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Pirelli: Degradation 'an opportunity, not a problem'

Following prolonged criticism from drivers - the latest from the mouths of Sebastian Vettel, Fernando Alonso and Adrian Sutil - Pirelli has insisted that to design fast-deteriorating tyres in F1 2011 was only to fulfil their brief
Pirelli has responded to mounting criticism from drivers that the swift degradation of its F1 2011 tyre compounds will make life difficult indeed over the forthcoming world championship campaign, by reminding them that it was the teams and governing body that specifically requested just such a specification and that 'this is an opportunity for the sport, not a problem'.

After Team Lotus star Jarno Trulli last week lamented that Pirelli's development work had 'missed something' as 'the tyres are not balanced yet' [see separate story – click here], F1 World Champions Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso as well as Force India ace Adrian Sutil have become the latest competitors to express their concerns.

“The problem is the tyres wear down too fast,” Red Bull Racing's defending title-winner Vettel told Austrian television channel Servus TV, musing that the drop-off in performance could be in excess of ten seconds-a-lap. “They are only good for 16 or 17 laps, then they start to break up and are ruined, then the driver doesn't have a chance – the problem is that after a certain number of laps the tyre is finished, no matter what the driver does. The feeling when driving is different, and that is a pity for us.

“For a team, it would not be a problem [to resolve that issue], but for the whole field it will take a while to get used to the tyres. For now, it's too late [to redesign the tyres]. We will be racing again in just a few weeks.”

Vettel dismissed the notion that the likes of McLaren-Mercedes rival Jenson Button – who is famously easy on his tyres – stand to benefit from the new specifications compared to those of Pirelli's predecessor Bridgestone, whilst Alonso fears the anticipated rise in the number of pit-stops to replace worn-out rubber in grands prix in F1 2011 will provide strategists with regular headaches and arguably penalise the traditional big-hitters by shaking up the order and making the outcome of races unpredictable in the extreme.

“From what we have seen so far, degradation is very significant – the hard tyres degrade just as quickly as the softs – which means we will have races with lots of pit-stops,” the Spaniard mused. “I'm not keen on that, because I think this increased uncertainty does not favour the strongest teams.

“It's as if in football it was decided to have a penalty per team each half hour, in which case Barcelona and Real Madrid would not be jumping for joy. However, the situation is the same for everyone and it will be important to be fastest, because I don't think we can make one stop less than our main rivals.”

“It's like being in a touring car or on intermediates,” Sutil told German magazine Auto Motor und Sport, contending that due to limits on the number of sets of tyres that each driver can use over the course of a grand prix weekend, one of the upshots of such severe degradation is that there will likely be substantially less running during free practice in order to preserve them, adding that 'after the tyres break down, you can't really test anything'.

“I've tried to drive differently, say 20 per cent slower at the beginning, and that gives you maybe one more lap. We will probably all be pitting at the same time, and quite often.”

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
10/2/2011- Adrian Sutil (GER), Force India F1 Team, VJM04
18.02.2011- Fernando Alonso (ESP), Scuderia Ferrari, F-150 Italia
19.02.2011- Sebastian Vettel (GER), Red Bull Racing, RB7
10/2/2011- Paul Hembery, Pirelli Motorspor Director and CEO East Asia and Pacific
Tyres Pirelli
13.02.2011- Tyres Pirelli
Pirelli tyres
Pirelli tyres
Nobuharu Matsushita, ART Grand Prix, Sauber, F1 [Credit: Honda Racing]
Sebastien Ogier, Red Bull, RB7, F1 test [Credit: Red Bull Content Pool]
Sebastian Vettel (GER) Ferrari SF70H
Sebastian Vettel (GER) Ferrari SF70H
Sebastian Vettel (GER) Ferrari SF70H
Sebastian Vettel (GER) Ferrari SF70H
Sebastian Vettel (GER) Ferrari SF70H
Sebastian Vettel (GER) Ferrari SF70H
Sebastian Vettel (GER) Ferrari SF70H

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Mart247 - Unregistered

March 02, 2011 2:09 PM

Oh god yeah, stamp out the chance of any excitement straight away. What driver wants that instead of 3 stints of just driving around within 0.1 each lap ? Maybe all the above named drivers need to have a little think that the sport isn't there purely for their benefit !


March 02, 2011 10:53 PM

Anyone remember 2005, when they could only use one set of tyres per race? As far as I recall, there was a lot of passing and great racing that year, though I'll give tons of credit to the talent and amazing efforts of a certain Mr. Raikkonen. What was wrong with that? We still had everyone's beloved pitstops anyway.

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