Pirelli under attack from teams again
Tyres come under fire for being too hard and too slow, while teams express preference for low-profile Michelin rubber
Pirelli had hoped that their decision to supply harder tyres to Formula 1 this year would lead to a season out of the limelight.
But while the furore over various aspects of the new rules ensured that was indeed the case in the first few races, it has not taken long for grumblings to emerge again about the quality of the rubber supplied to F1.
Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso – who had a public row through the media with Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery last autumn – has become the first major figure to voice criticisms. “They are too hard. There are no secrets,” he said of the tyres after Monaco, before expanding with a withering criticism of their lack of ‘raceability’.
“When they bring normal tyres with good grip, we finish the tyre in two or three laps. When they bring harder tyres we finish the tyre in eight or nine laps, but we go very slow. The tyre is what it is and what it has been for the last four years unfortunately.”
Alonso’s point is that the drivers face the same problems whether the tyre has the right grip level for the track or too little – they still have to manage severe degradation even with hard tyres, and therefore cannot push hard throughout a stint.
This marries with the assessment of leading engineers, who, behind the scenes, have been saying similar things for some time. One engineering boss of a top team told F1 Racing that the tyres are no more durable than at any time over the previous three years of Pirelli’s tenure – they’re just harder.
The general feeling among teams and drivers about the tyres, if still unspoken in public, is that while they do a job, the Pirellis are of a standard that does not befit the world’s highest level of motorsport.
And the teams’ wishes were made clear in a document prepared for the strategy group rule-making body. An analysis of the case to switch to low-profile tyres and 18-inch wheels in the future was illustrated by a rendering of a Ferrari on such tyres (above) – but they bore Michelin branding.
Pirelli, under contract until 2016, say they are not aware of any dissatisfaction: “Pirelli prefer not to reply to remarks that have not been made directly to us,” a spokesman said. “The only direct comments we have received so far have been positive.”
Pirelli are contracted to supply tyres to F1 until 2016, and say they they have received only positive feedback