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Pirelli “surprised” by Schumacher attack on short life tyres
Darren Heath
Posted By: James Allen  |  23 Apr 2012   |  7:19 am GMT  |  563 comments

Pirelli have reacted to Michael Schumacher’s attack on their 2012 tyres, saying that other drivers “were getting on with the job and getting their tyres to work.”

Schumacher suffered a frustrating weekend in Bahrain, with technical problems in qualifying relegating him to the back of the field. He took a tactical gearbox change, which moved him back to 22nd place and although he made a great start and had all new sets of tyres for the race, he only managed to finish 10th.

“The main thing I feel unhappy about is everyone has to drive well below a driver’s, and in particular, the car’s limits to maintain the tyres,” he said after the race.

“I just question whether the tyres should play such a big importance, or whether they should last a bit longer, and that you can drive at normal racing car speed and not cruise around like we have a safety car. I’m not happy about the situation, let’s see what happens in future. If it was a one-off car issue, you could say it’s up to us to deal with it.”

There is some debate among fans about this subject, with fans of hard charging drivers like Lewis Hamilton unhappy that their drivers aren’t able to show what they can do while smoother drivers, who can manage the tyres, are profiting.

It’s an interesting one; F1 has always been about managing tyres as the races are 300 kilometres, so there is an endurance aspect to it, rather than a sprint. However in the Bridgestone era the tyres would last a whole race if required with almost no degradation and the racing clearly suffered.

What makes the 2012 situation so interesting is that the tyres have an operating window that is quite hard to hit, which is why we have seen different teams hitting the sweet spot at different times. In Malaysia, for example Sauber were strong, in China Mercedes flew and in Bahrain Lotus had arguably the best set up for the tyres and Red Bull also managed the race to perfection.

The key thing is not the wear; the Pirelli tyres could last a whole race, it’s the degradation. This means the amount of laptime lost with each lap that passes. The tyres get slower and slower until the lap time is uncompetitive and you have to pit for a new set of tyres as continuing on them makes no sense. This opens up different strategies as some car/driver packages can get the tyres to last longer than others and there is also the tactic of saving new sets of tyres by doing less in qualifying, as Raikkonen and Di Resta did to great effect this weekend.

Schumacher’s heyday was the era of flat out sprints on Bridgestone tyres, when Ferrari had a testing budget from the Japanese manufacturer of over $20 million and so did hundreds of thousands of testing miles. Cost cutting measures introduced in 2008 have put paid to that.

“I’m disappointed to hear those comments from someone of Michael’s experience, ” said Pirelli motorsport boss Paul Hembery. “Others were getting on with the job and getting their tyres to work. His comments during winter testing were that he was very happy with the tyres, and now he seems to have changed his tune.”

While fans are divided, F1 insiders are, on the whole, excited by the 2012 style of racing, believing that the racing is entertaining and the key point is that tyres are the same for everyone.

It is hard for the top teams, who aren’t able to test under the current restrictions and so find that less well funded teams are close to them on performance. In the past they would test constantly, develop new parts that would pull them well clear of the midfield and have the ideal set ups for maximising tyre performance at every event. The races became processional and predictable. The field has closed up and it’s making it much harder for the top teams to make a break and get the results.

F1 should be about excellence, the best of the best. But it’s hard for the cream to rise to the top this season. We’ve had four different winners and three different pole sitters in four races. The top teams will inevitably pull away over the season, because of their resources, but the current structure is making for exciting races, with cliffhanger endings. Tyre management has always been as important a skill as having raw pace in F1.

What do you think?

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lol. I think you seem to be in favor of the current regulations. Anyways, I just hope that the peak-operative windows was somewhat extended by a little-bit. Perhaps from 1 or 2 laps what is currently, to 5 laps at least, so that at least the drivers can afford to sustain catch-up and wheel-to-wheel racing for more than 3 corners.


I can agree with this sentiment but it's quite early in the season. I think we'll find, when teams understand the tyres more, they'll be able to keep them in optimal working conditions for longer.

As for the people agreeing with Schumacher about drivers being limited by the tyres, you have to remember, in F1 drivers are essentially the pawns of the sport. They are nothing without the engineers and the strategists.

There are plenty of other racing formats out there where you can watch excellent drivers in similar cars displaying the racing capabilities. GP2 can be excellent at time. MotoGP also springs to mind if you can get over the lack of wheels.

It's just frustrating to see the unsung heroes of the sport disregarded over and over again.


Just a little off-topic comment I want to make. Though F1 is dominated by the technology and strategy, I still think the drivers who get to drive (and remain) in F1 are just extraordinary. Its one thing for an engineer saying I need 20 laps at X speed, and then 100 laps of this program, zero mistakes please, and another thing when the driver actually goes out and does that.

Quite amazing. Apart from the skill needed, think of all the physical regime, PR responsibilities, endless.


I can't disagree. That's why they're the best drivers in the world - certainly on tarmac anyway.

But just as the engineers and strategists have had to adapated to the rule changes, so must the drivers. After all, as H. G. Wells once said, "Adapt or perish, now as ever, is nature's inexorable imperative."

I think Schumacher's comments reflect the dramatic changes in the sport since he and Ferrari dominated.


Formula 1 is now about Berni's ideology rather than racing. It's about BILLIONS of dollars not only for F1 but for those involved and sponsoring. Economies, media and Politics (politicians) are embedded in what Bernie has done to this sport in it's evolution. To me, Bernie is like an MP trying to push through Climate Change policies to apppease the groups that helped get him into Government.

Why wont the teams leave when they're not happy? Why is there never action? Hardly any compromise? Too much money embedded and commitments made to economies. These businesses are tied in so deep the comparison is why wont our politicians listen to us the people, paying your wages.... Because they're no longer representing the people, they're representing corporations and the Billions of dollars that go with it.


James do you want tyo see a driver 'conserve' his way to the title or race balls-out for it? Sounds like two completely different sports to me and I know which one i'd rather watch. The WTCC (World Tyre Conservation Championship) hold little interest for me.


I think both. F1 is far more sophisticated than one or the other.


i hope pirelli make there tyres last a little longer i dont want a return to bridgestone days but i do feel they have gone a little to far with the degredation cant they make a tyre where the drivers can go flat out on for more than 7-10 laps. i hate it when people say arrrrr yes but pirelli have made it better racing i diagree id rather see more gadjets in f1 to aid overtaking like the DRS,KERS or FDUCT than tyres that dont allow the drivers to push every lap of the race no matter what tyre there on even if a pass is try'd that dosnt come off the tyre is then no good to keep attacking which robs us fans a little


Totally agree with Michael. It has been FOUR races with the same tyres already but still no team can figure them out! Maybe it's time to agree that Pirelli makes poor F1 tyres.

I am sick of hearing about tyre strategy for those that do not participate in Q3 (or those who failed to qualify). F1 should stop penalizing the drivers that tried to keep us entertained in Q3 by letting them to start the race with an extra set of new tyres!


The sport is sophisticated for numerous reasons, but making tyre management the predominant factor is counter to what F1 should be about.


Sophistication is good and has always been part of the game. However, nothing should impede the drivers to demonstrate their skills and decide the race on the track, not on the pit wall. The votes clearly show that.


Not very sophisticated at the moment James, more random I would say; these tyres are very VERY strange. They have gone too far IMO and Whitmarsh now has the "edgy" tyres he asked for, he pushed more than most for this and it has backfired in his face big-time as even Mr Smooth(Jenson) can’t make this bad boys work in all conditions.

I can understand why so many do like this current format due the nature of the first 4 races but for me this feels false and I would prefer drives to be able to push more in the race, not driving to delta's, well within themselves.


This was one race. THey are the same tyres as we had in China and Melbourne...


Nice, neat and rational response, and I nealry agree completely, I just wonder if it hasn't swung too far one way....


I’m not a fan of the current tyre regulations. Why make a tyre that purposely degrades in this fashion forcing a major focus away from pure driver skill to pit wall scientists who can ultimately win the race for the driver and the team.

It biases the entire premise of motor racing where years ago the only ‘randomness’ drivers had to deal with was the weather and the first corner.

F1 has become too much of business to be labelled a sport.


First of all, I think it's an absolute JOKE that Schumacher is complaining about tyres! All those years of specialist treatment and tailor made tyres at Ferrari that handed him more than a few WDC's! Now he has the front to complain about the tyres! HA!

Having siad that, I don't think he's completely wrong. I think last year, Pirelli got it spot on, but this year it seems to have gone a bit far, all be it under instruction from the powers that be!

Let's not forget, Pirelli do not decide what the tyres should do, they are told how they must make them. And taking that into consideration, they have done an OUTSTANDING job! Could they make tyres that last, or even outlast the Bridgstones - of course they could, but that isn't their brief.

I think the first problem at Bahrain, was the choice of compound. I believe they should have taken the Medium and Hard, not Soft and Medium.

Secondly, I think the operating window to get the tyres 'swtiched on' needs to be widened, a lot!

Thirdly, I like that they degrade, however I do believe they should be lasting longer than they currently do before we start to see a real drop off in performance. A good 10 to 15 laps of balls out driving before they tyres begin to fade would be great.

And finally, I like the fact that they will fall off the 'cliff' once pushed too far. Granted, as I said earlier, I believe they should last longer before getting to this point, but the 'cliff' is brilliant. Let's not forget that F1 is as much about strategy as hard racing out on the track, and with re-fueling gone, we need the tyres to create this.

F1 is a team sport, not just about the guy in the cockpit! The tyre strategy allows the whole team to be involved in the win or loss of a GP, just as it should be!


I fully agree with the Brad. Some may it it is more interesting now, in what way? People sitting on the wall with computers and calculators figuring out how to win the race! No Pirelli may think this is great but far from it. Why don't they do a world wide poll to see for themselves that the the vast majority of racing fans think that this is far from real racing. Give them hell Schumi


I personally feel very disappointed at Schumacher to be making such a comment. These tires have been around since 2011 and it has been great for the show. He wasn't criticizing the tires last weekend was he? When Mercedes were dominating the field. Well you just have to accept what the rules are and get on with the racing. Its the same for everyone. Why didnt you speak out in 2011? Because then you had other issues and tires were not the problem. This year Mercedes have not been able to manage the tires at higher temperatures. And he starts complaining.


I’m surprised that Pirelli are surprised. Schumacher is completely right in my opinion. The tyres are indeed a limiting factor, which is the same for all teams, but, as I have said here numerous times, F1 should not be so completely dominated by comedy destructo tyres. The tyres, depending on who you listen to, have the entrants in the pinnacle of motorsport, trundling around at 60 – 80% capacity. The drivers who are able to push the car to the edge and slightly beyond no longer have the ability to showcase their talents and the viewing public are denied the spectacle of an F1 car ‘on the edge’ a sight which we have not seen in race conditions for two years now. The tyres are allowing drivers who would normally be also-rans to push on while providing a glass ceiling for the outstanding talents.

I know that tyres have always been a primary factor in F1, but they have never been so limiting as they are right now. I also have no idea what marketing strategy Pirelli are adopting as the number 1 consideration that the public consider when buying tyres for their road cars is ‘how long will they last me?’. I would buy from Bridgestone over Pirelli any day of the week and twice on Tuesdays. Seriously, how can Pirelli build an effective marketing strategy based on fragile tyres? It ought to be suicide.

Drivers train all their lives to be the best they can be and then arrive in F1 and are allowed to use 80% (substitute your own % here) max of their racing talent. In all honesty, do you want to see a driver ‘think’ and ‘conserve’ their way to the title or race balls-out to it?

Modern F1 is all about artificiality, between tyres that self destruct and DRS denying us many great defensive drives and wheel to wheel dicing in the breaking zones, and choreographed overtaking rules - I am missing F1 less than I thought I might since it sold out to SKY sports. With things as they are I am happy to catch up on the I player as and when after a 20 year fanatical following of the sport.


+1, and I'd +10 you if I could.

It's not advanced logic to surmise that slow drivers are not able to push cars to the limit. They're slow for a reason. They don't gas it as early, nor brake as late, nor man-handle the cars as much as the truly quick drivers. Hence, in this Pirelli-induced artificiality, the slower drivers seem quick relative to a HAMpered truly quick driver.

This appearance of close racing is all just an illusion involving really fast drivers being pulled back into the peloton of mediocrity. It's pretty obvious that I'm a LH fan, but I think that given 'real' racing tyres certain drivers wouldn't get close to Hamilton in a month of sundays. But, as it stands, Hamilton get's pulled back into the peloton, and badly, whilst others are at the front of the peloton, precisely because they don't hit the limits that kill the tyres.


Yes, you'll note that Hamilton was able to make significantly more overtakes than most drivers before the introduction of DRS and Comedy Tyres - why? Talent.

Even this year Hamilton is a shade of his former self. Yes he may 'think' his way to the title and he needed to mature but is that what the viewing public REALLY wanted or would we really have loved to see the young superstar actively encouraged and enabled to drive his heart out in each and every race rather than trundle about looking for consistency? Both the rules and the criticism from fickle public have made Hamilton what he is now - still a title contender (as he always has been) but nothing like as exciting as he used to be.

Well done F1.

Well done viewing public.


agree with most of your points, Wayne.


Maybe you did not read his comments about the tyres since his comeback. He was constantly complaining about the tyres during the testing.


He's complaining because the tyres can't be pushed and the drivers are cruising around. Nico said the same when he won in China ('I was never really going fast at all'). Both China and Bahrain saw loads of cars just following each other unable to pass in case they wrecked their tyres. As michael points out, he is far from the only driver to be upset by it.



I agree with Schumi's comments , I am also asking myself the same thing, should the tyres really play such a critical role in influencing race outcomes .

I think this moves away from what F1 should really be about. F1 shouldn't be about managing tyres , because effectively the driver with a fressher set of tyres will always gain an advantage and this is not necessarily a true reflection of what the driver is capable of doing with the car.

Yes one might argue that if MSC were in RED BULL for example he could possibly be singing a different tune, but it is debatable whether this was the right decision or not.


Hi James,

Given the current regs and tyre requirements, how would a team manager go about recruiting new driving talent for thier team??

They couldnt select the fastest drivers from the feeder formula as they would eat up the latest tyres... but what criteria could they use to identify a future winning driver??

Do you thing the current regulations are ripe for women drivers to enter F1 and be competitive??


I think we are losing the plot a bit. These are proper racing tyres, make no mistake. Good drivers always find a way


Sorry James but I disgree. These are NOT proper racing tyre. These tyres reminds me of Indy 2005... Pirelli just want us to believe that they intentionally make the tyres less durable, when their development simply falls way behind to the teams in terms of downforce and lateral load requirements.


