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Tyres dominate Formula 1 agenda ahead of Monaco Grand Prix
Posted By: James Allen  |  23 May 2013   |  12:08 am GMT  |  178 comments

This year’s tyres remained a big talking point in the Monaco paddock on Wednesday, with Fernando Alonso suggesting Red Bull’s criticism of Pirelli was a result of them not being able to handle defeat.

Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel defended his team, insisting that the reigning world champions were not the only ones to be unhappy about the aggressive tyres while his team-mate Mark Webber said Formula 1 needs to have a think about where it’s headed.

Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton said that it’s wrong for a driver to be able to start second but drop back and end up getting lapped – as he did in Spain – because of fast degrading tyres.

After the Spanish Grand Prix, Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz said F1 was “not racing any more” because the focus was on managing the tyres through the race rather than pushing to the limit. Red Bull have not been able to exploit the full potential of the car because of that.

But Alonso said: “Barcelona was a good race, not so good for some of our competitors. Some of these competitors claim they have a super car but the last three pole positions were for another car when the tyres are new. When you win too easily for some years, it’s difficult to lose some races.”

However Vettel, who leads the drivers’ standings while his Red Bull team head the constructors’ championship, says it is not only his team who are unhappy with the tyres.

Vettel said: “It is because [between] quoting Red Bull or quoting Marussia, you guys prefer to quote Red Bull. So it looks like we are complaining. But I think generally, I hear the drivers’ voices in the meetings we have together.

“Even if you pinpoint Lotus and say they have the best car for these tyres and these conditions, still their drivers complain. They have the same problem as us, just to a lesser extent. That doesn’t mean no-one else is complaining.

“If you compare some overtaking in the past to now, waving people past to save tyres and do your own race as fast as you can, that’s not the idea of racing.”

Webber added: “I don’t think there is anyone who is comfortable with these tyres. Fernando passing Kimi for the lead of the Spanish Grand Prix wasn’t much of an event; Sebastian and Fernando racing each other in Shanghai wasn’t either.

“We have to find a better balance for the fans and the drivers, because at the moment I think we’re too far the other way.”

Hamilton said: “I definitely don’t think you should be able to be second on the grid [as Hamilton was in Spain] and then get lapped. But that’s the name of the game at the moment. The tyres are controlling everyone and making it really hard to control.”

Pirelli are making changes to the structure of the tyre before next month’s Canadian Grand Prix. The teams met with the Italian manufacturer on Wednesday afternoon to learn more about the scope of the changes, but it seems they will not be extensive.

The Lotus, along with the Ferrari, is very good on its tyres, and Kimi Raikkonen remains hopeful the changes won’t affect his team too much.

The Finn said: “The fairest way would be to keep the same [tyres], but there is a lot of pressure to do something. They did some changes [before] and they didn’t really affect us. I don’t think it is going to make a lot of difference whatever [changes] they make, but I might be wrong.

“I am sure we are not going to start complaining if we are going to have some issues. If they make stronger rear tyres then we could go faster, and it could help us. I don’t really see that it suddenly makes one car faster than the others.”

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colin grayson

keep hearing about a new tyre contract for next year , but who has to approve the contract and who actually places the contract ?


Pirelli are doing a fantastic job, dont change a thing, let the engineers do what there paid to do, find a solution!

Monaco is the ultimate one lap track, the real race is Saturday, let the top ten battle begin.

Redbull and Seb might have except the reality that the other teams have caught and bettered thier car this year.

The Mercs are choosing a pr setup! Its working, were all buying it.


It amazes me how Pirelli wish to remain in the sport considering the potential damage this could do to their brand. They are simply following orders to make tyres wear faster yet this seems at odds to a tyre manufacturers sole purpose. Bridgestone and Michelin to an extent, before the US GP debacle, enjoyed success in its F1 association with no real limitations on tyre wear..the longer lasting the better. Pirelli on the other hand will go down in history during this period as making tyres that last only a few laps in some cases. F1 headlines are now about tyres rather than drivers and teams and so the negativity in the sport is firmly pointed at Pirelli.

How long will they put up with F1’s ongoing experiment into TV Entertainment as a sole focus rather than driver or team achievement?

Regarding Pirellim, their recent financial results from 2012 show positive growth in sales and it appears F1 is not hurting them yet but it will be interesting to see how this situation develops.


