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Pirelli open to changing tyre choices if too conservative this year
Posted By: James Allen  |  15 May 2014   |  3:50 pm GMT  |  182 comments

Pirelli motorsport boss Paul Hambery has said that Pirelli did the right thing in bringing conservative tyre choices for the start of 2014, but says that they may relax this as the year goes on and predicts that the 2014 cars will soon be faster than 2013 cars in many venues.

At this stage last year Pirelli were at the centre of the story in F1, with some tyre failures which culminated in the multiple failures at Silverstone and the change of tyre specification mid season.

This year it’s been quiet on the tyre front as the focus has been on the new hybrid turbo engines, the noise they make and their effect on the racing, which is only just being evaluated now.

The four compounds are set for the year. Hembery has said this week that while the tyres have generally performed robustly, with one stop less at most venues than last season and two stops less in Spain, the company is open to bringing less conservative tyres at future races. Many teams would welcome this as they are struggling to get optimum grip from the tyres at the moment.

“Maybe sometimes we will see during the season – as the cars improve – that probably some of our choices are a bit conservative, because as they reduce the amount of wheel spin and the amount of sliding, that means that there is less problem from the tyre overheating,” he told the official Formula1.com site.

“And maybe we have to review our choices for the season going forward once we understand the effects of the rate of development of the cars.”

Many teams have struggled to get grip in races like Spain.

After the dramas of past seasons, Pirelli has been very conservative this year. They were concerned that the higher torque of the 2014 engines would cause significant problems with the high degradation family of tyres they were using in F1, so in Hembery’s words they “took a step back” this year.

The 2014 Pirelli was designed and produced without ever running on the car it was designated to be used by, a strange phenomenon caused by the radical rule change for this year.

With teams focussed at the start of the year on sorting out the hugely complex new hybrid turbo power units, it has taken time for them to be able to focus on getting the most from the tyres. Hembery says that some teams are now getting stuck into that work,

“We have already seen today that teams are starting to work to maximize tyre performance,” he said. “At the start of the season they clearly had other challenges. Now starts the detailed work with the teams that we’ve seen in previous years.

“My guess is that at the end of the season we will see cars lapping quicker than we have seen last year.”

A combination of the conservative tyres and a significant reduction in downforce with the banning of exhaust blowing led to the pole time in Spain being set 4.5 seconds slower than 2013 and back marker times being comparable with GP2.

This week four teams took part in testing development tyres with some work carried out on 2015 ideas. Sauber and Toro Rosso tested on the first day, with Force India and McLaren running test tyres on day two.

In the days following the Silverstone test, Ferrari, Lotus, Red Bull and Marussia will test for Pirelli.

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Is it just me that sees the merc team throwing the Ferrari bunch under the bus????

Whats with the sudden proclamation that Fernando is the greatest leaves me wondering if the Merc guys are screwing with the Ferrari team to level the already leveled Monaco field…What better way then to add gas to an already upset team then to start a discussion on who is the “best”

I just have to think/hope that Louis spends time thinking about this before each session.


kenneth chapman

pirelli should butt out of the tyre selection process. the teams should be the ones choosing the compounds they want from the four available some 6/8 weeks ahead of the race, similar to the timing of the decision that pirelli makes.

that way each team gets to choose the tyres that suit their cars. they should also be able to choose whether or not to run a particular compound at all if they choose to.

by adopting this methodology it becomes a much fairer way to go racing. each team either lives or dies on their own choices of tyres.

i am quite seriously opposed to pirelli having any say whatsoever on the choice of compounds forced upon the teams. this is totally wrong.

why is it that the FIA impose this upon the teams? the teams are denied the opportunity of maximising the cars potential on any given circuit. this is wrong.


Guess they want to tweak the tyres for closer racing. But if Merc get it right with tweaked tires or Red Bull starts winning again and……that’s F1.


most of the comments in this thread are incomprehensible to me

firstly it’s not pirelli who decided to use 2 compounds at each race , it’s the FIA ;why ? because if there is no discussion about tyres there is no point in any manufacturer spending the money required ; that’s called business

secondly , pre season , pirelli said , quite correctly , nobody knows what effect the new regs are going to have on tyre usage so we will be conservative for safety reasons , with forecasts of half the cars not finishing to begin with it’s going to be mixed up enough early season

it is already clear that the teams are getting on top of reliability issues and strategies much sooner than forecast …so pirelli are now saying they are willing to consider selecting more agressive tyres from their four compounds if that suits the show ; personally I fail to understand how that can be criticised

one poster comments that he[ she?] will never buy pirelli tyres because of their F1 tyres ; tyre manufacturers don’t make public their market shares [ they all give their sales figures to an independant body who then inform them of the total market ] but industry analysts believe that they are probably the market leader in high performance tyres and that their market share is increasing ; it seems therefore that both their product and their marketing strategy are what the market demands ….eg manufacturers of high performance vehicles test exhaustively before fitting a particular tyre …they can’t afford to do otherwise , no knee jerk reaction from them , they tune their vehicle to the tyres they select

one poster even suggested that the FIA should select which compounds should be selected for a given race ; in computerspeak ROFLMAO …what do the FIA know about the tyres ?

