exciting as a pass on the racetrack.


Refueling did add an extra strategy to races but I always felt that refueling made fuel strategy a bit too important. I think far too often with refueling we saw races decided in the pit lane rather than on the track.

Schumacher's 4-Stop strategy at the 2004 French Gp comes to mind. A brilliant strategy by Ferrari executed perfectly by schumacher but it came at the expense of the On-Track product.

Schumi & Alonso were right together on the track fighting for the lead early on which was brilliant & exciting to watch. After they went onto different strategies they were seperated by 10 seconds on the track & all we got to see on TV was 2 cars driving around on there own with Schumi eventually jumping ahead of Alonso after his final stop.

Like I said a brilliant strategy but I would have prefered the 2 of them to be right together fighting for the lead with Schumi having to pass Alonso on the track.

We saw stuff like that far too often, Nice scraps for position broken up due to the fuel stops. Happened from the very 1st race Refueling was allowed at Interlargos '94 with the lead battle between Senna & Schumi decided in the pit lane.

I always prefered the Pre-fueling way of things, Always found the Tyre strategy we saw back then to be more intresting and entertaining than the fuel strategy we saw from 94-09.

Tyre strategy also had more driver input as we often saw a driver decide to switch strategy Mid-Race, Schumacher at Estoril in '93 for example. Planned 2-tyre stops but decided to abandon the planned 2nd stop.

Never really saw that sort of driver input on strategy with refueling, It was all done by the strategist's with there laptop simulations.


+1 Insightful


How about a lower ranked team running brand new softs in Q1 - might the pace by enough to force at least the midfield and maybe the Q3 guys onto the softer tyre earlier than they would like ? Last year they would oftan run the harder tyre in Q1 and sometimes in Q2.

Quali is done and you have had to use all 3 of your soft tyres already...interesting ?


The lower-ranked teams are certain to use 'softs' for Q1 because they know they haven't a hope of being in Q3, so they might as well go for broke to try for Q2 and make a bit of a name for themselves. That will pressurise the normal Q2 runners into 2nd runs.

Rules which worked well enough with durable tyres should be revised in the this new tyre world.


It seems to me that if the softs only last a few laps they will serve no sensible purpose whatsoever during the race. Any benefit from banzai laps on softs will be lost in the time it takes to come in and change on to new tyres. Or am I missing something?


I remain hopeful that with warmer conditions, durability will improve enough to find the right balance between performance/durability/'spectacle'. However, I wonder if anyone agrees about just where that balance is.

I'm not one to knock change in F1, and reserve judgement about Pirelli, the ARW etc.. However, I will say that these changes really need to work, because they are significant alterations to last year's specifications.


The unknown element is enough in itself to make the first few races very exciting. The rest of the season, well, who knows? We'll have to see. One thing for sure, it's all up in the air. And that's good.


Is this a good thing? The consensus seemed to be during the one lap days that people wanted to see the fastest driver / car combination of the day – not who was the best single lap qualifier or how fuel levels came into the picture. After all that’s what qualifying for isn’t it...



totally off topic but do you think any of the F1 drivers will be tempted to take part in the Las Vegas IndyCar race with $5million bonus for non indy driver who wins? how easy could an F1 driver make the switch for a 1 race event? in light of Kubica's recent accident would a team release one of their drivers so close to the climax of championship


The IndyCar race is on the same weekend as the Korean GP anyway, so there is no chance of it happening.


Reserve drivers maybe?

Probably depends on testing available, experience, those interested in showing themselves to Indycar and what they are doing.

Ricciardo (if not in an F1 seat) wouldn't as he looks to be going into F1.

But Ho Ping or whoever that Renault driver is who isn't looking likely of an F1 drive anytime soon might be interested.

Kimi could but wouldn't. Why? Because he would be bored and just wouldn't anyway


Contractual issues probably prevent it for most, but not all. Certainly the top guys wouldn't be able to do it. Ovals are a different game, but remember Mansell won three oval races in 1993 - his first year in IndyCar after F1, so it's not impossible


Hi James,

Nigel won four races on ovals (five in total). It would be fair to say that of the top for cars, (Penske and Newman-Haas) he was the best driver and he had the advantage of testing on a few ovals first.




Yeh, but that was our Nige -- and he had bigger balls than most.


This situation will make any hold-ups or blocking (real or imagined) of immense importance, also the slightest slip, with no hope of recovery on another lap and it's a drop down the grid.