It is the owners and broadcasters of F1 that have lost the plot of what F1 should be. Not only is this not F1 it is grossly unfair.


**Paul**, fast doesn't always mean best?

In a sport where the first driver to cross the line on the final lap is deemed the winner, I'd say fast certainly should mean best.


James, whoever wins this year, will they be remembered for being the fastest, or for their tyre management skill? So far I think it's 50/50 and that's just not good enough.

There must be a way of improving the spectacle whilst being safe and true to its roots. I just think they haven't thought about it hard enough. Quickfixes like DRS aren't real fixes and no one should kid themselves.


Kay that's a daft commment at best. Pirelli are meeting the brief they were set, they could easily replicate those boring zero degridation Bridgestone tyres, but by doing so they'd be failing to meet the requirments placed upon them.

Look at other forms of motorsport

WTCC; tyre limited,

Nascar; tyre limited,

Moto GP; Tyre & Fuel limited

So whats wrong with F1 drivers having to have a little bit more talent than just the ability to go fast? Fast doesn't always mean best. That's a tactic that has served some of the best in motorsport very well, Loeb, Rossi, Prost and more recently Button and Vettel. Not always the out-right fastest, but taking care of their machinery has won them all many races.

Qualifying is the time when a driver gets to show how fast he is. That aspect of driver talent is covered. Sundays are when F1 really becomes a team sport, tactics, knowing when to push etc. It's all there. It reminds me a bit of the Turbo era of F1 with the fuel saving, the best drivers still won, just as they do nowadays. It's no fluke that Vettel, Hamilton and Alonso are all at the sharp end of the championship.


If these are proper racing tyres, what were the Bridgestones? 'Super racing tyres'? As far as I understand it (which may not be very far) the bridgestones were designed to last and allow the drivers to push the boundaries. Bridgestones allowed us to witness F1 cars on the 'edge' - they were more of an enabler than the Pirelli comedy tyres which seem to function as a huge grey pit into which tallent and excellence are sucked and anulled.

Pirelli have turned F1 into an exercise in conservation beyond anything that has come before. F1 cars should not be desinged to 'conserve' they should be able to push the limits of everything - other than safety.


Bridgestones were proper racing tyres too, were they not?

I've always said and will stick to my point: go back to that race with G.Villeneuve and someone else wheel banging fighting like mad for position driving flat out. Did they need to nurse the tyres? No. Did they need to think about the tyres of lasting a certain race distance? No. Did they need to think about strategy of the tyres? No.

Why? Coz they had tyres that they could TRUST that'd help them do the job driving flat out. That requires Bridgestone-type tyres.

Pirelli is just unwilling to admit that they are incapable of making a tyre that's as good as Bridgestones.


You are right about loosing the plot.

It should be a RACE / sport first, and entertainment as a consequence of that.

Or we may as well have Olympic marathon with two pits stops, compulsory use of one pair of shoes size too small and one without laces,

sprinters with spikes on one foot only etc.




I agree with Michael 100% - and it's not Pirellis fault. There's too much artificial fabrication in today’s race. KERS, DRS & Tyres that are DESIGNED to degrade as per Berni spec.

We are not seeing qualifying the way it should be, as a shootout but instead those after 6th are deciding to save tyres - Ricciardo went for it and paid the price in the race.

And the race, well its now about preservation and setting a 'race pace' rather than going flat out. There's too much coasting in F1.


Ricciardo damaged his front wing on lap 1 is why he went backwards not his tyres, also we have always had tyre managment in F1 just look at Mansell at Adelaide in 86.


Yes, and we might look back on that incident as one that produced an unfair result because Mansell was deprived of the title despite having driven arguably the most outstanding during the year.


"There’s too much coasting in F1."

Brilliant, insightful and even slightly poetic analysis! I could not agree more with your entire post mate.


I think the balance that we have now is pretty good.

For the fans, races are fairly unpredictable and dramatic, without being random: It's up to the skill of the team in building, managing and servicing the car, combined with the skill of the driver, which still remains the crucial element.

Which driver skills we value the most tends to vary from season to season. Perhaps if anything some improvement can be made in how we weight the importance of various skills (Tactical ability vs technical precision vs bravery vs ability to operate complex systems vs ability to deal with limitations, for example).

In the era where Schumacher dominated, success came from developing the car to a high level and performing clinical and precise laps over a race distance, rather than dealing with things like tyre management or sub-optimal setup.



RE: Doug below - it's worth remembering that Michelin gave Renault some advantage with it's tyres also, they flexed giving a large contact patch than the bridgestones.


True Paul...but Alonso isn't moaning now the rules/tyres are making his life tough.


I agree.

There's a very interesting comment on the BBC site by Garry Anderson regarding Schumi's situation at Ferrari with the Bridgestone tyres.

I had never realised that the tyres supplied to Ferrari during the 'tyre war' were a more advanced/expensive tyre than those supplied to 'other' Bridgestone teams!

Schumi always likes the deck stacked in his favour...much like Ferrari!

How times change!

I think the unpredictable racing this year is keeping both the teams & the fans on the edge of their seats!


Schumacher with more or less the same equipment as everyone else is just another driver, he always like to have the cards stacked in his favour,if they had played with a straight bat he would probably have just two WDC's


I couldn't agree more!


But when Michellin developed tyres for Williams Ferrari complained and it cost Williams the 2003 WCC title, I dislike Ferrari immensley and hope their struggles continue, they should be stripped of several of the early 2000 titles imo.


Hi James,

I think that whilst it would be easy to put this down to Schumacher letting off steam after a disappointing return on the promise shown in the first three races (qualifying at least), the fact that he rarely makes these kinds of outburts suggests that what he's saying has some credibility, if he's decided to speak out uncharacteristically given how positive he has been until this point, he must feel aggrieved within reason, would you agree?


Bayden, I think Schumi has spoken out because he started on 22nd and could not go flat out to try and get in the best possible position by the end of the race because of the tyres.

He found himself nursing the tyres rather than give all it takes to overtake and win time.

I am doing karting once every 2 weeks as a hobby and I think is fantastic, but I would not do it if I could not go as fast as the kart and myself are capable of.

It is great for the fans and for TV/sponsors what we currently have, but the drivers must be frustrated by knowing that they can go much faster but would be suicide pushing after a certain point.

I agree 100% with Schumi.


It's not great for all fans mate. I'd rather the artificiality (DRS/Comedy Tyres/Move Once Rule) was removed and a return to the racing of three years ago.



MSC is spot on!


Well at last a driver has been brave enough to come out and say the truth about high degradation tyres. - They certainly DO NOT befit F1. The paragraph that says it all for me is that the car has to be driven well below the drivers and cars limit to maintain the tyres which surely is not what F1 is about. Not that I think Pirelli are to blame, but the powers that be that wanted to spice up F1 for television to make it more exciting to watch at the expense of true racing. Pirelli have simply done what they were instructed to do. The problem really is that there is not enough latitude in the tyres to allow true spirited driving or flat out driving, instead drivers have to ponce about like a cat on a hot tin roof tp preserve the tyres. It really is shameful that the spirit of Formula is being abused or nullified at the altar of television. Personally I think the high dependency on areo is to blame, and so perhaps ways to reduce that should be applied rather than limit performance with tyres.


+1. Completely agree with what you said.


+2 I also agree. The problem is that more spirited drivers like Hamilton & Schumi can't go for an aggressive strategy because the tyres don't allow that option. I don't mind one bit if the jensons of the world want to nurse their tyres to get a result but it's no good unless the Schumis of the world can successfully counter that strategy by blasting round on fresher tyres from extra pitstops. I have a lot of respect for what Schumacher is saying. Remember that this is the man who drove the wheels off a substandard Ferrari in Hungary, producing qualifying lap pace for the whole race to take the win. I don't think that sort of strategy is possible with this years tyres. That's the problem.


As I see it the tyres have produced great racing (read it as close racing) because, like Schumacher said, drivers and cars are being used well below their limit due to having to manage the tyres.

If a car can go at 200mph and another at 180mph but if both use tyres that are "limited" to 170, then both cars will only go at 170 and will keep close to each other, give or take a slow pitstop or a driver error. This is what Mr. E. wants to make "interesting" racing. In a way I agree with Mr. E, but on the other hand we're not seeing the full potential of the engineers' work (designing the car) nor the drivers' skills (going fast).

I would be nice to have the same level of racing we have today but with cars and drivers pushed to the limit. So I hope that the F1 we have now is just another iteration on the process of achieving exactly that: close racing with both cars and drivers on the limit (not tyres on the limit) - although the teams are always working on the opposite direction: get themselves as far away ahead so that they can race (and win) without being on the limit.

This lead us to the other randomness that we've been missing in recent years: racing on the limit brings more mechanical failures (including tyre failures) and drivers errors. In the 80's and 90's when did we have 80% of the field finishing the race? Not that often. But today 90% or even sometimes 100% is not that unusual.

So drivers did use to manage their cars to prevent failure in the past - it's only that now they need to manage more of the tyres than of the car as in the past it was more of a balance of both, wasn't it?


i second that Jez K. . i think that what schumi found very disappointing. He know what he can do, but he also know he have to pay huge dividend if he push to the limit with the current tyres.(which i think is he's strong winning character in his first phase of F1- staying out late for 2-3 laps with almost qualy time before pitting)


I think Michael is mainly missing many miles of testing that he was able to do during the season. At Ferrari during the glory years the tyres were designed for ferrari only and he was able to drive 1000 of miles in order to build them around his driving style and the car set up.


I think more than anything he's missing being able to drive fast as opposed to being told delta times and having to go as slow as he can to match them!


I agree with Andrews comments and so does Gary Anderson it seems http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/formula1/17816565 (the bottom of his article)

Michaels being hypocritical F1 has always been an endurance race and not just a flat out sprint, what about when engine suppliers produced the most speed but engines blew up if you didn't look after your car. Surely looking after your car is a major part of F1 and always has been. Its a team effort and his team need to design and setup his car so that his style can produce faster lap times than the rest over a designated number of laps.

The Fans asked for these changes to be made because F1 had become processional as reliability issues were improved and those who were allowed to test the most....Michael-outperformed everyone else.

I admit in the poll I original agreed with him but after reading comments and thinking about it a little more, what he's saying is disingenuous. If he feels all drivers should be allowed to drive flat out at all times and therefore tyre management and to some degree setup and looking after your car are irrelevant then why does he not say lets all get in the same car and see who the best driver is on any given day. That isn't what F1 is about (not saying it would be a bad thing, I for one would welcome something more equal to see who really is the best driver but then i have a feeling that would cut out a lot of money and innovation in certain areas) or how he won his titles its always been about a few elite teams and that would only damage them.


'I want to see something more equal'.

But isn't that what we all want to see and can't because of these tyres?


I cant believe how people like Gary and Andrew just write bullocks and expect people to gulp it. People had to look after the cars when they were in a position to take it easy. Nobody took care of the car when they were starting last. The situation now is that even is you start last you cannot push hard to make up places which is very unfair.


Cant agree more. Thanks!


While I agree that the entertainment index has gone up, I can't agree with the unpredictability - being engineer,that's my only concern.

So, we're likely to see different people struggling at different tracks on different temperatures, is that right?

It's a bit sad that F1 had to resort to entropy (in thermodynamics terms) to save the show, rather than allowing stuff like Ride-height system, F-Duct, Mass Dampers, DDD, EBD. flexi wings, etc. I know these are banned to govern the rising speed and to cut costs, but still ...


The novelty of these tyres is beginning to wear thin for me, it's massively favouring the attributes of certain drivers and penalising others rather than providing a level playing field to determine who is the best driver

This problem of 'switching the tyres on' is making things even worse. Seeing faster drivers in faster cars fall behind others because their setup is slightly wrong is incredibly frustrating and destroying the purity of 'racing'.

I don't know what the right answer is for the balance between racing and spectacle, but this isn't it. It really feels like cheap thrills for the casual fan, to be honest, I'm really missing the bridgestones.


I don't agree.

All drivers use the same tyres - you can't get much more of a level playing field than that!

You say that the attributes of these tyres favour certain drivers and penalise others.

Well, the exact same can be said about the bridgestones.

Where's the payoff for the smooth driver on the Bridgstones?

I guess your opinion is always going to depend on who you support.

Having said that, like I said earlier, I think the degredation/narrow operating window of the tyres has gone a bit far this year. Last year was spot on.


I don't think it was an attack on Pirelli in the sense that they are doing a bad job or are responsible for the high-deg tyres. In general, I think it's common knowledge that they have done a good job of what was asked of them. I think the "attack" was aimed at the tyres (made by Pirelli) and tyre-situation in general given that there is an over-emphasis on tyres this year and each race has some randomness to it because of this.

F1 is platform where the world's best teams and drivers compete. This means, folks should have the incentive to develop the best car and hire the best drivers. If you throw an unknown like this years tyres in the equation there is a good chance that a mediocre team might beat someone who has worked harder for no apparent reason. That might mean a few entertaining races now but is that good for the sport over the long-run?

Over the last few years F1 has moved further and further away from pure racing. That is definitely sad and something that deserves a closer look. Perhaps MSC can actually tell the difference between the sport now and what it was 20 years ago. I think we'd all be sad if he'd step down because he doesn't consider F1 worth competing in and not just because of his age. If you've followed the sport for a few decades you'd totally see where he is coming from.


I completely agree with michael. Tiers can be factor, but now it's a to big of a factor. Drivers need to be able to push the limits of their and the cars abilities, not the tires. It goes hand in hand. But currently the ratio is wrong.

And this isn't about unlimited testing and budgets. It's about tires making the cut for F1.


hamilton is a much quicker driver than jenson. but if jenson outscores him race after race then something is fundamentally wrong with F1.


Much quicker? no. A tenth ? Yeah on one lap in qualfying.

The competition over who is quickest is held on Saturday, it's called qualifying and those who do well are given an advtange for Sundays race.

The competition of who is quickest over 300km is held on Sunday, and to win those you need pace, skill, intelligence and tactics. If you're lacking in one of those areas the longer races will show it up. That's why it's generally the 'Best' rather than 'Fastest' who win F1 championships. Thats the way it should be, looking for the best, rather than the sole fastest, or sole most intelligent or any other sole attribute.

It's like suggesting that the best footballer in the world is picked purely on the number of goals they score (the view your comments insinuate) vs picking someone who scores many goals, gives many assists and knows when they need to defend and plays tactically.