james’s article is , as normal , clearly written ; I am not surprised that he is depressed by the responses he has received from so many


You are the one missing the point. We DON’T care about the synthetic “show” as you do.

The fact that an easy majority of the fans here have reacted very negatively to any tinkering from Pirelli, should tell you a lot.

We want racing that’s by teams and drivers; we really really don’t care about the 3rd party, farcical tyre “show.”


O/T, forget about tyres. Lets just go back to this, for all of you who ‘quite like’ the new sound and engine because you can here the tyre squeal 🙂 We can only dream



To be honest, after half of the video I’ve had enough of that enervating screamer. I prefer the new sound.


Pirelli should just continue doing what they have been doing so far this year.

The compounds are fine & there tyre choices for each race has been just about right, Don’t think they have been too conservative with there choices at all.

The compounds & choices used thus far have been enough to generate some interesting strategy choices without the tyres becoming the talking point of each weekend as they did the last 2 seasons with the small operating window of 2012 & thermal degredation (And other issues) of 2013.

In short Pirelli should not change its approach in any way.


Additionally, I’d like to say to Mr. Hembery that Perez’s comments don’t look too pathetic now, do They? In light of Pirelli’s new “stance” on more aggressive tires Checo’s criticisma seem spot on!!!


Ooopps! I meant criticism.


Submitting to the teams stupifying two tread farce has made nothing but trouble for Pirelli. It’s a failed concept meant only to allow the arodynamics boffins to continue to play at great expense and has not enhanced the racing at all.

German Samurai

I thought Pirelli generally had it right, especially 2012.

I don’t like seeing F1 cars struggle for grip like some GP3 car.

Bring back driver activated KERS of 7 seconds a lap, DRS is a little conservative at the moment, bring back ear splitting V8’s.

Fans don’t care about manufacturers. If they leave the sport so be it. Someone will fill the void. The goal needs to be engine parity like we had.

Enough with trying to appease manufacturers. If Mercedes are so concerned with hybrid technology and being ‘green’ then why are they still selling 6 litre V12 AMGs.

Why? Because people want a car with a sound that matches it’s performances. No-one spends all that money on a car that sounds muzzles, that whines, that croaks, that sounds like a turbo charged leaf blower.

So why does F1 have to settle for these rubbish sounding cars?


“Bring back driver activated KERS “

In 2014 that’s a team choice. Mercedes and some others still have an “OT” (overtake) button on the wheel that will just give you an extra boost.

Get your facts straight before complaining.


“Fans don’t care about manufacturers. If they leave the sport so be it. Someone will fill the void.”

But if they leave & other manufacturer’s are not interested in entering under a formula they don’t see as relevant then where do the engines come from?

Would Ferrari have been able to supply the whole grid with there V8’s since they were the only manufacturer interested in keeping that formula with no others showing any interest in joining?

Look around, Motorsport in general is heading down the same route as F1. Smaller capacity turbo’s is what the engine builders (Not just the big manufacturer’s) want to build.

Had F1 stuck with the V8 formula it would be dead to the engine builders who never wanted the V8 formula to begin with. A lot of them wanted a formula like this back in 2006 rather than the V8’s we ended up with.

German Samurai

Someone would have filled the void. V8s are old technology that’s relatively cheap. Honda, Cosworth, etc would supply engines. Doesn’t matter who. It’s F1. Not Indy Cars. An engine manufacturer will always want their name on the side of a McLaren or Red Bull.

Do you think a carbon fiber chassis and all it’s aerodynamic components have any relevance to the typical road car?

As long as Ferrari is still in the championship, you could have a Sauber battling a Caterham for the championship and people will tune in if the racing is close, and the cars look fast and sound good.

The sport isn’t about big works teams and never has. Ferrari, AMG Mercedes, don’t offer hybrids because people want don’t want them in their sports cars. They want a car that sounds as loud as it is fast.

Mike from Colombia

Stay out of it Pirelli. You are a disaster waiting to happen.

