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Posts for Tag: Tyres

3 Long Weeks in F1

3 weeks have gone by since the Canadian GP weekend on 9th June. The long break also meant that a lot would happen outside the track as well.

In the weeks leading upto the British GP weekend many talking points have emerged and the British Grand Prix itself has caused more unrest in the world of F1.

1) The International Tribunal Verdict on the "PirelliGate" scandal :

The Verdict was out on 21st June after the hearings in Paris. Mercedes AMG Petronas & Pirelli received reprimands and the former was excluded from the Young Driver's Test to be held at Silverstone.

Mercedes would view the verdict as fair but the others felt it was a big let-off. Ferrari and Red Bull made their feelings known publicly but the verdict was given. The results of the last 3 races ( including Silverstone ) clearly indicate that Mercedes has gained an advantage through the tyre-test held at Catalunya. Hamilton was successful in carrying out a 2 stop strategy ( including the damage tyre stop ) to finish 4th after being bumped down to 22nd due to a tyre burst at the British GP. His race pace clearly suggested that the team had made giant leaps and seemed to have ironed out their tyre degradation problems.

The results have helped them leap-frog both Ferrari and Lotus F1 to 2nd in the Constructors' Championship and Hamilton has closed in on Raikkonen for 3rd place in the Driver's Championship.

Christian Horner, Red Bull Team Principal was livid when news emerged that Ferrari were planning to run a similar test on a 2011 chassis with 2013 aerodynamic parts. He has written to the FIA wanting clarifications on the prerequisites of a legitimate test and what chassis should be allowed to run.

2) Mark Webber announces his retirement while Vettel extends his deal for another year at Red-Bull :

Mark Webber chose Silverstone as the appropriate weekend to announce his retirement from the sport. He shall switch to Le Mans with Porsche. Red Bull were caught unawares and will have to move quickly for a replacement. Vettel extended his contract for another year and it was no surprise for the 3 time F1 World Champion. 2014 though see new power units so he has kept his options open for 2015. The Incident in Malaysia and his non-cooperation in helping Vettel for his 3rd Title would have

The Big Talk in the Paddock though is : "Who should replace Webber for 2014? "

The Canditates : Kimi Raikkonen, Daniel Ricciardo, Jean-Eric Vergne.

Daniel and Jean-Eric drive for the sister Red-Bull ( Toro - Rosso ) and have moved up the ranks in the Red Bull Driver Program. The duo definitely will make the promotion to the " A " team one day but a move in 2014 would be a bit premature. Kimi Raikkonen is the favourite to land the seat.

I feel that Kimi Must Stay at Lotus F1 for 2014.

Kimi has finished every race since his return to F1. He has beaten Michael Schumacher's record of 25 consecutive points finishes. Its a big feat considering that Kimi didn't finish as many races ( let alone in the points ) even in his championship winning year in 07. He was riddled with incidents and unreliability in his past seasons but Lotus has helped him finish all races since his return. Kimi has claimed that he enjoys life at Lotus. A Blunder in Silverstone might not cause him to defect but it will definitely cause him to lose some confidence in the team. It is paramount for the team to hold onto a driver like Kimi. He is a World Champion and his contribution over 2 seasons has helped a mid-table team become a top team in F1. The team can attribute their position in this year's championship to his consistent performances. Grosjean has been mercurial and still needs to develop as a challenger to the title. Kimi would be irreplaceable and another driver of his calibre might not come to Lotus. Maldonado is being looked at if a replacement is needed but he would not be a Kimi. I also dread the prospect of having Maldonado and Grosjean in one team considering the reprimands and penalties both have incurred in the past 2 seasons. The Team must do a rethink if such a move is being hinted at.

Kimi enjoys being No.1 in the team and enjoys life outside F1 too. He has many interests and was on a leash during his time at Ferrari. Lotus has allowed him to pursue other interests and brought in the people he enjoyed working with ( Mark Slade who was his engineer at McLaren ). Red Bull might not follow the same philosophy and Vettel has been the favoured driver throughout his time there. Dr. Helmut Marko wants to land Raikkonen and I see it more like a stop-gap arrangement for Red Bull until the time is right for the Younger Toro - Rosso Drivers to make the big leap. Red Bull is the best car on the grid but is prone to Failures, the most recent being Gearbox Failure for Vettel at Silverstone. However Kimi will do what he thinks is best and our opinions won't really matter.

