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Drivers split over the Schumacher inspired debate on what kind of race F1 should be
Posted By: James Allen  |  10 May 2012   |  5:13 pm GMT  |  332 comments

Michael Schumacher said today that he is very pleased to have launched a debate on F1 about what kind of sport we want it to be; one where the drivers push to the limits or one where they have to manage the tyres.

And in the paddock today the other F1 drivers have been giving their views on the discussion. The younger ones, who by and large have limited or no experience of racing on the Bridgestones used up to the end of 2010, say that they are quite happy to race on the current tyres. Others have mixed views with some drivers like Mark Webber on Schumacher’s side and others, like Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso, seeing it as part of a modern F1 which is more entertaining for the fans.

“I just think that they’re playing a much too big effect because they are so peaky and so special that they don’t put our cars or ourselves to the limit,” Schumacher said on the CNN network recently.

“We drive like on raw eggs and I don’t want to stress the tyres at all. Otherwise you just overdo it and you go nowhere.”

Webber agrees with his rival,”Always drivers want to push to the limit, it’s in our DNA, ” said Webber. “THe last couple of years it’s changed. There’s a large element of pacing going on and that’s a new trade for us, at this level. Sometimes it can be a bit frustrating, the engineers can get frustrated with how powerful the tyre can be. We can have phenomenal tyres but the racing might not be as exciting. So depends who wants to do what for the sport.”

There’s no question that the moves made on the rules in the last 18 months have made the races more spectacular with a ten fold increase in overtaking at a track like Barcelona compared to the Bridgestone days. Many fans have had their say on this site and elsewhere and there is strong support for Schumacher’s point of view. But at the same time, F1 is aware that it needs to broaden its appeal and the sport has changed from a series of short sprints, to a spectacle full of uncertainty as drivers are forced to react to the tyres’ performance going off. As Webber says, with tyres that degrade at 0.01s per lap and refuelling, the drivers push to the limits, the fastest car will always win and it’s not much of a race. With the current rules, there are times to push (especially in qualifying and at key stages of the race) and times to conserve. It’s an ideological question of what teams, drivers, fans and administrators want F1 to be.

Vettel said this afternoon, “The racing in the last couple of years, since we changed a couple of things, has become much better. I had a race here where I followed Felipe for 60 laps. Nowadays you know that your chance will come in the race. We get a completely different inside the car from what you see outside the car. You have to look after your tyres more than three years ago. Take 2009, we were allowed to refuel, we had new tyres and they lasted longer with not much degradation, it’s a different quality inside the car because you can push every lap. Now we fuel the cars up, the cars are much heavier, it puts a different stress on the tyres. There’s more overtaking, which I imagine is seen as a better quality from the outside, because things happen.”

Alonso agreed with Vettel.

Some other voices from the drivers are as follows:
Sergio Perez “You have to manage your tyres in the first lap to have a more consistent pace and then after that you can push. I find it okay, I have no problems at all with it.

“Perhaps in Bahrain it was a bit too much. But I think it makes the race more interesting for the team, for the drivers, for everybody. It makes it really great because of how you have to approach the race. I’m happy.

As for this prospects for this weekend’s race in Barcelona he said, “It’s going to be a dramatic race for the tyres. I expect high degradation, but it’s the same for everybody. It’s not easy, you have to adapt all the time to different condition. Yes you want to go flat out but you have to take care of the tyres.”

Romain Grosjean: “I think you know what the deg is before the race and then you have to play with it and adapt yourself. For sure you cannot run at 100% for all of the race and it’s part of the game. The driver has a big influence on the tyre. It’s a lot of work with the engineers to save the tyres and see how you improve yourself and if you can make a difference at the end of the race, then good.”

Daniel Ricciardo: “I don’t know any different, Michael has spent more time here and known different stages. I’ve come in and driven on the Pirellis and I haven’t had a problem with it. I’ve adapted to the situation. I don’t know about driving on raw eggs..but for me I’m driving in F1 and it’s awesome.”

