F1 teams unanimously vote not to use Pirelli’s new 2020 tyresKeith CollantineRaceFans

Drivers had expressed doubts over the new constructions after testing the during the first practice session for the United States Grand Prix in November. They were given the chance to test the new compounds alongside the 2019 rubber at Yas Marina last week.

However that failed to ease concerns over the 2020 tyres. Following the test Romain Grosjean said the new tyres were not a clear improvement over the ones used this year.

How many more stories like this do there need to be before people start concluding that Pirelli simply aren’t up to the job of supplying tyres to Formula 1?

4 comments

4 comments

  1. I must disagree that the drivers voting against the adoption of the 2020 tyre is reason for considering Pirelli unfit to supply tyres to F1. It seems to me that the company has been painted into a corner by the insistence that they design tyres that degrade in less than a race distance, thereby forcing pit stops to change tyres. The fact that they can produce tyres that degrade at fairly precise rates surely means that they are amazingly skilled at producing tyres to order.

    If the 2020 tyres are insufficiently different from those being used this year (which seems to be the problem for the drivers), it makes perfect sense to stick with the present tyres. And that, I think, indicates that, in spite of the grumbles heard at the beginning of 2019, the tyres have proven to be fit for purpose and are now preferred by the drivers. Hardly the work of an incompetent company.

    You cannot insist that a tyre manufacturer supply tyres deliberately designed to behave in a certain way and then complain when they do exactly as requested.

  2. I would have agreed with you in the early years of Pirelli’s supply, Clive. But they have been asked to follow a number of different philosophies over the years, and we are supposed to have left the “high degradation” philosophy behind when Pirelli produced the larger number of compounds. The tyres have remained poor regardless. They were also never asked to create tyres that constantly delaminated, as they did in the early days. Nor were they asked to create tyres that randomly explode, as happened at Silverstone in 2013.

    I’m not entirely sure that the tyres “degrade at fairly precise rates” as you say. My impression is that the Pirellis are still rather variable in quality and unpredictable in behaviour, given that the teams and drivers continue to criticise the tyres on an almost constant basis.

  3. I think you say it all when you say, “they have been asked to follow a number of different philosophies over the years,” Duncan. In keeping up with the constantly changing goalposts, Pirelli have demonstrated a surprising flexibility and advanced technology in designing tyres. To point at a few tyre failures over the years is unfair, I think. F1 takes tyres to the limit and all manufacturers that have participated have experienced the occasional failure.

    It may be a product of having been alive too long but I think the answer to F1’s tyre problems is to scrap the whole idea of forced pit stops. Replace the range of short-lived tyres with a tyre that is designed to last the entire race and we can return to a position where tyres are rubber bands on the wheels that have no influence on the race. Oh, for the good old days when racing was racing and not tactical computation.

  4. Unfortunately, the FIA has repeatedly told Pirelli to make poor tyres (sometimes to instructions that conflict with itself, such as in 2017 when it was told to make tyres that were both more and less durable simultaneously), and appears to be unduly swayed by the amount of advertising revenue Liberty receives from it (hence the creation of a tender agreement which was only possible for one company to satisfy, because nobody else could afford to make tyres on two different philosophies simultaneously – Pirelli could because one was so similar to its current offering). So I would say this is more the FIA’s issue than Pirelli’s.

    The drivers I saw quotes for regarded the 2020 tyres as being notably worse than the unsatisfactory 2019 tyres due to the introduction of new, weird breaks of traction. They were not offered a tyre they were happy with, so they picked the least bad option. The “precise degradation rate” is not demonstrable, because in several races this year, drivers have received a set of tyres dodgy enough to force a strategy change. When most races are “1 stop or 2?”, that’s suggesting that the variation exceeds 33% of the maximal tyre life, which is… …not normal in any era since the 1980s. Also, Pirelli have had to backtrack their design on other occasions, including the notorious 2013 occasion Stephen cites – there had been random sudden failures since at least Barcelona (I remember strongly because Force India had a tyre failure there that forced a change of strategy), but it had been allowed to carry on that long because the powers-that-be were forced to examine the issue until it visibly influenced the championship at Silverstone.

    I’m going with “Pirelli’s tyres are poor, but the FIA doesn’t want tyres that are good, and also likes that Liberty gets something that the FIA can potentially “trade” for it, so the FIA is encouraging and sometimes enforcing the low quality”.

    I think, like Clive, that forced pit stops should be banned. However, I also think the FIA should let go of some of its control instinct – enough to allow a more competent company (at this point, every other tyre manufacturer that has a racing branch would be a better choice).

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