I have nothing against Pirelli as a company, and I am sure that they make very high-quality tyres. But for this F1 season, they have specifically been asked to produce tyres which degrade quickly, and don't last very long. The result of this is many more pit-stops per race than we have seen before, to change tyres which have worn out after only a few laps, and a need for very different team strategies from in previous years.
Now, as I mentioned, this isn't the first attempt by the FIA to make F1 more "exciting". I've never really been in favour of this concept at all (you don't "design" excitment - that's like trying to plan spontaneity) but I think this new move, with the short-life tyres, is taking things too far.
In today's Spanish Grand Prix, choice of tyres played a big part in the teams' strategies; in my opinion, too big a part. I'm no expert - just an F1 fan, watching on my sofa at home every week - but it seems to me that the high levels of tyre degradation are, in fact, stopping the drivers' true skill levels coming into play.
Maybe I'm just becoming sentimental in my old age (of twenty) but I seem to be missing the days when a second-place driver, in a faster car, would work hard to catch the car in front, wearing down his lead by maybe one or two seconds a lap. Or when a driver would have to build up a lead over his rival, in order still to be in front after his pit-stop, maybe over a period of ten or fifteen laps. This year, you'd get half-way there, then you'd have to stop to change your tyres, and all that hard work would be lost!
I think that today's Grand Prix illustrated this particularly well, with the two Renault cars showing us just how much difference new tyres can make. Nick Heidfeld failed to qualify, and started from the back of the grid, in 24th place, while team-mate Vitaly Petrov qualified 6th, in an identical car. The two drivers have seemed reasonably well-matched in terms of skill, in previous Grand Prix, but Heidfeld gained 16 places during the race, to finish 8th today, with Petrov dropping back 5 places, and finishing in 11th.
So, why such a difference, between two closely-matched drivers in the same car? Tyres. Having not done a single lap of Qualifying on Saturday, Heidfeld had six brand new sets of tyres available to him during Sunday's race - in contrast, Petrov had used some of his tyres already, getting into the Top 10 in Saturday's Qualifying, and so had fewer sets of fresh tyres at his disposal the following day. Petrov's hard work and brilliant Qualifying drive all went to waste, while Heidfeld was (in my opinion) rewarded unduly for his lack of Qualifying performance.
In essence, it seemed to me that it didn't matter a whole lot how good a driver you were, how quick your car was, what grid position you'd managed to achieve in Qualifying, or anything - the only thing that mattered was having fresh tyres.
This was also, I felt, borne out by something BBC F1 commentator Martin Brundle said -
"As we've just seen, it doesn't matter what position you have - you're going to get nailed if you're not on the right tyre!"
So, to sum up, I seem to be missing the old days of F1 - whether this is pure sentimental nonsense, or not, I cannot say, but I certainly can't help but feel that these new tyres, and the changes to strategy that have come with them, are not an improvement.
Perhaps Pirelli can make us something that lasts a little longer, for next season?