Formula 1 tyres debacle causing split between team bosses

Pirelli tyres took a pounding in Barcelona

Pirelli tyres took a pounding in Barcelona

In the aftermath of the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona, the words on everybody’s lips are the same: Pirelli tyres.

Indeed, so crucial is the impact of Pirelli’s controversial product this year is that rumours are swirling that Red Bull mogul Dietrich Mateschitz may have renewed his threat to pull out of Formula 1.

Reports say the Austrian met with fellow billionaire Bernie Ecclestone in Barcelona, shortly before hinting to reporters that he is losing his patience.

“Formula 1 tyre management is not a race,” Mateschitz told German newspaper Bild. “The tyre is a means to an end – it’s how you transfer the potential and performance of the car and driver to the road.”

But he said the current situation “contradicts” the very idea of motor racing.

Dietrich Mateschitz (AUT) CEO and Founder of Red Bull. Formula One World Championship, Rd 11, Hungarian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Budapest, Hungary, Saturday 4 August 2007. BEST IMAGE

Dietrich Mateschitz not happy

Whether Mateschitz threatened to quit or not, or whether the Formula 1 chief executive heard Mercedes‘ Niki Lauda say the 2013 tyres are “the biggest joke”, Ecclestone is now on board.

“The tyres are wrong,” he is quoted by the UK newspaper Express, “(and) not what we intended when we asked Pirelli to produce something which did a half race.

“Pirelli know it and they’re doing something about it. We’ll go back to last season’s type of tyres, which gave us some close racing,” he added.

As ever in Formula 1, however, it’s not that simple. The complaining is not universal — especially among teams who have made the tyres work for them so far.

“It’s not as simple as that to just change the tyres,” Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali told Auto Motor und Sport.

Eric Boullier happy with the 2013 tyres

Eric Boullier happy with the 2013 tyres

Lotus team boss Eric Boullier agrees that pulling the rug from under teams who are not complaining is “not fair”.

“Pirelli was asked to build tyres that last 20 laps, and they’ve done that. If our car can do it, the other teams should work just as hard,” he told German RTL television.

Pirelli is also protesting about the fairness of the current situation; criticised if they do nothing, and potentially accused of favouring Red Bull if they make a change.

“If we do something that helps them,” Paul Hembery is quoted by the Guardian, “we can understand that Lotus and Ferrari won’t be happy. We will be damned if we do and damned if we don’t.”

He is quoted by Brazil’s O Estado de S.Paulo newspaper: “It would be much easier and cheaper to produce tyres that last the whole race.

Paul Hembery

Paul Hembery says it would be easy for Pirelli to produce long lasting tyres

“Anyone can see the amount of tyres we are manufacturing and taking to the race tracks. We could greatly simplify our task. As I’ve said, it’s a choice between one or another kind of competition.”

On the Formula 1 grid, competition and politics speak the loudest. “The more frustrating the results,” Welt newspaper correspondent Simon Pausch said, “the louder the complaints.”

Times journalist Kevin Eason, characterising Mateschitz’s words as a “declaration of self-interest’, added: “(The) Tyres (controversy) is only a symptom of deep confusion and malaise in Formula 1.

“Costs, 2014 engines, division of wealth etc,” he added on Twitter. (GMM)

  • Butterfly

    The faith of the championship rests on Paul Hembery.

    If Red Bull manage to influence the decision and Lotus & Ferrari get hit hard, then something’s really wrong in F1.

  • Not Bernie

    Should F1 be simply about who can manage the tyres the best? What about engine, aero, driver input? Tyres should be part of the equation, not the entire equation. And that’s why it needs to change.

    You can argue that right now Lotus and Ferrari have figured out how to get the most out of these tyres, and perhaps they have for a fast circuit like Barcelona where they’ve already done a lot of testing. But later when they get to circuits where they need more grip it could be a very different story. The balance could once again swing towards Red Bull and Mercedes.

    It’s that sensitivity of the tyres which needs to be eliminated.

