17 April 2013
Time for a return to a tyre war?
The Chinese Grand Prix was entertaining, no doubt, but the fundamental point is that entertaining races can be found in a whole host of other series; Indycar, GP2, British Touring Cars and sportscar racing to name but a few.
The reason why F1 continued to hold its mystique in the processional era that precluded the move to highly-degradable tyres was that it was the undisputed leader in almost every field of motorsport, and engineers and drivers settled for nothing more than precise perfection.
The same cannot be said of the sport in 2013, where marginal tyres have rendered many traditional aspects of F1 to the status of moot points, with the overriding emphasis centred on keeping the tyres intact.
Unfortunately, entertainment is vacuous without an attractive product to underpin it, and the attraction in F1 found in its ability to challenge engineering minds, and showcase the talents of the greatest drivers on the planet.
A car that is easy on its tyres, and a driver that can look after his rubber as opposed to aggressively battling for an overtake, should never be the features that lead a team to success.
Some races in the tyre war era may have been predictable, but at least we knew the reason for certain outcomes. They were the result of innovation and a sense of ferocious competition. The unpredictability of races in the Pirelli-era are more the result of luck over judgement; of whether you ruin your tyres stuck in the wake of another car, or wreck a race strategy from a simple lock-up.
Nowadays, the car with more downforce can be at a disadvantage due to its propensity to work the rubber harder, and surely this flies in the face of progress?
For F1 to remain the premier sport on four wheels, a tyre war is a much better alternative to the current malaise. Sure, there were problems before, but the regulations could be changed so as to avoid the intensely close relations we saw between tyres and teams in the previous era.
Ultimately, a variety of manufacturers allows fans to become emotionally invested in the fortunes of a company, and it adds another dimension to the show.
If the sport wishes to avoid the charge that it has sacrificed sporting values for entertainment, then it could do a lot worse than to instigate a tyre war, and bring speed back to the forefront of the minds of the teams, drivers, and fans alike.
by Joshua Bonser
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