Two years ago Pirelli were managing a potential brand-damaging backlash due to a series of blown tires in the British Grand Prix. Having been asked to deliver the sport a high degradation tire, Pirelli eschewed conventional wisdom and agreed to make a tire that, unlike their actual products, didn’t last long. Only now, in the crucible of F1, was the company struggling to smile and placate a rabid fan base and paddock over what appeared to be a too-aggressive tire composition placing drivers in danger.
Pirelli already had a year under their belt but some complained that the HD tires were too conservative and therefore, the Italian tire maker decided to throw the teams a bit of a curve. At the time, I argued that a tire provider should not inject themselves into the competitive tactic and try to out-think the teams in their car development. The season was rife with lots of pit stops and many considered Pirelli’s efforts too aggressive.
In 2014, the company decided that the new regulations would place increased demand on the tires in torque and load so they created a more durable offering and once again, they were met with criticism of being too conservative in their approach to the 2014 season. I’ll be honest; I cringe when I hear people say that. What, exactly, is that you want? I have nothing but time for Pirelli and what they’ve tried to accomplish and while I think they got a little too cute in their efforts in 2013, I applaud their 2012 and 2014 efforts but what about 2015?
According to Sky Sport Online, Pirelli’s Paul Hembery said:
“Last year people said we were a little bit too conservative and maybe a little bit boring, but I think it is more a case of we went into a year with new technology and there is a little bit of that this year,” he said.
“We’ve seen some initial data that suggests the cars are going to make another good step in performance compared to last season and what might have been a conservative choice last season might become quite an aggressive one in 2015.
“So like many we are interested to see what happens with the unfreeze for a little while of the engine regulations, what that is going to mean for the majority of teams – particularly on race pace, that is the one aspect where we expect to see a big improvement in performance. And that might make a conservative choice suddenly a bit more aggressive.”
So it’s slightly cloudy—does this mean there is no change to the specification but due to the increased pace and performance of the cars through natural evolution, that same 2014 spec will now become an aggressive tire where in 2014 it was “too conservative”?
If they are, in effect, saying that this year may be an aggressive tire again and not by any changes from their part, then I understand and actually if they have found a nice harmony between performance and durability, I say good on them. Let the cars come tot eh tires and change them when the demands, due to the car’s evolution, force them to make changes to a stable state tire.
Pirelli aren’t playing the victim for their involvement in F1 but they have been handed a tough call and a lot of negative commentary directed towards them for providing what F1 asked for—except 2013 which I think is on their hands. Having said that, perhaps F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone said it best in 2013 when he suggested that F1 only asked for a tire that degrades quicker and wouldn’t last a full race. That’s what Pirelli provided in 2014 and it worked just fine so let us hope they continue doing that in 2015 until such time as there is competition from another tire supplier.
Hat Tip: Sky Sport Online