Well, it’s official… Pirelli will change the tire compounds for 2013 in what is sure to be a controversial move should Red Bull regain its dominating stance and start making hay with the new tire compounds come the Canadian Grand Prix. Pirelli’s motor sport boss, Paul Hembery, even fingered Red Bull as the main benefactor should they change the tires for 2013.

The tire issue has gone on long enough and while a few teams and drivers are relishing the current performance advantage they enjoy with this years compounds, the majority of the teams are struggling with the aggressive nature of this years construction and degradation levels. Pirelli were keen to point out that the delamination of the tires this year posed no safety concern.

Let’s be honest, Pirelli are providing what Formula One asked for so there shouldn’t be any vitriolic diatribe issued at their expense. I suggest they were trying a little too hard to out-think the teams with this year’s compounds and went a bridge too far. There is no harm in that other than millions of dollars in lost points by teams that otherwise may have finished the first 5 races in higher positions if they had a moderately degrading tire with which to work.

Pirelli know how to make an incredible tire and they know how to provide what F1 is asking for but sometimes the planets don’t align and the sun doesn’t always shine of a particular action such as making a more aggressive tire for 2013. Pirelli admitted that their simulations were off and without more in-season testing in hot weather, it is difficult to nail the spec down completely. Here is teh full press release:

Milan, May 14, 2013 – This year’s Pirelli P Zero Formula One tyre range will change from the Canadian Grand Prix onwards, using a revised construction.

The move follows the Spanish Grand Prix, which had four pit stops per driver. The new range will combine elements from the 2012 and 2013 tyres to have both durability and performance.

Pirelli’s motorsport director Paul Hembery said: “Our aim is to provide the teams with a new range which mixes the stability of the 2012 tyres and the performance of the current ones. As a company, we have always moved quickly to make improvements where we see them to be necessary. After evaluating data from the first few races this year, we’ve decided to introduce a further evolution as it became clear at the Spanish Grand Prix that the number of pit stops was too high. The Spanish Grand Prix was won with four pit stops, which has only happened once before in our history. These changes will also mean that the tyres are not worked quite as hard, reducing the number of pit stops.”

With limited testing time, it’s clear now that our original 2013 tyre range was probably too performance-orientated for the current regulations. However, having identified this issue, we’re determined to rapidly resolve it. It’s worth underlining that the current regulations for winter tests limit the opportunity to test the tyres under the same conditions as the race season because of the lower temperature and restricted time. The Teams are of the same opinion as we are in wanting longer testing times and different locations for the next tests. We developed the 2013 tyres on the basis of careful simulations that were, however, not sufficient, taking into account the improved speed of cars (up to 3 seconds per lap).

We’ve also taken this step to avoid the delaminations that were caused by track debris. It’s important to point out that these delaminations, which occur when the tread comes off, do not compromise the safety of the tyres as the core structure of the tyre is not affected in any way, helping drivers to complete the lap and to change the damaged tyres safely. These delaminations were due to damage from debris that overheated the tread.   We’d like to thank all the teams for their continued and extremely valued support as we worked with them to identify the correct compromise between the pure speed that makes us the world leader in the Ultra High Performance sector and a global spectacle that is easy for Formula One fans to follow.”

As I mentioned in our podcast, I’ve worked with Pirelli and you won’t find a better group of people committed to providing a better product. They understand the issues and have decided to remedy the situation. Even with the tires issues of 2013, I couldn’t have more respect for them if I tried and you should also afford them the patience of trying to work within F1’s guidelines to “spice up the show”. Making this type of tire goes against everything they would normally stand for and that is to be commended from a marketing stand point.

An F1 fan since 1972, NC has spent over 25 years in the technology industry focusing on technology integration, AV systems integration, digital media strategies, technology planning, consulting, speaking, presenting, sales, content strategy, marketing and brand building.
  • UAN

    I’m with you Todd, big respect for Pirelli and they have been tasked with a specific mission from F1 and they’ve done that job.

