x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Formula One: Pirelli speed up tyre change for Canadian Grand Prix

Rubber used at Spanish Grand Prix was 'too aggressive' as Italian manufacturer Pirelli says new compund will combine elements from last year's model and will be in place before Canadian Grand Prix next month.

A McLaren-Mercedes technician checks tyres in the paddock during the Spanish Grand Prix. Manu Fernandez / AP Photo
A McLaren-Mercedes technician checks tyres in the paddock during the Spanish Grand Prix. Manu Fernandez / AP Photo

Pirelli will change their tyres beginning at the Canadian Grand Prix next month in a bid to reduce the number of pit stops in races, making it less confusing for spectators and television viewers.

The Italian manufacturer responded to the criticism that followed Sunday's Spanish Grand Prix, during which there were 79 pit stops, at an average of almost four per driver.

Motorsport director Paul Hembery conceded after the race that the rubber used in tyres at Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya was "too aggressive".

It was suggested changes would be made for the British Grand Prix at the end of June, but following meetings within the company Hembery said: "The sooner we could do it, the better.

"Four stops was not what we wanted, and to make a change, we needed to do it as soon as possible, so teams have time to react for the rest of the season.

"The tyre from Canada onwards will combine elements of the structure from last year, with some elements of this year's tyre.

"The fine details are being sorted and will be finalised in the next couple of days.

"But we wanted to make sure people understood we had noted their comments, so we've reacted and we'll make sure we get back to where we were last season, which is two to three stops per race."

Even Formula One commerical rights owner Bernie Ecclestone waded into the debate by stating, "the tyres are wrong, not what we intended when we asked Pirelli to produce something which did a half race".

Asked whether the pressure from Ecclestone forced them into a change, Hembery added: "He was only sharing the comments of the majority, that we had gone a step too far and we needed to come back a bit.

"So I wouldn't say it was pressure from him, it was really from the fans from a sporting point of view. From what we saw on Sunday, we felt no, this was going in the wrong direction."

A potential concern now will be Red Bull Racing, one of the most outspoken critics of this year's tyres, will become the main beneficiary, given the strong performance of their car on pace, which had been limited by the performance of the tyres.

Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz commented Tuesday that the F1 season had become "a competition in tyre management".

Hembery is hoping Red Bull do not dominate, but can offer no guarantees.

"We would hope that's not the case, but we always face that risk," he said.

The changes will be for all four dry-weather compounds – supersoft, soft, medium and hard – and there may even be a re-think on the tyres to be used in Canada. At present, the soft and supersoft are due to be used.

"One of the problems we have is, if we are less aggressive with the structure, it means we don't then want to be too conservative with the compounds," Hemsbery said.

"That could result in an over-reaction and you go completely in the other direction, so we're evaluating that at the moment and we're going to advise the teams on Thursday."


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