May 13, 2013

Horse 1481 - Everyone's Tyres Are Chewed Up (Rd.5)

- stolen from AP (link)

In what must surely be a record, there were 82 pitstops at the Spanish GP at Catalunya. Pirelli were given a directive to encourage more pitstops and I think that they've achieved that but in the process they've hokied up the competition.
Once upon a time in the "bad old days", Formula One teams learned how to stretch out tyre wear and could eventually make a set of tyres last a whole race. Particularly in that horrid season on 1988/89 in which Prost and Senna in their McLarens stormed off with 15 of 16 race wins, the lack of any overtaking at all led to some pretty predictable motor races.
Now we've gone too far the other way and with other things like KERS and DRS it is more about "the show" than a struggle to make a pass.

The two Mercedes of Rosberg and Hamilton who started 1-2 faded almost from the get go and slowly drifted backwards through the race. Raikkonen's Lotus had the consistency but not the speed and Vettel's Red Bull was able to show bursts of brilliance before it chewed its tyres.
Only the scarlet Ferraris of Alonso and Massa showed both compliance and the gentleness required to get the most out of a set of tyres. This was most obvious right at the start of the race when Alonso got a fantastic run off of turn 2, passed Raikkonen and then went round the outside of Hamilton.

Elsewhere in the field, Romain Grosejean had the suspension collapse on the rear right of his Lotus for seemingly no reason at all. Vergne's rear tyre delaminated and then exploded.  Van der Garde's rear tyre decided to part company with the Caterham and fell off. Caterham have subsequently been fined €10,000 for an "unsafe release", which you'd imagine would be very difficult to disprove considering the wheel fell off.
The two McLarens may as well have not bothered with Perez finishing in an anonymous sixth, whilst Jensen Button never really found anything out of the upgrades and mumbled along quietly into tenth.
Special mention needs to be made of Mark Webber who started in sixth and promptly lost a bunch of places at the start. He can't blame KERS or the clutch or the gearbox, the sad fact is that Webber is just bad at starting a race.

Alonso deservedly picked up a win at his home GP through sensible driving and being sympathetic to his tyres. It wasn't particularly exciting but then again, in motor racing, being "exciting" is usually a waste of time; in a sport decided on thousandths of seconds, wasting any time is expensive.

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