    At the same time, F1 is turning into less into a race and more into a time trial, where cars on the track at the same time are not racing against each other but against the clock and who can get to the finish line in the shortest period of time. It’s processional, just in a different way.

    • Formula Rally. :)

    • KevinW

      If you go to the body shop and say “I want my car painted this shade of green” with a sample provided, and they paint the car green, just not the color you wanted, or an attractive color of green, do you give them credit then? Pirelli was asked to produce a tire that increased strategic choices through decreased stint lengths. They delivered that, but it’s not the right shade of green. They delivered tires that are unreliable, unpredictable, and inconsistent, which is causing more problems than the simple reduction in laps run between tire changes. They delivered green, but its a hideous, undesirable shade of green, because they truly do not know what they are doing, made assumptions on poor test protocols, and guessed their way through the entire temperature issue. They have failed, period. Now that the tires are coming apart, they are promising changes? They are floundering, and making excuses, blaming the FIA, bashing teams directly… it’s pathetic. Hembry should be sacked, Pirelli should be dumped. The FIA should be slapped and this entire direction in F1 needs to be burned out of the sport. Sorry, but single manufacturer spec tires have no place in F1, especially spec tires designed to be rubbish right out of the mold. Pirelli should be embarrassed as a corporation for participating in this charade.

      • I’m trying to have some deference for them Kevin as I do not know to what extent they were asked to be even more aggressive this year. I owe Pirelli that as I have worked with them and know them to be really great and capable people with a terrific product.

  • KevinW

    I am not as gracious as some will be. Pirelli have delivered tires that are unsuitable to F1 competition, and should be held accountable for that. The quickest teams are struggling with the fact that the tires are unpredictable in behavior. The slower teams are using pit strategy to cover their lack of pace, while the quickest are hobbled. This has changed F1 from racing to a tire strategy contest. Pirelli is partly responsible for this. The FIA want more pit stops and greater degradation, so be it. This does not mean they wanted inconsistency and unpredictability, but that’s what they got. The single spec tire approach is flawed, the concept of controlled tire degradation is flawed. The tires the teams are now dealing with are a disaster, and it’s Pirelli that has taken this on, and who must fix it without making it more of a mess than it already is.

    • I tend to have some quarter for a company trying to find their part in the tactical challenge game much the same as Michelin tried at Indy and were too aggressive. This also doesn’t account for how much pressure they were under to create and even more aggressive tire to keep teh teams guessing and spice up the show. What their part in that mental game was, I do not know.

  • gsprings

    well, if the intent was to slow down redbull, than much has worked

  • I think the issue is bigger than the tires. The F1 power brokers have created what I call the Anti Racing System in a overzealous and desperate attempt to get aunty Mitch to watch every race because “…look there is sooo much passing going on, and they change tires in 2 sec, how exciting… ”

    Obviously the underlying motivation is to push the in my opinion already hopelessly exaggerated viewer and fan numbers even further to justify advertising, sponsorship and race license fees to the next government of Zimbabwe or wherever.

    I know, it sounds very negative but it is sad and painful to watch F1 move into the wrong direction. I love the sport which has been part of my life for over 35 years (active as a racer and passive as a fan) but in my opinion the Anti Racing System has caused “The Show” to loose it’s sporting component and therefore my interest.

    What’s the Anti Racing System? Here you go …

    Cheers, Peter

    • It’s not popular but I am for curbing the aero in F1 and leaving to constructs out of the equation. Let’s go with a specification rear wing that only produces a certain amount of downforce and let them balance the rest of the car with that starting block. Manufacturers even admit that the aero in F1 is completely irrelevant to their road car program so we know that ins’t a knock on effect. Why not limit some of the insane downforce in favor of mechanical grip and that should clean the air as well.

      • Exactly, you got it. I’ve been saying that diffusors, tea trays and any other kind of “under car aero” needs to be eliminated to make good racing …

        a) It reduces the overall downforce that doesn’t come form the wings and is therefore very sensitive to dirty air

        b) all the underbody wizardry is not visible to the spectator / viewer and therefore provides *zero* “entertainment value”

        d) the increase in relevance of mechanical grip against aero-based grip will put the drivers literally back into the driving seat. Following closely in corners and battling for position would not be a problem – guaranteed.

