25 June 2010
Lowe: Rapidly-degrading tyres have positives and negatives
McLaren-Mercedes' engineering director Paddy Lowe has warned teams and drivers to be careful what they wish for in terms of tyre-degradation, arguing that tyres that go off too quickly present something of a 'conflict of interest'
Following the entertaining spectacle provided by the Canadian Grand Prix a fortnight ago – in large part thanks to tyre-degradation – there are high expectations of a similarly exhilarating outing at Hockenheim next month, but Paddy Lowe has warned that for a tyre-supplier to provide rubber that rapidly goes off is a double-edged sword.
The race around the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal was widely-regarded as the best of the year so far, and with Bridgestone having given in to pressure and announcing that it will take the two compounds at the very opposite ends of its spectrum – super-soft and hard – to the German Grand Prix at the end of July, another thrill-fest has been predicted.
With more such aggressive approaches potentially in the pipeline for F1 2011 when Pirelli picks up the mantle from its Japanese rival, it has been mooted that next season could finally see the kind of breakthrough in terms of overtaking and on-track action that fans have been eagerly awaiting for years. Just don't get too excited too soon, Lowe cautions.
“I don't know if we can expect such an extreme result as in Canada,” McLaren-Mercedes' engineering director stated in a special Vodafone McLaren-Mercedes Phone-In Session, when asked about Hockenheim. “What happened there (in Montreal) is that the 'Prime' tyre was graining very badly, which is pretty atypical to expect from a regular circuit characteristic. The nature of the Canada circuit is that it has that tendency with all the tyres.
“I think we can clearly see the effect of having tyres that degrade rapidly, and we would like to see that more often and definitely want a lot more of that type of outcome – it increases the spectacle and the uncertainty, and it gives us more stress on the pit wall! There is, however, a little bit of a difficulty we should recognise, which is that a tyre-supplier doesn't generally want the subject of discussion after a race to centre on how bad its tyres were. There is a little bit of a conflict of interest there that we need to acknowledge.”
Aside from Germany, Bridgestone has also revealed the tyre selections that it will be taking to every grand prix over the next three months, with super-soft and medium for this weekend in Valencia, soft and hard for Silverstone, super-soft and medium for the Hungaroring, soft and hard for Spa-Francorchamps and Monza and super-soft and medium for Singapore.
“The characteristics of the Hockenheim circuit allow us to bring the compounds from the extremes of our softness range,” explained Hirohide Hamashima, the company's head of motorsport tyre development. “This will give us very good data for evaluation, and will be interesting for those who have called for a bigger difference between the allocated tyres.
"The Hungaroring requires a softer allocation, as finding grip is always a target there. Spa and Monza are high-speed tests for cars and tyres, needing a harder allocation because of the heat durability requirements, and Singapore is a high-speed street course, where the softer allocation is suited.”
German Grand Prix
Canadian Grand Prix
Circuit Gilles Villeneuve
Click on relevant pic to enlarge
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