You messed up Formula 1 for 3 years, and now if you exclude Mercedes out front the racing is better and drivers can actually think about following the car in front.

Attention seekers. Why not try to out more effort into making better road tyres…where they are consistently trounced by Michelin and Bridgestone.


Goodyear in the late 80’s / early 90’s used to bring loads of compounds to each race. Qualifiers, and then A-D spec (Hard – Soft) and then wets.

No one cared so much about the environment, costs and logisitcs back then. We have now progressed, although I don’t half miss it!


Just leave the tyres, they are fine.

We haven’t been talking about them this year, which is as it should be.


OMG what is wrong with you people?

Pirelli are not talking about changing compounds to the tires,

Pirelli are suggesting bring the same tires to each race,

“BUT” instead of the say Harder ORANGE they would normally run bring instead the Medium WHITE,

“OR” lets say the Soft Yellow they would now bring the S/Soft RED,

All that is going to change is,

one tyre will be swapped for a slightly softer one,

nothing about changing compounds at all.


Still I think that the choices made so far were good ones and they should stay this way.

Daniel Marshall

It’s curious that 90% of posters on this article seem to have got the wrong end of the stick, with many frothing at the mouth about Pirelli because they think there’s going to be a tyre compound/construction change mid-season.


They are saying that bringing the current medium and hard tyre to Barcelona was a bit conservative, and for races further on in the year they may bring the current soft and medium (for example) instead.

Pretty simple, I thought.


And I agree with Pirelli to be honest. Whats the problem?

Its by miles a better way to start the tyres off conservatively at the start of the season, and then, as the season and development moves forward, move towards a more aggressive choice of tyre.

Simples :).

For next season, I personally would prefer a move towards my earlier post however, to keep the racing on track, costs down, etc etc etc


Me too…bit depressing really

Craig in Manila

I think it just shows the negative feelings “against” Pirelli still remain from last year as, clearly, a LOT of people have totally misread the comments of Paul Hembery and think (for no valid reason) that he was talking about making changes to the tyres.

Methinks Mr.Hembery and Pirelli should refrain from making any comments for just a bit longer until last year’s issues fade further from memory. Perhaps all they should be saying is that “Everyone seems to be generally happy with the tyre situation at the moment and, as a result, we at Pirelli are happy too” !

Liam in Sydney

Not really. It just shows people will read a headline but won’t be bothered reading the article.

Kenneth M'Boy

I’m now enjoying this season. I think the racing is good, the sound is fine and it was awesome to see the cars moving around in Spain. We’ve seen a new crop of talented drivers come through and are also seeing the talented drivers like Kimi, Seb and Romain struggle at first but now they seem to be getting their heads around these cars.

Coming into Monaco I would rather see the cars moving around, which will add a lot of surprises hopefully. If Pirelli want to do something then keep the compounds as they are but make the rears wider. Drivers can push that bit harder with extended grip but the cars will be still be a bit loose in the tail end.


In my opinion it is dead wrong that Pirelli can decide what compounds they take to the track. That should be a FIA decision, or perhaps the teams, or each team for themselves, but certainly not the tyre designer, supplier.

But would that be a good idea? Taking into consideration how impotent the teams are to take joint decisions they should be left aside as a group. The FIA? Not quite a body that shows the capacity to deal with this sort of hand on things. So that leaves us with each team for themselves.

I like the idea that each team can pick their combination of tyres ahead of the races. Two compounds max, and the rest of the rules can stay the same. I assume that teams know enough of the tyre compounds and tracks to make this decision.

And to Pirelli: I like the 2014 season much better than 2013. First because of the new engines, not Red Bull at the front all the time and certainly because it is not about you anymore, not about the tyres all the time. Please stay out of the limelight.


“Taking into consideration how impotent the teams are to take joint decisions they should be left aside as a group. The FIA? Not quite a body that shows the capacity to deal with this sort of hand on things. So that leaves us with each team for themselves.”

That will never happen.

kenneth chapman

exactly what i have been saying all along. well done

David in Sydney

Why are they dicking around with spec tyres when two or three tyre manufacturers could be duking it out to improve the grip and fuel efficiency and durability of tyres..?

DRS, megaphones, disintegrating tyres and mandatory tyre grades just screams of faux action to me.


In my opinion, as long as Pirelli developed a grippy and durable tyre, no-one could really complain.

The only matter up for discussion then is how many laps/what mileage the tyres should last for.

Entire race distance? 1/3 race distance? 1/2 race distance? 2/3? 3/4?