Mercedes CEO Nick Fry observed that one of his drivers doesn’t like the Pirelli way, while the other one, Nico Rosberg, welcomes the opportunity to do a better job with the tyres than his rivals. This debate over tyres, he said, “Is a question for the teams and the organisers to answer and we support Michael on having a strong point of view on this. It may not be a point of view that other drivers share, but it is a perfectly valid and intelligent point of view.”

For all the latest news from the F1 paddock in Barcelona including reaction to the debate on F1’s direction, go to http://connect.jamesallenonf1.com/f1-news

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Isn’t it wrong that the emphasis has now been placed on the skill of finding the limit of the tyre and staying within it, while the skill of overtaking has been viewed to be less important and thus the introduction of DRS to make it easy for all to pass?

Overtaking was always possible, its just that drivers like Hamilton were head and shoulders above the rest. Just look at his moves on bridgestones tyres.

For the premier motorsport racing I would have thought the overtaking skill is greater than that of tyre conservation and be put on the pedestal, yet it is overtaking being dumbed down so allows drivers like Hamilton have lost a string to their bow while tyre conservation skill is championed like there is no tomorrow.

Tristian Trigg

On the subject of tyres, it occurred to me recently that Schumacher’s odd description on their being like “driving on raw eggs” is a translation error on his part. He means driving on egg shells, I think – he has obviously half-remembered that English expression and got it slightly wrong, which is rather endearing. I say that, because I was frustrated at trying to imagine what driving on raw eggs meant…sticky? slidy? squelchy? – it could mean any of these, at two least two of which are mutually exclusive.


Having just watched the “joke” that was called qualifying 3 for Spain, it has to be obvious to everybody that Michaels comments are spot on. More than half of the top ten sat out qually 3 in order to save tres for the race. What about all the dissapointed fans who bought tickets to the qualifying and only got qually 1 and 2? I hope nobody goes to quallifying for the next GP to show the organisers how wrong they are with the tyre rules. Personally I want to see the best driver of the day win, not the team with the most sets of new tyres available. I would like to see a race, not a lottery.


Well said! I simply can’t understand how anyone can like this “dumbing down” of the pinnacle of motorsport? I’ve watched F1 for over 30 years and this is the absolute worst I have ever seen it: i) Qualifying: We have qualifying where qualifying doesn’t really matter and top talent stays in the pits to save their tires for the race. Let me say that again – saving tires and not going out to qualify! Why don’t they just draw straws so they can “spice up the show” even further? I’ll take the Hakkinen/Schumacher battles with limited laps any day! ii) Tire Management: to suggest Schumacher doesn’t get it is ridiculous – Michael has competed and won at every level in motorsport and in different eras in F1 with different equipment and knows a thing or two about tires. What he is saying is that this is no longer racing when tires are the only determining factor on who wins and there is no real wheel to wheel combat anymore – for those that deny that this is the case and have a chance to replay that “snooze fest” of a race in Spain today there is was not one comment (not one) from the drivers, teams or commentators that did not involve Pirelli tires (I especially like this one – ‘you need to back off your pace to save your tires’-especially in an era where they are not exactly setting lap records). I must have heard “Tire management’ from Coulthard’s voice 30 times” – this is sad! I say this not only for Schumacher’s sake but for the handful of truly great drivers in the sport that are being allowed to deliver results that are representative of their talents and natural abilities – today for instance – Alonso was denied. Does anyone actually think Maldonado would ever win unless the lottery ended up in his favour today? Is Kimi’s demise in China really the kind of thing people want to see? How about Nico today?Tire preservation has always been there in the sport but was only a key factor when drivers were pushing hard (often late in a race not after 10 laps into a tire’s life) and had to decide whether to risk pitting or not. That’s real strategy, not what we have today where teams actually don’t race but think about ways to maximize their chance of winning the lottery. Sorry – this is not sport. Formula 1 has been around for a long time and has the largest global viewing audience outside of the Olympics and World Cup soccer – the “show” was pretty great if you ask me. Those of us who have followed it for a long time want to see the finest racing car manufacturers, engineers and drivers fight it out with the finest technologies and talent – we’re not interested in a documentary about tires.


Correction – there was a typo on my post: “handful of great drivers in the sport that are NOT being allowed to….