I would expect an increased level of paranoia in drivers about being held up on a hot lap (I should perhaps say THE hot lap) leading to more protests.

The importance of the "in-lap position" or tracking software is greatly raised when you need to be sure that your competitors are not on their slowing lap as you meet them, or at least not in the wrong part of the track.

I would have thought that if the tyres are not wearing nicely, but throwing chunks of rubber off, then the track will not get rubbered in during quali.

If the off-line becomes totally unusable due to marbles then the one time it is clear is on the first lap. (Assuming it is swept before the race) so we could see some aggressive moves right at the start.


The pursuit of TV-friendly spectacle is pushing the balance too far away from real racing - I am losing interest....


I wonder if anyone has tried scrubbing tires to see if they can get a bit more life out of them...


I think they've tried everything!


Hi James,

Do you then Think the one lap qualy experts such as Trulli will be the ones to watch out for?

This artificial racing idea just seems to be taken out of the Nascar book.

I think we risk losing the Alonso-Schumacher-Imola-2005 kind of action


I'll tell you one thing F1 needs to take out of the NASCAR book, and that's TV promotion and expert commentry/coverage, interviews etc.



And the ones with calm heads too. I'm thinking Rubens and Jenson.


Rubens Calm? Since when?


I reckon Jenson will be very pleased with the rule and spec. changes this year. All it needs is his McLaren to work half well compared with the opposition.


Well it won't do them any harm will it? Not so good for the guys who need a second lap. Would be interesting to compare the stats after first run in Q3 with final grid in each case.


I think a greater question will be 'How much to push?'. It looks like Hamilton when pushing burns the tyres out even quicker than most. And as such he can probably push to pole but may lose 2 laps of running before a pit the next day.

With the pit stop looking to be early on, he would then be dumped back into midfield behind slower cars, maybe even ones running hards. That would be bad, very bad.

So we may see drivers pushing varying amounts as part of a pre-race pit stratergy.

Thoughts James?


That's exactly right - it's more of a test. Hamilton feels that it's too much the wrong way, whereby you cannot push enough. We'll see how it evolves this season and next. Don't forget Pirelli are starting from scratch and only got the nod late on


I think it will make for better TV viewing for qualifying, and for that I'm excited, but I'm not too happy about the Friday practice situation because I have tickets to the Canadian Grand Prix and it looks as though I'm not going to see the cars on track nearly as much as in previous years. I'm taking a couple of friends this year who have never been to a live race before, and even though we live in nearby Toronto it's still going to be a very expensive weekend and I hope they don't feel as though they didn't get enough value for their money.

Why don't they allow the teams to use more sets of tyres during free practice? The severe testing limitations, combined with the disposable Pirelli tyres and strict tyre allocation limits, means that you have a situation that is verging on the ridiculous. The teams cannot test their machinery and the fans that pay the big bucks to come to the racetrack to watch their favourite sport get cheated of on-track action. And it's not an effective cost-saving measure (if anyone were to use that argument). I recognize that track time and tyres are not cheap but it's a drop in the proverbial bucket to allow them an extra few sets of tyres and minutes of track time. The teams have already paid the fixed costs of transporting the whole race team and equipment to the track and setting up all their infrastructure, motorhomes, etc. I think relaxing the tyre limitations for Friday practice would be an easy win-win solution for fans and teams.


They only need to limit the sets of options and allow for as many sets of primes as a team may want.


@ Jordan S: Exactly. Well stated. At times the F1 "production" becomes so involved with rules and specifications at every turn that the final result...the final show for the fans...ends up being something that in any sense of the term has missed the mark....badly!

Will we have a Friday Practice where no one can fully use the practice period because of a tire usage question? (..I'd enjoy hearing you explain that to your friends as they sat on their hands)

Let's hope the FIA can pack a little common sense into the kit-bag they bring along to each race.


Shame that we get less on track action though. Already last year it wasn't like there was a huge amount. Especially for the first 45 mins in Friday mornings.

For quali and the race itself it should be good. Can't help but feel for the people that spend their hard earned to attend Friday and Saturday though.

For quali the pressure is going to be huge for the top teams, especially if there is traffic. What about Monaco.. I just hope it doesn't make luck for of a factor.

For example Hulk's Brazil pole looking back doesn't mean that much, especially considering he doesn't have a racae seat.