  • McLarenfan

    Paul Hembery & Pirelli take a lot of stick and as he said they cant test the tyres without a car that is almost up to date god help them next season. Pirelli needs to make some changes to the de-lamination aspect that is a must.

  • Bec

    A split between teams, yeah between those that have designed a car for qualifying and those that have designed a car for the race, and some that have compromised both disciplines.

  • Butterfly


    But the delamination you’re talking about – and that I saw on TV – happens because these tires have a metal layer added to them. So when you have a puncture, instead of having the carcass flying around, it simply detaches from the metal layer.

    Meaning, punctures leave the metal layer exposed. Now, people probably think the tire spontaneously delaminates without notice, but I don’t think that ever happened.

    Granted, the tires are softer and more prone to punctures, but it was known since last year that these tires would be softer.

    To me, this is a non-issue. I hope Pirelli do nothing.

  • John BB

    The F1 cars for 2013 season with all intents and purposes should have been designed to meet this years tyre prospective.

    To change the prospective five races into the season seems a little unfair for all concerned.

    The German financed teams did not have much of a problem when they looked like they may walk away with the season again.

    But Mr Alonso and Mr Raikkonen teams have changed the stacked deck against them

    But Spain seemed to make Red Bull and Mercedes kick off with Heir Vettel and Mr Hamilton both with a face a lot like Mr Hamilton’s Bull Dog of which is not to happy looking.

    Lets hope Lotus and Ferrari chase the 2013 F1 Season to close and sportsman like finnish please.

  • BobMendon

    It seems to me the equation favors two teams at the expense of the rest of the field. Of course Lotus and Ferrari think the tyres are just fine! It seems to have have gone unnoticed that prior to the Spanish GP, Pirelli promised a hard tyre that was supposed to last longer. However it turned out not to be case and as a matter of fact the tyre was worse and just coincidentally favored the Italian team with the Spanish driver. Hummmmm….

  • McLarenfan


  • Apex Assassin

    Ecclestone told Sky Sports: “The tyres are wrong, not what we intended when we asked Pirelli to produce something which did a half race…”

    Told you all PIRELLI SUCK and THIS ISN”T WHAT F1 WANTS!!!

    Where’s mclarenfan to regurgitated the Pirelli press releases? :P

  • MacStar

    The tyres are what they are, why change them to favour certain teams? Everyone must play catch up and find a way to agree on 2014.

  • Flash Flaherity of the Long Ski

    First: There is no metal in an F1 tire under the tread. They use lightweight materials, such as Nylon, Kevlar and polyester materials. Metal bands at 200MPH would cause huge expansion (explosion actually) and has not been a part of race tires for decades.

    Second: Pirelli is attempting to do something no other tire manufacture has dared – create poor performing tires on purpose. This assumes they knew everything they needed to know to know where they could adjust performance – which is simply wrong.

    Third: Just as wet races cause inconsistent results, frequently favoring slower cars, so do these junk tires. Lotus is slower than Ferrari, Merc and RBR, but that slowness is concealed by skipping a stop during the race. Ferrari is inconsistent – masked by the hobbling of faster cars around them as teams baby tires rather than race. Merc is perhaps very quick, but handicapped by tires that cannot support the pace. Meanwhile Red Bull have yet to run a flat out race this season.

    Bottom line: Pirelli has failed to deliver predictable tires, which makes designing and tuning cars around their garbage product impossible. This does add a level of lottery to each race. Only those cars incapable of the quickest laps (Lotus and Force India) benefit, or those inconsistent (Ferrari) benefit from the handicap Pirelli junk now places on the fastest cars in each race. No matter who wins the WDC or WCC in 2013, it’s tainted. The fastest car and driver will not likely win, it will be the team and driver who can manage to execute one single effort: tire strategy. That makes F1 2013 a complete joke.

  • Tornillo Amarillo

    Paul Hembery is wrong when he says they will be damned if they change the tires and damned if they don’t…

    They are damned because the tires in 2013 are worst, give less racing and more tire management, and they are dangerous.