Watching GP2 at Barcelona and the top 3 battle, it’s not immediately obvious to be the tyres are in a good place. Sure, there are some overtakes further down the pecking order, but the top 3 guys are ruining their tyres running close to eachother and consequently removing any chance of an overtake.

The rule change of 2008 was made to increase close-quarter racing. The tyres of 2011 improved overtaking but the 2012 tyres has completely ruined close quarter racing.


I think its just that shumi liked way more front end grip than the current tyres give i.e not much understeer . And he just has to face up the fact that is no longer the a F1 car is anymore.


I hope it stay as it is.

Teams/drivers just need to adapt.

I am enjoying this season!


Bring back points for the fastest lap during the race. At least then, there would be compensation for having a go to catch someone and the tyres dropping away.


barcelona pretty much confirms just how bad this tire situation has become.


I still think the best thing to do is simply take tyre regulations back to what they used to be.

Bring all dry tyre compounds to each race, Have the hardest set able to go the full race without stopping & have the 3 softer compounds wear at different levels from there.

Remove the mandatory pit stop rule & the rule forcing drivers to start on the tyres they qualified on.

If a driver wants to run the race on hards, Let them & if a driver wants to run one of the softer compounds & stop a few times then let them.

The tyre rules Prior to 1994/refueling produced some great races, some great racing & teams/drivers had not only more strategy options but also a lot more freedom to run the races how they wanted to.

Mike from Medellin, Colombia

James, why did the FIA chose to go down the DRS route as opposed to looking at track design?

There seems to be little pressure on tracks to improve overtaking opportunities on areas other than the long straights.

For years fans moaned about track design and it seemed like at some stage the issue was going to be addressed.

Now that we have DRS that issue seems to have fallen by the wayside.

I for one, would really like to see proper overtaking in non DRS zones. Only track design will help to solve this.


Teams advised it. FIA hasn’t much control over tracks apart from safety aspect


EUREKA! I have the solution….after watching some really good DTM, I think they’re ‘pitstop window’ is the answer to all this. Tyres that you can push to the limit…no stupid discarded rubber on track….two mandatory pitstops per race….racers happy, viewers happy.

your welcome 🙂


Mandatory pit stop windows was tried in Champcar & it completely destroyed the racing.

Fans hated it, Drivers hated it & teams hated it so after 2 years the pit windows were dropped.

Even in DTM the racing has suffered since the pit windows were introduced & most fans would rather they be dropped & have been arguing this for the past few seasons./


Watched a review of the 2005 season on Sky last night. Plenty of genuine overtaking and hard racing. Much more entertaining. Talking of Sky, I’m beginning to think that I should not have bothered signing up for it this year if the whole season is just about preserving the tyres.

Even today after practise, teams and drivers are talking about nothing but tyres. This is not what most fans want to see or constantly hear about judging from all the support Schumacher has had after is comments. Vettel was very diplomatic with his comments, but having watched and listened to him at the drivers press conference yesterday I got the impression he would actually prefer more durable tyres.

Who are the “new generation “of viewers that everyone talks about attracting with this new false and contrived F1. I can only assume that it’s those that follow all the garbage “X” Factor type of shows.


I’ve kind of thought that was the trade off to bring in more money/viewers into the sport – aiming for less informed (or should that be less interested in becoming a genuinely knowledgeable fan), lower attention spans, higher requirements of quick fix TV and nuance-free competition. It now has to be entertaining to the masses, not to just the F1 cognoscienti. New ‘viewers’ are sought, not ‘new fans created’. Simply because the economics of today point to a far bleaker future without these people to spend their time and money (via pay TV and acoutrements). This leads to a less important and less technical sport that just has to fill its timeslot with enough effectiveness to make the Pay TV package the punter buys seem of value. There’s also the issue of BE squeezing the utmost out of events organisers per interation, forcing them to raise entry prices, and be otherwise very creative on how to recoup that spend on the event; each successful recoup just makes BE up the cost again to push the breaking point further, with the threat of taking it somewhere else that will gladly pay this amount for it if they don’t comply. Sounds a lot like the workplace enterprise agreement negotiations I’ve experienced over the years – they are rarely set by the employer as anything than exploitative, with union negotiation winding back the truly unreasonable…