There is usually some underlying intention behind what seems to be a daft remark from Bernie. Does he intend to hold the Bahrain GP during the F1 summer break and have the sprinklers turned on to cool the searing track instead?


It need to be born in mind by those proposing sprinklers that droplets of water in the air and sun at the same time would create almost impossible -- and highly dangerous -- driving conditions. Nice rainbows though.


Not to mention a lot of refraction from the rapidly drying water, especially if this were to be on the desert tracks.


This was something several of your readers commented upon the previous Pirelli discussion.

But where it gets really interesting (or uninteresting in fact), is when the soft tyres go off so quick, no top team will be starting with them. It makes absolutely no sense to qualify 1st, then to have to pit and come in and have to navigate your way through the pack. Any decent car on the hards directly behind those that qualified on the softs will have an easy time of it.

If those softs don't last long enough the strategy will force everyone to the hards except for the headline hunters and you will end up in a worse position than you were last season, with the exception of an extra stop.

All this anticipated excitement may never materialise unless the tyres and the conditions give the exact results to promote this excitement. Tyres too good will just be a repeat of last season, tyres too bad will be even worse and an even less chance of excitement. A very difficult game to play and from Bridgestones experiences, none too easy to guarantee, even with their wealth of knowledge.

Terry Shepherd

Well, that sounds like a method of spoiling the show, not enhancing it. Why do we need all this tinkering with our F1, purely in attempts to 'Jazz it up' for TV? Is it so deadly boring that we need constant fiddling? How many people does Bernie claim watched it last year?

Makes you wonder how it could possibly have lasted for 60 years!


Why the rule about giving sets back between Friday and Saturday? Why can't teams allocate tires as they see fit as long as they have a two different sets for the race?


Pirelli need the casings to retread for the next meeting!




I think it might be good to let them use tires like engines -- allocate so many for the season, you can only bring 50% more than the current allocation to a single event, and then you can plan and use more tires where needed (i.e. for trying out new components), and conserve tires when you can afford to. If a driver runs out of tires, he can have more up to the current allocation per event, but will take a penalty. (And I guess Pirelli would have to charge for the extra tires not part of the season fee.)

They could even just allocate a certain # of each of the 4 slicks and the intermediates and full-wets, and teams can decide what to bring to each race themselves. That should mix things up nicely, with even more difference in performance and fall-off between different teams. Something more to talk about, too, rather than just "yup, as expected, everyone's getting the option tires out of the way in the 1st stint, there goes that point of interest."


All that means more unpredictable racing. The emphasis will be on drivers to make as little mistakes as possible, but surely some front runners will make mistakes here and there. One mistake and the grid can be reshuffled creating a chance for a midfield car to jump places. Sounds like fun.

It's a pity my favorite Kubica is out of it, can't seem to find another to cheer for in what shapes to be an exciting season.

Michael Prestia

I would like to see an unlimited tire rule for Friday's practice... otherwise fan attendance for that day will dwindle.

Seondly, I'm going to the Montreal GP this year... if the Bridgestones were being chewed up in 2010 I can't imagine what the Pirelli's will be like this year... I hope the race is exciting and does not require a pit stop every 3 laps.

I can't wait for the racing to start.


Races are going to be a mess. Will moving wings or even artificial rain make a difference? I don't think so. With quickly degrading tires the race will revolve around tire strategy only. Therefore, I don't think a couple tenths between cars is going to make a difference. It will all come down to who plans or gets lucky with their stops. I doubt we will see a lot of wheel to wheel racing between the top guys. I wouldn't be surprised if most of the racing will be the top guys trying to get past the slower guys after pit stops. I hope I'm wrong.


Thanks for your observations James. It won't be like last year, but that doesn't mean it will be bad for the sport or the entertainment value. The one point that you have alluded to, is that there's no such thing as a free lunch. If we're going to engineer in more tyre degredation, and tyre wear then it will probably mean more tyres will be consumed per race. Take away refueling during the race and the cars will be slower for the first stint or two of the race. There's always a compromise to be made somewhere. The teams who figure out how to manage those compromises and take advantage of the mistakes of others will prevail. We've seen in past seasons how Ferrari for instance were caught with their knickers down in Q1 so there will be drama even in qualification.


A concern I have about these new tyres is just what sort of racing were going to get considering how big the performance gaps between compounds & wear rates look to be.

If we have 2 cars on different compounds or tyres at different stages of wear & the performance difference between them is 4-5+ seconds I don't think thats going to be that exciting to watch.

