Whitmarsh: Pirelli should have made ‘the right call’

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Pirelli certainly do make a good tire. I know from experience and while we could all argue for weeks over who makes the best tire for your road car or track car, I can attest to having Pirelli on all my cars and the performance and wear-rate I am experiencing. In short, I’m a happy customer. However, Pirelli has been asked to make a high degradation tire for Formula One and this has now morphed into a “Gate” in 2013 which McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh says might have bee avoided if Pirelli were a little tougher on dissenting teams.

Whitmarsh reckons Pirelli should have held their ground and demanded a tire change regardless of unanimity from all teams:

“As I said to Pirelli for quite a few weeks before Silverstone: ‘You cannot listen to the teams on this one. You guys are the tyre experts; you have responsibility to give us safe tyres. You have to make the right call’.

“Pirelli got themselves a bit caught in the middle listening to the teams, especially those that didn’t want anything to change.”

The odd thing is that an issue, such as this one, require a unanimous consent to change in Formula 1 and that’s a big ask when the competition and money is so high. In the end, the tires were changed by demand of the FIA on safety reasons but the regulatory body has taken it’s own face-slap over waiting too long to get involved and the diminutive and quiet president, Jean Todt, hasn’t helped his re-election bid this year by enabling yet another political row in F1.

As the F1 “show” heads to Hungary, Pirelli are bringing a new construction tire and it is understood to be a symmetrical tire with 2012 characteristics and 2013 tread performance. Ultimately the teams will now struggle to learn the characteristics of a new Kevlar-belted tire in which the heat cycle will surely be different and if Mercedes is any litmus test, the season could be turning pear-shaped for teams who struggle with balance and heat issues with the rear tires.

AUTOSPORT asked Pirelli boss Paul Hembery if he agreed with Whitmarsh’s comments and he said:

“I think sometimes we have been too good citizens trying to do everything right, and every time we try and push something we get into trouble.

“We are only interested in doing our job; we are not interested in helping anyone else.”

That may be true and I would add that it seems Pirelli were a bit too keen in trying to get too deep into the competitive strategy of stump the chump and tried too hard to out-think the team engineers in making a tire that would confound them. They succeeded in doing so but unfortunately the tire was a bridge too far. I agree with Whitmarsh but would suggest that Pirelli’s brand is too important to get too cute. You’ve already been asked to make a tire that is antithetical to what your brand wants so simply make a safe tire that doesn’t last the entire race and call it a day.

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