Personally, I tend to lean towards a full race distance of max. 200 miles, because;

a) it keeps the racing on track, removing all this undercut nonsense

b) if a driver gets an instruction to “save tyres,” he will get overtaken

c) it saves on tyre costs – no 2 or 3 different sets for a race – just 1.

d) itll me more “road relevant”

e) strategy – there will still be an element of this as a driver may favour going easy on the tyre during one phase of the race in favour of spanking it during another.

f) if all sets available for the weekend are designed to do 200 miles, you can reduce the number of sets taken to a race weekend, therefore reducing this cost too.


Martin, the 2005 season was quite amusing from a spectator’s point of view with the teams/drivers having to make one set of tyres last an entire weekend.

It also gave rise to some exciting racing – San Marino, Monaco, Europe (Nuburgring), Italy (Montoya’s dodgy tyre) and especially Japan that year were all exciting races where the outcome for victory of the race literally went down to the last lap.

More of the same please!


I would estimate that approximately 90% of the comments above have been written without actually reading, understanding, digesting and comprehending the actual article….

Similarly, all the gumph spouted by journo’s and keyboard commentators about the Mercedes exhaust… COMPLETELY missing the joke and taking it 100% seriously

C’mon people, learn how to read (a)properly when required to, and (b) between the lines



That’d make sense if any of the teams were profitable but most are running close to a deficit every season as the costs explode. To be honest the teams will always find ways to spend extra money – whether it’s on advertising, factory rebuilds, hiring new staff, paying star driver bonuses, etc. As with any sport sponsorship is basically a marketing advert ‘rate’ card – it’s not saying, ‘your money will pay for this many wishbones or batteries’ it’s not a charity pledge. It’s just a sale – it is profit and operational cost. It’s basically selling an association. So theoretically if the team made a £10 million ‘profit’ from sponsorship that would be declared as a profit – they aren’t charities and this is just income – it’s like selling logo caps and t-shirts just on a titanic scale.


Its amusing to see how many readers misread the story including myself…. its seems that: *Pirelli + Hembrey + change + less conservative* triggers everyone into screaming NOOO!


All that PH is saying is that they are open to suggestion. If the teams want soft/medium instead of medium/hard for the race weekend in question thn it can be agreed upon and arranged. No conspiracy theory here


So, I see most people are slaggin’ Pirelli off again!

Well done Paul H & co… everything that the FIA (and as a consequence the teams) have asked for, you have provided. And in so doing you have taken a lot of unwarranted flak – other tyre companies would have done a runner.

Forza Pirelli!

[And no, I am not a Pirelli employee… however if they wish to send me some new P7 Cinturato’s I am more than happy to accept them, my address is… ;-)]

James Clayton

“other tyre companies would have done a runner”

Yes. Because it was a stupid brief that no serious company would touch with a barge pole!


People who wants harder tires forget that fact that these tires need a certain temp to function at all. What is the point of having 700+ hp or the sophisticated technology if there is no grip and the cars are undriveable. Some sliding is fun to watch, I agree. But, if half of the field cannot switch the tires on than the race is determined by the tires, too much. Just as if they are too soft.


I think these people come up with these stupid suggestions because F1 fans don’t riot.


Easily fixed: You find some pitchforks and I’ll grab the lanterns 🙂


…or rather that the majority of current F1 fans seem to be rather dim and didn’t read or can’t understand what the post said.

kenneth chapman

or rather by bringing a softer compound tyre into the weekend mix we will see even more ‘marbles’…yeah great idea!!!


The majority of F1 fans see this:

Tyre company: “Ahh! We make excellent tyres!”

Shifty client: “Can you make rotten tyres?”

Tyre company: “Yes sir! Rotten tyres are us!”

Its either a case of shocking ineptitude on the part of the tyre company, or someone is planning to shock us with a disingenuous ventriloquy argument.

Principles matter.

F1 fans can spot stupid attention seeking conflicts that kill the sport.


“F1 fans can spot stupid attention seeking conflicts that kill the sport.”

Not from where I sit they can’t.

kenneth chapman

pirelli have not done a great job this season. have you seen the piles of marbles that the current crop are shedding? ridiculous. brundle even went so far as to call the ‘line’ through the marbles as a ‘goat track’!! how apt.

i want to see michelin in the mix then we will really see where the tyres are going performance wise.


Agree, they’ve had rules written to protect them, theyve had far more testing, in far more relevant conditions and still they are not sure of their product..Its bizarre, can you imagine if a communications co failed F1 what would happen- yet the most important ‘contact’ in the sport is treated with such a free reign.

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