Far too simplistic a view. many things affect pace in the race with setup a very important contributor. There is no doubt that Hamilton is significantly faster than Button on durable tyres because both drivers can use their natural driving style. With high deg. tyres Hamilton natural style is curtailed whilst Button can continue to use his smooth style unaffected. Given the current state of affairs Hamilton has to go slightly slower to manage the tyres or he would soon find himself going backwards as Kimi Raikkenon did in China. Perhaps Kimi has demonstrated how Hamilton could also benefit from that strategy although the McLaren has poor race pace.


If I was picking a striker, I'd want the guy who scored the most goals. He's not paid to hold in the mid field or get back to help defend. He puts balls in nets. There are other people who do the other stuff, not the striker.


Point missed Nathan... you're still confusing best with fastest/highest goal scorer. The two are not always mutally inclusive. Thus the fastest driver maybe the worst on the grid for making decisions in wet weather, or tyre preservation, whilst the second fastest guy maybe the best at those other two attributes making him the best overall driver. For me a drive should be more than just quick. *thinks back to late 90s Honda NSX/Senna/ComputerChip/Brain advert*


Senna was faster than Prost but Prost outscored him in 1989


James, I think that proves a point, because Senna - you'd have to agree - qualified and raced the better of the two McLaren drivers in 89 but was deprived of the title.


The final outcome of a championship is decided by innumerable factors, but the deciding factor should not be that tyres have given an unfair advantage having taken away the others natural ability. All the drivers have had to adapt, but if it favours the natural style of one type of driver and cramps the other where is the fairness in that. The statement that it's the same for everybody is so simplistic and ridiculous.


As far as I'm concerned the fact that Schumacher has said these things is purely incidental. What I'm commenting on is the current situation with high degradation tyres that cramps the style of hard driving exponents like Lewis Hamilton, and nothing at all to do with what Schumacher did in the past.


Tyres giving an unfair advantage?

Not how chamionships should be decided?

Right, so you'll agree then that most of Schumachers titles should be revoked?


Actually James that's incorrect. A durable tyre has sufficient latitude to allow all drivers to use what skills they have to the full. High degradation tyres operate within a narrower band width and therefore curtail those that can push hard. It's unfair and it's not what F1 should be about. You know as well I do that it's been done for television audiences, and nothing to do with driving.


James, not to be facetious but purely for illustrative purposes, so if, in Bernie's quest to bring in more headlines, the WDC developed into a 'competition' where after crossing the line drivers had to then pull 10 doughnuts and the car which made the most smoke would win that bit, and equal points were awarded for pace and smoke, is that the type of adaptabilty that should determine who the world champion is? Or is it about who is the fastest driver in the world?

Seems to me that any type of 'adaptabilty' that does not pertain to speed is a gimmick for the casuals, and has got nothing to do with being a great driver. The great driver is the guy who is 30 seconds up the road.


Any single tyre formula is going to suit one driver above another, but being a great F1 driver is about adapting yourself and your car to whatever is thrown at you


This is the problem with the tyres, you are now comparing Button to Prost. Please!!!!


Heehee. Very funny. These tyres have elevated a certain driver so much that he is now spoken of in the same breath as the all-time greats. I think that is the entire argument summed up in one juicy nutshell!

One sweet little nutshell.


True James but senna did have several mecanical faliures and the droped score points system to contend with which does make it slightly differenty


Yes but in general it stands


Ah please,how many DNF's Senna had that year?


James, let's not gloss over the fact that he did so by crashing into Senna at Suzuka.


Let's not forget Prost outscored Senna as teammates in 1988 aswell! Every time they were teammates, Senna was faster but Prost was better.


Don't forget either, that Senna restarted, changed his nose and won the race.

Prost and Balestre worked together and got Senna disqualified for cutting the chicane. Hate to say the French political machinations, but books and the Senna film show this to be true.

Something that Ron Dennis showed in a press conference afterwards, these drive throughs had been committed before, and no punishment was forthcoming for those drivers.

If Senna had won the appeal, winning in Australia would have secured him the championship. Prost and Balestre couldn't afford to let the Japanses result stand.


Would you say that Formula One is no longer about being fastest now then, more the cleverest?

I enjoy the close racing, but I do wonder if the fastest drivers of this era are unable to have a chance to show it.


F1 was never about just being the fastest, it was being the best in everything while having the best car too.

Hamilton is 'just' fast, nothing else. He had the fastest ar in the 1st 2 races, from pole, ended up 3rd.

And then you can go blame the team this and that but his teammate was faster before those.


And that's where its defo going wrong i feel. It should be clearly more so about the drivers talent on race day other than what the other team figures are up to on race day.


Am surprised that, at least for the moment, the poll seems to agree with Schumacher. Technically he may be right, the cars cannot be driven to their absolute limit all the time, but I've been watching formula 1 for nearly 40 years and give me the current unpredictability over the prosessional races of the Bridgestone period any day. I can't remember a time when almost any of the top ten places are still up for grabs with only a couple of laps to go.


But you are not a driver Andrew. He is speaking as a racing driver. You are speaking as a fan.

What we have this year is fantastic in terms of show and unpredictibility. I love it. But put yourself in the cockpit and you will be massively dissapointed knowing that if you push, your tyres will overheat and in 2 laps you will have no grip.

What's the point of driving at the top of the motorsport...calling yourself one of the fastest drivers in the world if you cannot do exactly that - drive as fast as you and your car is capable of.


As a matter of interest - how do average lap times and total race times compare with previous years? Is there a noticeable difference?

For Schumacher to say that it's almost like running around behind the pace car is a obviously a big exaggeration but if there is a huge difference in overall race times maybe he's got some kind of point.


You don't have to compare the times with previous years. Schumi feels that he could go much faster but that would destroy his tyres.

A good example I think it would be me playing an online video game, Lineage II. I used to have an old PC on which the game would work OK only when I had low details on. When I was trying to put high details on so I will see my enemy coming before they were next to me, the image was moving in frames.

My point is that I knew I could do better, but my equipment wasn't allowing me.


I can't think of too many racing series at the moment where car management of some kind (whether it be tyres, fuel, brakes, etc) is not an important part of the winning formula, certainly at the pro level. I've been following F1 for over 30 years, and the Bridgestone era is the only one that I can recall where consistent flat out driving was possible. Not coincidentally I found it the least interesting as well.

I compete in (very) amateur motorsport, and even there, where we use far hardier tyres, few drive their cars at the limit for an entire event, purely because we can't afford a new engine every few events, and can't afford to rebuild the car if we put it in the wall.

Motor racing has (almost) always been about balancing speed with risk - risk of injury, death, car breakage, etc. In the early GP (pre F1) era, teams often employed a "rabbit" driver whose job was to drive as fast as possible at the front of the field, tempting the opposition into pushing too hard. The "rabbit" would generally break their own car, but that was ok as the other team cars would keep a slightly less reckless pace and be there to pick up the victory.


I have no doubt that in Austria 2002, as a racing driver ( irony of word racing!! ) he loved driving at the top of motorsport, driving as fast as his dominant position allowed.

Yet I bet Barrichello was massively disappointed knowing that however hard he pushed, the team would tell him to move over. I know "fans" around the world felt cheated by his and the teams actions that day.

The above also applies to any other of Schumacher's assisted wins in F1,

These are the best drivers in the world and they have to make the best of whatever circumstance they have as a rule set, whatever era.

He's critical because he's not capable any longer. He deflects his poor performance elsewhere.


Ahhh, sorry MISTER, so I don't agree with your point of view.

Just to counter your claim, I do like MSC, and I will be eternally grateful that between Senna and Alonso we had the best available driver at Ferrari.

I love the statistics of his success, just never agreed with his methods.

If you have ever read any of my comments elsewhere, you will have read that I couldn't stand Barrichello and currently Massa. They just never seemed Ferrari drivers to my mind.

Much the same with Kimi, I respect his ability and again, I am grateful that he added to the Ferrari legend also.

My attitude to all Barrichello's moaning was, if he qualified ahead and had to let Schumi through every race, then he would have been supported by the team. It was very rare that happened.

Regarding the "7 times champion", I have as much right as anyone to my opinion. But just because he's statistically better than anybody in history, it doesn't make him the best in history.

getz, I agree, it's being dumbed down for the casual viewer, maybe in fact the general American audience that struggle to understand the subtleties of F1


He never was any more capable than other top drivers of his day. He just had dominant tyres.


Very well said, I believe I should state +1 to your comment to agree.


So in other words, you don't like him so he's wrong?

Personally, as a F1 fan of some 30 years the whole thing feels a bit like American wrestling at the moment - I appreciate the spectacle but it just doesn't feel real


poor performance? Are you kidding me?

I can only imagine how fit you need to be in order to be competitive in F1 and at his age he's still out there.

If Michael wanted to complain because he know he's not competitive (as you say or claim) he would've done it by now. He had plenty of chances. This year the car look good, but how many races out of 4 was he not taken out -by others or by mistakes from his pit crew?

He could've blasted in China when he had to retire from 2nd place but he shown he's a 7 time champion and was very gracious in his interviews. That to me shows that he's not here for only for wins and world titles (he's got that).

Maybe you want to take that into consideration before you talk like that about a 7 time world champion.

It seems people who don't like Michael only remember the Ferrari/Barrichelo years when he was gifted victories. Michael and his performances made Ferrari hire him. Michael was the one who made Ferrari "his" team. If he was a "slowpoke" he would've been someone else's number 2.

I wasn't even talking about Schumi, I said what I said in general refering to all drivers.


Totally agree


Im surprised too... It seems, most of the voters are masochistic or autistic. Or probably they would like to use F1 races as narcotic on Sunday afternoon.


Totally agree with you James. F1 has never been this close. It must be because of the lack of testing, tyres (and banning the red bull style rear diffuser). Great article! I'm glad the F1 insiders like these tyres, it may mean that we get close racing for years to come.

Adrian Newey Jnr

I think this makes the engineering task harder and therefore more rewarding for those that get it right - ie find the tyre window and make the right strategy calls. Thats the engineer's answer.

However, if you don't like the other "innovations" such as DRS, then I can

see why you would similarly hate the tyres.

From a fan's perspective, it does produce more varied results which makes the title race closer. Thats Bernie's ultimate goal. Otherwise you get results like previous years where one team dominates a season.

Personally, I think wheel nuts aside, the best teams and drivers have been able to adapt to the conditions. Arguably smaller more agile teams, such as Sauber, have been able to use the conditions to outperform the bigger teams. Surely this is the right outcome for F1.


Very valid comments, I agree entirely about the smaller teams and agility to adapt. That's what made Williams great for a few seasons! Long may it continue!


I think that he's half-right. Maybe even a bit more then half.

It's been a thrill watching F1 racing with new Pirellis. But at the same time, I feel that it's really supid and artificial to see situations like Raikkonen's in the last race where he lost 6-7 places in a couple of laps because his tires "fell of the cliff". With DRS, they've eliminated the "we cannot pass if we don't have a car 1s per lap faster" argument from the equation. KERS helps quite a bit. So in terms of racing elements - driving fast, overtaking and strategy - they've done enough.

I would also argue that - as MS said here - most of the teams had the problem, and it's absolutely true that it's slowing down racing quite a bit. If this is FIA's undercover way to get more safety into F1 (by artificially slowing the cars down)... I don't know. I think that they've gone a bit too far.

F1 is racing and some people seem to have forgotten that - it's about being and driving as fast as possible, not constantly being in the "are these tires gonna last another lap" fear, not in this way. Drivers always had to look after their tires, true, but not nursing them like they're fragile little things that need cuddling. Also, as many of the drivers say - it's probably the only sport which doesn't allow regular practice during season. One Mugello test isn't gonna change that. They shouldn't be allowed to test on track all day all night long, but they should have at least one test a month.


I, too, felt sorry for Raikkonen, however not so long ago we were saying exactly the same sort of thing when cars fell apart. At least Kimi was able to finish the race - years ago he and many others would have broken their cars and only half the field would have finished.

I feel it is unfair to blame the tyres because the cars are so much more reliable.


I think it should be a balance of the two. Tyres could play an important role but not to an extent that cars are driving at cruise speed. Yes pirelli tyres can last but it's sometimes sad to see with just after 8 laps they need to pit already. I think tyres should be in between the type of the bridgestone era and the current pirelli tyres, wouldn't it be more exciting seeing f1 cars could push harder a little bit longer but still need to change them?


I'm in two minds with the current tyre situation.

The excitement that Pirrelli have brought to this sport is phenomenal with interweaving strategy, tyres dropping off the cliff and the importance of saving tyres.

However I do want to see the drivers being able to push harder for longer. If it were only for 3-5 laps extra.


I think Michael has some validity in his comments. There must be a solution that allows different strategies for both a conversative driver looking after tyres and allowing drivers to go 'hell for leather' between each pitstop. It is the degredation at the moment that is ruining the race for the latter style; the tyre will last a race but the laptime gets slower and slower. Surely Pirelli can produce a tyre that can he hard and durable to do a one/two stop strategy and one that is soft and sticky and faster but won't last more than 20 laps and when the times are added together both strategies are near identical in total race time? The only factors that then will affect the tyre choice are weather and the trace-are drivers able to overtake and make the multi stop strategy work.


Totally agree



Totally agree with Schumacher. Want to see the drivers pushing for most of the race, rather than just managing the types. Perhaps we should have another tyre manufacturer?


Another tyre manufacturer would solve nothing. Pirelli made their tyres this way because that is what the fans said they wanted. They could easily make them just as durable as the old Bridgestones, but they don't because of that. Introducing a new tyre manufacturer would force Pirelli to take the route of durability over degradation, against what the fans said they wanted.


I for one definitely do not want a second tyre manufacturer. That was the situation which produced the artificial dominance of Ferrari in the 2000's, with Ferrari having tyres which were so much better than everyone else's that the result was a foregone conclusion.

I do agree that the current tyres have gone a little too far. When drivers have to corner at just 70% of maximum to conserve the rubber, you have to wonder whether, from a drivers perspective, F1 is still the pinnacle of motorsport. The skill differentiator for drivers is being taken away. Tyres should be part of the equation, but when the race is just a lottery, what's the point?


The reason so many drivers have to drive conservatively is much more about the car than the tyres. The teams are constantly turning the engines down and saving fuel so they can run lighter or save the engines and gearboxes for the next race.


I have to agree with MSC comments.

Although I have thoroughly enjoyed the races thus far, I have always thought that the truly quickest drivers are being slightly hindered (both in 2011 and 2012).