I think the sort of Drop-Off we have seen over the stints has been far too big so far. I'd rather something like a 1.5 second Drop over about a 20 lap stint. That was about what we saw at Montreal last year & it was about the perfect balance as we did see some more overtaking but we also saw some nice racing as cars on older/slower tyres still had just enough left to be able to put up a defence.

I think with a larger performance gap we risk getting to a situation where a car on older/slower tyres has lost so much grip & is slow slow he becomes unable to put up any defence against a car behind on newer/faster tyres.

I think everyone has become too obsessed with simply generating more passing & unpredictability & this has come at the expence of good, close, competitive, hard fought racing done on the track.n


Should be interesting to hear what Crofty and Ant have to do to compensate for there being no on-track action in free practice!


Is it possible we may see a return to the "one lap" per driver qualifying days?

I quite enjoyed it in those days, and to be honest, id much rather it that way then we have a good amount of car - track time.

Whereas qualifying will seem a bit pointless to me if you wait eight minutes and then see all the cars do one lap together, then come in.

Atleast one lap per driver would lengthen qualifying. And hey its great to have the suspense of drivers making mistakes.

Also, as you get more track time for spectators on friday, it could be done so that the quickest time on friday afternoon, gets to have his qualifying attempt last, and thus on the less green track?


I realize it may be less running to watch, and they should definitely find a way to be able to run more on Fridays (otherwise why even have two Friday practices?) -- the Pirelli idea sounds good, extra prototype sets.

But really, in Q3 for the front-runners it was already usually just the last lap that really mattered, and Q1 and Q2 they sat in the garage half the time anyway.

One point of interest will be whether any of the top teams will be caught out again sitting in the garage past the window of opportunity, because conditions changed while they were saving their 1 run for the usual prime window at the end.


This thing with tires is the perfect example of paradoxes that FIA keeps putting F1 into.

- You want more exciting racing, you get tires that are more action, more risk.

- Then you make rules that encourage conservatism and discourage risk taking.

Only problem I see here is with dumb FIA rule makers.

Either give teams more tires per weekend or make long life tires.

But you can NOT make racing both interesting AND conservative.


Well, it sounds from James' info like practice and qualy are going to be pretty restricted, with the fans at the track getting even less than ever for their money. That can't be good. I know if I were booking tickets right now, I wouldn't be considering turning up even for Saturday, let alone for practice.

Seems to me the solution would be to mandate a longer-life quali-spec tire, and to increase the supply of tires of all available specs at a race weekend which will be taken away prior to quali. Then allow the teams to change setup between quali and race. They'll have to get out and figure their race and quali setups, and will have ample tires to do so, knowing they'll not be able to save them for use in quali / race. The longer-life quali tire will allow more than one lap to be set. Problem solved, and the only downside is that it costs more money for the extra tires.

Of course, Bernie will ignore this, because it costs more money. Instead, we'll get continued nonsense talk of artificial rain (a terrible idea if ever I heard one), nothing will actually be done, and the show will get worse yet again.


This is an awesome insight James! Great job asusual!!!

Changing the tyres is the best things that the FIA has done in the recent past.

Can't wait fot this season to begin!


I'm actually a bit excited to see a new tire manufacturer participating in F1, and I think we should all congratulate them on what must be a huge step for their company.

I do, however, hope that they are not placed in an unfavorable light by regulations designed to deal with specific problems or characteristics of the former tire. If, for example, the Friday practice periods are designed as an integral part of the GP weekend, both for the teams, fans at the track and a world wide TV audience, it would be unreasonable to significantly reduce the actual amount of time the teams are able to run based only on the availability of tires...not from Pirelli, but by regulation.

Qualifying might see the same kind of "artificial" problem result from regulations restricting the number of tires available.

The three part qualifying format seems to work very well, and it would be ashamed to see it transformed into long periods of empty track time simply because of tire availability.

Fortunately, regulations are, as they say, made to be changed.


I love how everyone is so sure the tires will be poor before the first race lap is over. Testing times are irrelevant in every single way


No one said they were poor. Just that the drop off is large; Pirelli say, that was the brief

Val from Montreal

Im all for multiple pit-stops ...

It means that the genius minds of Brawn and Schumacher will optimize their race strategies to the extreme , giving us surprise races ...

The more pit-stops , the better !

It will be like a game of chest - Schumacher will checkmate the oppostion (given his car is good) .... thanx Pirelli !


