F1 is high-pressure; so are Pirelli tires…’unbelievably high’

Let’s face it, Formula 1 is a high-pressure game with millions upon millions of dollars at stake and perhaps nothing has been more high-pressure than Pirelli’s tires this season according to the cacophony of voices from the paddock. The latest is world champion and well-weathered-in veteran Jenson Button:

“unbelievably high considering we didn’t have any issues here last year. It’s very high.

“Front graining’s going to be a massive issue. That’s tough considering we’ve got softs, super-softs and ultra-softs here.

“It’s going to make the weekend reasonably tough for everyone. It’s going to be about cooling as much as you can and driving in a certain way and having to run loads of engine braking and stuff like that. It’s a shame.”

The circuit, as always, plays a large role in the tire selection and the pressures as well as the performance of the teams on any given weekend. For this particular weekend in Austria, Button feels the tire pressures are not going to help matters:

“It’s the type of corners you have here, the high-speed and mid-speed corners,” added Button.

“You’re going to be loading the front left a lot. I think a lot of people are going to struggle with graining on every tyre. It’s going to be tough and controlling that is going to be tricky.”

So this brings us to the entire notion of the tires and what Pirelli are planning for 2017. It should be no surprise that I am not a huge fan of artificially degrading tires and while I may be a heretic in the land of the, “please, more contrivances” crowd, I tend to agree with Alain Prost who suggested that teams should have options on tires and be allowed to run whichever they want staggered or not. Supersoft fronts and softs on the rears—whatever.

I have no issue with Pirelli making advanced tires of differing performance metrics given the opposite of performance would be serious durability and grip later in the race. IF you allow teams to run alternate front and rear compounds—given their chassis appetite for rubber—it may add some interesting outcomes.

Regardless, Button isn’t happy and I did just read an article that claimed to expose Mercedes and their system which lowers air pressure just before the start of a race and after the technical inspection. I have no idea whether that is true but they did make an interesting case for Mercedes cars and cool temps.


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Bring back the tyre war.

Do the teams know what pressures they will be asked to run before they choose the tyres?

If Pirelli are going to run these high pressures they need to design the tyre to be less likely to grain.


From my recollection the tyre wars weren’t that great for racing. One supplier or the other would be so dominant that only the lead team on that manufacturers tyres could win.
But I do agree that more flexibility in tyres would be beneficial – see what I did there? ;-)


I see what you did there.

It wasn’t so much that one manufacturer of tyres got out in front, it was that one team was being focussed on (Ferrari/Bridgestone, McLaren/Michelin) at the detriment to the rest of the field.
There were tracks that suited each tyre too.


Cheers Mini,
Either way, the outcome was that in most seasons of multiple tyre suppliers, one supplier dominated (and their favourite team). It didn’t lead to closer racing, though it probably did drive tyre technology at a fantastic pace.
I always maintain, If fans really want close racing, they need to look at a spec series, or one which equalises performance by a BoP or success ballast.

Paul KieferJr

Can’t someone ever make a tire that can run on LOW pressure? :P


Well, Pirelli could until Spa last year. After Vettel’s tyre cut in that race, the pressures are just going higher & higher. Why though? Beats me. Its almost like they want to artificially slow cars down & force races to be boring.


I have a bizarre idea: how about letting teams select, use, and run the tires they want to run, without any restrictions or control by FOM and FIA? Could that possibly work?

I know that’s really out of the box and super-extreme, but surely there must be some kind of model for it in motorsport history.


They tried that, then some teams found a time advantage by running the pressures and cambers outside of Pirelli’s recommendations. When the tyres failed due to the sidewalls not being ble to cope with a situation outside of the design specification did the teams hold up their hands and admit they had made a mistake? No, the teams, drivers and media all blamed Pirelli for not making good enough tyres. Unsurprisingly they reacted by asking the FIA to mandate limits for pressures and cambers. Perhaps if team’s had not blamed the supplier when they were operating the tyres outside of… Read more »

Zachary Noepe

I’m not as worried about the tires as I am about listening to Jensen Button complain some more about everything. A mediocre driver in a mediocre car finds lots to complain about. I cannot imagine for the life of me why all the talk about replacing Felipe Massa with this guy how is that an improvement unless you think having someone nice around messes everything up and has to stop?