How it’s fixed economically though, is beyond me, I feel. It’s a big big spend sport, in times when we can’t really afford the sort of spending on a sport that it demands. But the tech derived from it can’t be dismissed either…

Anyway. Does anyone else feel the tyres are now taking too much focus in the sport’s reporting and general talking points? Doesn’t that suggest it’s an element that is too heavily biased in its affect on the races? Maybe time to shift on some of the rules regarding them, at least as trial ideas. Being able to run all one compound, or even being allowed to run options at front, primes at rear? I’ve also noticed that processional racing and tyres are starting to become talking points in MotoGP too. These are tough times in the premier racing competitions…

James Showalter

I have to laugh at Schumacher’s comments. His idea of racing at the limit is in a car with so many pass-defying aerodynamic winglets on it, with traction control, with tires that will last practically an entire race — in other words, with a car designed to be raced against the clock and not competitors — that it isn’t racing. Senna was appalled at traction control, stating very simply that it’s not racing. I watch videos of F1 in the late ’50s and through the ’60s, the most dangerous era in the history of the sport, and see drivers pushing themselves to the limit while “driving on raw eggs” and PASSING EACH OTHER, and wonder why oh why can’t we have at least some of that sport back — safer, yes, but exciting and full of drivers who would rather compete than whine.


I don’t think this is as black and white as many people seem to treat it.

It’s true that races had become processional, and I do think that Schumacher is going to be the most frustrated of anybody, as he can’t constantly test or have special tyres made for his car that are unavailable to everyone else like he did in his Ferarri days (see Gary Anderson’s blog on BBC about Schumacher’s comments for info the special tyres).

But, I do think that things have gone too far the other way. The racing has become artificial, and winning is now somewhat of a lottery. I think Pirelli should be commended for delivering exactly what they were asked for, but that the FIA should ask them to improve the degradation slightly. Not to the extent of the last Bridgestone’s, but enough to give anyone on old tyres a fighting chance.

I’m no expert, but as I understand it, the problem with overtaking in F1 for the past couple of decades has always been the reliance on aero, and the lack of grip a car experiences when travelling close behind another car. DRS has levelled this out somewhat, it means if they can get close enough, they get an advantage that evens out the loss of aero over the lap.

Maybe someone can explain it to me, but I simply don’t understand the FIA’s decision to narrow the tyres for the 2010 season when trying to increase overtaking. Surely they should be increasing the mechanical grip available, and decreasing the reliance on aerodynamic grip to improve real racing?

I also don’t understand it in the context of the FIA’s constant argument of needing to be relevant to the automotive industry. They banned innovations like reactive suspension which are very relevant to the automotive industry, and allow irrelevant innovations like the blown front wing, or create completely irrelevant technology like DRS!


I think the FIA stops some of these developments due to the cost of developing and implementing the newest, latest idea by all the teams. Non implementation renders you uncompetitative, thus, forces you to spend to implement. In better economic times and much higher funding throughout the paddock, these ideas may not be so restricted.


Qualifying is the best place to see someone go flat out. If the tires are like this, introducing a point or five for taking pole will change the conservative approach to Q3. It’d also reward a driver for dominating the entire weekend.


Drivers and teams have been very reluctant to preserve tyres in the Qualy process up till now, but I’m guessing this is about to change and may cause even more talk. I must admit I was surprised more drivers/teams didn’t take Webber’s 18th to 3rd result at that China race in the past more seriously as an alternative…


Bring all Pirelli compounds to all races. Get rid of the two tire compounds and quali tire rules.

Let those who want to 1 stop on hards do it; and those who want to 4 stop on super-softs do it as well.

No one would complain, and we would have amazing racing, on Pirellis.


I fully agree with Michael Schumacher.

Give all the teams hard wearing tyres to race and allow the best driver/car combination to do their best while speeding and in overtaking – possibly wasting their tyres – which would eventually lead to tyre changes at different times for different teams when required.

The current situation (with stupid rules i.e. that certain types of tyres must be used at every race) makes no sense.

I am certainly not impressed with all the current “artificial” over-takings through DRS, etc we see. It might work for Bernie’s TV interests, but not for me as a long-time supporter of F1.

Please allow the best teams and drivers in F1 to surface again.


