Whitmarsh says tyre situation in F1 is painful

Martin Whitmarsh

Martin Whitmarsh

In the aftermath of the Chinese Grand Prix some of Formula 1’s leading figures have admitted their growing frustration with the Pirelli tyres on offer this season.

“It’s quite excruciating,” McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh is quoted by the Telegraph, “trying to save tyres non-stop from start to finish.

“It feels painful, and however bad it is for me, it must be a lot worse if you have to drive like that.”

He is referring to the new situation caused by Pirelli’s rapidly-wearing 2013 tyres. Some hail the new era that stands in stark contrast to a decade ago, when quite often the pole sitter would be predictably unchallenged to the chequered flag.

Others, however, say Formula 1 is racing away from racing itself.

“Balance of power? At the moment that’s a bit of a joke,” said world champion Sebastian Vettel on Sunday when asked his thoughts about the respective strength of the teams.

“It doesn’t have much to do with racing, if all you’re doing is going easy on the tyres.

“If you lose five seconds per lap just because of the tyres, that doesn’t have much to do with the skill of the driver or how good is the car,” he told SID news agency.

Indeed, throughout the Shanghai race, drivers and engineers could be heard on the radios wondering if they should go wheel-to-wheel with their rivals, or simply stick the plan of a strategy based on nursing tyre life.

“Previously you could attack,” said Vettel, “but now, when it comes to fights, you’re a bit in the dark. Twice today I didn’t try to defend myself, because it would have just been shooting myself in the foot.”

1997 world champion turned TV pundit Jacques Villeneuve agreed: “I saw a few corners of action and then everybody taking care of their tyres.

“That’s not real racing,” he said on Canal Plus.

According to Niki Lauda and Bernie Ecclestone, the situation could change after Sunday’s Bahrain Grand Prix, with Pirelli reportedly taking a different tack for the European season and beyond.

Told that the status quo is difficult for the spectators to understand, Chinese Grand Prix winner Fernando Alonso said: “It’s the same for us (drivers) too!”

Lauda is quoted by APA news agency: “You have to wonder if it’s necessary for the tyres to be so on the limit, when everyone has to go in the box just after starting a race.

“It’s so complicated, especially for the spectators.”

  • McLarenfan

    Tyres dictating the race is truly a joke the race is pathetic when the cars are not going fast they are not fighting and then saving fuel its a punishment to watch

  • j

    What’s equally pathetic is a DRS overtake.

  • Bec

    Could be worse, we could have the processional races as supplied by Bridgestone back.

  • fapper

    i just hate how FIA dictated Pirelli about the tyre construction. why don’t Pirelli make a tyre that could really do well and ignore FIA’s orders? i really hate how the tyre situation is going right now.

  • mitchw

    I just turned Shanghai off after 10 or so laps. It’s already a processional as drivers are told to maintain a distance from each other to save tires, and the optimal tire saving speed doesn’t challenge the most interesting skills of these superb drivers or their engineers. Is this the kind of fantasy world the petroleum interests who support F1 think they’re think will get emerging markets addicted to driving? I’ve got pity for the drivers, dodging the police and stuck in traffic just like the rest of us.

  • Urko

    Wasn’t Whitmarsh & his golden boy Button who were at begining of the season trying to appeal on Pirelli to provide even softer tyres for this season. In our country we say “don’t wish for something cuz your wishes my come true”;))))

  • Jeff

    I pay extra for the satellite package which provides the F1 channel. I’m about ready to cancel that extra package. The Australian V8 supercars provide far more entertainment value than F1 this year (and I’ve been a fan of F1 for about 35 years).

    I want to watch racing, not a regularity rally

  • Apex Assassin

    Painful and EMBARRASSING! ;(

    F1 will never be able to win over fans with the show the way it is now.

    So the BILLIONS being spent to court the Americas is just money being thrown away.

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