Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Red Bull and Tyres

I must confess I don't understand Red Bull's attacks on Pirelli this year. See Autosport's story for the latest grumble.

Unsafe the tyres are most certainly not. We've had no spontaneous punctures (the only failures have been where nasty sharp carbon fibre shards have been involved) and although there have been a couple of delaminations at Mercedes, the carcass has remained solid and the car has continued to be driveable.

Well, I say I don't understand the attacks - but of course I do. I just don't want to.

Most F1 fans (I think) tend to believe what they read in the papers, hear on the radio and see on TV. But the problem is always the sub-text. What people are not saying. And what Red Bull are not saying is that they believe their car is so much better than all the other cars, which they could prove by running off into the distance if only they could get some consistent rubber to race on.

They understand (of course) that the tyres were designed to be unpredictable and degrade in order to make the racing more interesting. But no team wants interesting racing, they want to win. Winning an interesting race is great, obviously, but they would never choose interesting over winning. So their campaign is aimed at  getting back closer to 2012 rubber, where their aero package would work even better than it does with 2013 tyres.

That would probably be seen as unfair on the teams like Lotus (née Toleman) who designed their cars to the published specifications. But, as lobbying for change to the rules is not itself outside the rules, it's considered fair game. Compulsory even.

It's pretty well known that F1 teams find it impossible to be unanimous about pretty much anything. Which is why there is still no (Concorde) agreement to define the commercial agreement between the teams and FOM. It is amazing that the teams ever agreed on the name Concorde. There used to be a story that at one of the meetings at Heathrow airport, the only agreement reached just before the lunch break was what sandwiches should be served for lunch...

When I've talked to F1 engineers and team principals, the key message seems to be that they don't really mind what the regulations are, as long as they are the same for everyone. Of course, if you can get the regulations that you believe would benefit you (eg a budget cap would benefit a less well-off team, unlimited testing is more desirable for teams with large budgets) then all well and good.

The FIA is there to define the regulations, which they've done. And they should remain static for the year. I personally would like to see Pirelli give three sets of each of the four dry compounds to the teams for each car. And then let the teams use them how they like over the weekend. Regardless of the circuit.

The strategy options would multiply significantly, introducing more doubt, and teams would have to push more. If they think the Mediums are wearing too quickly during free practice, they could qualify on Softs and then switch to Hards and run without a stop in the race. Or throw on a set of Super-Softs for the last three laps if they get a puncture.

Of course, there would still be something we'd find to complain about, as would the teams. But I still think it would be fun.

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