I am not a technical expert but surely more durable Pirellis where drivers can push together with kers and drs will be more exciting for both fans and drivers.


I seem to remember around 1998/1999 Damon Hill saying he struggled to ever get to grips with the grooved tyres introduced around that time and Schumacher pointed out to Damon that as drivers get older they struggle to adapt to new things and that accounted for Hill’s problems… top be fair, probably true.

However now the shoe is on the other foot he’s the old driver criticizing the tyres rather than realising he’s not adapting as well as the very younger drivers who as the article points out see no problem. Also too the ‘benchmark’ drivers Alonso & Vettel have no problem. Why? Because they are good enough and young enough to adapt, as schumacher was able to 13/14 years ago, but no longer can.


Cant understand why its taken so long for this debate to happen. If people want a lottery, go watch something else, tyres are ruining the sport, bring back racing.I want to see the fastest win, not the best at managing tires. Pit stops were changed to stop a series of short sprints, now we have a series of short tyre management sessions.


Give them some proper tyres and DRS and KERS will take care of the rest. We dont want raw eggs!!

The people here who are in fear of races w/o overtaking are forgetting that we already have KERS and DRS


Hear , hear. Exactly what I said on other posts.


On a somewhat unrelated note, DRS should be allowed to be used anytime anywhere on the track during the race. There would be some drivers being too greedy with it and falling off the track. There would be some drivers not so daring and they would lose time. I think it would make a lot more action packed and less predictable races (not that the races this season so far have been predictable). Just a thought.


F1 has been dumbed down and is no longer a meritocracy for the fastest racers. The tyres are a leveller of talent. Tyre management has always been a skill to varing degrees, but not to this absurd level. Tyres “falling off a cliff”, is akin to Wacky races and Mario Kart, rolled into one. The public have gotten things backwards as usual. F1 is a sport 1st and entertainment 2nd.

Post 2010 and the introduction of Pirelli, we have been subjected to a x7 increase in overtakes and minus the wet races, how many of these races could be described as a classic? The answer is none.


Tough one as we all want to see drivers push themselves and their cars to the limit, but yet we all want to see great passing and races where with 20 laps to go it is anyone’s race. Qualifying for me is the best example of where teams and drivers throw everything they have to get pole (Senna’s 1988 Monaco qualifying lap a great example of a driver pushing it to the limit) but even that has become watered down with teams getting into the final round and then not bothering to go out to save a set of tyres.

The races this year from what I have seen has been great fun with lots of different teams mixing it up (a Sauber chasing down a Ferrari for a win would never have happened back in Schumacher’s heyday). My point I rarely think Formula 1 will ever get the mix for a perfect season done right (when Schumacher cruised to titles people moaned on his personal attack all you want tyres cos you have 12 sets more in the pits plus any you want from your teammate). So best to enjoy what we have.


Schumi is bang on the money

he said that, nowadays, you could only go to 60-70% of your/the car’s limit

which, frankly, is ridiculous

it’s like forcing a marathon runner to become a “race walker” (also an Olympic discipline)

you build in artificial obstacles/variables and see how the competitors fare

you could also take the 100 meters SPRINT and decide to make it less predictable by giving the runners a choice of JOGGING shoes, holding the race on GRASS and green-lighting the event under ALL weather conditions (so that, with some bad-luck, they would effectively run on the muddy green)

all of which, would make the race LESS PREDICTABLE, and make Usain Bolt wonder whether reaching the FASTEST humanly possible TIME was still the main goal

what we now have makes it IMPOSSIBLE to ascertain who is the fastest driver in the world / on race day

it’s heaven for F1 journalists though, because ordinary fans like us can no longer understand what happened without endless “behind-the-scenes” info

let’s hope that by the end of the season, we will have had 10+ different winners

in which case, everybody would see that winning is completely detached from the drivers’ raw speed

incidentally, it’s hardly a surprise that the YOUNG drivers like it the way it is

in the olden days, the top driver in the top car would dominate races or battle them out with his chief rival

nowadays, MANY drivers (even merely decent ones) have a shot at glory in inferior cars, IF everything just happens to go right with the tires

you might as well watch a dice rolling competition

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