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FIA refuses return to 2012 spec rubber

NEWS STORY
21/05/2013

Mat Coch writes:

Formula One will not revert to 2012 spec Pirelli tyres, despite the Italian company allegedly approaching the FIA requesting as much.

Pirelli has come under intense scrutiny this season for producing tyres which degrade significantly, with many suggesting it is having too great an influence on the outcome of the races. Red Bull has been especially critical of the current tyres, suggesting its performance is inhibited by the fast-wearing rubber.

Things came to a head following the Spanish Grand Prix, which was won by a four-stopping Fernando Alonso. It was a strategy which, while not unheralded in the sport’s history, is at least somewhat unusual, with most races featuring two or three stops at most.

Indeed it is typically that way by design, according to Pirelli motor sport boss Paul Hembery, who has openly stated that the intention is to produce races with two or three stops. In isolation the Spanish Grand Prix did not go according to plan, though given precedence it was hardly cause for concern.

However in Spain Pirelli opted for a self-labelled conservative approach, using the two hardest - and therefore slowest wearing – compounds in its range. Still most opted for a four stop strategy.

Since then, and despite assurances from Hembery that he has the full support from the teams, it has been revealed that Pirelli will change its tyres in time for the Canadian Grand Prix. While the exact details are yet to come to light it's expected these will likely mean a revised construction to prevent the sort of failures a number of drivers experienced in Spain and Bahrain.

This comes after it was suggested that in the aftermath of the Spanish Grand Prix the Italian supplier asked the FIA if it could revert to its 2012 spec tyres. It was a point Pitpass was unable to receive confirmation of from Pirelli's motor sport boss.

Reverting to last year's tyre specifications would have a profound influence at a fundamental level, potentially restacking the pecking order which has emerged in the opening rounds of the 2013 season. It is a serious decision with potentially far reaching, and ultimately unknown consequences.

Instead the FIA has simply asked Pirelli to amend its tyres to avoid the sorts of failures seen in recent races where debris has cut the tyre, causing overheating and eventually the carcass of the tyre to detach.

While Pirelli will work towards introducing its revised tyres ahead of the Canadian Grand Prix next month it must be asked why, if true, Pirelli considered a return to 2012 spec tyres?

If all the teams are happy (as Hembery has told us they are), and if Pirelli isn't going to cave in to pressure from isolated corners of the F1 paddock (as he's told us it won't), why was it presumably prepared to throw away its 2013 spec tyres in favour of last year's?

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