"Just Leave Me Alone, I know what I am doing" - Right, Kimi !

3) Suspension Change for Lotus F1 before Nurburgring, Launch of "The Device" :

Lotus F1 was reported to the stewards by McLaren Mercedes after the latter spotted an anomaly in their suspension. Article 10.5.2 of F1's Technical Regulations states: "The loads from the suspension members and wheel bearings must individually and entirely be carried by the suspension upright. Exceptionally up to three suspension members may be connected together by titanium, aluminium alloy or steel components before their load is passed into the upright."

It is suggested that the Lotus design could be interpreted as having four suspension members connected together, rather than the maximum three.

The Team has been instructed by the FIA to modify the same prior to the Nurburgring Grand Prix next week and the team has agreed to do so. The Effects of such a modification would only be known by the end of next week.


The Team also ran their talked-about innovation at Silverstone - The Device or the Passive DRS. Kimi Raikkonen ran this configuration on his car's rear-wing throughout the weekend. The Race Pace was good and a strategic mistake caused him to lose a sure podium. The performance though of the system cannot be doubted and will definitely aid team performance on faster circuits like Italy, India.

4) De-lamination at Silverstone, Pirelli pulled up :

Pirelli has already been at the centre of controversy due to the "PirelliGate"  Scandal. They came into Silverstone hoping to put the worst behind them but their problems haven't left them. Perez Suffered a left rear de-lamination in the Final Practice and the Race Saw 4 Tyre Bursts - Hamilton, Massa, Vergne and Perez. Hamilton was the biggest loser as the tyre burst robbed him of sure victory. Massa too missed out on the podium after a strong start in the race.

The Tyre Burst for Hamilton jeopardized Track Safety causing the Safety Car to come out and other 3 drivers also suffered on track. Pirelli were left red-faced and Paul Hembery was summoned by the FIA President Jean Todt and Race Director Charlie Whiting over safety of the tyres. Reports are also hinting at Razor-Sharp Kerbs at turn 4 close to where 2 of the blowouts occured. Cuts on the Tyres were also reported so Pirelli might not have to bear the brunt but a change in construction would now be mandatory.

Pirelli had expressed their desire to replace the Steel Belt with a Kevlar Belt to improve tyre durability but Lotus F1 and Ferrari voted against such a move and the plan was scrapped. A Steel Belt Construction also helped Pirelli to keep costs in check but a change is imminent now starting from the Hunagarian GP. Lotus F1 and Ferrari would feel hard done by such a move as their cars are kinder on their tyres. Tyre Bursts occured with the usual suspects but Pirelli can't shy away from the incident.

Anthony Davidson of Sky Sports F1 also pointed out a change in construction of the tyres. Video Evidence Shows that Tyre De-Lamination at Bahrain wasn't as damaging as the ones in Silverstone as Pirelli had a wider belt in Bahrain allowing Cars to maintain form unlike Silverstone which caused extensive Floor Damage.

5) Introduction of Mid-Season Testing for 2014, Point Systems for Penalty applied :

The Decision for Mid-Season Testing has been made and it makes a return for good. The Young Driver Tests, held to allow teams to evaluate potential drivers, will be abandoned in favour of a return of mid-season testing. Four European venues will each host a two-day test in the week following the Grand Prix held at the circuit. The move will definitely rule out the possibilities of secretive tests and encourage healthy competition.

The teams agreed upon the introduction of a "penalty points" system for driving offences. Driving offences would carry a pre-determined points value based on their severity that would be tallied up over the course of a season, with a driver receiving a race ban after accumulating twelve penalty points. The points would stay for 12 months and there would be a possibility of drivers carrying the same into the next season which I am a bit skeptical about. More changes have been introduced, most notably a downgrade from the 2.4l V8 to 1.6l V6. Drivers shall have only 5 engines as against an allocation of 8. A 21 Race Calender shall not help teams putting immense strain on the resources and personnel. Hopefully Racing isn't compromised amongst all this.