        I don’t know who keeps driving the aero maximus lobby but I am bored to death by trying to follow which little flaplet has been added underneath Fernando’s bum in order exploit his exhaust gas turbulence for increased downforce.

        It is an abomination that every even slightly interesting racing moment is destroyed by either DRS or tires falling apart or fuel running short or the team’s satellite link to the supercomputer being down.

        How are we going to remember any of those race moments – like we used to Senna vs. Prost squeezing down the start-finish straight, Mansell surprising Piquet in Silverstone or the legendary Villenneuve vs Pironi … will it be like “remember, when button pressed that DRS button down the finish straight and made the final pass to win the championship in 2015, – that was coool…) Pffffft.

        This all goes along with the proliferation of artificially designed circuits that that have 56 turns – there are no landmark corners anymore like 180R or Eau Ruge where special things happen. The most interesting thing we hear these days is that Alonso achieved to be in the 1 sec detection zone in turn 43 – wow! Really?

        I’ve recently forced myself to watch some off-road truck racing in the states. Not my thing, mud flying and all but hey, once you drop your F1 snobbiness on all the shiny stuff you realize that it’s real racing. I bet once you get to know the drivers and teams that battle each other and really have to work for each position, it will be a blast to watch. BTW, zero tyre stops, DRS not existant, underbody aero? Blank stare …

        It’s the racing stupid.

        Ok, let’s define “racing moment”: A moment during a race where one driver is approaching another of the same or a competing team with the intention of overtaking that other driver in order to improve his overall position in the race, where the approaching driver has to apply all his skill in positioning, bluffing and eventually outsmarting the leading opponent, who himself applies every trick in the (rule) book to defend his position”

        A racing moment is not: “A moment where one driver approaches another with the intention of passing which is achieved by waiting until either a) a DRS zone is entered and he can use one hand to press the DRS button and the other to display his friendliness cia a
        friendly handwave, pr b) the leading driver has splattered all his way to soft tyre rubber all over the road and waves the approaching driver to pass because he fears not to be able to make it back for the 12th pit-stop”

        Hey, here is an idea, why not illuminate blue flags as well, everyone races everyone on the track no matter how often you are lapped _ I am sure Lewis would like that, doesn’t make a difference to the audience in terms of knowing what’s going on anyways.

        An alternatively an old-school thought: It is fine for two drivers to battle the entire race to have one fantastically executed, really ballsy overtaking manoeuvre – that is why I’d be watching. If I want to experience more DRS assisted passing I’d take our family van out on the highway, close the rear vents to reduce drag and pass a bunch of pickup trucks – congratulations!

        As it is right now, I am sorry to say, watching F1 is a waste of otherwise great family, gym or dog-park activity.

        • I can’t take credit for it, Paul Charsley suggested it to me and I agree with him. I put it to Steve matchett and he agreed that the aero is the man behind the curtain on this issue. Thanks for your very passionate response and sharing your opinion mate.

  • Rapierman

    Okay, Pirelli admitted their mistake and are now fixing it. I can let them off the hook. Now, I also want my pound of flesh from the FIA for ordering this stupidity to begin with. What are they going to do to make sure that they are held accountable for this blasphemous atrocity upon mankind? >:(

  • charlie w

    I will, steadfastly, remain in the minority on this issue. Come end of this season, I’ll be ready to hear the 2 most popular statements from the teams:

    “We would had done much better in 2013 if Pirelli had not changed tire construction…”


    “After the Montreal race, our car and team became really competitive due to the revised tire construction…”

    I’ll let others match the team, driver or team principal to one of the above lines.

    • No harm in holding to your position mate. Stay strong in that. This is F1B and while we disagree, you’re opinion is just as valid mate. I live that you are holding fast to it. Keeps us frosty. :)

  • PM

    James Allen has a great analysis on the affect on f1 that this decision will have. It seems that Pirelli has potentially shot Ferrari, Lotus and Force India in the foot. Now these three teams will have to devote more resources to change their cars. While Ferrari has the budget to make these changes without affecting 2014 too much, I can’t say the same about Lotus and Force India.

