The bigger news story out of the Pirelli summit this week may have been that the group will reconvene in the 11th of this month to try once again to hammer out the desired changes to Formula 1 for the 2017 season. That is big new if you consider they need to get these changes approved before March 1st.
But what about the original reason they attended the Pirelli meeting in the first place with teams and even drivers attending?
According to the BBC Sport, Pirelli may very well be moving away from the deliberately degrading tire specification in favor of a tire that is built for maximum attack instead of tire management. The drivers who attended all shared their desire for a tire that would enable them to attack harder and reduce the amount of degradation prompting them to nurse the tires around the track.
This comes on the heels of Renault’s comment this week that the FIA are ditching the engine development token program in favor of opening up development and luring more manufacturers into the sport.
It seems that ditching the token system and getting away from the HD tires leave only one remain element or construct that has plagued my enjoyment of F1 since 2013, that would be the DRS or drag reduction system.
We’ve been advocating the avoidance of constructs in F1 since they entered the sport and even lost listeners because of our broken-record commentary disagreeing with artifice in F1 such as HD tires and DRS. We’ve advocated that if the V6 turbo hybrid is what manufacturers want, then allow the the fuel flow and development to run the hell out of them at 1,000bhp and let’s get on with the business of racing.
The unholy trinity of constructs in F1 since 2013 has been the hybrid engine and it’s restriction, high-degradation tires and DRS. If we can eliminate those, it may not solve every ill that F1 has in balancing the show and technology innovation but at least it gets the series back to a baseline in which it can develop ways to improve the series that place the performance gains in the hands of the team and drivers, not on baubles and bits intended to artificially increase either performance or the show.
Speaking of tires, Michelin says its still interested in F1 but only if the series moves to an 18-inch rim and wants tires that are focused on reducing lap times and meant for maximum attack. IF that’s the direction F1 is heading anyway, then Pirelli may have another staunch competitor for the new tire supplier contract in 2017.
To be fair to Pirelli, they’ve done exactly what the sport has asked them to do and any changes for 2017 are going to be difficult with limited or no testing. Asking them to make a tire that can handle 40% more load is a tall ask with no testing.
The mandate to increase lap time by five seconds in 2017 is a tall ask and would require Pirelli to change their tire construction as well as running higher air pressures which they feel would negate any time gains the chassis may have through aerodynamics.
This bugbear is the real key to making the 2017 changes an approves strategy as teams disagree on the best way forward with underfloor design that isn’t too aggressive and wider, tires.
Hat Tip: BBC Sport