As Formula 1 looks to cure its ills in 2021, there are lessons to be learned from other racing series and that’s always been the case but whether F1 cares to learn from those lessons is another matter.
When pondering the thought of canceling Friday practice, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff cautions the move base don the knock-on effect it had when DTM tried something similar. Taking away the running time of cars is not what fans pay for regardless of how confounding it may be to team on Sunday morning.
Another recent example might be the Michelin tires used in MotoGP and how successful they have been in delivering exciting, close racing without resorting to artificial degradation rates. Reading a piece over at Motorsport Magazine by Mat Oxley, I am reminded of why I have disliked the high-degradation tires since their inception many years ago.
“The fans want to see good races and so do we,” says Michelin’s MotoGP manager Piero Taramasso. “We want to see good battles and we want all the riders and factories to have tyres that work for them. But the biggest target for any tyre manufacturer is breaking race records. To make a tyre that’s fast for one lap is easy, but to make a tyre that’s fast for 25 laps is much more challenging.”
“Last year we used this new mixing technology in our medium compounds at about half the races,” adds Taramasso. “Those tyres were very popular with the riders, so this year we use the same mixing technology in all our tyres. The material we use isn’t different; it’s the way we mix the rubber, the oil, the carbon, the silicon and all the ingredients. This changes the molecular construction, which changes the way the tyre degrades.
“Certainly this is one reason the races have changed this year – because some riders can use these tyres better than the others.”
One fact that Mat uses is the average first-to-second gap, which was 2.6sec this year while the first-to-fifth has widened in 2019 from 8.2sec to 9.4sec. Last year’s average first-to-second gap was a 70-year minimum of 2.1sec. I am not sure if anyone—I am assuming Pirelli certainly did—has created this measurement chart for F1 over the decades but it would be an interesting read.
As Mat discusses in this article, there is work being done on a new front tire as well as rear and some teams are reluctant to make such changes. Just like F1, changes to tires could mean serious changes to chassis and design of the bike. F1 is moving toward a lower profile wheel and tire assembly and leaving the 13” tire is a big move for the sport. A very expensive move.
I would like to see Pirelli given the opportunity to create fantastic race tires in a multitude of compounds that teams can choose from to maximize their performance. MotoGP is producing wonderful racing and in large part it is because Michelin are not being told to create dodgy tires. Pirelli shouldn’t be asked to do that either. The Italian manufacturer knows how to make very nice tires and they should be allowed to do so in order to create even better racing.