    The 2012 is not the ideal tire but it is better than the current ones, if they cannot produce the ideal one right away.

    I hope Kimi could adapt to the new tires to come, I think he can. Ecclestone let the things go too far really, he failed as Pirellis failed IMHO.

  • Mark

    This is a joke, “understanding the tyres” understanding? people saw 2 fast laps from mercedes then a crappy car running at the same pace of Marussia. Understanding tyre degradation? Hilarious, look at Sebastian running 1 second slower per lap than Fernando, then from one lap to the next one 5 seconds slower. Fernando and Ferrari did a good job on that 1 second per lap, but from 1 sec to 5 in 1 lap is bullshit!

    I support Sebastian and I wish I could see him battle Fernando with blood and fists in the track, I wish we all had a good RACING spectacle not a bunch of dragging ass cars trying to reach the end of the race.

    Mr. Ayrton Senna (R.I.P.) must be rolling over in his grave.

  • Mateschitz the crybaby

    Redbull designed their car for maximum down force and to do that they need hard tires. The real fact is Redbull designed their car for one thing when the sport was going another way and they got it wrong. Now Mateschitz wants to cry like a little baby.

    Well boo hoo Mateschitz, I hope you do pull out because your unlimited spending only proves the age old fact that money buys speed. Redbull, Ferrari, McClaren and Mercedes are perfect example why there has to be a spending cap in the sport. Why the hell have 10 team when only four have the money to out do the other six teams. Might as well have only Redbull, Ferrari, McClaren and Mercedes and drop the other six teams.

    Put a spending cap at 100 million a year make all the teams run the same floor design, get rid of the high noses and go back to single element wings front and rear. That will allow all 10 or as it is now 11 teams to have an equal chance instead of Redbull, Ferrari, McClaren and Mercedes spending up to three times what the other teams have to spend.

    I would just as soon see Redbull, Ferrari and Mercedes all go away and replace them with three new race teams as the sport would be far better off. McClaren I can see staying but they need to get their spending in order with the other teams.

    There is no reason we can’t have great racing on a budget of 100 million a year.

  • Butterfly

    For those with good memory, the RB9 used illegal engine maps as well in pre-season testing even though the FIA clearly stated that in 2013 teams must use one of the maps used in the four races of 2012. Of course, Red Bull and Renault tried to have it their way and said “No, that’s not true, you have to run the whole year with the engine map you used in the first race of 2013″.

    It takes quite a bit of nerve to say something like that to the FIA given that they’re the ones who make the rules, but, whatever, there’s plenty of arrogance over in Milton Keynes I guess.

    So going for downforce instead of tire management isn’t the only thing that Adrian Newey got wrong this year.

  • Butterfly

    Spending caps cannot be enforced. And they shouldn’t.

  • Butterfly

    … but they could create multiple classes within F1, like at LeMans. Top teams like Ferrari, McLaren, Red Bull, Lotus, Mercedes could run top-tier prototypes, while the rest could go for a lower class, something they can produce easily.

    Or, allow customer cars.

  • Steve

    “For those with good memory, the RB9 used illegal engine maps ..”

    For those with a good memory, no, the RB9 did not use “illegal engine maps”.

    Braterfly is probably thinking of the RB8, not the RB9. But that did not use “illegal engine maps” either. No RB car has ever used “illegal engine maps”.

  • Steve

    You read these idiotic stories and you come away thinking that everybody loves the tyres except Red Bull. Apparently it’s Red Bull on one side and everyone else – Pirelli, all the other car makers, the press, and fans – on the other. In which case it’s inexplicable that Pirelli are changing the tyres.

    It becomes a lot more explicable if you realize that the picture being presented here is false. The tyres are almost universally disliked. I saw Massa saying bad things about them after taking his first podium of the year.

  • Butterfly

    No, retard, it was this year’s Red Bull during winter testing.

  • Not Bernie

    As someone else pointed out, Pirelli also have engineers embedded within each of the teams feeding back information on how the tyres are preforming.