Personally, I don't want to think of the WDC as the best tyre conservationalist; I want to think of the WDC as the guy who was always on the ragged edge (not driving within himself @ 90% to save tyres), always wringing the neck of the car (which you cannot do with the current tyre spec), pulling off the overtakes as only he could (not just because ones tyres are 5 laps older than someone else's), consistsly banging out quickest laps, etc etc.

To put it another way, this current form of F1, I think, rewards the individuals who can perform better at 90% of their maximum potential rather than the ultimate racers who (when tyres aren't a factor) can drive to 100% of their maximum potential, and their 100% maximum potential is somewhat better than another drivers 100% maximum potential. Some drivers find it eaiser to drive within themselves whereas others only know how to perform to their unltimate best (something these tyres simply don't allow).

I know this is eaiser said than done but somehow, I think F1 needs to keep the technically magnificent cars we have now but decrease the aero dependancy and increase the mechanical dependancy and being a less durable tyre back. It might be more boring but it would show up the best drivers a lot more and ultimately that's what the F1 WDC is about. The best drivers, in the best cars on the best tyres in the world.

We don't buy tyres in the knowing that they will degrade!! We buy the tyres that will provide the best performance and last the longest period of time. I.e. Bridgestones! Lol.


"I don’t want to think of the WDC as the best tyre conservationist"

My thoughts exactly


Nice edit




I definately agree with Shoe maker on this issue, I've always felt that way, also there's the issue of drivers having to slow down to conserve fuel! I understand the teams usually put less fuel in the cars than they would use to complete the race if the car was driven at RACING speeds for the whole RACE in anticipation of "safty cars" and being stuck behind other cars and being able to turn down the wick, just to save 5 to 10 kgs of weight!

Maybe there should be a rule that they all start with the same weight of fuel in the cars.

I guess I'm "old school" because when I started racing myself and following other classes of racing in the early 60s through to the 90s, (and still following), a "race" was actually a RACE! (As oposed to an economy run and a competition to see who could get the furthest before wearing out the tyres.

I do admit, though, that there is much more action on track during a "race" (for want of a better word), nowdays and that probably appeals to the casual fans/followers but to us REAL enthusiasts it is a bit sort of "not real", Still I spose we've gotta adapt.



It's not just the tyres. The need for engines and now gearboxes to last several races has all been increased dramatically since ms first retired.

The RRS/budget cap has done at least as much, if not more, to make the drivers manage their driving.


As I mentioned when linking to your article on facebook:

I can understand a concern that the balance goes too much to preserving tyres, leading again to drivers waiting for pits or opponents tyres going off before acting on track. That would gives us trains of cars driving until someone lost it or the end of the race, effectively.

Perhaps parts of the China race gave us something like that, and that's something to be wary of. But in the end, China was a great race, because there was an unpredictability and diversity in strategy and ability to preserve the tyres, so that the train effectively gave us very close racing for a few laps. Australia has something similar in the last lap too, and it was great to see.

So it seems hard to argue with the racing we so far had this year. At the end of last year teams got on top of tyres and races became more processional again, keeping the tyres the same would only make that worse.

Pirelli had a mandate from FIA and the teams to continually combat that so races would be less predictable, and they did it. We shouldn't fault them for it then.


Over all Pirelli have done a good job but when before a race every driver is only talking about driving in a style to keep the tyres together it becomes a problem.


He's right, but I guess Hembrey misunderstood him. You start explaining it quite right: It's the degradation, not the wear. I think Schumacher would have no problem with a lot of wear, but he criticizes the high degradation that forces the drivers to nurse the tires. Pirelli might have missed the sweet spot here.

If the Pirellis would allow the driver to go harder and last the same time as they do now, it would be okay.


Incedently, I don't thing Michael was "attacking" Pirelli or their tyres as he knows full well they are just doing what the FIA requested of their tyres, I'm guessing he was just voicing his opinion, (which is good), but the journalists chose to create a more dramatic situation by using the word "attack"!PK.


And without any hard feelings for James (which I think produces fantastic articles) he did the same thing.

The title of this article does not do justice to what Michael was trying to say here James.


Schumacher is absolutely correct. Please consider this:

The drivers in F1 are the best in the world. But even within that elite, there is another level: the last little bit. Drivers like Gilles Villeneuve, Senna, Schumacher, Hakkinen, Alonso. They can produce an extra bit which the others cannot unlock, lap after lap, for an hour and a half. It is very different from one qualifying lap like Trulli (the jury's still out on Rosberg.)

What are the great races we remember in F1? Interlagos 1994, Schumacher v Senna; Suzuka 2000, Schumacher v Hakkinen; Imola 2006, Schumacher v Alonso (and lots of other titanic battles that year): bang, bang, bang. Lap after lap on the limit. The best of the best at the pinnacle of their sport. In each of these battles, the team-mates couldn't keep up; the consistent pace was too much.

It is that extra bit that distinguishes the greatest ever from the mere great and these Pirelli tyres do not allow the drivers to access it. Paul Hembery said Schumacher was slower in quail simulations than Rosberg because he was destroying his tyres before the lap was up. So these 'race' tyres can't even hold up for one qualifying lap, when the driver should be able to push to the limit and not consider anything else. They are worse than the special qualifying tyres we used to have.

What is the point of hiring Schumacher, Hamilton, Alonso or Raikkonen, if all you need is a decent GP2 driver who can save his tyres?

What you want are tyres that give teams and drivers the choice; drive flat out for say 15 laps, or conservatively for 22, saving a pit stop. This is what Pirelli delivered last season and it worked.

The spectacle of the world's greatest drivers not even able to drive one lap on the limit over the full length of a Grand Prix is a nonsense.

This is not Formula One.


"What is the point of hiring Schumacher, Hamilton, Alonso or Raikkonen, if all you need is a decent GP2 driver who can save his tyres?"

Could not agree more.

I actually cringe a bit when the commentators try and fein excitement when a car passes another on a long straight using DRS and on a fresh set of tyres. It's a formality. Yet, we're constantly remind how many passes we're just witnessed, like they're all in pedal to the metal combat.

I'd rather the 'procession', where once and a while you would see some real magic or a moment you'd never forget.


I agree with most of what you say apart from saying F1 drivers are not the 'best in the world'. They are not. The F1 grid includes some of the best, but no by any means is the 24 drivers who line up on the the creme de la creme of driving talent.

Just had to get that out.

Vut regarding tyres/DRS/KERS etc... F1 is just meh... not a motorsport more like a motorshow.


I'd agree except the part you class Hakkinen as a great.

He began in 1991 and was picked up by Mclaren in 1993.

Won his first race in Jerez 1997 because Williams and Mclaren worked together to deny Ferrari the championship, and the Williams drivers let the Mclaren boys through, telling DC to move over.

In Australia 1998, he made a mistake whilst leading and DC was ordered to move over for him.

With a completely dominant car, it took until the last race to win the championship, because of Schumacher's ability

in 1999, he just about beat Irvine to the title, still driving the best car in the field.

One race summed Hakkinen up better than any, Nurburgring 1999, pit stops for wet tyres had dropped him down the field and he was completely invisible. It was only about 2 laps from the end that he picked up speed when he saw the possibility of a point for 5th place by passing a Minardi. What an absolute disgrace.


I know it's off-topic, but your summation of Nurburgring '99 for Hakkinen sounds just like Silverstone '10 for Vettel.

I'm not going to say anything about the two championships/dominant car thing.


The key differences being:

1) How Vettel was almost a lap down and in 24th after having to limp back to the pits with a puncture, caused by the front wing of Hamilton.

2) How Silverstone 2010 wasn't a race of attrition like Europe 1999.


The key difference being how Vettel was almost a lap down and in 24th after having to limp back to the pits with a puncture, caused by the front wing of Hamilton.



I couldn't say it better


I would comment, but this post covers the topic pretty completely for me


"Suzuka 2000, Schumacher v Hakkinen; Imola 2006, Schumacher v Alonso..."

Those were truly dizzying heights of combat: two drivers fighting on a completely different level to anyone else on the track. Not sure we'll ever see that searing, relentless kind of pace again with the tyre situation we have now.


Back then they only needed the engine to get them to the end of the race. Nowadays they know they will need it again for several practice sessions and maybe even another 2 whole races.

Button was the first driver to win 3 races on the same engine. I assume Vettel did this last year as well - which would mean only 2 drivers have ever done this. Engines and gearboxes have at least as much to blame for conservative racing. It has to be far better to ease off and accept some points and the chance to have a good race next time out than to gamble on not having an accident in the chase for a few more points only to have an engine blow up and have a 10 place penalty next time - which invariably means no chance of points.


True, but all we seem to be talking about these days is tyres, tyres, tired


Well said. Schumacher could do qualifying lap after qualifying lap to get a gap before a pit stop. He was brilliant at it. Ross Brawn would get on the radio saying "Michael, we need 5 seconds" and Michael would deliver.

You can see why he is a bit frustrated.


Brett, the fact that you used past tense for your comment says a huge amount. He used to be able to.

I suppose we could always go back to the refueling era, where drivers generally waited till the pit-stops to overtake their rivals.

Hungary 1998 was a brilliant strategic race by Brawn and Schumi.

"Michael, we need 19 seconds in 19 laps"

But it also got boring, like 2003 and 2004 for eg, when Montoya would qualify ahead, or Button in 2004, and they would race till the first stop, MSC cruising behind the other driver until the stops and put in a fast in lap with a superior car and after the stop emerge ahead. Never any risk on track.

These drivers are driving flat out, but they have to choose whether to do a Hamilton race where you destroy the tyres in the initial phase, or drive smoother like Button and gain time later.

Get some videos of races in 1985 till 1988, drivers then had to manage fuel consumption, and yet we never think back to the Senna, Mansell and Prost era as boring.


Well, back then there wasn't really any other team that could compete with Ferrari, and there was no driver that could compete with Schumacher. I seriously doubt that is the case now. We have some of the best drivers ever, and I sure would like to see what they could do.

They don't even do it in qualifying. I mean, Kimi basically sat out and accepted P11 so that he would have fresh tires.


Well said. For me, a lot of the refuelling 'sprint race' era was all about passing in the pits, not on the track.

Qualifying is where you should see the drivers giving 100%, right on the limit. Race driving should encompass a broader range of skills.

This is what we have in the current era - and I love it.


Formula One is not a drag race. I like the idea of strategy and complex tactics. I enjoy a good overtake as much as any fan but the tyres have made far more of these than two or three teams simply blitzing the field by a titanic margin.

Rather a season of mixed results and exciting unpredictable races than simple indestructible tyres. And anyway Schumacher returned with bridgestones and got nowhere. He was full of praise that the pirellis would suit his style. Let's face it - Schumachers style is honed by massive testing regimes. That's his downfall - not tyres falling off. If his teammate hadnt won in china he could blame the car but he knows it's not that simple.


Artificial passes using DRS. Low quality tyres that were deliberately made weak. I guess it's nice for a TV show, but it has nothing to do with motor sport.

The pinnacle is no longer F1. I'm looking to Le Mans series and perhaps Formula Renault 3.5 to fill the gap. There may be other alternatives and if so I'd be interested to hear suggestions.


How dare Pirelli question the great Michael Schumacher?


Essentially the current car / tyres allow the less 'naturally' gifted drivers to excel and tend to punish those with 'raw' aggressive natural ability. Those with a more 'go kart' style are getting hammered.

If we turn back the clock; Senna (the guy everyone loves and want to be) would have suffered with the current types, where as Prost (a dull driver) would have found benefit. Senna would probably have quit F1 if he raced today (if he were at his peak) with the current regs & tyres that shackle the fast drivers and constrain them to drive 'slowly' or in a less aggressive fashion.

It is giving the drivers that are perhaps less exciting a great deal, those that no young racer wants to be, and is hurting the pilots that everyone young wants to be.

It may make the races less predictable, however does not make them more exciting in terms of raw speed / aggression or Senna/Prost Schumacher/Hill battles.

Schumacher is correct and i'm sure Hamilton would agree.


I think you're mistaken.

In 1985 and 1986 Lotus was powered Renault which left him frustrated that he could not compete against the Honda powered cars on power or consumption, which is why he demanded Lotus get Honda for 1987.

He ran out of fuel sometimes a couple of laps from the end of the race and lost race wins.

In 1988, he joined Prost at Mclaren with Honda and beat him to the championship.

Honda at the time was the most powerful and fuel efficient engine in F!.


Im not really a fan of the degradation aspect of the pirelli tyres, but racing is better compared to the 2000-2004 years. Look what happened when Schumacher got the tyres he desired for all those years...he dominated mostly.

I wasn't a fan of this single tyre manufacturer buts is throwing up some unpredictable races which is great.

4 different manufacturers in 4 races. First time since 1983 is it? 2012 is going to be a great year for f1.


but how about 2005-2008, these were great years with drivers like Kimi, Schumy, Alonso and Hamilton at the very limit.

F1 is no longer about being the fastest and thats a sad state of affairs


I completely agree with schumacher. There was a time in F1 when in race they used to beat the qualifying time. Today its few seconds off the pace.That shows drivers are not driving flatout. Competition is not just about we spectators getting entertained because there are overtakings when tyres fall off or the DRS , its more about watching drivers at their absolute limit. Wheres racing gone these days . It was sad to see kimi loose places when he did not deserve to at shanghai. Im sure Di resta felt if he had more tyres he could ve held off rosberg.

Probably it may not be so entertaining to have tyres like bridgestone few years back but neither the overtakings that happens when one has worn tyres and the other has new tyres. but a solution should be found somewhere in between.

Schumacher is the last person on the grid to crib about anything. this coming from him should be considered seriously and looked in finding a solution.


MS has a point, it does appear that the drivers are tiptoeing around the track . I understand what Pirelli are trying to achieve, but maybe it's just a bit too far.


James, while I would tend to agree with you saying that technically with these tires guys like Hamilton that drive fast outright seem to suffer more than guys that look after their tires, this isn't necessarily the case this year. I've heard Button complain a whole lot about his tires this season on the radio. We've not seen Button run away with it at all, so actually think that while the tires have provided a more mixed grid, it isn't truly what I want from Formula One.

