After yet another pit-stop plagued race, Formula 1 tire manufacturer Pirelli announced it would be making drastic changes regarding its tire compounds beginning at the Canadian Grand Prix next month, with the 2013 compound being scrapped in favor of a hybrid of Pirelli’s even harder compound from 2011 and 2013, with some 2013 compound integrity being maintained.
This is not only shocking on the pure basis that a key party in ensuring Formula 1 competition admits responsibility for a glaring problem, but it marks the first major tire controversy since the 2005 United States Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which left a bitter enough taste to tarnish Formula 1’s reputation in the United States to this day.
To see accountability of any sort is admirable, even from Pirelli executive Paul Hembery who earlier this year was critical of not his tire compound, but the Jerez Circuit in Spain, where the winter testing took place. It seems after all the initial concern over the 2013 tires, the abysmal Spanish Grand Prix last weekend was the straw that broke Pirelli’s back.
A majority of the outcry came from top drivers such as Jenson Button and Sebastian Vettel, while Force India driver Paul di Resta said the tires were a good thing, enabling smaller teams to contender for better finishing positions.
di Resta, however, is not only biased, but naïve. The tires are struggling and smaller teams are contending because of the 2013 iteration of the Formula 1 car. Generally smaller and creating even more downforce than ever as teams prepare for harsh new 2014 regulations, Pirelli’s attempt to provide strategy-filled racing has backfired and embarrassed them grandly.
So, rather than continue the charade of strategy being at the forefront of the pinnacle of motorsport, Pirelli has somewhat pulled the plug on its 2013 tire compound. The racing will be at the forefront once again with teams now needing to rely on two or three stops, rather than the successful four-stop strategy seen at Barcelona.
With pitting at a premium and ideally tire conservation at a minimum, aggressive drivers such as Vettel and Spanish Grand Prix winner Fernando Alonso will seek to gain massive leads and play a conservative strategy, while drivers who can genuinely conserve tires such as the aforementioned Button and teammate Sergio Perez will be able to yet again contend for wins, similar to the way the racing was in 2012 and 2013.
Formula 1 has a new breath of fresh air stemming from the fresh tires which will debut in Canada. So, with the precedent set and Pirelli interested in racing integrity, the Formula 1 Canadian Grand Prix should be an even more interesting event than anticipated.
Follow Mike Guzman on Twitter @Mike486