Pirelli’s Hembery said this would happen!

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Photo- Laura Allard
Pirelli's Paul Hembery

Heading into the first part of the 2013 Formula 1 season, it seemed that things were relatively tight and that we could be heading for a decent and competitive year. Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso won a couple races along with Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg and Lotus F1’s Kimi Raikkonen set the tone with a win in the first race in Australia.

We were heading for a season in which Red Bull could be legitimately challenged. Maybe they weren’t going to be beaten but they at least would have a fight on their hands. Then the British Grand Prix happened.

If you were going to cast aspersions on Pirelli in 2013, it could be argued that they got a little too cute with their tire construction and firmly placed themselves in the engineering and tactical portion of the racing by trying to confound teams with tricky tire compounds that would throw Red Bull Racing off the scent. They had injected themselves into the very essence of the sport by trying to become more than a supplier by making themselves a serious player in the outcome of races. That’s a weaker argument but one could make it if they were so inclined.

“The 2013 season continues the philosophy adopted by Pirelli last year in evolving the original 2011 range of Formula One tyres,” motorsport director Paul Hembery outlined. “The goal is to continuously set new challenges for the drivers and to ensure that all the teams start the new season on a level playing field when it comes to the tyres.

“Through accumulating more information with each Grand Prix last year, the teams eventually fully understood the tyres, after a spectacular start with seven winners from the first seven races. The result at the end of the year was races with less competition and sometimes only one pit stop. This phenomenon was also observed in 2011, disappointing many fans and prompting some of the teams to ask us to continue developing our tyres further this year, in order to provide a fresh challenge with something different. Our 2013 range of tyres mixes up the cards once more to help overtaking and ensure two to three pit stops per race.”

What actually happened was the tires were being used in creative ways (backwards) and blowouts were the safety concern that prompted a construction change for Pirelli at the Hungarian Grand Prix (one could argue the German Grand Prix). Teams who struggled with the pre-blowout construction spec were asking for a change. Mercedes entered in an illegal test to vet the tires and Pirelli were not keen at all to change them with motorsport boss Paul Hembery literally saying that any change would only favor Red Bull and is that what everyone wanted in 2013?

Safety ruled the day after the British Grand Prix and changes were made. Red Bull never looked back. You can see by the chart below just how dominant Red Bull Racing have been since Germany. This is a tangible example of Paul Hembery’s prophetic warning and it must be said, he was right.

Does that mean they shouldn’t have changed the tire construction after Silverstone? No, as safety trumps all issues in F1 but what we got was something Pirelli knew would happen. Let us hope Pirelli come up with a plan to challenge teams but not inject themselves in the crafty art of trying to slow Red Bull down. Let’s hope the 2014 regulations will level the playing field and for those who found 2013 boring, excitement and competitiveness will return to Formula One.

 Cla Driver PointsGrands Prix
12345678910111213141516171819
1Sebastian Vettel397152512251218252515252525252525252525
2Fernando Alonso2421825425618151210181818812101015
3Mark Webber199818610151218612101518181518
4Lewis Hamilton189101515101215121025152101086122
5Kimi Räikkönen183256181818121018181518106
6Nico Rosberg1711228251025212812641815210
7Romain Grosjean13218215158441515151218
8Felipe Massa11212108154846128211246
9Jenson Button732101488681642112
10Nico Hülkenberg51411110212884
11Sergio Pérez49282424110268
12Paul Di Resta484412626248
13Adrian Sutil29610162121
14Daniel Ricciardo206141611
15Jean-Eric Vergne13148
16Esteban Gutiérrez66
17Valtteri Bottas44
18Pastor Maldonado11
19Jules Bianchi0
20Charles Pic0
21Heikki Kovalainen0
22Giedo van der Garde0
23Max Chilton0
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