Will tires or fuel be the managed element in 2014?

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It’s a balancing act. No more and yet no less. Pirelli announced their new tire lineup this week and suggested that the tire compounds were slightly harder and one presumes the sidewalls are designed to handle the increased weight and torque of the 2014 regulations-driven Formula 1 car designs.

It leads one to suspect that perhaps tire degradation and tire management—that reached lunacy levels in 2013—will not be an issue in 2014 given the demand for a more stout tire construction. This leaves the next issue on the table which is fuel, fuel flow rates and fuel consumption.

The new regulations limit the fuel flow rate to 100 liters for an entire race and that would be 50 liters less than 2013 leaving the rest of the effort down to the new Energy Recovery system or ERS which is similar to last year’s KERS but the “K” seemed redundant at this point as the new cars will harvest waste energy from the braking and exhaust.

The last thing Formula 1 fans want to see is the high degradation tires and silliness they presented us replaced in 2014 with a fuel race at each grand prix. Drivers nursed their tires around circuits all last year and now there is some concern that they will nurse their fuel loads around each race as well.

However, according to Williams F1’s Valtteri Bottas, don’t rule out tire nursing just yet:

“I think this year is going to be more difficult to manage the tyres, even though they are a little bit harder,” said Bottas.

“I think with more torque you need to be more careful with the throttle pedal. It’s quite easy to break the traction and that way put temperature through the surface of the tyre.

“That is going to be a bit more tricky, and still the conditions are quite cool, so I think managing tyres will be more critical than last year.”

He’s not alone and if you consider Nico Rosberg’s comments about wheel-spin, we may ne nursing tires and fuel all year long as well as gremlins in the new engine and ERS reliability:

“It’s certainly very easy to achieve [wheelspin],” he said.

“You can do it quite easily and I’ve had instances of that on the straights, or doing double wheelspin and pulling black marks for 100 meters out of slow corners, which is quite fun but not exactly good for performance.

“The tyres are pretty tricky to handle in terms of degradation. It’s easy to spin up the rear and degrade them, so I can see that being a bit of a challenge.”

I am usually cautious about casting aspersions until the proof is presented but I really hope we aren’t nursing HD tires and fuel loads all year long, that will make for a very unpleasant “show”.

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