I've been a fan for decades and for me it is about watching drivers go flat out. I hated when qualifying on race fuel was introduced because I want to see these cars and drivers on the absolute limit for pole. Certainly as time has gone on, more driver aids, improvements, have narrowed the field and so racing became more boring. Its great to have the odd range of results this year (and the tires are the only reason Ferrari aren't miles behind the pack) but I can't help but agree with Schumacher. This isn't necessarily the Formula One I have known through the years. I'm a Sergio Perez fan also, but would I ever pick him in the top 6 drivers on the grid? Not a chance currently. The unpredictability is great, but if it becomes too unpredictable I can understand great drivers starting to tire of this. No pun intended. I think Pirelli need to reel in the unpredictability by about 30%, so that there is still variation, but so that great drivers with great technical teams aren't left dumbfounded after 4 races. If they can't figure it out, who can? There has to be a method to the madness...


Very funny. I tweeted Paul Hembery on Friday about this exact topic. Saying shouldn't the engineering of the car be the key determinant of race performance ie. how outright quick the aero etc is, not whether the car happens to be lucky enough to fit with the Pirelli tyre's many idiosyncracies. Suffice to say, Paul shot me down and said I was 'confused', wrong, self-contradicting, etc. (I don't think I was being impolite, just a question).

Now Michael Schumacher is saying that he can't drive to the limit of the car's capabilities because of the tyres ... does that not mean the car's total engineering package is not the key determinant of car pace, but rather the tyres are; that the engineering cannot and is not being exploited fully. That, at the limit, the Sauber can travel around corner X at Y kph, but the Merc could do it at 1.05Y kph, but due to the Pirellis they are both bound to doing it at a maximum of 0.8Y kph. That the Pirellis are a binding constraint on the skills of the car, and of the drivers.

That cannot be right for outright racing. The WDC must be about the fastest driver/car package on the grid, it CANNOT be about the best tyre-managing driver and the most pirelli-compatible car. It just cannot.

And as for the idea that more resilient tyres would lead to processional races, how fundamentally wrong would it actually be if the hardest charging driver in the fastest car led that procession? It is what the spirit of F1 is all about. It certainly doesn't go against the spirit of F1. And when was the last time you saw a driver chasing down the race leader like a demon, hand over fist, without one being on old rubber and the other being on new? The chasing driver not being worried that if he pushes too hard he'll fall off the cliff? The only way that happens these days is if there is a tyre wear differential.

It is only the quest for drama for the masses that allows Pirelli to provide such finicky, volatile tyres and force the fastest drivers to drive as shadows of themselves whilst allowing other [dare I say it, slower] drivers to swagger around the paddock. I just think it is conceptually wrong.



I also feel that a an experiment of change in tyre allocations needs to occur, depending on the location, to allow for more agressive racing. For example, why can't they just have a single compound allocation for a few races? 7-8 supersofts @ high grip requiring tracks (Monaco?), or 5-6 Hards for abrasive tracks (like Bahrain), or 4-5 sets of mediums for lower degrad tracks (is Spa or Hockenheim in this realm?), for instance. I felt that the tyre sets used for Bahrain drastically 'tyred down' the racing, and some flexibility needed to be implemented. I wouldn't like to see single allocations each race, but specific races at the extreme of conditions could benefit from single allocations to bring racing closer and give more in race options.

Also, we talk about the spectre of processional racing, but in Bahrain, with Kimi managing tyres pretty effectively with a good overall setup package for those tyres having played the long game in qualifying, he said he only had one shot at Vettel - that can't be right for good racing, can it?


Absolutely spot on! Especially the bit about pleasing the masses. Playstation nation got what they asked for.


Schumacher is right. The whole thing is way too artificial.

Drivers should be able to drive up to their own and the cars limits. That way the best drivers will shine. It should not be a tyre conservation challenge.

It was not particularly exciting to see Paul Di Resta on his 2 stop strategy trundle around without having to make too many moves. Yes it brought him some good points, but it's hardly "racing".

Imagine if an athlete had shoes that sometimes worked and sometimes did not. Whatever your job is you want the best equipment.

I don't really get the idea that it's exciting when a driver hits the so called "cliff " only to loose several places that he has worked hard for throughout qualifying and the race e.g. Kimi in China.


Would be nice to know the guys are going flat out for 100% of the race distance, but not at the expense of "racing".

Lesser teams can score points if they look after their tires. This is a good thing.

Also with limits on engines, gearboxes and fuel there will be limits to what a driver can do in any case.

So, keep the tires as is and tell Schu to toughen up. He's always been classed as a intelligent driver, surely he can pace himself.


Your missing the point Michael made and the majority of posters have made. Its not a case of having to 'toughen up' and 'pace' oneself its that the tyres as they are don't allow a driver/team to pick a conservative strategy or a flat out multi stop strategy to win the race and it is meant to be a race. If the different compounds available allows this then we would have the best of both worlds. For example Jenson could choose a one stop strategy on a hard compound that simulations showed he would complete the race in 1hr 35 minutes whereas Lewis could do a three stop strategy on the softer, sticky tyre that lasted just 20 laps of hard racing but the simulation showed he would complete the race in 1he 35 minutes. The deciding factor would be the weather, driver and track layout; are there opportunities to overtake and can the driver on the latter strategy get the job done. simples?


I think its great, what Pirelli have brought to the sport. The fact that it is difficult to get the tyres working exactly when you want is doing wonders for the competition. It is turning out to be a little like Champcar and Indy car racing where you have almost as many winners in a year as you do races. But the drawback being that someone could actually win the championship without winning a single race. Bar Bahrain Lewis finished on the podium in every other race and even with one poor showing he is second in the drivers championship. But I think its worth the chance, given that we have seen years where one driver has driven away and wrapped up the championship with about 4 or 5 races to go.


And the poor showing in Bahrain wasn't really Hamilton's fault.


Last year Indy car had 16 races with 8 different winners hardly as you described. You want the best cars and drivers to consistently be at the top not a lottery of who is lucky enough have hit the operating window for the tyre in each race and drove conservatively to manage tyres.


I apologize for my numbers being off, but my point is that it is no more a Red Bull or Ferrari or Mclaren fest anymore. With the testing ban you dont have too much opportunity to improve on your car and these tires give you the opportunity to see a fight for each race and you definitely cant predict who is going to win even after qualifying. I idolize schumacher, but honestly 2002 was boring and last year was not the most fun either.

There is so much more strategy going on and you also have drivers going flat out to catch the guy ahead, even if it is because the guy behind has a fresher set of tires. You had Perez reeling in Alonso, Raikkonen hounding Vettel, and we are going to see Button / Kobayashi making things difficult for some of the drivers as well. Maybe not Kobayashi so much as Button, but the best part is that it could be anybody with a half decent car and a fresh set of tires could do it.

That would also mean more money for smaller teams to invest and therefore even closer racing next year.

Just give it a chance. We are only 3 race into the championship.


numbers again - 4 races in


In many ways I like the effect the tyres are having on this year's championship but if it means the best policy is to not get through to Q3 and save all new tyres for the race, then MSC has a point.

I know people will say the fact Vettel won disproves this theory -- but if Kimi had had the confidence to make his move on Vettel stick, then things could have been very different.

So it's a difficult one to call without loads of insider information.


I wonder if Nico and Ross would have agreed with him after the Chinese GP?


Remember, Nico admitted after the chinese race he didn't push the car at all.


At the end of the day Schumi has got accept he should have not come back from retirement. The days of unlimited budget and testing are over and he hasn't got a rear gunner locked into a support him contract.


Different argument.


If Mclaren hadn't messed up Jenson's pitstop and Nico would have be forced to drive harder on his tyres I daresay whatever the final result he may well have said that Michael had a point.


Michael has expressed my feelings perfectly. We have exotic cars with state of the art aerodynamics, engines, gearboxes and some of the best drivers in the world, but the whole weekend revolves around tyre issues. As you write, I want to see hard-charging drivers like Lewis just going for it. I'm not interested in "who is kind to his tyres". It's false for someone who cannot make it into Q3 to be in contention in the race simply because he has saved some new tyres, which if he is "kind" to them might just do one lap before the performance starts dropping off. And having to use two grades of tyre, just so that tyres get mentioned in the coverage is also bad - aren't they mentioned too much already?

Even before Michael's comments I was considering giving up on F1. Having my thoughts expressed so eloquently by someone who knows what he is talking about has convinced me that I am right.


I can see why Schumacher is frustrated. As a racing driver he wants to win and he feels he's being held back by the tyres.

From a Fan's perspective though, these tyres are aweseome. I love motorsport and can't think of anything worse that tuning in on a Sunday pretty much being able to guess the podium with 80% accuracy every time.

The tyres are brilliant. The fans, drivers and teams all asked for this. Bahrain used to be a complete and utter bore-fest but now?? Was yesterday's race boring?

I think Schumacher was just frustrated and although I wouldn't expect him to retract such comments in public, I'm sure that behind the scenes he'll feel a little bit silly for spitting his dummy out.

Lawrence Lavery

I can't remember the last time I heard or read about MS complaining so strongly so if he's complaining maybe there's something in it. Maybe the tyre situation was bad in just Bahrain. If a driver can't mount a challenge because the tyres lose grip too quickly then surely that will harm the racing. I think the drivers that are complaining should wait a few more races and then if the problem persists start complaining. Am I right in saying that KR wasn't able to mount a decent challenge on SV because his tyres were losing their grip?


Exactly right. Kimi waited after his last stop for a few laps while the tires came up to temp then battled the gap down from 3.4 down to around 1.8 seconds but pushing that hard cooked the tires and that was it. Nothing left to do but maintain the gap and settle for 2nd.


Kimi said he had one chance to overtake SV when he caught him before the final pitstop and his tyres went off and he went the wrong side of SV


I agree with completely with Schumacher; at the same time, I'm not sure we should go back to non-degrading tyres.

From a purists point of view, degradable tyres and all those silly tyre rules like starting on the set you qualified on, having to race both the prime and the option are just that - silly. Also, from a driver's point of view, it must be more enjoyable to be able push at least a little bit harder.

From a spectator point of view, however, the races have a lot more going on in them than they did in the Bridgestone era. And as long as certain people come up with ideas like sprinklers, then the entertainment-value factor will always win out.

Andreas Myrberg

This is a though one.

The racing season so far, is the best since I can remember.

So all in all, this is of course good.

But lets divide it.


- This sucks.Just like the days when one started with the fuel they qualified with. So qualifying turned into strategy instead of raw speed.

- This is the same today. Take TQ or save tires. Yes it brings a different dimension to the complete weekend, but I don't like it. Let all teams have the same amount of tyres sets for qualiy which are not included into the sets of racing day tires.

Race day

- It is more exciting yes it is, now, until the teams get it sorted, then I think it will be same as ever. The reason why all is so close this season is also the aerodynamic rule changes and the fact that its not enough testing with the new tyres before the first races so it is some lottery to get the tyres to work before you know how they actually do work.

- Another point is, can't they make a tire which has more grip, but still goes of "early" like it is now?

This also takes me back to on column which you wrote once James. When there was discussions on what should be done to get more exciting races and cars passing each other. Many pointed out aerodynamics, that is was impossible to drive close enough, where one aerodynamic engineer pointed out with some statistics that it was actually the sticky tires who made the passing more difficult.

Last point.

Will young drivers who drives go kart, Formula Renault, F3, F2 etc now start driving slower and more consistent and save tires to get the F1 teams to get there interest up for them? Because pure speed, is not wanted anymore and I thinks thats sad. True, the driver who adapts the best today will win.

F1 should not be an endurance event and tyre management skills. It should be fast......what would Senna say about this situation.....


Schumacher makes a good point, but the 1998-2008 was a procession, let's not go backwards.


I voted 'Yes', but I think there needs to be some kind of middle ground.

While it makes the racing more of a spectacle - you have drivers on different age tyres catching each other up at differing rates - the flipside is that it's a shame to see something like Raikonnen in China, where his tyres were maybe 3 or 4 laps older than those around him and the tyres 'went', dropping him a number of places with no way to defend himself.

And, with the pack as tight as it has been recently, a 25s pit stop often isn't an option.

So yeah, Schumi is right that they don't allow drivers to charge and the race becomes about managing the rubberr. The Pirellis have done what they were asked to do - create racing and encourage overtaking - but I agree that it has the cost of preventing drivers from pushing the entire race. Lack of refuelling also has this effect, of course, as at some point in each race the drivers have to turn the engine down.


James, I agree with the tyre management concept and was a key element on very entertaining races especially late 80's. Shows ability beyond raw speed as a driver and a challenge to the teams too as tyre is such a critical resource on lap time during the whole GP. Makes it also more of a team sport as we have seen lately, prime example Mc Laren not being able to fully realize in more wins the early speed advantage shown in qualy. Or RBR vs Lotus in this GP as pit stop strategy and execution limited Kimi's chance to win.

What a Great F1 year !!!


I like the style of racing this year. In the past, you could switch off after the last stops but races are now frequently building up to a climax at the end, and even my non-F1 friends were wowed by the spectacle in China. And if a circuit like Bahrain can provide an exciting race than surely something is right.

OK we are losing out on seeing cars flat out, and now driver errors are vastly reduced due to operating within their envelope, but I do not miss at all the seasons where you had to hope for rain in races to know you were in for an entertaining afternoon.


Michael has done 40 GP's since his return and is now running out of excuses. By contrast, Kimi gets a second place in only his 4th GP after 2 seasons of rallying.

Tyres are the same for everyone, so Michael, I think it really is time to call it a day. After all, at least 2 of your championship wins were due to Kimi d.n.f's due to Mclaren mechanical failure!


What Schumacher has said is not an excuse, at all...

And which 2 seasons did Schumacher win due to Raikkonen's misfortune? 2003 perhaps, but 2005 was Alonso's party...


Since you've decided to go off-topic and take this opportunity to ding Schumacher let me add this. Schumacher is a 7 time champion and Kimi has 1 (In a team that Schumacher built, thanks to Mclaren's bad management of Alonso and Hamilton).

Championships aren't won so morons like you can take them away or discredit them. A champion is a champion under all circumstances. Learn to treat them as such.


Schumacher had everything his own way for years. Ideal regulations, unlimited testing, tailor-made cars, tailor-made tyres, subservient teammates. It's no wonder he doesn't like this new era, in which he is just one driver among many.

If we look back to F1 before the Schumacher era, tyre management was a central aspect of the sport, and it was responsible for many dramatic races. We've gone back to that and the races are far closer and far more competitive than they have been for a long time. Bravo Pirelli.


A bit of an overreaction from MSC bit of a tantrum. It's almost the old Prost/Senna story, or tortoise and hare. He still has not accepted that F1 can never be like it was in his heyday, when quite apart from the tyre testing he used to do hundreds of hours testing all possible setups on each tyre type at each wear point. Adding to that the tyres were developed to his spec. Not so hot now when he does not have an advantage to start with, like the old Ferrari days.