    It is sad to see the championship being whittled down to a two horse race between Alonso and Vettel, with Kimi losing out through no fault of his own. Ironically, it was Pirelli who said that they wanted to have a minimum impact on the championship, but it seems that this decision will potentially have the biggest impact.

    Let’s hope that the changes prove to be minimal and doesn’t favor one team over the other.

    • MIE

      The profile of the sidewall and its stiffness was changed between 2012 and 2013. To adapt to last years tyres will mean changes to:
      front wing;
      brake ducts;
      suspension geometry;
      spring and damper rates.

      While the teams have the data from last year I doubt that they can just bolt on last years parts to this years car. The redesign required will not only impact on the development of the 2013 car, but the resources available for the 2014 design.

      What is needed is some stability in the tyre design, not changes every year. At the moment there isn’t even a signed contract for tyres for 2014. That is a bigger problem in my opinion.

      • Joseph

        Your points are the same as Craig Scarborough’s article from Autosport magazine. This decision will send major ripples through the F1 paddock. Plus the implications on the drivers and constructors championships for this year. In the end, this change will have teams deciding on the remainder of the season in the next four weeks. Lotus, Williams, Sauber, and the other back markers may want to shelve the season and focus on 2014. The highly funded teams Mercedes, Ferrari, McLaren, and Red Bull can address this change by reallocating manpower and resources. With these changes, will it be entertaining to fans? Can we see Vettel win the next seven races? What happened to cost saving? Wind tunnel time, re-shaping aerodynamic parts, suspensions, and stimulator time.
        But to quote from the book “Who moved my cheese”
        Change happens
        Anticipate change
        Monitor change
        Adjust to change quickly
        Enjoy the change!
        Be ready to change quickly and enjoy it again!
        Keeping up with F1 2013 has been like following a Game of Thrones! Love it

  • JTW

    In defence of Pirelli, they’ve been given a mandate to make things more competitive, and then they’ve only got a 2010 Renault to test with because the teams, and FIA, can’t agree on giving (selling) them a ‘new’ F1 car to use, nor can they come up with some other method where they can test on current vehicles. The 2010 Renault is a hugely different vehicle than what teams are using, so in effect, the FIA, and teams, have given Pirelli a moving target to hit, in a fog, without a heat seeking missile.
    Now teams will have to scramble to adjust to a new tire a quarter way into the season at great cost. Low budget teams will need to prioritize their finances, and may not be able to afford to ‘adjust’ now if they want to develop a 2014 car. And which team can scramble to adjust?
    People accuse Ferrari of pulling strings, yet this move seems to have been orchestrated by Red Bull’s Dietrich Mateschitz. If this season becomes a slam dunk for Red Bull, because of the tire change, then all those who have screamed for a tire change will have gotten what they wished for: monotony in knowing who wins. The old adage may be true: be careful what you wish for.

  • Ab345

    Is this tire-gate going to bail-out Ross Brawn, because Dieter Zetche, Chairman of Daimler AG, was prominently in the paddock and he watched his cars look really bad.

    I am sure German television crews would look for some pointy interviews.

    Is the team setting up for race or for qualifying? If you are going to be so bad at racing, it may be better to qualify further back and not show your challenges so prominently from pole.

    Easy for me to say; i am sure they are doing their best.

    • I’m sure they are trying to set up for both but only quali performance is working right now. Tire change should help the team.

      • Ab345

        I wonder. If Mercedes are so bad on tires, then a more durable tire will also mean the same for other teams. It might help the other teams get closer on qualification, and the other teams might drive even harder on the more durable tires in race and still need less pit stops, making it hard on Merc to defend again. We will see.

  • As I’ve said in the forum, I do not like these tires at all, they need to go…However, they should go AFTER the 2013 season is complete. I do not agree with making changes, especially major changes, mid-season. Tip your hat to the teams that have gotten it right, and let the others catch up. That’s F1.