I think that is the point that everyone is missing here. The tire drama this season is a product of Pirelli doing what FIA/FOM have asked them to do. All the teams are using the same rubber and some have figured it out while others have not.

I wouldn’t blame Pirelli if they simply dropped out of F1. They make superb road tires and could produce F1 tires with any characteristics that the series asked for. They have done just that and gotten nothing but grief in return, which has probably hurt their reputation in the long run. It would be in their best interest to walk away and never look back on the sport which has treated them so badly.


I don’t know what the fuss is about. In earlier times winning was about managing the brakes and the gearbox to last the distance, now it’s about managing the tires. All the teams have the same rule book. Some designed better cars than others. They will win. Same as it has always been.

Gavin Pendergrast

The tyre situation has been created out of F1’s desire to get people watching on TV. I haven’t heard any of the teams comment on the fact that they get a big chunk of money from F1’s profits which is directly connected to TV viewers.

What F1 needs is the equivalent to the short skirt in tennis. Makes the viewing more pleasurable but not at the cost of competition.

That said, I believe that with the current crop of drivers you do not need to create artificial racing. If tyres were more durable and consistent it would make for closer racing but maybe not quite as crazy.

Yes the cream rises to the top and it always will but it would be better if the cream was racing wheel to wheel rather than racing their delta time & ending up wherever the simulation puts them.

I would like to see the driver having more control over his or her destiny on the race track. Give them tyres that are durable and have a rule that states no team radio after the lights go out. That would make for great racing. Maybe create pit windows but the pitting decision is made by the driver. This would keep drivers in close proximity and give them the tools to go full bore for the whole race with only themselves to control.

This wouldn’t dilute the engineering aspect as the team still needs to provide the driver with a good car but it will reduce the effect the teams have on strategy.


Please, oh, please, FIA, teams – drop Pirelli for next season.

Please choose some proven manufacturer… Bridgestone… Michelin… Goodyear…

I really do hope this happens. I just can’t stand Hembry’s moaning and actually awful tyres anymore. If someone finds them “great for racing”, I don’t. I’ve been watching F1 for quite a long time and in my mind such “spectacle” is the worst that could have happened to F1. What irritates me the most that Pirelli promised “not to change tyres much” for 2013… but it turns out they lied.


They do have a tendency on reversing what they said in the past.

i.e. when Pirelli first joined, they said 18″ rims must be on the agenda for 2012 or 13. Not long ago, Pirelli said F1 has to ask for them.



Really? So you’re saying that instead of getting in F1 to promote its own brand, as a maker of high-performance tyres, Pirelli instead decided to become the laughing stock of the tyre industry, by conspiring to help a compatriot team?

(p.s.: the alterators that failed in the Renault engines last year, in the backs of RBR and Lotus, were also made by an Italian company… J’ACCUSE!)


What I’d like to know is, the rule says the FIA provides the spec by whatever month the year before, and that from there it can’t change unless all the teams agree to it.

So what spec are the FIA providing? Coz I don’t imagine they’re actually designing the tyres and just getting Pirelli to manufacture them to that spec.

I would have thought they’d provide a spec in terms of what they want Pirelli to achieve with the tyres. In which case Pirelli changing the construction and compounds now wouldn’t necessarily be changing the spec, because they hadn’t necessarily met the spec in the first place. They’d be changing the tyres so that they DID meet the spec provided by the FIA.

Otherwise… I’d have to wonder why everyone’s having a go at Pirelli about the tyres, when it would seem it’s all the doing of the FIA, and Pirelli are just the puppets who make them (and then cop all the heat for it).


Or alternatively, the FIA provided a set of specifications for Pirelli to meet, Pirelli actually achieved what was asked of them, but the results are rubbish. In which case changing the tyres would be changing the spec. But if that’s the case… again, you can’t really have a go at Pirelli then. They achieved what they were told to do, and it’s the FIAs fault for giving them rubbish specifications.


Okay, here we go. New rules for 2016. Car must fit inside this box. Four tire types available anytime and in unlimited quantity. Full ERS, DRS anytime anywhere and refueling allowed. No restrictions on power units or driver aids.

New problem – One (1) driver killed at least twice a year. There is a fine balance between racing and reason.




I have advocated this for years.