A lot has conspired in the 3 weeks gone by. A lot of unrest has been caused and the Sport is going through a rough phase. However the racing has been fantastic and hopefully will stay that way.

I look forward to the German GP Next Week as I shall have the privilege of being in the Paddock with the Lotus F1 Team and meet my hero Kimi Raikkonen again.

F1 was missed, Welcome Back!!

The Tyre Crisis Deepens...

F1 has always been the pinnacle of Motorsport and has had a global fanbase. However down the years, controversies and scandals have threatened to throw the sport into disarray. The Sport has weathered many storms to come out stronger.

Another controversy has hit the sport and the FIA would hope to resolve the same at the earliest. Pirelli made a return to F1 in 2011 and has had a torrid time in the sport since.

2012 saw a few teams struggling to find the correct balance for the tyres and tyre degradation was a big issue for them.

2013 has seen worse as the Tyre Life has reduced inspite of Pirelli introducing varied compounds. 2 Dry Tyre Compounds are chosen for each race weekend along with the Mandatory Intermediates and Wet Weather compounds.

The Spanish GP weekend saw the highest number of pit stops ever and the Pole Sitter Hamilton moved backwards after struggling to find grip with the tyres. Other teams too had similar complaints, the exceptions being Ferrari and Lotus F1 who seemed to have got a measure of these tyres.

The Debacle for Mercedes AMG Petronas left Pirelli Red Faced and the duo decided to perform a 1000 km test in accordance with a directive in the FIA rulebook. The Duo did a 3 day test panning 1000 km post the Spanish GP weekend albeit SECRETLY using their 2013 Car.

The Same was brought to light at the next race in Monaco and the FIA and other competitors were not pleased. In the Aftermath of the same, Red Bull and Ferrari lodged a former complaint against Mercedes AMG Petronas and contested the race under protest.

The decision makers of both Pirelli and Mercedes were summoned by the stewards post race and realizing the gravity of the situation, the case has been transferred to the Tribunal and the Verdict of the same is awaited.

What Next for Pirelli and Mercedes AMG Petronas?

This incident does not augur well for Pirelli. The Company acknowledged the excessive change of tyres in the Spanish GP and promised to bring in tyres with better grip starting from the Canadian GP. However the FIA immediately wrote off such a move stating that the company could only make changes to the tyre citing safety concerns and not performance related problems.

The only way to appease the aggrieved parties would be to perform the 1000km test and so at Pirelli's Behest, the test was performed.

The Duo did approach the FIA in regards to conducting such a test and the latter informed them that the same could be carried out provided every other team is given the opportunity to conduct a similar test in order to maintain full sporting equity. The FIA received no further communication in regards to the test and the other teams were also unaware of such a test.

Pirelli's reputation would definitely take a hit and its future in the sport definitely seems gloomy.

Mercedes AMG has been the team most affected by the mercurial performances of the tyres. Their Single Lap Pace ( In Qualifying ) has been stunning and they have grabbed 5 poles so far in the season. The Race Pace though has been their bone of contention and both their drivers have moved backwards down the field after qualifying in positions which promised victories.

The continuous criticism by the team has meant that they try to bend the rules and find a solution to close in on the rivals. The Test is not illegal considering that a provision is there in the rulebook but the team is definitely accountable for choosing to not inform their rivals about such a test.

All teams had a sufficient testing period prior to the start of the season and teams like Ferrari and Lotus F1 mastered them going into the season. They would feel hard done by such a step and Ferrari's discontent is justified.

Nico Rosberg won the Monaco Grand Prix but experts don't consider this result an immediate fruit of the test. Monaco being a street circuit offers rare overtaking opportunities. It worked well for the Mercedes AMG and a victory was certain if they would manage a front row lockout which they did.

The outcome of the Canadian Grand Prix in a fortnight would definitely be looked at. If the team has gained from the test, the same would definitely come to the fore.

A War of Words has already begun and the issue needs to be doused quickly.

What would the verdict be if found guilty?

