9 June 2012
Teams still puzzling over tyre strategies
F1 technical directors admitted on Friday that they were still struggling to fully understand how to get the best out of the 2012 Pirelli tyres, despite a wealth of data available to them.
The F1 teams have no shortage of data about how the 2012-specification Pirelli tyres are performed so far this season, but it seems that all that data is still leaving them scratching their heads over how exactly to get the best out of the rubber in the upcoming races.
"As you can imagine we have a huge amount of data - as everybody else has," said McLaren's Jonathan Neale. "In terms of making sense of it, it's not a trivial question.
"I wouldn't like to claim for a minute that we've cracked it. We're working harder, we think we understand more about it but it's hard work," he admitted. "The interaction between track temperature, the vehicle dynamics of the car, the driving style, the ability of cars" we've seen at different circuits different people have been able to switch the tyres on very quickly and others taking much longer to warm up."
But the ultimate goal is clear: "We're all chasing the same thing, which is the first team to become consistent and get them in the sweet spot," agreed Neale.
"It is a very difficult problem," contributed Williams' Chief Operations Engineer Mark Gillan. "It's interlinked with the whole car/vehicle dynamics, the aerodynamics of the package, the drivers' styles and the driver is obviously an incredibly important part of the tyre management.
"It has become more difficult and managing the tyres through the weekend," pointed out Gillan. "The link between the driver, the car and understanding of the tyres is really crucial this year, and a lot of effort from all the teams will be going into that."
"The tyres have really created a fascinating problem and that's what F1 is all about," said Marussia Racing's Graham Lowdon. "I think what we're seeing now is all the teams are presented with exactly the same problem, and this is what this team sport is all about: who can solve it with the resources that they have and come out on top on Sunday, on race day."
Lowdon agreed that it wasn't a lak of data that was the problem - in fact, quite the reverse. "You can be swamped with data and go down blind alleys and that kind of thing," he said. "It takes an awful lot of technical knowledge and as you said as well, intuition, as well as all of that data."
HRT's Antonio Cuquerella said that in one respect the headaches over the tyres would be easy to solve with a different brief to Pirelli - but that was hardly the point.
"I think this is not just technical," he insisted. "It is good for the show that different teams can sometimes strike the maximum in some conditions and in other conditions, completely different, other teams can strike better. That, I think has been proved to be good for the show.
"Technically we all like to understand everything. But the proof is that all the teams didn't manage to understand things at the same time," he added.
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