As to driver injuries, a sad factor, but for me motor racing has always been a gladitatorial sport, rewardinging those willing (or stupid) enough to go closer to the edge. The deaths do not automatically follow if the same safty cell and crash tesyt rules apply


I thought the “Italian tyre manufacturer” were supplying tyres (the SAME tyres) to all teams. Are you saying that Ferrari (and Lotus) have different tyres???

Fact (like it or not): Alonso with a REALLY bad car can fight for victories. Vettel on a very good car (not the perfect car he had) cannot. I’m an Alonso fan, but I wouldn’t like to see Ferrari with a perfect car. Would be BORING!!!


Well even with the tyre woes hes beating Alonso who has a good car so whats your point?

Too much is being made of 2012 forgetting Alonso had a 44pt lead over Vettel mid way through the season.


Just in case you didn’t notice, Alonso had problems in two races, one crash (his fault) and a DRS problem. And by the way…. If he (VET) is leading the season, why he is moaning that much???


Think back to the 2012 situation and you’ve answered your own question mate.


Some engineers got it right, some got it wrong. Such is F1. It has always been an engineering sport first, and a driver sport second. That is why I became a fan in the first place. The team that is now Mercedes have had tire issues for as long as I can remember. Perhaps it stems from some of Button’s input as he always had issues getting heat into the tires.


Think now that it is clear Pirelli are changing only the rear and changing the steel belt for a kevlar one which reduces temp by 10 degrees so its good news for Merc and not for RedBull who have issues with Front tyre.

I doubt this change will affect too much the racing we have seen this year and I’ll say it now, it won’t change the order at the front


The 2013 spec tyres are an integral component of the ‘Formula’ in Formula 1 this season. For better or for worse, it should be accepted that this is indeed the case and that no major changes are made. 2014 is a clean slate where they can make the desired changes, but not a quarter of the way through 2013 when every team knew what to expect and had to design their cars accordingly. Period.


Yup, but the teams have to tell Pirelli what they want the 2014 tyres to be like. And they need to do so NOW, so that on September 1st Pirelli will announce what it will do…

…except Pirelli won’t have a car to test these tyres with, so really, they will have even less to go on than they did at the end of last year.

In other words, that clean slate might not be all that great… and it won’t be Pirelli’s fault, either. But that’s assuming they actually stay on for 2014.


Can someone correct an assumption of mine…I thought the tyres were the same front to rear. In the past I knew the rear tyres were larger but in modern times they look to be equal to me. So I just assumed they were…which was stupid of me. I would also like to know if the compounds are different. If I understand RAI correctly, then the construction is different as well. It seems I have to read the regs more closely, but I would like to ask a final question. is it against the rules to mix the tyre types front to rear? Supersofts on front, softs at rear, for example?


It’s rather stupid that people say this driver won or that driver lost this year or 3 years ago.. It’s a non argument because the tyres are the same for everyone 1st place 12th or 22nd. The only thing us fans have to ask is .. “Do we want to see this type of racing ” -where you can only fight wheel to wheel for a few corners or not at all if your strategy does not permit it. I didn’t even want it last year, that said its not sporting or right to change rules mid year and I don’t care what rule it is.. If a team sets its car up a way that beats others good luck to them – the rules can change in the off season where all the teams have time to apply whatever limited resources they have to the challenge.

You hear the trumped up card of tyre delaminations at the last few races but “blind Freddy” could have told you that it would happen at Bahrain when that front wing broke off a Sauber and the stewards did not call a safety car. If the same cars keep shredding tyres well its a safe bet they did something wrong when nobody else does it. That said.. If their is any safety concern whatsoever – I believe Pirelli are addressing it correctly by improving the structure – if indeed that’s all that happens – now there will be conspiracy theories if teams say “.. Oh the tyres are totally different”

What’s really interesting is that Raikkonen mentioned “.. If they make stronger rear tyres ” – Is that the case James ?

I don’t see why you would have 2 structurally different tyres on the same car and suggests its only a quick fix for 2 certain teams that can’t manage the rears… Completely unsporting !


Has Alonso forgotten he was also one of the ones criticising the tyres after his Spanish win? Surely Ferrari don’t suffer from short memories too?



Lotus has the knowledge of the tyre, I mean Pirelli use their car for tests. Four year old or not they know the features of those Tyres.



That should definitely give them a bit of an advantage.


Did no-one else see this article on the bbc? It says that the FIA stepped in and have stopped Pirelli changing the degradation of the tyres.


