I have a lot of time for Pirelli and their quest to provide Formula 1 with the show-spicing high degradation tire construct. They’ve taken their lumps over the years when the tire compounds have been tweaked to either make the degradation more aggressive or less.
The refrain becomes either they are too soft and artificially impacting the racing—not to mention dangerous with de-laminating tires—or they are too durable or conservative lasting too long during a race.
This year’s cars were suggesting that the energy applied through the tire would increase in 2015 and the lap times would lower as a result. That hasn’t come to fruition as Pirelli’s Paul Hembery told AUTOSPORT.
“If we wanted to be self-critical we are finding this year wear and degradation levels are improved over last year, and the cars are maximising the tyres for a far greater number of laps.
“Canada was a one-or-two-stop race, and we have been given the task of creating a two-to-three, so we are a few laps shy of that at the moment.
“The reason being is we did some work on the rear tyre and that has allowed the teams to balance all four corners of the car much better.
“We’re seeing no great differences between the teams this year. It’s very minor, with more laps being gained out of the tyres.
“That rear tyre has enabled them to set the car up differently and balance things out.”
The comment was in response to Red Bull boss, Christian Horner, suggesting they had gone too conservative this year and that the tire was too good or durable as it was possible for a one-stopper in Canada.
The overall impact of the tire in comparative lap times versus last year have ranged between -0.4s to -1.5s depending on the circuit. Canada showed a -1.517s reduction in overall lap time and Hembery says that’s a bit of a surprise given the times that were being set during winter testing:
“We’ve not seen the performance improvements anticipated at the start of the year, and which were suggested in winter testing and Melbourne.
“There has only been a marginal pace improvement over last year, which has again been a bit of a surprise”.
In many ways, I’m the wrong person to be arguing in defense of Horner’s comments as I feel the HD tire gambit has run its course. I think it is time to move away from constructs and get back to real tires and better racing.
I am confounded for a decent analogy but it is sort of like Apple’s approach to technology. The regulatory oversight in F1 is similar to the software Apple creates around their product designs. It’s a bit draconian and it limits what you can do with the device but if they get it right, it can produce a wonderful user experience. If you get it wrong, you get the Apple newton or Apple maps which sends you off in the wrong direction…literally.
The proverbial software (regulations) of F1 has, or is, creating a bad user experience. It’s becoming more Newton than iPhone if you will—more old-school Blackberry than Galaxy S. Pirelli’s efforts can only be commended regardless of how you feel about this year’s compounds and their performance gains or lack thereof.
Pirelli have done an outstanding job of delivering what F1 wants and keeping their integrity intact while making a product that does the very thing their tires aren’t suppose to do…wear out quickly.
The reverse analogy might be like Apple making an iPhone that has a battery that only last 30 minutes. The public might think it is a nice product but what’s the point if it lasts 30 minutes? Why buy Pirelli tires if they can’t make it through a race? Surely any other company would want the opposite fan impression of their product?
I’m not concerned over the lack of faster lap times as I put much of that down to the power unit and lack of shove, not the tires. Sure, tires play a factor, no doubt, but it isn’t the leading factor in my mind. If F1 wants to find quicker lap times, don’t beat Pirelli up about it, take a look at your engines and fuel-flow rates.
Hat Tip: AUTOSPORT