After Mr. E's recent comments concerning the plausibility of creating track-specific inclement weather and doing so, as does nature, in a totally unpredictable manner one can only wonder about how he might define the term "excessively artificial" when it comes to F1 racing.

Would it be correct to say that the following suspects have been primarily introduced into F1 in an attempt to deal with only one problem?

-a mandatory tire change


-a movable rear wing segment

-the F-duct system (by defining it as legal)

..and Bernie's

-artificial rain and multiple-route track layouts

All because the reliance on wing induced down-force has made it difficult for the cars to follow closely in areas of heavy breaking and especially while cornering...thus making it more difficult to....?

We all hope, I'm sure, that the term Formula One Circus doesn't become a literal descriptor.


The problem is for paying spectators at the track as they will get to see F1 cars on track for (even) less time despite the ridiculous ticket prices - I laughed at the "slashed Korean GP ticket prices" story a few days back - slashed to an average of £ the teeth of a global recession.

Pirelli already seems to be getting shirty about this issue judging by team bosses feeling the need to counter their own drivers' criticism of the tyres. I can't help but feel that seemingly disposable tyres are just as "fake" as pushing buttons to overtake.

How often will we hear drivers complain about this during the season and how long before Pirelli tire of the associated negative publicity. In addition, it just seems so incredibly wasteful, tyres shipped halfway around the world reduced to uselessness in 10 or 15 minutes. More durable hard tyres but with less inherent grip would perhaps have been the way to go, increasing the likelihood of driver error without the waste - for sure Canada was exciting, but like rain-affected races it was exciting because it was a product of chance rather than engineered - the whole thing smacks of a wrestling-style gimmickry.


With regard to on-track overtakes, it almost always requires the car behind to be at least 1.5-2 seconds faster, but the difference between two top drivers in two top cars is never seconds, it's about tenths.

That's why I think overtaking in the pits via fuel strategy is substantially more authentic racing (and often more unpredictable) than on track passes.

I know the fan surveys all say "MORE OVERTAKING!", but I think what they will get is racing under false pretenses.


One other comment I have to make. Is there likely to be much benefit in having a car much kinder on it's tyres?

It seems to me that you will never be at any advantage staying out longer given the drop-off when the first of the front-runners pit. I don't think we're likely to see anyone leap-frog the car in front by staying out an extra lap and putting in a hotlap. The tyres simply won't permit it, and because the fuel loads are the same, it makes the concept of a hot in-lap redundant -most sadly in my view.


I remember a few times in Brawns first season that cars started on the hards because the softs were so bad. Only to find the conditions completely change after the track had been rubbered in. In that case you went from about 5 laps to 20+ depending upon what tyres were used at what point of the race. Whether this will be the case with the Pielli's is another matter.


Yes, theoretically. I am told that if you can do an extra lap or two in a race and so stop just twice, for example, where others have to make a third stop to make the distance could save you 25 seconds lost time in the pits, that's quite a gain


To save a pit stop means you'd have to do an extra 30laps plus on worn tyres.. at 2 secs drop off a lap, means you's lose 60secs and gain 25 of those by no making the extra pit stop. So the guy who does a banzai would theoretically be 35 secs better off...and finish some way ahead of the guy who does one less pit stop.


But he has to get through the traffic.... I suspect individual circuit characteristics will play into the hands of different car/driver combinations, but in many cases track position could well be King. It's going to be fascinating to see how this yo-yos the tables over a season.


James, thanks for the analysis - I have neither the brain or the time to work these things out for myself so much appreciated.

The question it raises in my mind though is this; Is there a strategic tipping point where it's not worth gunning for a Top 10 grid slot if you can't make it up to a certain position? e.g. Is anything lower than 7th/8th going to be easy fodder for the 11th place man?

I've always found the different tyre rules for top 10 slots an artificial anomaly and I get the impression the 2011 Pirelli's could magnify that.


That's what I'm planning to find out


Pirelli is in a lose/lose situation.

They provide more durable tires -> people will say they kill the show.

They let the tires as they are today and people will remember Pirelli as tires that don't last.

What a PR nightmare.

One sure thing, I live in Austin, Texas, and if the F1 almost don't run in Friday and Saturday I will think twice before buying tickets.

And if I buy them and there is a no show, I will rent my house in 2013... 🙂


Is it true that due to the Pirelli tyre Mercedes have decided to concentrate now on the 2012 car instead?


