F1 veteran Alain Prost has refused to condemn the current situation where tyres appear to be the dominant factor in the sport, claiming that things are better than in the past.
While team principals argued around him about the decision to introduce different tyres from next month's Canadian Grand Prix, Prost – a special guest at the regular opening day press conference – insisted that it was wrong to criticise a situation where the racing was unpredictable and championships went to the wire.
“I think, in the past and very recently, [F1]'s been very much criticised for not having a show,” he opined, “We should feel very lucky that we have these kind of races. In the last few years, we have the [championship] decision only in the last grand prix.
“Next year, when we have the new engine coming, we will talk maybe a little bit more about the engine, the technology, about being much closer to the product of the automotive industry. But we still need to keep the show; we need to keep the indecision. At the moment, I wouldn't criticise what we have today.”
Asked for his views on the drivers' regular complaint that they are no longer able to go flat-out, and drive at 100 per cent, for an entire grand prix because of the need to manage their tyres, Prost admitted that things had changed since his day, but insisted that the ability to adapt had always been a part of F1.
“I think it's difficult to compare, obviously, because today the cars are so advanced [and], normally, the driver can push 100 per cent in normal conditions,” the three-time world champion suggested, “The tyres this year are very soft, which makes it a little bit different.
“In our time, if you want to compare, we had to take care of the brakes and gearbox and fuel consumption and, obviously, also tyres because, sometimes, we had to be careful of the tyres. But the regulations were also very different and, at one stage, we had three types of rubber and we could make changes. I very often ran hard tyres on the left and soft tyres on the front. I even raced in Las Vegas in '81 with qualifying tyres on the front….
“That means we cannot compare, but it also proves that you need to adapt yourself, as a driver, as an engineer, to the regulations. Obviously, we're experiencing complaints this year... In fact, it's not that different compared to last year, except that you maybe don't want to see some rubber on the track and having accidents. But, apart from that, you just have to adapt to the situation - drivers or engineers. It's typically F1.”