As Formula One races progress it seems that strategy is becoming more of a key component for race wins. Not only does a team need a great racing driver to achieve a race win, but they need to work together in both pit stops and in the understanding of tyre degradation in order to succeed.
Over the years there have been a variety of suppliers of Formula One tyres, from Bridgestone to Michelin. Pirelli currently provide the tyres and have done since 2010. It is known that the tyres are made so that degradation is quicker, meaning drivers must pit more, adding edge to the race as a slow pit stop could ruin a shot of a podium finish.
There is an assortment of tyres that Pirelli make and it can often become very complicated to comprehend. Dry weather tyres, known as “slicks”, come in four different compounds; the supersoft, soft, medium and hard. From these four Pirelli provide two tyre types per race, in which the teams must use both at least once during the race, which they believe shall be suited to the track and its temperature in order to provide maximum results.
At the recent Chinese Grand Prix the soft and medium compound were used. The soft compound degrades quickly causing drivers to need to pit stop more. If Pirelli had opted for the hard tyre it was thought that the tyre would have lasted an average of 25 laps, making it a one stop race for most drivers, providing the fans with less excitement as pit stops would seem less significant with the lack of fast tyre degradation.
Tyres have become a huge concern in recent weeks with many debating if the Pirelli tyres are suitable or prevent proper racing as drivers are often told by the team to ‘manage them’ and cannot push their machinery to the limit.
BBC Technical Analyst Gary Anderson disagrees stating “in terms of the tyres themselves, I think they make teams think harder.” Clearly tyre management is a crucial part to conserving the car as a whole. As much as the driver is fundamental a win cannot be achieved without a strong car and the maintaining of its parts, including its tyres, is a vital part of the sport.
Despite the debate surrounding tyre maintenance it does seem that they are central to whether a car has the ability to win a race and without this added factor the fans would be left craving more.