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Marko weighs in as Red Bull pursues tyre rethink
24 March 2013
Outspoken Red Bull motorsport advisor Helmut Marko has added his voice to criticism of this year's Pirelli tyres, as the team argues for a return to 2012 rubber.
Amid claims that the revised compounds being provided by the Italian manufacturer are prone to higher than acceptable rates of wear, and mitigating against those teams producing the most downforce from their cars, Red Bull – and Mercedes – have apparently led calls for the reintroduction of last year's tyres.
According to Germany's Auto Motor und Sport, Adrian Newey has made the direct link between downforce and wear.
“It's not like before where [higher] downforce is synonymous with low wear,” the design guru is quoted as saying, "Just the opposite occurs. Whoever loads the tyres more in the corners pays the price as the tread peels faster."
World champion Sebastian Vettel, who saw victory in Australia lost to tyre wear, has made no secret of his dislike for the 2013 rubber, and confirmed to the same publication that 'the better the car, the worse shape you're in'.
Now, Marko – who was spotted in earnest conversation with Mercedes' Niki Lauda at Sepang – has weighed in on the debate, claiming that Red Bull's perceived car advantage is being unfairly eroded by the tyre problem.
“You have to be careful with any notion, as it is only the second race, but it gives us a bit of a headache if we cannot realise the potential of our car and our drivers because the tyres don't allow it,” he told the official F1 website, suggesting that the decision to go softer across the compound range in search of unpredictability may have been 'a bit over the top'.
“The whisper in the paddock is that this year's tyres are a bit too extreme,” he continued, “Fact is that the tyres are not only developing extreme degradation after only a few laps, but [losing] big chunks. It looks like there is an issue with the basics of the tyres, as we have these kinds of issues not only in high temperatures but also under cool conditions.
“Note, the tyres have these problems - not us. Other teams witness these kinds of problems in different shapes, but it cannot be that you have a car that has the best downforce and you have to reduce it to make the tyres work. I always understood that the best and fastest should win - and not that the one who builds the best car is punished for it.”
Marko admitted that, despite seeing Vettel again claim pole in Malaysia, he feared the race could be a repeat of Australia, where Red Bull was forced to make three stops, while Lotus only had to change tyres twice on Kimi Raikkonen's car as the Finn came through to win from seventh on the grid.
“With the high temperatures and the high speed of some corners [at Sepang], I would say that the tyres are at their limit, so I think some teams will be lucky to do the whole race distance,” he opined.
Lotus' success in Melbourne has also led to suggestions that Pirelli's use of an old Renault chassis for its development work may have played into the hands of the Enstone squad, with Marko claiming that 'the tyres are designed for this type of car – and the Lotus of today has the same DNA'.
The Austrian has said that he intends to sit down with Pirelli representatives in the three-week break between Malaysia and China 'to discuss the tyres, to find a solution'.