Some may remember my post on here 3 years ago before he came back, when I said "What if he is only as good as the others?" well I think that is the situation now.


I'm not a Schumacher fan. I never was, and never will be. I do think that he has a point though. I was cheering after China, but I'm starting to think that the entertainment may be a little too contrived.

The ability of the driver to go fast and push the car to its limits should be part of the equation. This appears to be disappearing from F1 in the new tyre management era. Let the tyres degrade, but the driver should be able to push for a few laps first.


I voted YES, agree with Schumi.

Now lets be honest. We should not complain about how this year started. We had so far 4 races full of entertainment and great battles, 4 winners from 4 different teams etc.

But what is Formula 1? I like it how it is now, but I think we can have more. I think it's too restrictive. I think the tyres do mix the teams alot in terms of strategies, but AT NO POINT IN A RACE A DRIVER IS GOING FLAT OUT FOR MORE THAN A LAP OR TWO.

I don't like that. Like James said, those who can nurse a car and keep a low and steady degradation will benefit while those which have the speed and can push a car beyond its limits will suffer.

I don't know if we can have both, most likely not. People were asking how come these cars are so reliable now? Well, they are not being raced to their limits for more than couple of laps in a race, so why would they break down?


Just think about those words, MISTER, "those which have the speed and can push a car beyond its limits will suffer". At the pinnacle of motorsport, how can the fastest drivers be penalised for being the fastest. It is just wrong.


Formula 1 is PINNACLE of motorsport. F1 drivers are the best the world, so let them do what they do best which is racing! This whole "managing tyres" or "smooth" driving business is just turning F1 into a sissy sport.

Rally drivers are starting to look more godly now.


Reminds me to get some Sauerkraut in.

Fairly ridiculous comment from Mike as his team mate won the last GP.

I think the Pirelli guy should have offered a helping hand to pick up MS toys which appear to be wildly scattered around ones pram.

Or possibly offered a wheel gun to ensure MS dummy is returned firmly to der mund.

Of course, everyone gets the same tyres.


'everyone gets the same tyres' that is his point but you missed it!


I'm sorry you're not enjoying it Michael, but the kind of "racing" you enjoyed bored millions of fans out of their minds! (customized Bridgestone tyres and fuel stops timed to avoid other cars on track)

I believe there are too many stops at the moment. I'd like to see Pirelli pick the hard & medium tyres a few times so it's one or two stops rather than 3 all the time. No idea if the hard tyres will take a bit more punishment, or be more fun for Michael. Nobody's offered me a drive in an F1 car to find out...

Pit crews are making mistakes, which could be dangerous (admittedly it's way safer than the old fuel stops) and drivers don't have enough sets of tyres per weekend to make a proper show of qualifying. And you can bet the teams have noted Raikkonen's performance in Bahrain and will be saving more fresh tyres for the race in future.


I can see Schumacher's point, it's not as bad as when these rules first came in and drivers were wary of pushing to hard. I find now drivers can push but have also to look at the tyre deg.

On Sky martin Brundle mentioned something similar to this saying that he was a bit worried that tyres dominated the talk in races.

I see both their points about tyres starting to dominate the races and how races are run. But it is providing great racing throughout the field at the expense of seeing the top teams battle like in the past. I can't really see what the solution could be to maintain tyres that wear quickly while allowing hard charging drivers to show what they can do


I totally agree with Michael. But I would rather watch a race like yesterday than say Valencia or Abu Dhabi 2010. The tyres are making f1 the best it's been to watch as long time. I only think I don't like is when behind an other car the tyres seem to go away faster and you have to pass straight away.

Tifosi numero uno

this is a tough one, im agreeing with Michael but then im not. The racing has been brilliant but I would like the tryes to last just that little bit longer. Im sitting on the fence here. Your thoughts James ?


I like 2012 racing and it should help find new fans


And what about the old fans?


I haven't seen any F1 racing since Pirelli supplied the tyres, and cars carried full fuel load. What I have seen is a rather articial and lame substitute to excite new audiences. I guess some are easily duped.


Yes new fans who would be least bit interested in talking and following it as hardcore as the genuine old ones. You might get more casual viewers but slowly it will turn out to be like WWE. Lots of viewers but no one taking it serious! No wonder India doesnt consider F1 as a sport - It shows, its all about putting up a show.

We might have get more fans for the London Marathon if we make the faster runners go slower because their shoes will tear up if they run any faster thereby enabling a close contest. But its not gonna happen, is it? Sport was always about the best coming out to the fore.


Just because they cant go flat out guys think its poor form??? This year the racing is brilliant, we still have the technical innovations playing cat and mouse with the rules and the strategy game is fascinating. The drivers go as fast as they are able and thats the way its always been.

You can please some of the people all the time...


James, Rosberg stated in China that he was not able to go flat-out at any point during the race because of the tyres. Why do you think new F1 fans would be attracted to that?


Cheap thrills attract the casual viewer, who are often unaware or not fully informed of the sillyness of these tyres.


Find new fans but lose old ones.


James, I am really surprised by your answer. Let me ask then, were you expecting the votes of your readers to be evenly divided, instead of as strongly in agreement with Schumacher? I completely agree with him but thought I would be in the minority. I'm pleasantly surprised not to be alone and I feel its testament to how knowledgeable your readers are, certainly above average in my opinion. Its not that 2012 isn't exciting, it is... But as a longtime F1 fan, something is missing and something doesn't quite make sense. I don't mind having a crazy year... Just hoping there is a more logical future.


Balancing wear and going flat out is a fine art which requires two different sets of skills. But with the Pirelli's this year it seems to me that their tyres tend to favour driver's who are more adept at conserving the tyres. Up and down the grid the drivers have been complaining that they did not push to the limit of the car at any point in the race because they were too afraid of running into excessive tyre troubles. All i'm saying is that the tyres should not be overtly favouring one style of driving , Pirelli needs to do a balancing act.



I have what I think would bve a very good idea for qualifying. Who would be the best person to contact to put the idea forward?



Send it to me and I'll forward it to some members of the Sporting Working Group



I said he is correct because whilst I can see the benefits of the tyres creating better racing what it is also doing is manufacturing a close battle too much.

It's why I prefer test cricket over 2020 or football over basketball. I think the balance is wrong and it does need to be adjusted.

I do feel sorry for pirelli though they are stuck in the middle as they have only done what was asked of them.


I dislike these chokotoff tires. I find it artificial and when you saw Kimi, he had ONE chance for the lead. After that, your tires are cooked and you're finished. The last stint, nothing happened. Hamilton stayed behind Alonso, an attack would mean he had his tires shot. Same for Schumacher vs. Massa and Perez vs. Schumacher.

Everybody saw what happend to Kimi and lesser extent Grosjean and Alonso in China. Nobody dared to do something on their last set of tires, because they fear tiping off the Pirelli Cliff.


I voted 'not clear cut'.

On the one hand its a shame that the fastest drivers can't always show it. I have been following F1 since 1986 and have always enjoyed the atacking racers more than the smooth conservative types. On the other hand I was never a fan of the refueling era when strategies were fixed on Saturday and could hardly be changed and enjoy the fact that teams and drivers have to react and change strategies now.

Perhaps degradation is still too high. I remember some great races in the 80s where some would try to go the distance on one set and others would change tyres- think of Spain 86 and Britain 87.

Ultimately though, I would choose f1 2011/2012 over the boring races of 2010 (yes I know the championship was exciting but most of the races were not)and in fact over most of 1994-2009 (the refueling era).

Just my not very clear cut opinion!


I agree to some extent I want to see flat out racing, and lots of overtaking, but these Pirellis litirally chew up and leave so much discarded rubber so there is only clean line, can this be minimised?

A good example was the noise of Kimi's onboard camera when he made his T1 attempt on Vettel yesterday, sounded like he was on gravel.



What do you make of the fact that Button has also made some perceivably negative comments re the tyres even though he is generally thought of as being "smoother" and a better user of tyres than the "harder" drivers ?


I don't think the issue is really about smoothness or not. A lot is just about a car not getting them in the right operating window. Degradation and lack of grip is inevitable then.


He didn't complain in Melbourne


Could it be that it's easier to manage the tyres in clean air leading the race, James?


I think Button is having difficulty understanding how the tyres behave in different environments. Nobody complains when they are winning. Heard any murmours from Vettel since Bahrain?


Other than Hamilton in Malaysia, every driver leading through the first corner has gone on to win the race.

Clean air is obviously a massive advantage to tyre management, after all the drivers set up their cars whilst running in clean air with optimum downforce levels.

Maybe it would be sensible for drivers to do their race simulation setup work in the dirty air of their team mate. This would probably sacrifice optimum grid position but would be much more useful to anybody other than the race leader when it comes to the race.


While it mixes up the field behind, are the current Pirelli tyres in danger of making the winner almost a foregone conclusion? With the exception of the rain-wrapped Malaysian GP, every race so far has been won by the driver who came out of turn one of the first lap in first place. That's not exactly a great trend.



It's a lot easier yes. Less deg


I agree with MSC to a great extent. If you have technology that prevents drivers from performing at their maximum level then it does take away some of the excitement of the sport. However it is all about strategy at the end of the day, so yeah i think this isn't so clear cut.


I also voted not clear cut. It depends on how one defines "performing at maximum". Schumacher argues (in my interpretation) that "maximum" is driving at the essentially optimal theoretical limit of man and machine at all times which is what he was known for in the 2000's. I suspect Hamilton and Webber would also agree with this definition based on their driving style and racing attitude. Another definition of "maximum", more practical in the Pirelli era, would be extracting the most out of any given set of circumstances at the time and managing circumstance it evolves to stay at the current limit as it changes in real time. I think that Alonso and Button are examples of this type of approach, Alonso especially as he seems to always get the most of a situation


Good comments JF. I agree with you. Like Doctub, I would group Alonso into the Webber / Hamilton / Schumi group also. Having said that, Alonso seems to adapt to any given situation and can manage tyres as well as anyone. By placing him in both groups go to show what a complete driver he really is.


I am sure Alonso would fall into the Lewis and Mark group, can't you recall the races in his championship fights with MS?


Yes and No: In my opinion Alonso is one of the most adaptable drivers out there able to to take full advantage of his current situation as it unfolds, and in that respect if he is in a car that lets him launch into maximum attack mode, he will do so as aggressively as any out there, if he needs to preserve the tires and play the long game, he will do so, whatever it takes to get best result. Alonso is a bit of chameleon. So I grouped him with Button rather than Hamilton, Webber and MSc who all seem more likely (but not always!) to default to max attack mode in spite of or despite prevailing conditions.


Well I have to disagree with Michael. The current tyre layout makes both racing and strategy more interesting and is also more demanding for a drive who has to do something else rather than just go around flat-out. This help various competitors and teams show their potential on some occasions instead of boring two or three-horse race all season long. Win-win situation for everyone.


Its not a win win because the best designed cars are not consistently at the top. A win win scenario is two tyre compounds that give the fast drivers what they want and conservative drivers a durable tyre.


As far as I am concerned, making a car being soft on its tyres is a part of design too. And by the way, would You rather go back to 2011 when the best car steamrolled through entire season?


i say give them 2010 bridgestones, now that we got kers and DRS. It was impossible to pass before, but DRS helps with that now, KERS also, so the tyres arent so crucial for overtaking.


I second Michael's concern about the tyres, they have become such a huge deal this year, eclipsing all other technical aspects. But the most frustrating aspect is not their short life, it's that this 'sweet spot' is so elusive that nobody can be certain, no matter how well he thinks he has set up a car on Saturday for Sunday, that come race day his tyres will perform. So, one team suddenly finds performance one weekend, and the next weekend it's gone with no obvious reasons apart from this mantra 'we couldn't make our tyres work on a raceday'. This makes races largely a lottery and, imho, takes from the sport.

But there is a second aspect of Pirellis, rarely discussed these days. A lot of sporting regulations, particularly mandatory pit-stops and mandatory use of both compounds in the race were specifically designed to counter the combination of bulletproof Bridgestones and overtake-prohibiting aero. Now we have KERS and DRS to assist overtaking and the tyres that don't last. So, these rules are obsolete now and must be done away with, we have enough artificiality in F1 these days as it is.

I say, let the drivers choose their tyres freely within the allocated lot, let them change their setups between the quali and the race. Drivers should be able to set their cars up for an optimal performance and race the tyre they want to.


I agree: I think there is little need for such restrictive Parc Ferme rules anymore. Let them change set up between quali and the race so long as no major components are exchanged as per current rules. With limited engines and gearbox rules, can't do quali specials anymore even if wanted to.


I think Schumacher raises a fair point and in some ways it reminds me of CART/Champcar from the early 2000's when they introduced pit-windows which effectively made all the races about fuel economy. Teams/drivers would very often hold position, drive in a train ect. because they needed that extra lap's worth of fuel. But because the driver in front was doing the same it made no difference to the overall outcome and so we were left with some rather processional races, which prior to the introduction of pit-windows were usually quite exciting.

At the moment you could argue that F1 has its own unofficial pit-windows as teams/drivers try to stretch out as much life from the tyres as possible, to the detriment of flat out sprint racing.

Personally I’m not a fan of the current regulations that requires a driver to use both types of tyre during a session. I don’t really see the need or point. I’d far rather see Pirelli bring tyres that were two steps apart (i.e. super-soft/medium or soft/hard) instead of the current one step (super-soft/soft, soft/medium, medium/hard) and give the teams and drivers the choice of choosing what they wanted to run in race, but they had to stick to that compound the whole way through. So a team/driver who elects to go for the more durable tyre can race conservatively and require less stops and the team/driver who opts for the faster but less durable rubber can sprint his way through the race, stopping more often.

Having said all of this, I really think Pirelli have done a superb job and it would be a massive shame if this story snowballed into something bigger and they decide to walk away from the sport at the end of their tenure.


Well said

Benjamin Bruyns


While I agree that the racing has been more exciting, and that part of F1 is the endurance aspect of a 300KM Grand Prix, I also think that the weight that is granted to aspects such as endurance vs speed vs aero vs strategy etc shouldn't be this disproportionate.

I agree with Schumacher in that the importance of the tyres is excessive, and clearly a strategy from Pirelli to make their tyres the constant talking point.

I don't know about you, but tyres in everyday life have no more than grudge-purchase status.

F1 should be more about outright speed. If I wanted to watch endurance racing, I'd tune in to more 24 hour races.

Otherwise thanks for the great website. Your insight adds to my enjoyment of our great sport, and I've enjoyed your commentary during the free practice sessions as well.