Yep, posted a few days ago


Just noticed that the Monaco GP isn’t going to be live on BBC. What happened?


i know its my favourite gp,never missed one want shooting,there is no race like Monaco its the jewel in the crown. highlites are not the same.

so i guess its radio 5 live for another race. the commentator is quite good.

am coming round to suzi perry but i do miss jake and eddys double act.


THey had a choice between Monaco and Canada and the latter is in a prime time evening slot UK time so bigger audience etc

Tornillo Amarillo

In Canada always something entertaining happens!


Gotcha – thanks!


Kind of messes with Bernie’s manipulation of time zones around the world to always have F1 events in the afternoon in Europe.


F1’s face is ‘disfigured’at the moment.

Qualy bares no resemblance to race.

Half of the face is Mona Lisa, the other the Stig.

Soon we’ll really have no reason to watch or even worry about qualifying.


Remember when people suggested reverse grids, to spice up racing? We’re nearly there, aren’t we..?


Those of you so strongly judging RBR just make me laugh. Just shows how easy it is in these days of internet forums and blogs to vent your disrespectful opinion.

When you win you get more friends, but you also get more enemies. And to hate something and being negative is so much more popular these times.

For those unwilling to see, they already complained about the tires at the first testdays. So long before any race was driven and any points were given. Even after Bahrain.

And Ferrari and Lotus having built a car to suit these tires is just BS. Pirelli designed these tires so that cars with lots of downforce would have a disadvantage. To level the competion. Because by the end of last year most teams already adapted to the tires they went even more extreme with this years tires.

RBR just complains because they genuinely feel that F1 should not run on these tires.

Is that not allowed????? But no, this is all because they are not winning. Do people really think that RBR with Newey can not adept to these tires so they try to get the rules changed already before the season? So short sighted.

Vettel already said many times that they just need to make their car easier on the tires. So they don’t complain about it being about other teams being better then them but solely the fact that F1 should not drive on these kind of tires.

Alonso’s comments I don’t take very serious either. He is smart enough to know that these tires will give him a much greater change to become WDC so he has no reason to complain.

As also Raikkonen knows.

And so you know, I am not a RBR/Vettel fan and not a hater either. For me Alonso, Raikkonen, Vettel, Hamilton are the best drivers on the grid and differences between them are minimal. With some other drivers following close.


So in short, you’re saying that there is an F1-wide conspiracy against RBR, spearheaded by Pirelli?

I see what you mean, what you say is not an example of “venting a disrespectful opinion” at all!


Well I don’t see how my comment is disrespectful at all.

Hembery said ““Unless you all want us to give Red Bull the tyres to win the championship. It’s pretty clear. If we did that, there would be one team that would benefit and it would be them.”

So they know exactly how cars will react to their tires. No conspiracy but they know exactly to make things more equal.

But my post is mostly to point out that Red Bull is more complaining about the tires not being good for F1 then not being good for RBR.

And people just talking bad about RB because they say it’s only because they are not winning.

When you complain before the start of the new season (already before testing) and still after the 1-2 finish in Bahrain and leading the WDC and WCC then they are not complaining because they are not winning but because they genuinely feel that F1 should not drive on tires, where drivers can’t fight for position, just to preserve tires.

Pirelli admitted after Spain that they had gone to far. So to some extend justifying Red Bulls complaints about these tires and F1 racing.

I don’t think its Pirelli’s fault, they just did what they were asked to do when they entered F1.

PS. How long before we get F1 hooligans??…


You wrote: “Pirelli designed these tires so that cars with lots of downforce would have a disadvantage.” At best, this implies that Pirelli targeted RBR, hence why I used the word ‘conspiracy’.

As for F1 hooligans… I almost wish this was possible, but the sport is way too ‘middle-class’ (in the British sense of the term) for that..! Maybe when we see vuvuzelas in Wimbledon?


Good comment Andre!


My opinion is still the same. It IS POSSIBLE to build a car that is able to work with these tyres and it is possible to have racing. I filter this PR from teams and I hope Pirelli will not make significant changes and that the packing order will not change at all. Let teams think harder and get on top of the situation. I have faith that they can do it and that several races from now, they will learn how to manage.

