Drivers unite to demand better-performing tyres
Years of complaints gain focus as leading drivers engage with Formula 1’s tyre supplier to chase a high-grip future
Pirelli have agreed to look into designing higher-performance tyres for 2017 after the drivers made it clear they were unhappy with the current high-degradation rubber. The drivers’ views were represented at a meeting of major stakeholders at Pirelli’s Milan headquarters in early February, which was attended by Sebastian Vettel, Nico Rosberg, Kimi Räikkönen, Daniel Ricciardo, Daniil Kvyat, Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa.
Also at the meeting were Pirelli chairman Marco Tronchetti Provera, F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone, FIA president Jean Todt, Ferrari chairman Sergio Marchionne, Mclaren boss Ron Dennis and the heads of Mercedes, Red Bull and Williams.
Before the meeting, the drivers’ dissatisfaction with the current tyres had finally been made public through the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association chairman Alex Wurz. He told the BBC the drivers wanted to “help and support GPDA chairman Alex Wurz has voiced the drivers’ desire for higher-grip tyres Pirelli to construct a tyre fit for maximumattack racing”.
He said the drivers wanted tyres that “allow them to push and extract everything possible from these extraordinary race cars again, because that's what F1 is about, the pinnacle of motor racing, which we all love.
“The drivers want to underline very clearly that they would love Pirelli to produce a tyre that goes faster around corners as well as being safe. If we get sticky tyres, we will have happy drivers, and happy drivers mean authentic and honest performance, pure message for the product and driving the cars to the maximum.
“That’s what we want and, according to the fan survey we did last year, that’s what all the fans expect.”
Wurz’s comments, and the subsequent involvement by the drivers at the meeting, mark a sea-change after years of muted dissatisfaction with Pirelli’s tyres. These have to be managed carefully to avoid going beyond a certain temperature threshold. If tyres exceed this temperature, their performance never comes back. The drivers have never liked these characteristics, but have only occasionally voiced dissatisfaction after being warned to air their views only in private.