Tires. Still tires. Before anybody here swears off Pirelli rubber for his car's next set, do remember that the Italian tiremaker has intentionally made this year's F1 rollers quite like crumbly cheese. Its road tires will last a lot farther than 5km.
So polarizing are these round things that teams, fans and pundits alike have been very vocal about whether or not Pirelli should toughen up the black stuff for the remainder of the year. We've recently given you the roundup on the rubber, so now we're presenting you the two sides of the issue, each defended by TopGear.com.ph's resident F1 nerds. Note that the sides they are arguing for don't necessarily reflect their personal opinions on the matter. We really just like the mental exercise.
Jason dela Cruz: "Yes, this rubber needs a rethink"
Formula 1 is supposed to be the pinnacle of motorsports, is it not? And yet this year, we hear drivers saying stuff like "the GP2 cars are faster," and messages such as "save the front-left tire" from race engineers. "I can't drive any slower," Lewis Hamilton snapped at the last race.
There were close to 80 pit stops resulting from multiple strategies in Spain. Had all the cars finished, there would've been a total of 91 to 94, depending on whether the retired cars were on a three- or four-stopper. Yes, Pirelli was asked to make the racing even closer this season and it has delivered--no question about that. But it has also led to F1 cars that are only being driven at about 80% of their maximum performance. At the moment, an entire race weekend is all about those black round things.
Top teams and drivers seem to be tiptoeing around the track just so they can nurse the tires. Not only that--whatever happened to the qualifying shootout? Apart from having to spend most of Sunday managing tires, the drivers are being made to do fewer hot laps on Saturday in order to not run out of the allocated sets.
Do we really want to see fabricated racing? We want to see the fastest driver and the best package setting purple sectors, and we want to see how fast the new drivers can be. F1 racers need to go flat-out and do qualifying-style laps if they are to make multistop race strategies work.
Niky Tamayo: "No, changing the tires isn't the right move"
The contention that tire conservation isn't racing is bull--and not the red kind. From karting to F1 to Le Mans, it's what separates men from boys. Any well-trained driver can knock a single fast lap out of a car, but it takes real skill to do a dozen of them without shredding your tires.
I've never been a fan of the "artificially" fragile Pirellis, but this is F1. You're given a formula, you build your car around it. That's part of the game. Teams like Ferrari, Lotus and Force India have done exactly that. Should we penalize them for doing a good job?
Ferrari used to suffer from "not getting enough heat into the tires," and Lotus's amazing tire conservation has always come at the expense of outright speed. The tires weren't changed for these squads last season, and they shouldn't be changed now that teams like Red Bull and Mercedes are handicapped by the current formula. Then again, the Mercs have always chewed up rubber like tissue paper, and Red Bull's woes in Spain were down to a wishy-washy tire strategy. That Webber ended up right on Vettel's tailpipe at the end of the race tells the entire story right there.
Granted, delamination and punctures are concerns that must be addressed, but any drastic midseason change may prove disastrous for midfield teams, who will likely face a budget shortfall trying to revise 2013 cars and develop 2014 challengers at the same time. Perhaps pit-lane scrambles are messy, but the race winner lapping the midfielders several times a race would be plain embarrassing.