    Pirelli will know how each team are loading up the tyres, and how they’re lasting or failing. Although some have suggested they’re deliberately favouring *the* Italian team, I’m sure that another race we’ll see them favouring a different team; they’re that sensitive.

    With these tyres Monaco could be a right mess.

    Although the way the Ferrari got off the line in Barcelona, and how it managed it’s tyres, was more like a car that had some sort of traction control. Does Ferrari have some type of system to launch them off the line and not damage the tyres during the race? It’s an interesting question.

  • McLarenfan

    @Butterfly: you are correct but the tyres do not use metal braiding it is a composite carcass as they wouldn’t hold together with all the g forces and downforce, Years ago in road tyres we had a thing called retreads, they were like what you see now as the Pirelli de laminates they peal off that layer and bond a new one on but at speed they used to de laminate again and were made illegal. it is the bonding coming adrift after damage yet we have not seen it on a LOTUS have we!!!! but on sky sports they have said they are doing some changes a mix between last years tyre and this from Canada due to public and team pressure.
    I think Pirelli should cure the bonding of the tread and make them finish the season and next year help them test the tyres on something like the right machine.
    @Apex Assassin: I only talk English you jerk

  • Race Bear

    It is time to do away with official suppliers of this and that. Just as teams build their own cars, supply their own fluids (oil and fuel) they need to be allowed to supply their own tires from whichever manufacturer they’d prefer!

  • JuniorJohnson

    Hi guys beutiful day isnt it.i think that they should change theses
    Tires for sure.yesterday my brother was driving around he’s bought one of those new ferraris it came on in pirellis tires
    On all sides.Well they burst just like that so my brother went and brought some hankooks.These are much better tires for sure.My brother told me his car goes faster now and corners better then before.I must say I can feel the different this is what F1 needs!

  • JuniorJohnson

    What we all need to do is if we have pirelli tires.We all need to stand together united as one to save our beloved sport of F1 our beloved child!If anyone has Pirelli or Pirolta tires which I believe is part of the same company we need to pull them of of our cars and burn them the easiest was to do this is probly to pour some gas or other burny liquid on it.We can no longer afford to suppert factories that exploit our beloved sport.
    Having said that we can’t be sad and angry all the time.Just looks at the pictures in fact I laughed when I did and you will to.Matazit is confused as hell he’s going something like Horner and newey are the best builders why are these tires destroying them and then that lotus guy is going woot woot woot and lastly I mean that last pic is hembrey and he’s just like something alo g the lines of well I just don’t care you fighting girls

  • airman1

    We all seem to remember that situation was more or less the same last year. All teams were bitchin’ about the tires, until they were able to understand them and then they stopped. All of them. Most vocal was Ferarri, closely followed by Mercedes (well Michael mostly), but all of that stopped when they figured out what to do. So they went and made cars thinking that well they know the tires, so no drama. Well Pirelli (or whomever told them to, my vote is the bookies as they are standing to make the most money out of it) threw them a curved ball. So we are back in the 2012. Some figured out the tires, some didn’t. Tires are part of racing, otherwise cars could using wooden blocks if they weren’t. I agree that having a tire that can maximise the potential of the car is cool, but what isn’t cool is the guy pulling away in the distance finishing the race with like 50 sec advantage, and only passing and action happens in the pitts! Besides, those are supposed to be “the best drivers” in the world, so I guess now it’s the time for them to put their money where their mouths are. Let them manage the tires, and see who can make the best of it. Now shold Pirelli make sure that tires are safe? Absolutely, no one wants to see guy dies because his tire delaminated at 250 km/h.

  • Speedo

    Is this F1 or what? We saw the procession in Barcelona including the winner Alonso – all on tyre preservation and teams requesting their drivers to slow down. Never heard of it. Do we want pit stops almost 90 or do we want racing at full throttle. You can not compare this years tyres to that of last year or 2011. I would not want a tyre puncture deciding the outcome of the WDC in the final race in Brazil.