Tyre challenge set to last for entire season
8 June 2012 – As the 2012 F1 season moves into its seventh round in Canada, discovering the magic touch with tyres remains the hot topic. Although teams may be closer to understanding how to work this year’s Pirellis more than they were back in Australia, a mixture of factors is set to ensure that the mystery will continue for the duration of the season.
Since the campaign began almost three months ago, critics have claimed that a lack of consistency could hurt the sport. On the contrary, polls reveal that the majority of fans are thoroughly enjoying the unpredictability as weather conditions, different tracks and individual driver styles are just three features influencing the current situation.
“Have we got enough data? Yes, a huge amount, as everybody else has,” says Jonathan Neale, Managing Director for McLaren. “In terms of making sense of it, it’s not a trivial interaction between track temperature and driving styles. We are all chasing the same thing, which is the first team to become consistent in getting into the sweet spot.
“These tyres are definitely more peaky than they have been. We wouldn’t like to claim that we are there yet. The plan is to sort them out and to be the first to figure it out and get some kind of advantage! I don’t think it will solve itself like that…all of the wins so far have been well earned, with Williams and others doing fantastic jobs. But what we have to solve is tyre, car, aero package, circuit, ambient temperature and driver; so it’s putting us in a difficult position. As much as I would like to get it sorted out tomorrow, it’s probably something which is going to go on all year.”
Neale’s sentiments are echoed by Mark Gillan, Chief Operations Engineer for Williams who added that the team should have achieved a fourth or fifth place finish in Monaco.
“It is a very difficult problem and linked with the whole aerodynamics package, plus the driving styles,” Gillan says of the tyres. “It’s not just about the long runs, it’s also about qualifying position and managing the tyres throughout the weekend. The link through the driver, the car and understanding the tyres is really crucial this year and a lot of effort is going into that. The tyres are something which are non-linear as you go track to track; the Friday running becomes very, very important as you try to solve the analysis.”
“I agree with the front row, but would just add that when you think you go and understand them, they go and do something differently!” Force India Technical Director Andrew Green chipped in, agreeing that the tyre scenario is making F1 2012 a fascinating challenge.
In Montreal this weekend, Pirelli has rolled out the same two Slick compounds as in Monaco: the red-marked Super Soft and yellow-marked Soft. However, just minutes after the second practice session ended on Friday afternoon, heavy rain lashed down on the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve and could return at the weekend.