At some level, You’d expect Gunther Steiner to make a big issue out of the Pirelli tires if he felt they were one of the biggest limiting factors on his team’s performance so far in 2019. Only one top-10 in the first four races.
Before the season started, the F1 press were tipping Haas as the best of the rest and it gave Paul and I reason for pause to be honest. However, they may not be far off but the tire compounds are really throwing the Haas chassis for a loop and Gunther made that point very clear in Baku. This week he told Autosport:
“everybody’s got issues with the tires”.
“It’s just who is [struggling] more or less. And we are more,” he said.
“And it’s so disappointing because we’ve got a good car.
“We shouldn’t be talking always about if the tire works or not. It’s interesting but, no, that’s not Formula 1.
“‘Did you get the tire to work? Yes – then I’m fast. Oh, my tire didn’t work, then I’m slow’.
“We spend millions and millions to develop these cars and then they are out of the [tire] window and really cannot get going.
“I’m not blaming it purely on Pirelli. I’m blaming it on us as well because some [teams] get [the tires] to work.
“But in general, this is not the right thing. We shouldn’t be talking after the race, ‘did your tire work or not?'”
We were discussing the unique nature of this year’s compound and thinner tread on our recent podcast and Gunther believes the reduction of the tire blanket heat from 100°C to 80°C could also be playing a role:
“I think the construction of the tire is different [to 2018], the tread depth – is not different, it’s just last year they had the four [three] races with the low tread, which doesn’t store heat, that doesn’t help our case,” Steiner explained.
“And we are not allowed to heat them the same amount as last year. It’s all things which don’t help you to get the tire to work.”
The tires are such a major factor on car performance and I am curious if Ferrari’s aero struggles aren’t compounded by the tires as well and wonder how they will do in warmer weather. High degradation tires, DRS and hybrid engines are all bolted onto an outrageously sensitive aerodynamic chassis and it all combines to drag Formula 1 into its current format.
I’ve written before that when a series is so challenged by its own format that teams like Mercedes are unyielding on, it is left to constructs to try and out-smart the team and create good racing.
In 2013, Pirelli tried to get too cute and out-think the team engineers and we saw what that produced. They have since ebbed and flowed with differing levels of conservative tire construction and more “adventurous” shall we say. This year it seems to be one of those “adventurous” years and that’s not good. We may not be done talking about the tires this year, in fact, we may just be starting.
Hat Tip: Autosport