How are Pirelli’s amazing powers of prediction? Judging by last year’s predictions during the season of how the tires would be used and the fastest strategy around each track, I would say they are there or thereabouts if I’m honest. They do a really good job of predicting how their tires will perform and what teams will do with that performance.
Pirelli have avoided predicting individual team results but they are concerned about the ability for the teams to be more competitive with each other in 2017. While the new increase in aerodynamic downforce has us slightly concerned about this element canceling out the other elements intended to create better racing, it’s the performance delta between teams that has Pirelli concerned. Pirelli motorsport boss Paul Hembery said:
“I think the drivers will enjoy it – because with that level of performance, you are going to feel it aren’t you? That will give them a physical challenge they haven’t had for a while,” he told Motorsport.com.
“But the true impact of overtaking will be down to the [relative] performance of the cars.
“If the performance of the cars is close together, then there might be chances.
“If they aren’t then it will be a procession.”
Hembery may very well be right in that the more grip and higher speed corners could mean less braking even though the company has reduced the thermal overheating characteristic of the tire which prompted high degradation.
“It asked us to do that [high degradation tyres] back in 2011, and now we are being asked to do something else.
“We are just trying to deliver what we have been asked to deliver.
“On any of these subjects, there are always some pros and some against.
“I think we will know after five or six races what we have done and if it is right or wrong.”
Hembery at least believes Pirelli’s contribution to the 2017 rules will be good for overtaking even if other elements of F1’s revamp hamper the action.
“The thermal overheating is significantly reduced and wear levels are reduced, so the drivers in overtaking situations can push harder and not go into an overheating scenario,” he said.
“That needs to be combined, of course, with the aero changes that reduce the level of disturbance of the air that arrives to the front of the following car.
“That, combined with the tyres, should enable people to make more aggressive overtaking manoeuvres.
“But on the other side there are going to be more corners flat-out, and that is not going to help overtaking because people won’t be backing off as there is no braking.”
Some of the public discussion about the new, wider tires and aero levels have pundits suggesting that the corners will be neutralized and even McLaren’s head brains said that what was classified as a corner may now be a straight in 2017.
I find those comments a little strange because I don’t really care how much grip you have, the drivers are going to brake for La Source. The drivers will brake for Ascari chicane, the drivers will brake for Mirabeau. What they may not brake as much for is the medium-speed corners but to be honest, there was never much passing in those kinds of corners over the past few years since DRS was introduced so why the concern now?
With DRS, the drivers will simply wait for the long straights with DRS zones to pass so dovetailing with Hembery, if the disparity in performance is still baked into Mercedes with their power unit coupled with DRS zones, I’m not sure how much impact the new regulation will have beyond reliability issues via the 4-engine rule and more physical experiences for the drivers with reduced lap times and higher G-forces.
Of course, for the fans sake, I hope Hembery and I are wrong and that the new, less degrading tires will provide drivers like Max Verstappen enough grip to pass at will where ever he feels compelled regardless of the presence of a DRS zone.
Hat Tip: Autosport