Tuesday, 14 May 2013

#F1 - A tyre-anny of Pirelli?

Well, if you're a Formula 1 fan, you'll already be well aware of the debate raging within the sport about Pirelli's current models of race tyres.  (And if you're not a Formula 1 fan, you probably won't enjoy this post that much!)  Red Bull's Dietrich Mateschitz claims that F1 has "nothing to do with real racing any more" and that too much emphasis on tyre-management is ruining the sport - and similar complaints have been heard from some drivers in the field, as well as many of the fans.

I actually raised this issue on this Blog two years ago, in May 2011.  I didn't like the attempts to "engineer" more excitement in the sport, and I used the example of two teams mates - one qualifying in the Top 10, and one starting from the back of the grid, whose final positions in the race ended up almost reversed - to illustrate how I felt the high degradation of the Pirelli tyres were having too much influence on the results of races.

Although I still feel that way about the Pirelli tyres, I can't help but feel that Red Bull are just having a bit of a moan.  For the past three years, Red Bull have had undisputedly the best car, designed by one of the best designers in the business, Adrian Newey.  This year, their car (while still very, very good) comes in behind several of the other teams in a couple of keys areas - one of these areas in the way the car manages the tyres; Lotus, in particular, and also Ferrari to a certain extent, have managed to design a car which is kinder to the tyres than the Red Bull.

What we are seeing from Red Bull now, of course, is nothing less than the petulance and querulousness I would expect.  Every team designs their car to the same set of regulations, so in that respect everybody starts from an equal footing - rather than accepting that, on this occasion, the chaps at Lotus have done a better job than they did, and trying to improve their own car through upgrades as the season goes on, Red Bull have demanded that the tyres which all the teams have to use be changed to suit them.

As far as I'm concerned, this cannot be allowed to happen.  Much as I would prefer tyres which aren't so unpredictable, it would not be right to change things part-way through a season, just because one of the teams has thrown their toys out of the pram.  By making the tyres more Red Bull-friendly, Pirelli will be effectively making life harder for Lotus and Ferrari - in this situation, it could be Pirelli who "choose" who they want to win the Championship this year.

No, having started out with these high-degradation tyres, we must stick with them for a whole season.  By all means, change them for next season (when the regulations on engines and car design will be significantly altered anyway, and all the teams will be starting again from scratch) - but changing the tyres midway through the year would be like changing the rules of football to allow goalkeepers to handle the ball outside the penalty area, just because one of the Premier League teams reckon they'd have a better chance of winning if that rule were different.  Red Bull need to be told that if you're not doing well enough within the current regulations to win, you simply have to try harder, or take a different approach - not ask the sport's governing body to change the rules to help make it easier for you!

If Pirelli do change their tyres, in response to Red Bull's complaints, how much more are we going to see of teams campaigning for changes to rules they don't like?  In the end, Caterham will kick up an almighty fuss and demand that the points system be changed so that you can only score points if you drive a green car, meaning that they'll end up as Champions unless all the other teams repaint.