Love that last phrase

David Turnedge

Whatever the problems faced this year, I'm sure Gold-Silver-Bronze medals will improve the show!



I don't know if anyone else has picked up on this, but it should help with the traffic problems we have been seeing in qualifying a bit if the cars are doing less laps.

I think reduced Friday running is a bad thing, but if it improves the racing, which tactically and on track it could, I think it is a small price to pay.

I think Pirelli are doing the right thing. Tyres shouldn't be able to last a whole race in my opinion.


Need stable tires for a 10-20 lap stint then managed degredation.

Why can Pirelli not supply a hard, consistent compound for testing, Friday & Saturday sessions? At least allow teams to evaluate new parts and set up changes more effectively.


I dont understand how so many people are writing off the tyres, the wing etc.

I think the wing offers the opportunity for drivers to make mistakes, much in the way that cooking the tyres or the brakes used to, or missing gearchanges.

I've been trying to persuade mark blundell to go for the 5m Indy challenge on twitter. Any chance you think? He'd said it would be fun. If mario is thinking of it, Billy will be in with a good chance. Just a spring chicken!


I bet JPM would do it!


Hi James

With limited running will the emphasis on team mates working together to set the car up be even stronger or is that something that would have been the case regardless.

Also if the parctice sessions are going to be dead, then the practice session spectators will just end up fading away, hence loss of money. The sponsors will lose coverage time. So depending on how important they 2 factors are i'm sure someone somewhere will be thinking of how to resolve this.



I feel that after the first race in Melbourne then will we know how the tyre conditions play out.

I do remember when the new 2010 rules were implemented many of us were not in favour or complained negatively. But it concluded as one of the best season in F1.

Could 2011 be even better, we have 19 or 20 races to find out.


Hi James

A point off topic, you made a point in a previous article that the Mercedes is about 0.7s or maybe more off the pace. Ross brawn has recently commented on needing to find 1 second.

Just wanted to make the point beacuse i get a little fed up with some peoples comments who question you all the time.

In James we trust!!



Don't have to explain this but they are 0.7s off the pace in testing, Ross feels he needs to find a second... he will be wanting to win, not just catch up, so he needs more than than 0.7s to ensure he's in the hunt come Melbourne

0.7s vs 1s over a 1m30s or so lap, where's the problem?


Allright David,

My point was more so that when James said this a wee while ago some people were quick to question him, and just now Ross Brawn basically (kind of) confirmed what James said, i wasn't actually questioning the 0.7 vs 1.0 at all.



James, Mark Hughes in Autosport was saying that the drop off in tyre performance will occur no matter how gently they are treated and that Jenson"smooth" Button might not actually benefit that much, and the drivers who will benefit are those that are comfortable with Overteer when the degradation does occur (doesnt sound like our JB does it).

If think that in order to get enough extra laps out of the tyres to save a stop in comparison to the others, the lap time differential will be too great.

Asartin Brundle always said, if you stay out a momment too long on the wrong tyre you are screwed. Now normally this is wet/dry choice, but this year the same may apply to old/new. If the lap time is hurt as much as you and other commentator are saying then running at 5 or 6 secocnds off the pace just to run those extra laps wont make sense...


I have a couple of points to make;
1) I'm excited by the tyre situation. Yes it is contrived racing but less so than race-control-approved moveable wings and boost buttons

2) F1 is going to have a difficult time justifying its green approach to racing in the next few years (reduced engine size, KERS, etc) if it's also throwing gallons of water onto the tarmac at the same time (especially in desert locations!).

3) Why aren't these gimmicks for 'better racing' tried out on lower formulae first, away from the spotlight?


I've had a bad feeling about less track time ever since testing started.

I reckon Fri P1 will just be installation laps and maybe the odd flyer.

Probably the first time in the last 14yrs that i will bored at the Melb GP on a Fri.

I hope i'm wrong....


Like all F1 rule changes these things take a season two to iron our the problems. perhaps they should run future rule changes through a junior formula the year before to see if these things work or in most cases not. Im sure it would save a lot of money. The wet track idea? For all bernies greatness, he's still a loon!


Maybe Q3 won´t be so important, mainly in the in the first three or four races. The teams will learn a lot during that period and then they will fine tune the setup/tire management/strategy.

I am happy with the adjustable rear wing and with the new tires. There have been a lot of concern and negative comments but in the end every year is the same, and it seems that public is never happy with new regulations.