Cape Town, South Africa

Jonathan De Andrade

I think it is quite controversial that majority of fans would agree with Schumacher's point. I do not. I think we must look at the bigger picture and James has made a good assessment of the past vs the current situation. If we are to move backwards to bullet proof tires of the 2000s it is clear what the result will be: domination in a vicious cycle where the richer teams get the titles, more money therefore makes it impossible to a midfield team having any chance of rise.

I would though agree that in some moments it is frustrating that drivers like Hamilton, Alonso, Schumacher, Kimi et cetera cannot race to their limits because of tire management, nevertheless if we are to chose I would vote for keeping pirelli tires as they are now.

F1 has just gone through a massive change on its racing modus operandi, it will take sometime before the drivers adapt, some will do faster than others. Teams will also have do adapt in their way of approaching strategy, design so on. All this changing conditions will create the perfect set-up to new talents and new ideas to rise. We as spectators, fans and supporters will only profit out of that.


No-one I imagine wants the return of bullet proof tyres, see post 73 above.


Hi James, in your article you said: "However in the Bridgestone era the tyres would last a whole race if required with almost no degradation and the racing clearly suffered.

" The reason it suffered it wasn't as much as the endurance of the tyres but rather what you described in another paragraph: "Schumacher’s heyday was the era of flat out sprints on Bridgestone tyres, when Ferrari had a testing budget from the Japanese manufacturer of over $20 million and so did hundreds of thousands of testing miles. Cost cutting measures introduced in 2008 have put paid to that."

Take out mid-season testing, make the tyres somewhere between Pirelli and Bridgestone, and the excitement should be there. Ferrari had preferential treatment those years. I didn't see people complaining in 2007 and 2008. That's when you could see real racing, overtaking, the top drivers like Hamilton, Alonso and Raikkonen making their mark. Double-diffusers and the lottery of tyres this year, make things definitely exciting, but not ideal to enjoying watching the best drivers at their peak extracting the best out of their cars.

For the first time in my life I agree with Schuey.


Whole heartedly agree with Shuey. I was never a fan of his but the cars/drivers used to really race. I miss the days when a driver passed another on pure skill without all the gizmos and gadgets of today. F1 was never, and will never, be a "green" sport. Yes safety is all important but I don't want to see the best/fastest drivers driving carefully like granddads. F1 is losing it's heart, danger and passion 🙁


Yeah I think Schumi is right....tis year the dependency on tyres is just too much....Doesnt look like any driver is really pushing to the limit....hardly any chance for a driver to come ahead pushing through the traffic even if he has a quick car


I 100% agree with Schumi..

The races have become a lottery, with no indicators of form at all. even qualifying is no indicator of what cars / drivers suit the track - and who has a good setup and who has problems.

Why would a team invest 10's of millions of euro developing exciting new features on the car (What F1 is ALL about) - when focus on optimizing the try gamble may have a higher pay out.

From a championship point of view - it will remain open, probably between many drivers upto that last race - with the championship decided by the last throw of the dice -at the last race...

It is shameful that the pussyfooted drivers are getting all the glory, while the real drivers are left to struggle.

For Me, F1 is about pushing the technological boundaries and not entertainment. It should be about the fastest drivers, the best cars, the best technology, the best engineers, and the best overall package....

As for for what I have seen the last few races - I could be just as entertained watching a fantasy horse race night in the local...


I love these tyres and the job Pirelli have done. But we have to at last year, the team will adapt and make the car and tyres work better as the year goes on. We actually see passing now on track not in the pits.


I don't like this tyres stuff. Engines and gearboxes must have a multi race lifetime while tyres last only 45 minutes at most. Let them develop tyres that last 5 GP's or 1500 km and use them over Free practice, qualifying and race. Then all components are on a equal footing.


I was the 1,000th vote! And I voted yes, I do agree with Schumacher. There is no doubt that the races are more exciting, but I think we've lost as many battles throughout the field as we have gained with the tyres degrading.

The front runner/driver in clear air gets an advantage over anyone who might be trying to catch him, and although we get racing in the midfield we're likely to see a repeat of last year with most races being won on the Saturday.

I'm loving F1 currently (appalling politics and TV coverage deals aside), but I think a middle ground can be reached between the endurance of the Bridgestones and current Pirellis; for example, fast tyres with massive degradation as the option and slower tyres that last the whole race for the prime, or something to that effect. It seems a shame to not allow hard-charging drivers to properly push throughout the race. Another option is to go back to harder wearing tyres and allow the KERS and DRS to continue negating the turbulence effect, which means passing without fear of 'the cliff'. Whatever happens, after this weekend they need to introduce qualifying tyres. To have drivers not going out in Q3 and it being better to start in 11th than in the top 10 is ridiculous, no two ways about it.

Understandable for Hembery to get defensive about Pirelli's role, but Schumacher is right - and not by saying the tyres are bad, as some will undoubtedly read, but by stating they have too much importance in modern racing.


a: I like Hamilton

b: I like Button

c: I want to see the slow teams winning but....


I think MSC has a point but other factors sometimes prevent a driver from attacking to the maximum lap after lap. Hopefully a good Spanish weekend for our friend Michael will bring back his love for this modern F1.


We've got exciting racing and the best drivers are those that are having to make use of a wide range of skills to get the best results. The difficulty in getting the set up right this year seems to have been exacerbated by the blown diffuser ban, an unintended consequence that nobody really saw coming to this degree. After a few more races I expect things will calm down a little and a pecking order might emerge.

Frankly though, I fail to see any downsides to the current Pirelli tyres, long may they continue.


As you can see from the poll, the fans agree with Schumi. These tires suck, they reward slow driving and are artificial. Simply done to improve the show.

F1 used to be man vs machine, now its man vs cheese tires. Pirelli have made the show about them and team principals and journalist have stupidly drank the koolaid. Alot of fans hate it fyi.

How is it right that drivers drive more flatout in LeMans than a F1 GP?

The only time you are tested for speed is qualifying. The rest of the weekend is tiptoeing around to make the tires last and hoping you luck in with the weather and the tires can work.

It is absolute rubbish. I hope more drivers speak out.


Schumacher is 100% correct. The tires Pirelli have provided are not fit for purpose. Racing at the car or drivers limit is not attainable anymore, without the tires falling off a cliff and your race strategy shot to pieces. There is an acknowledgement the tires provide a better spectacle, but as a genuine racing series, the racing is fake, as no real racing takes place, except for a 90 minute tire management exercise.


From an entertainment perspective this season is great, and the Pirellis are delivering. As for the performance aspect? Well, the engine freeze, lack of testing, and resource limits are all contributing to F1 no longer simply being about having the maximum performance, they're making the sport more of a lottery race to race. However, over a season I think it won't make as much difference as each individual GP would make you think, so it balances out.


If bridgestone-era sprint races return, Alonso will be powerless to stop Hamilton from lapping the entire field, even if he were to start from behind Kartikeyan.


LH was good, but he hardly lapped the entire field. He ended up on the same number pf points as Alonso, in what is considered to be Hamilton's best year.


The racing this year has been great, however I do feel that in Formula 1 the drivers should be driving flat out for the whole race. This would require total concentration for the whole race and we would be able to clearly see those drivers who can not only drive quickly but think about race strategy etc while on the limit.

In my humble opinion I think we need to bring back the tyre wars of the early 2000's.

Tom in adelaide

The spectacle is there, but it's just so manufactured. DRS has to go. Silly front wings have to go. Make the cars fast and strong. They used to look like they were on the ragged edge, with a spin always just around the corner. Now they look glued to the track and we rarely see spins.


Hi all, I agree with shcumacher he is a 7 time world champion and he knows what he is talking about after almost 20 yeras in formula 1. I feel that F1 is being taken a hostage by pirelli, i don't think the tyre should have that much role on racing. All we are seeing is who got it right on those tyres and who manages is better, nobody talks about driving to limit nor does some 'quaifying laps' to jump a rival on the track.


The argument for having much harder compound tyre:

- They won't leave 'marbles' on the track, allowing drivers to use parts of the track that are considered "off the racing line" without being unduely punished by a load of marbles and tyre debris that causes them to lose traction and run off-track.

- It removes (or reduces) one performance-variable from the whole race weekend which should help bring the whole field closer together in terms of performance (provides more of a level playing field for the drivers).

- A harder compound tyre is a more robust tyre...it also will provide less grip for the drivers and will allow the car to slide around a lot more...so rewarding drivers who have better car-control and driving skill...and also rewarding engineers who can design a car that has handling & driving characteristics that are more stable and predictable for the driver.

- More challenging for a driver to drive "on the limit"...many of the softer compound tyres, coupled with high amounts of downforce allow for once scary corners (130R, Turn 8, Eau Rouge/Radillon combo) to be taken flat-out...Drivers would have to think twice on much harder compound, less grippy tyres.

- Allows racers to go racing!!...(without having to worry about holding back their true pace or aggressiveness because of fear the tyres won't last).

- More exciting generally...(the stability of engine regulations & technical regulations, coupled with the DRS and KERS would prevent the 'boring Ferrari-Bridgestone-Schumi-domination' years from happening again).


That makes a lot of sense. So are we saying that they should make a tyre that is capable of lasting the entire race? That would of course mean that they only pit if they have a problem or it rains.

It's certainly worth a try. I never liked refuelling and racing is infinitely better now they run the entire race on a full fuel load. Could it be even better with one set of tyres that means they go balls out all the time? Then also 'race position' would actually be race position.


Having a set of tyres that last a whole race...or even two-thirds of a race would be a good idea in my opinion.

Having tyres that can last a whole race distance would also reduce operational costs for every F1 team...less equipement needed, less practice for pit-stop crews, less expensive pit-stop gadets such as special wheel guns, wheel-locking nuts, traffic-light systems etc.,

Also - the tyre supplier would be able to have a more intuitive Marketing & Advertising campaign as most normal road-users want to buy tyres for their cars that have a long lasting life-span...hence a tyre supplier in F1 that produces long lasting, high performance tyres would be easily able to promote their product favourably...(currently, its counter-intuitive of Pirelli to make tyres that effectively self-destruct for artificial "improve the racing" reasons.


Have the pirellis improved the spectacle? Yes. Should it be that way? No. But then there are many things about modern F1 that shouldn't be the way they are. Overtaking shouldn't be that hard, aero shouldn't be that dominant, and the most important to me, spending more money shouldn't make you faster. The best should be the best because or their talents and wits, not because they can buy better computers and produce more carbon fiber.

So while the status quo remains, I'll take Pirellis over control Bridgestones any day.


I concur with Schumacher.

His analogy is when a driver has a porche car, one is made to drive on a highway with 80mph speed limit, than driving in autobahn without a speed limit. Which drive would exhibit the full potential of that porche car?

On the other hand, Pirelli is doing just what

FOM is asking them to do. Someone has to find a middle path which doesn’t keep the tyre life long, but still allow drivers to push to the limit before the tyres fall off.

Just look at kimi on his last stint in Bahrain, he wasn’t able to push vettel, simply because he had to conserve his tyres to finish the race.

Shumi should be applauded for standing up and bringing this issue to the forefront.


I am also growing tired of the tires dominating the races. Though I like the shake-up in the order I am always left feeling like it is a bit forced. Pitting on lap 7-10 of a 57 lap race for new tires seems excessive.Perhaps they should find a better middle ground between the Bridgestone days and what we have now.


I totally agree with Michael Schumacher.

Drivers aren't "managing" their tyres anymore, instead they are "nursing" them.

The fastest drivers are effectively restricted from performing at their highest possible level. If that is where F1 wants to be, then F1 is not where I want to be.


In my opinion, i think schumacher is right. i think tyre management is playing too much of a prominent role in determining race wins. i agree that it should be a key element in the races but its current level of prominence encourages too much caution on the side of the drivers. its like they go around the track on tip toes trying very hard not to hurt their fragile pirelis. yes it makes the races exciting but it turns them into more of a circus performance. this year it is obvious already that drivers cannot race to the limit of their machinery and i think F1 is more about that than about tyre management. theres excitement in the races this year but a lot less adrenalin.


Let me share some brief thoughts:

There seems to be a science of going quick, which covers tyre management, car setup, etc, which is distinct from finding the limits. You can drive the wheels off a car that is not optimised for racing for instance.

I used to like the blend between the science behind quickness and the driver really finding the limits - in particular when refuelling meant tyre wear wasnt driving the need to pit. I love it more than anything when the driver is dancing on the limits of adhesion and when the race is effectively won when a great driver finds a fraction extra.

I appreciate F1 has created a spectacularly complex science which makes finding pace over a race a delicately fine art but is there an appreciable role still for the driver to find the limits? I think, if there is, its too diminished and fleeting in the context of a racing weekend.


Hi James,

I expected quite a bit of disagreement on this, and I can see from your poll that opinions are divided.

For me, I tend to agree with Schumacher, albeit with reservations. While I agree with you that there should be a balance between managing tyre wear, and being able to race flat out, I think the balance has skewed too far in the latter direction.

It's clear that a set of tyres that's been used in qualifying is a good 0.5 sec a lap slower than a new set throughout a stint. Moreover, the performance drop off is exacerbated by traffic.

This on its own might be just about acceptable - after all, one can adjust strategies (I've been advocating only one Q3 run to save a set of primes for the last three races).

What I think makes this tyre characteristic unacceptable is that it's coupled with an unprecedentedly narrow optimum performance window in terms of car setup, and in addition that performance window appears to be extremely unpredictable.

All these factors combined have turned qualifying into a bit of a lottery which depends rather more on track conditions than driver skill, and have made successful racing more dependent than it has ever been on getting a clear run on track free from traffic.

I'm really not a Schumacher fan at all - but I think he has a point, and Pirelli are far too dismissive of his opinion.


(edit) "skewed too far in the FORMER direction".


I think in the future when F1 teams are looking for new talent in GP2, they should not take the aggressive winners, but those who finish with the freshest tyres irregardless of where they finish!

Not a big fan of 'The Schum', but here he's right.


"But it’s hard for the cream to rise to the top this season"

I would disagree. Look at the winners this season - Button, Alonso, Rosberg, Vettel. Some might doubt Rosberg's place, but without pit failures Button or Schumacher might well have won. Other than that, you're looking at the best drivers out there, with perhaps Kimi and Lewis missing, but 6 drivers can't win one of 4 races each!

If anything this incredibly close season is letting the cream rise to the top more than ever, instead of just the overwhelmingly dominating car.


In one way, the cream still rises. With the exception of Malaysia, every race this year has been won by the driver who exited turn 1 of the first lap in the lead.

