No more high-deg tires; let the drivers attack

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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

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Jamie Huntoon

The problem is still 100 kg fuel ..how do you attack

Negative Camber

Indeed it is. Tires and engines should be made for sprint and attack in F1. How drivers choose to conserve and why is up to them and the strategists.

MIE

Ban the pit to car radio communication, then the driver has to make the decision about when to turn his engine up, when to attack, when to save fuel Tec. At the moment team’s have rooms full of analysts working back at the factory deciding the optimum strategy. It is unsurprising that many make similar decisions, so less actual racing. So many drivers start the race with less than the permitted 100kg of fuel (as the benefits of running lighter early in the race outweigh the penalty of fuel saving later on. This may be the theoretical fastest way to… Read more »

geeyore

Yeah, agree. It is one thing to wave a chalkboard from the pits instructing the driver to “Pit +2” (or its digital equivalent), and quite the opposite to micromanage a driver around corners, laps, other drivers, and tire/fuel-saving using the 300+ realtime parameters collected by the millisecond. All of this reinforces that “managing” the racecar is superior to the driver and to actual pedal-to-the-metal motorsport racing.

charlie white

I wouldn’t ban pit to car radio transmissions but severely limit the on-board data telemetry between car and pit and limit all necessary data to on-site team location only.

longshot

I don’t see the 100kg fuel limit as a problem, as it can be overcome by improving the efficiency of the engines which have already progressed in leaps & bounds. There’s rumors the Mercs will achieve 50% thermal efficiency this year which is simply extraordinary. I don’t even mind tires that degrade, as races with no pitstops can be utter bore-fests. What I do mind are (a) the fuel flow limit and (b) the speed at which tires degrade if the driver pushes too close to the car in front. If a driver uses too much extra fuel to overtake… Read more »

Coji

The 50% estimation, does that factor/consider what energy is recovered via MGU-H? PR speak tells me it would. The real astonishing stat would be if that’s solely the ICE and combustion.

longshot

It’d have to be the whole hybrid power unit, not just the ICE.

Paul KieferJr

Has anyone really discussed how much tire and/or fuel it would take to complete a full F1 race in full attack mode all the way through?

Coji

I guess they would attack within the fuel/power restrictions. Decrease/freeze engine tech/costs and invest a portion in a standardized refueling mechanism is my vote, on the face of it. Something would have to be done to ensure they attack instead of play the fuel game though.

longshot

One thing that might help is mandating that teams load the full 100kg of fuel at race start, rather than allowing them to load less & “lift and coast” throughout the race, thereby making the most out of the fact that the cars are faster when lighter but at the expense of contributing towards the processional nature of the racing at the front of the grid.

If all teams were fully loaded, there was no fuel flow restriction, and tires were stickier & took more punishment before going off, we’d see a lot more flat-out driving than we do now.

Coji

I thought about that, but it could mean they would lift and coast to eliminate a stop. What about some mandated fuel stop without the ability to satisfy both the two compounds rule and fuel during the same stop?

longshot

Due to its expense I’d be very surprised if refueling made a return. And would it be needed? If teams can put less than the 100kg maximum into the car & still make the race distance, then there’s no need to refuel – just make them carry the full weight, which will reward drivers who push rather than cruise.

Coji

It also depends on how much of the 100kgs they are using now in respect to lap times. If it’s true that FOM is pushing for ~ 5 sec decrease in lap times, that would undoubtedly require more power regardless of the tire tech, Pirelli’s ability to test, and assuming they have the tires to push for the duration. I was assuming all to be true without necessarily the foundation and not separating them just for this topic. Sorry.

MIE

I think it is bad enough that they are mandated to stop for tyres, let alone fuel as well. I want to see the cars running on the track, not sat in the pits.
I know that pit-stops give the opportunity for strategic variation, but not if the stops are mandated where everyone has to make the same number of stops (don’t forget that at times this year we may see some teams needing to use three compounds of tyre during the race – forcing two stops).

Paul KieferJr

That still doesn’t answer the question. Take away all the restrictions. How much tire and fuel would be needed to do a full race in attack mode?

longshot

I don’t think anyone knows the answer to that question. It’d depend on the track, on the car & driver (some being easier on fuel & tires than others), on the tire compound being used …

I think the current tires are the main restriction though. They go off so fast when drivers push, that apparently they begin to degrade in qualifying hot-laps only half way around the track. So running a full race in “attack mode” on these tires would mean a helluva lot of pit stops ;)

MIE

The tyres, well each driver needs at least four! It is possible to build tyres that will last the entire race distance. It may be faster though to go with two sets of slightly softer tyres or three sets of even softer tyres. The poor construct in my opinion is requiring drivers to choose at least one set of non optimal tyres for their car. Fuel is slightly easier to work out. The regulations limit the engine power by means of a fuel flow limit (100kg/hour). The slowest race on the calendar is Singapore, this takes two hours to complete,… Read more »

jakobusvdl

I agree that the mandated tyre types and pit stops limit the options teams can try. How might it work if there were (say) 5 tyre types, from low degradation types that would last the entire race, through to sets that might only last 20% of the race distance? Let the teams choose how many, and what combinations they run in the race. Do away with the requirement to start the race on they tyres the car qualified on. On fuel, I’d suggest, keep the 100kg, but drop the maximum flow rate. Let them choose how to use the fuel… Read more »

jiji the cat

No more tokens, proper tyres?

Must be April 1st.

longshot

Right now I’m watching the 12 hour Bathurst GT endurance race. For 10 hours (as I type) the drivers & cars have been going at it hammer and tongs, driving flat out on the ragged edge with plenty of strategy and just enough overtaking (no DRS gimmicks needed). Its basically a 12 hour sprint race, and even with only 2 hours left the leaders are still quite close to each other & the result completely uncertain.

Compare that with F1, which these days is more like a 2 hour endurance race. Where did it all go wrong?

jakobusvdl

Any chance they could specify tyres that don’t produce marbles? That would automatically increase overtaking opportunities, as the circuits wouldn’t become single line after the first 10 laps, and cars wouldn’t need to follow directly in the wheel tracks of the car in front.
Just a dream……….