The International Tribunal would definitely ask Pirelli to issue a Formal Apology to the affected parties offering them the opportunity to run a similar test whenever they deem it necessary. A Financial Reprimand also cannot be ruled out.

I believe that Mercedes AMG would receive a points deduction. An Exclusion from the Constructors' Championship, if given might be too harsh.

The Outcome would be pivotal for the sport. The Fans would hope that Sporting Equality is maintained. The other teams would hope that justice be given and a feasible solution reached.

Excerpts from the Report issued by the Stewards :

We just have to wait and watch.....

The " T " Word, A Bone of Contention.....

The Spanish Grand Prix started the European Leg of the F1 Calender. Fernando Alonso powered his Ferrari to Victory in front of his adoring fans. Kimi Raikkonen drove a very smart race to finish 2nd and Felipe Massa made it a Ferrari 1-3 on the weekend.

The Race though would be remembered for the "T" Word as everything revolved around it.

The Influence was so much that most were left ruing their race pace.

The "T" Word is the ( Pirelli ) Tyre.

Teams have always been suspect about the longevity of the tyres over a race weekend and the Spanish GP has only added fuel to the fire.

The Race saw a total of 82 pit stops and Paul Hembery, the Motorsport Director of Pirelli later admitted that there were too many pit stops and Pirelli shall address this issue starting from Canada.

Vettel said that he had to race at the pace of the tyres while Kimi was not bothered about it. Kimi finished his race using a 3 stop strategy while Alonso accomplished the same on a 4 stop.

Pirelli had chosen the hardest tyre compounds for the weekend. The Lap Time Difference between the two was marginal. However with the exception of Kimi Raikkonen and Jenson Button, everyone opted for a 4 stop strategy for the race. The Lotus E21 has always been easy on its tyres and the team has made little noise about tyre performance.

Mercedes AMG Petronas have been the biggest losers and they simply can't make their tyres last long enough inspite of earning a hattrick of poles this year. Both Drivers have gone backwards after leading for few laps.

The Reaction has mostly been negative but I feel the criticism is somewhat harsh.

The Tyre Characteristics have been such that certain tracks have favoured certain cars up until now. We would definitely not hear Red Bull complain about tyres when they won in Bahrain or Malaysia. Ferrari seemed to have found a sweet spot and have kept mum about it.

Formula 1 has changed a lot since the Schumacher days. Schumacher with his Bridgestone Tyres made it very difficult for the rest to win and to some extent finished the excitement in F1. Races were boring as the German smoked his opposition taking victories after starting from pole positions.

Martin Brundle said that in the early years of Formula 1, the fastest car would be on pole, the slowest on the back of the grid and the order would stay the same as the tyres never degraded and the grip levels were always the same.

The Pirellis though have spiced up the races. A driver can afford to be in a slightly slower car and yet finish well if his car is easy on its tyres running the right balance. The Tyres musn't always be the sole deciding factor in the championship battle though and that is the issue that Pirelli needs to address.

Incidents of Frequent Punctures and Sudden De-Lamination have not aided Pirelli's Cause.

Pirelli did bring in better rubbered compounds and more tyre options this year but the struggle continues for most teams.

It might be hard for Fans to see their teams struggling but for a neutral, every race turns out to be an intriguing one.

The Sport would need to take certain steps to appease the affected parties :

1) Pirelli has already promised and is working towards offering tyres with better longevity Candian GP onwards. Hopefully the promise delivers for those affected on track.

2) Pirelli needs to have a test-car during the winter months which would help them in understanding the issues that teams are facing while running different setups in the Pre-season tests itself.

3) In their quest to reduce pit stops for a driver in a race, the company must ensure that the minimum requirement of stops be maintained and not make the mistake of making non-degradable tyres and end the importance of pit stops.

4) Address the Issue of De-Lamination which has become a frequent occurrence off late.

Pirelli's entrance into F1 was like a breath of fresh air and a great leveller. All the teams had to start from scratch with Pirelli and the field has closed up quite nicely.

I hope they continue to the Sole Tyre Supplier for the Sport. I am sure that they have the technical expertise and personnel to iron out the issues that teams are facing.

The Season is getting interesting.....