That driver can then control the pace from the front, with tyres which are kept fresh by running in clean air while everyone behind struggles in the turbulence and cooks their tyres. So, one lap pace is still important. If I were McLaren, Red Bull, Lotus etc., I'd be pushing to get that double DRS working before Spain to try and gain that all-important #1 spot on the starting grid.

But do we really want the winner of almost every race to be determined at turn 1 of the first lap?


Regarding your last paragraph.

"F1 should be about excellence"

Is excellence only measured by those that can throw money at a problem?

I would strongly disagree and am very encouraged by the 'work smarter - not more expensive' teams sticking it to the established order so far in 2012.


No. It's measured by excellent performances, by drivers, engineers, pit crews, everyone

Yesterday's race was won with an excellent performance


It's most likely that the race was won because the conditions suited the Red Bull car best. while I have great respect for Adrian Newey I think the win surprised even him a little, but before we past judgement let's see how they fare in a cooler environment to determine if it is a genuine step improvement. There's no doubt that the Red Bull has had faster race pace than McLaren from quite early on.


Ah, I get the feeling your separating what happens at the track from what happens at the factory.

All wins so far this year have been the result of excellence by pretty much everyone involved - (1)the folks at the factory, (2)the race engineers, (3)the pit crews and (4)the driver(s).

However, in years past, the factory guys had a bottomless pit of testing time, CPU cycles and windtunnel hours to spend on certain cars which became that much better than the majority of the field that the race engineers/pit crews and/or driver(s) could screw up - yet still get "great" results.

I like it when Sauber, Lotus, Williams and Force India can beat the "grandees" on any given week simply as all 4 parties mentioned earlier have got it right, as opposed to the factory compensating for a merely adequate performance from groups 2-4.


At last someone has come out and said the obvious - this years Pirelli's are pure kak.

What's the point of haveing "operating window that is quite hard to hit"??? I want to see the best drivers in the world race hi-tech cars flat out, and not nurse them around so they don't wear the rubber out!!! Get them out and get Good Year back in now, before they completely ruin what should be the best year ever. Disgracefull!!!


In my opinion, I think Schumacher is right. I think Tyre management is playing too much of a prominent role in determining race wins. I agree that tyre management should be a key element in the races but its current level of prominence encourages too much caution on the side of the drivers. Its like they go around the track on tip-toes trying very hard to be careful not to damage their fragile pirellis. Yes it makes the races exciting but it turns them into more of a circus performance. This year it is obvious already that drivers CANNOT race to the limit of their equipment and I think F1 is more about that than about tyre management. Theres excitement in the races this year but a lot less adrenalin !!!!!


I wonder which compounds teams would choose would they be given the choice. Would they lean toward soft or hard?


Schumacher gained 12 positions in the race to finish 10th. Kimi gained 9 positions. If he had started in a better position he may have finished higher up the order.

F1 is about being the best team and driver performing within a set of defined rules. Whoever can adapt to extract maximum performance given the rules deserves to be World Champion.

It must be nice to be a midfield team and know that they are in with a chance for some points each race.

Keep up the exciting races and mix it up some more.


James, I was hoping you write on this and just saw this one as soon as I visited your site..thanks ! I was expecting your thoughts too on this subject. Why you think Pirelli is right or if MSC had a point ?

Personally I feel the tyres are kind off becoming the most important aspect in deciding the races. As a racing sport isnt' it not too much for tyres to decide races? Lets forget Mercedes and Schumacher and lets think of the content what he said -

1.)The main thing I feel unhappy about is everyone has to drive well below a driver's, and in particular, the car's limits to maintain the tyres,

2.)I just question whether the tyres should play such a big importance, or whether they should last a bit longer, and that you can drive at normal racing car speed and not cruise around like we have a safety car.

Personally I thought what he said applies to lot of other drivers/teams as well.I am sure this is the problem with Hamilton, Button, Vettel (in China where he started from behind and others this season. I dont' believe this problem is isolated to MSC and Mercedes.

Shouldnt' the best team and the best driver win rather than just allow a tyre to dictate things ? This kind of formula1 makes it almost impossible for someone to drive with good skills and machine to drive from back to the podium. (Raikonnen did it y'day but I think again that was tyre management).

I am sure lot of people say f1 has become interesting over the last few years etc and it is , but they are mostly because of DRS and KERS. Tyres if more consistent would surely be a value addition to the current excitement.

Looking forward to hear your perspective on this too..


I like the racing at the moment very much. It might be a little too tyre focussed, but it's certainly the same for everyone and it's an engineering challenge.

Also important to point out that teams bringing updates like Lotus and Red Bull this weekend, saw gains, so it's still about what they do, it's not all about tyres


I've been watching F1 for 30 years and do not remember seeing so many marbles on the track after a race like these Pirelli’s leave. It is quite unbelievable. The teams and even Bernie Ecclestone are trying to reduce their environmental imprint on the world i.e. 4 cylinder engines, Pirelli should follow suit. I think and feel strongly that using 8 (?) sets of tires during one racing weekend is wasteful. Schumacher is absolutely right, these tires do not last long enough and there is too much degradation therefore we are not seeing the true speed of some of these cars.


Also, not to mention that all of the tire detritus narrows the racing line/track, thereby limiting passing. One tire in the marbles and it could be curtains for those that stray!


"You are being generous by listing 6 ‘exciting’ grand prix, in a season of 19"

i could have listed more than just 6 as most the races in 2005 featured a lot of good racing. i only listed the best 6.

the only really boring races that year were hockenheim, france & obviously indy. the rest were all great for racing & overtaking.


Ahem, my bad, it works out to 23 NON-DRS passes per race, and 19 DRS.

I love it!


Well, I won't argue what you find entertaining, bu maybe I just need more stimulation than watching a procession while praying for rain.

2004-9, there were an average of 12 passes on track in any given F1 race. About one every 8 minutes on average (but not in reality as most passes happened at the start). Even IF every single pass was a classic (which they weren't) that still hardly makes up for classic racing.

Last year, there were 804 clean passes, of which 45% or 363 were DRS, with the remainder being non-DRS passes (you know, REAL passes). Which averages out to 19 passes per race.

Moral of the story? Ignore DRS and you still get more passes AND you did have to watch a McLaren get stuck behind and Arrows for 60 laps (thanks to all of those wonderful DRS passes!)


Do you remember the year of no tire changes? Awful racing.


Racing wasn't awfull, There was some brilliant racing & some proper overtaking in 2005 when tyre changes were banned.

Go back & watch Bahrain, Sepang, Imola, Monaco, Suzuka, Shanghai etc... from 2005 & you will see far more exciting racing, battles & overtaking than has been seen in the current crappy tyre era.


You are being generous by listing 6 'exciting' grand prix, in a season of 19, and that's just over 30%. The 'racing' and 'battles' you talk of were the exception, not the norm. Particularly since it was a Renault cakewalk as McLaren build a breaker and Ferrari didn't like it's new shoes.

Last season, we had MAYBE 4 boring GPs last year out of 19 (nearly 80% good), and this year we are already batting .1000

These days we see battling and overtaking. Watching a fast car pass a slightly slower car during a pit stop is neither.


Imola 2005: one of my favourite races - Schumacher hunting down Alonso, with lap after lap of pressure Alonso held on by the skin of his teeth and clever manouevering, it was awesome...

Then the tables were turned in Imola 2006 - a mirror image of 2005, with Schumacher soaking up the pressure... Amazing stuff.


I think I have to partly agree with what Schumacher is saying and I think a lot of it boils down to who F1 is appealing too.

For the general casual F1 fan the on-track action this year has been brilliant, no-one can deny that. To get hold of an audience and to keep an audience watching it is surely meeting that demand.

However, for an F1 purist who wants to see a driver and car pushed to the limit, it is not meeting this demand. If drivers are driving within themselves then how will the better drivers rise to the top.

Overtaking these days is so common that no-one is in awe of a superb overtaking manoeuvre (I’m thinking Hakkinen v Schumacher at Spa, Alonso v Schumacher at Suzuka), these no longer occur because drivers know there is a less risky alternative by using the DRS.

Every sport out there demands that the competitors are pushed to the limit. I don't think it is unreasonable for Schumacher to ask this. It keeps the drivers motivated and the best will only succeed. If the drivers are not pushing themselves then how do we determine who the greatest drivers are? It is like the greatest marathon runners walking the 26 miles to see who becomes the Olympic Champion.

The technology is such these days that the cars are reliable. The only component which prevents the cars from performing flat out is the tyres. I want to see drivers perform super human efforts behind the wheel to see the car dancing around and being pushed and overtaking moves which are remembered and not forgotten.

The solution is not easy though, more durable tyres equals potentially less exciting racing for the casual F1 fan and people turn off and the sponsors walk away. It will take someone with an in depth knowledge of how F1 cars work to come up with a solution.


Agree with his comments. F1 has always been about finding the balance between flat out pace and tyre management, however the balance towards tyre management has gone way too far. F1 should be about the fastest drivers, being able to drive flat out in the best motorsport category in the world. Racing in 2012, is about who can drive at 70-80% and nurse their tyres to maximise results. We saw Raikonnen damage his tyres after one passing manouvere on Vettel. That is not pure racing...


Creating a 'show' makes no sense to Pirelli's pockets, because the answer to the question of "would you buy a Pirelli for your car?" is quite obvious after watching just one race.

However, if indeed they are in the business of making ice-cubes for tires to entertain, who am I to question.


Good one. James, perhaps you should have another poll: "Would you consider Pirelli for your next tyres"? Yes/No/Only if they were giving them away.

Then you'll see Paul Hembery really "surprised", instead of treating Schumacher like he's a (dare I say it) cucumber (or perhaps sauerkraut).


I for one am very happy with the tyres this season, this I believe is the reason we have had such good racing so far this season.

The Challenge is fair - all teams have the same tyres to manage

It adds another element to the racing that was missing in the Schumacher era, and was certainly something that you got years ago in the Mansell era and added to the excitement then.

Shu didn't seem to mind the problem in China when his team mate won.

I also don't hear him complaining about the fact the cars can't go flat out anyway because the teams don't fuel their cars for a flat out race - surely this is the same thing


To be honest, I think the ban on refueling is to blame for this.

I loved when it came close to pit stop times that the cars would push like hell to make up time, I really do miss that, and I think F1 does as well.


But in the refueling era pit strategy became key & this moved the racing off the track & into the pits.

Far too often in the refueling era we saw teams passing cars in pit stops rather than on-track & that was dead boring to watch.

If you compare the overtaking stats pre-1994 to post-1994 you see that as soon as refueling came in the number of on-track overtakes plummeted as overtaking was moved from the track to the pits.

I hated the refueling era from day 1 at Brazil 1994, Much prefered what we had before refueling came in, better racing, more overtaking & drivers had far more input on strategy.


Not sure if I agree with that, one event that comes to mind is Hungry 1998 with Schumacher blazing hell for lap after lap.

We will never see that with Pirelli.


prior to refueling coming into f1 in 1994 all the racing & overtaking had to be done on the track. as soon as refueling came in teams started looking at fuel strategy as a better way to try & pass someone so much of the passing was then done via fuel stops & the level of on-track passing decreased massively as a result.

refueling was great if you liked that sort of strategy, however if you wanted proper on-track racing & overtaking the refueling era was terrible to watch.

one example is france 2004, schumacher/alonso fighting for the win with a great on-track fight between them. they both stop for fuel, schumacher goes onto a 4-stop strategy & for the rest of the race neither of them are anywhere near each other on the track, Schumacher pits for the final time & comes out miles ahead.

had there been no refueling we would have seen a great race between the 2 & any pass would have had to happen on track so you would have had schumacher needing to push alonso much harder to find a way past.

all you need do is look at the overtaking stats over at cliptheapex to see just how badly refueling harmed the on-track racing.

every race in 1994 saw a lot less overtaking than any year before & the stats never went back up untill 2010 (when refueling got banned) which saw more on-track overtaking than any year since 1989.


I've got to say, I'm delighted that Michael has spoken out about these tyres.

the racing is a joke. They are driving so slow around the lap just to preserve the tyres and if you push too hard, you take too much life out of the tyres and by the end of your stint your lap times are just gone (happened to Vergne yesterday who set the 2nd fastest lap at the beginning of his last stint and he ended up slower than the HRT!).

It makes no sense this is being allowed james. China was a dull race until Vettel and Kimi's tyres went because you had 6-7 cars all within a second of each other, deliberately not trying to drive too fast incase their tyres went. At least during the 'boring' bridgestone days they were going flat out so if the order didn't change you could say they were pushing like mad , as opposed to 'racing a delta time'.

The other problem with the tyres is simply that they have become the single most important thing. In Australia we had so many cars so close together but that wasn't due to them being within tenths of each other in raw performance, it was due to the tyres being a limiting factor, similarly how Red Bulls pace last year was limiting their actual pace.

I hope you have a chance to read this James (and anyone from the teams, for that matter) because it is clearly becoming the popular feeling across every motorsport forum that these tyres are terrible. Either bring back bridgestone esque tyres with DRS allowed OR bring back similar tyres that will degrade but only after 10-15 hot laps.

Degrading from the moment you put them on is absurd.



Fully agree with the post above.

When a cloud over the circuit causes some cars to slow down and some to speed up you just know something has gone wrong.

Racing nowadays really is a farce. The amount of short shifting is ridiculous, drivers break earlier than they used to and everybody stays on track because nobody is driving on the limit anymore all thanks to the horrible tires. It even looks slow.

Also agree that this is becoming a major feeling across motorsport forums all over the world.


I like what Pirelli has done for the sport with the tyres. Schumi will never change. If things aren't going his way he is not happy and will always try to find someone or something to blame and right now its the tyres and lets not for get he is also not happy with the ban on refueling.

James there is 1 other comment I would like to add on the tyre issue. I would have thought that the FIA would have implemented a rule by now that would force the Q3 cars to run at least 1 hot lap which would put them on the track for 3 laps (installation, hot and cool down). We as fans pay good money either to some kind of cable/satellite company or to buy race tickets, and for us to have to see cars just sitting in the pit garage is not very exciting. If they were given a 5 place grid penalty for not going on track then I think they would change there mind.


I agree, the issue is NOT the tires, but in the rules governing them.

I know it was for cost savings, but teams should have unlimited sets of all tire compounds all race weekend long. So you'd have interested strategies (maybe ever 4-5 stoppers for guys doing 60 quali laps on super-softs versus someone else doing a one-stopping endurance run!)