Mercedes has build a car in a way that is heating tyres super fast for a fast qualifying lap, but is is overheating tyres for the race. It was the same last year – they were good in quick laps and cold conditions but always moved backwards in the race. Lotus is the other way around, they progress during the race. So IT IS POSSIBLE, just requires a different approach and this is what teams should do.


Kimi never complained about the tyres, Kimi even said that the tyres aren’t that much diffrent from last year. Lotus got it right, Red Bull got it wrong, so stop complaining and learn to be a good loser, instead of a bad winner.


Alonso in March 2011:

“From what we have seen so far, degradation is very significant, which means we will have races with lots of pit-stops,” the Spaniard commented.

“I’m not keen on that because I think this increased uncertainty does not favour the strongest teams; it’s as if in football it was decided to have a penalty per team each half hour – in which case Barcelona and Real Madrid would not be jumping for joy.”

So when he wasnt winning he was against soft tyres and many pitstops. Now he is for it. Lol.


It was an opinion voiced, but I never remember him or Ferrari lobbying for the softest tyres at every race, they just accepted they had to work harder


Here we go again, these drivers won’t stop eh?

i want to comment on each driver and what he said.

first of all, Alonso: i feel like this is mind games from alonso’s part, trying to upset redbull by criticizing them. BUT, everyone who doesn’t cheer for redbull or mercedes and who doesn’t think pirelli should change the tires dramatically, this is EXACTLY how im feeling. Sorry redbull, you cant extract the speed out of your car, because other cars can. try harder next year…

Second, Hamilton:

I feel like hamilton is loosing it, he thought yeah im doing well so far in the beginning of the season and i have a shot at the championship and now hes realizing hell no. How come he doesn’t think that the fact that him and rosberg are locking the front row is not because they are superheroes, its because there is something fundamentally wrong with this mercedes car, overheating the car on one lap, thus allowing them to take the pole. come race day, car is full of fuel, hard on its tires and they just go backwards. just because you are on pole, it doesnt mean its WRONG for you to be lapped end of the race. If your car is slow, your car is slow and You will not win. I’m sorry its embarrassing for you and your team, but that’s how it is at the momment. What hamilton is saying doesnt make sense.

Third, Webber: I agree with webber about how the cars seem slower this year..BUT, what he fails to realize is that this problem doesnt go away by lobbying pirelli to make the tires suit the ” fast cars” more. this is a trend in F1, look at the different eras of F1 and you realize that the FIA is trying to make the cars slower and slower. Mind you, this year’s cars are not slower than last year by a webber’s argument doesn’t make sense. this year there is NO exhaust technology, degrading tires and still the cars are not that far off. so im not sure webber is being totally honest here.

Finally, Vettel: this kid makes me laugh. hes so frustrated hes saying all the teams are complaining. yes, they might be complaining to each other, because all the teams want to go faster but they are not saying f1 is not a sport anymore to the media and criticizing pirelli on tv channels and websites. Come on, what your saying doesnt make any sense. Im glad people are criticizing Redbull, because they should. Don’t act like your team is an angel, people are criticizing because you and your team’s behaviour is ridiculous. Since day 1 of the championship, since you saw you cant get those numbers from the computer on track, you have been criticizing pirelli. and now your saying everyone is complaining? NO.

my final thought, yes we all want to see fast cars fighting to the maximum, going at the ultimate speed, but maybe we got used to that during the recent era of F1. F1 hasn’t always been this way, we need to think about that. Mechanical failures are rare these days, there is no variable here except aerodynamics which if you ask me, is the real enemy of F1. too much aero make fast cars but boring races. Im glad these pirelli tires are rewarding cars with good mechanical grip, because that brings good racing and allows us to see great battles. Older f1 cars all had less aero than now, but great mechanical grip. if something needs to be changed about f1, THIS should be changed. watch some old races from 2000 and onwards you will realize yes the cars are faster, they even look faster on the track. but, the races were boring…watching a clip from recent years,a race showing some battle between two drivers is different than watching the whole racing where little or no overtaking is happening. in terms of overtaking, those races are boring.

everything ive said is of my opinion, and my opinion only.



Your point about mechanical grip, that people forget, applies to wet races too.

How many times have we heard about how a wet qualifying session or race has enlivened proceedings.

Bernie in the past has suggested artificially wetting the track as it makes for better racing, whilst I wouldn’t go that far, I do understand the sentiment.

No doubt, Red Bull would complain about the water being used..

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