Jenson Button has admitted that he is intrigued by the proposal to free up tyre choice for F1 teams from next season, even if it might not make too much difference to the racing.
The veteran, who is struggling with an uncompetitive McLaren-Honda package this season, started his F1 career in the pre-Pirelli era and has experienced various different approaches to the role of tyres in the top flight, but says that plans to move away from the two-compound choice presently on offer is one that could bring a new dimension.
“The tyre situation, in terms of us possibly being able to choose what tyres we bring, is exciting,” he confirmed, before admitting that there are still questions that would need to be answered.
“It sounds exciting but, in reality, [in Hungary] we would have had soft and supersoft and it wouldn't have been that exciting a race. The prime and the option we [had] were different enough to make the strategy interesting in the race. It might be a standalone circuit, but I feel having a choice of tyres wouldn't work so well from a racing point of view.”
What Button is more intrigued by, however, is Juan Montoya's suggestion that F1 needs to lose some of the technical assistance that currently exists and put tyre management back into the hands of the driver. The Colombian speaks from afar, having returned to the IndyCar series via NASCAR since his F1 career fizzled out, ironically with McLaren, but Button sees some merit in his former rival's suggestion.
“Obviously, there weren't any sensors when Juan Pablo raced, because we were both racing then,” the Briton recalled, “And, of course, when we got into F1, it was about learning about the tyres, it was about finding your feet and learning stuff for yourself. It wasn't about the team telling you about how hard to push through one corner and how hot the tyres are getting through another. You had to feel it yourself. For me, that was a lot more fun.
“There is a lot more information on offer now, which you are going to take if you are a new driver. But, for me, it was an area where you could work and improve yourself, and you could do a better job than other drivers and it could make a difference. Now it is not the case. I agree with Juan Pablo, which is very unusual – but I do agree with his point.”
Team-mate Fernando Alonso agreed that F1 has lost some of the fun, but insisted that it wasn't just the amount of data that was taking away from the sport.
“We had some freedom in terms of testing and in terms of improving the car,” he claimed, “You might find that your car is not competitive in the first quarter of the season and then you have some solutions in place and maybe you ended up the year in a competitive way.
“Now, [regardless of] having more or less sensors, the Mercedes will win all of the races and Manor will be last in all of the races. It is not the amount of information we get, it is just we have our hands tied for the season. When we put the car [on track] in Jerez and Barcelona for the first tests, it is a coin in the air. If it is competitive, you will have a good season and, if it is not competitive, you will have a bad season!”