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Qualifying tyres answer to Q3 absences?

18 May 2012

Pirelli has said that it would consider introducing specific 'qualifying' tyres for the 2013 season in a bid to ensure that Saturday's timed session did not suffer at the hands of teams determined to save rubber for the race.

With this year's Pirelli rubber designed to degrade faster and produce a more tactical element to Sunday's action, but stricter limits also placed on the number of tyres available to each driver, it is a lingering spectre that sees teams opting to sit out the final phase of qualifying rather than chasing a spot higher up the top ten.

While Lewis Hamilton, Pastor Maldonado and a handful of others made an effort to chase pole in Spain last weekend, others – including world champions Sebastian Vettel and Michael Schumacher chose to complete out-laps only in a session already robbed of Sauber's Kamui Kobayashi through technical gremlins.

"Once again, the unpredictable races have taken the shine off qualifying, as many are realising that a race supply of new tyres of the right compound are more important than grid position at some tracks,” Sky Sports F1's Martin Brundle explained, “Qualy needs a careful tweak with a clever solution for 2013. Possibly a set of tyres only available to those who make Q3 would help, but then the racing wouldn't be so interesting if the top ten had such a tyre advantage on race day."

While various solutions have been suggested to ensure that there is no repeat – including awarding points for qualifying, imposing a 107 per cent limit on all sessions, or simply penalising those not setting a flying lap in Q3 – the answer, according to Pirelli's own Marco Tronchetti Provera could be to reintroduce the 'qualifying tyre'.

"The proposal has been made following recent criticism, notably by seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher, of Pirelli's 2012 product,” Tronchetti told Italian radio station Rai GR Parlamento, "What we have is many competitive cars, which is what the teams wanted — opportunity for everyone who is able to win. So it's fine if someone complains. We are available to the teams. We are ready to make qualifying tires tomorrow. But they are choices that are not ours."


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