The debate is always a good thing, unless FOTA and FIA finally realize that it is useless to listen to the public opinion because we are always very negative about whatever they do.

If we have processional races, we criticize a lot because it´s boring. If we feel that there will be more overtaking, we keep criticizing everything because it will seem artificial and too easy. I could give many other examples.

Is there a magical way of pleasing every one? Of course not.

Maybe we will have another great season, and for sure it won´t be because of tire degradation or kers or whatever that it won´t be so good as last season.



Well, I agree with everything except that we've not seen the tires perform at higher temperatures. Agreed that this phenomenon is true/possible at low temp circuits.


Kudos to Pirelli for actually having balls to make tires that are more for racing, less for lame-ass PR, even if it means some self-righteous, uneducated F1 fans will think that is the sign of the lesser quality tire.

This is the kind of approach you'd expect from a racing tire manufacturer.


This has nothing to do with F1 fans as most will be informed and understand what is going on. Pirelli involvement with F1 can only be viewed as value based upon the PR that comes with that association.

If you then consider the effect these short lived tyres will have on the rest of the general public, it may not be seen as a plus. If the concept that the general public has, leaves them wondering whether they can make a couple of runs to the shops before needing a refit, you have to question the merits of such PR. However silly that may sound, Bridgestone took that seriously, one of the biggest brands.


Only one of the biggest brands following its association with F1.


I think the 'general public' is probably a little smarter than you credit them for. It's pretty intuitive that driving fast and racing wears out tires faster, unless you're from some 4th world place with few cars. Particularly if they're called 'special racing tires' or some such.

I just don't think this is going to be an issue.

Bridgestone's tires were developed during the wide-open 'tire wars' and naturally became pretty much bullet-proof. This is not what is wanted now.


By the end of the "tire war", Bridgestone completely lost that one too.

In 2005 when they had to make tires both durable and fast, Michelin blew them out of the water. In 2006 it was more or less even, but Michelin was in far better position as a tire supplier before being forced out.


Bridgestone thought this was an issue and they could easily have provided tyres on many occasions that did exactly as the Pirelli's are expected to do.

The reason they did not do so is because of this perceived issue and they did not want their product being associated in such a manner.


I thought the emphasis of the restrictions on testing and practice was cost savings. So why has Pirelli been given the brief to develop a tyre that wears out quickly? Surely it would be better all round if tyres were used that could last a whole race, so teams that look after their tyres would have the advantage of not pitting. Last year we saw a number of cars/ drivers making a set of tyres last most of the race only pitting towards the end to comply with the silly rule of using both compounds. Let's just have two types of tyre; a durable slick and wets.


The sensible thing would be to remove the stupid "handing back" of certain sets of tyres after practice.

Alternativley just give them an extra couple of sets per race.

What about the possibility of a super hard tyre that can only be used in practice with stable yet mediocre performance but will be a platform on which the teams can set up the cars before moving to the race rubber. Even thats a bit beurocratic though, just give them a pile of tyres and let them get on with it.

Pitstops should not be mandatory, with the way the tyres are looking it doesnt look like anyone would try a no stop but even so the teams should be allowed to pit as often or as unoften as they like.

As for this wetting the track nonsense, has Bernie lost his marbles altogether? He is obviously trying to keep up with the good Colonel in terms of whos the most senile! I thought the short-cut idea last year was silly but this is ludicrous. F1 is the pinnicle of motorsport, wetting the track is something you do on Mario Kart or Dick Dastardly does in wacky races. Well done Mark Webber for immediately slamming that idea.


I think we need to step back and stop worrying about it, until the first few races are over, this could be the best thing for F1 for years, it might not. We are just observers and if we could predict what was to happen, then we wouldn't bother watching, this time last year, Alonso was fav to be champion, Hamilton was going to trounce Button, HRT would not make more than 3 races. but four things strike me

1) The Bridgestrong long lasting tyre destroyed racing last year, put the hards on drive to end of the race and hope everybody in front of you pits, end even two cars on the same strategy, if u stay out a lap longer, you gain a place

2)Surely if a tyre degrades by 6 seconds a lap, over 18 laps, then surely the person in the best position will be the one who knows how their car performs on lap 18 .. and 20

3)Teams have a tendency to work the optimum strategy, so when somebody pits, they all pit, so I would expect to see them all running together for most of the race

4)Changing the subject slightly, but when the first picture of the Merc were shown on the net, everybody shouted 'Red Bull Clone', it's the only car that looks nothing like a red bull, even with what we think are the facts, we are always mistaken

Lets see what happens, and enjoy the event


I hadnt thought about it that way, but i hope to hell you are wrong James.

However, obvious solution, give each team a couple more sets of tires.


I've been saying this for years... Manual gearboxes and steel brake discs, and ditch all this silliness with moveable wings and kers! We would then have room for mistakes with missed gear changes, and a bigger braking zone for overtaking! No frills everyone wins and its more relevant to road cars!


But then it wouldn't be a "pinnacle" of anything! And omg we'd have to watch LMP racing to see the 'pinnacle'!


You know what, we can speculate, complain, moan, compliment or whatever we like about this situation regarding the tyres, but I for one am going to say that I am really looking forward to this aspect of the season as i think it is going to be very unpredictable, there are so many factors to consider, just to name a few:

Will cars qualifying outside the top ten benefit?

Will cars using too many tyres in Quali suffer in the race?

Will there be a lack of running in free practice?

If so will that affect the teams ability to analyse new parts or set up the car?

How beneficial will it be to stay out longer on track during the race?

How will the tyres suffer from over-driving in following cars/overtaking?

If so will that go against people who make more stops?

Will anyone be brave enough to get to the top ten shoot out and then not bother going out so they can have a brand new set of tyres for the race (remember ARW)?

Will we see a topsy turvy grid with the midfield teams pushing in Quali and the top teams trying to be conservative?

Will drivers with the right driving style truly benefit keeping in mind the tyres have a small life span?

Will drivers who cn make the most of cars that are all over the place be the ones who truly benefit?

How many mistakes are we going to see in the first race?

Will going off track have a more serious impact with these tyres?

That and so much more to consider, i think its al very exciting



Given that it's probably a good thing that the tyres may wear out quicker, there's still the danger that Pirelli have overdone it : there'll be no more passing because the car in front will be in in 5 laps anyway. And if there aren't extra sets of tyres the track will be deserted for a lot of practice.

And the new drivers won't get enough track time. They don't get enough as it is.

Looking forward to how this pans out, but for the moment I suspect that the boffins may have outsmarted themselves. What we really need is a new tyre war.


>>Will anyone be brave enough to get to the top ten shoot out and then not bother going out so they can have a brand new set of tyres for the race <<

Oh I like that one! I was thinking being #11/12 on the grid would be best, but maybe you're onto something...


well said and total agreement


don't mean to be a wiseass, but it's even worse. They will only have 7 sets to complete qualifying and race. Don't agree? OK, bear with me...

Drivers get 3 sets for P1 & P2(2 prime, 1 option) and give 1 set back after each session ==> 3 -2 = 1

Another 8 sets given but they have to return one set of each compound after P3 before Q1. ==> 8 - 2 = 6

1 set left from friday + 6 sets left after P3 = 7 for qualifying and race.

Teams who will only participate in Q1 will have the luxury of being able to go 3 or maybe 4 pitstops if necessary. Teams who do all Q's might see themselves running out of tyres after 2 pitstops.

Another dilemma to choose we say in Belgium, a choice between the pest and cholera.


I think the drivers will struggle for new Tyre and new innovative rear wing.

McLaren's Hamilton predicts Pirelli will be tough on drivers

"F1 is on a go-slow, according to Lewis Hamilton, one of five world champions on the grid when the new season gets under way in Melbourne three weeks time. The new season will herald a number of technical changes, including the introduction of an adjustable rear wing and the return of the kinetic energy recovery system (KERS), which will make life busier than ever for the drivers."


Well, since there's a limitation of 11 sets - if it gets too boring (meaning - I just paid 700 euros to watch the cars and they aren't showinp up) - can't they just raise the limit to, let's say, 13 ?


Another unqualified triumph for one of Bernie's endless ill-thought-out gimmicks. Have Pirelli build these kind of tyres, but forget to up the bare allocations that come from the days when Bridgestones that were like rocks! Genius!

It's almost as good when he ruined the Australian Grand Prix overnight, turning it instantly from a family friendly day out, to a strictly hardcore-fans-only, cult event, squinting through the barriers into the sunset, just so he could get an extra 300,000 viewers back in Europe or something. An extra 300,000 squinty eyed viewers. And he wonders why they don't think it's worth the money in Melbourne!

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