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Pirelli warns of "processional races"


Tyre manufacturer fears that promise of new regulations shaking up the order may prove false.

While Jacques Villeneuve may blame the fans for the sport's ills the fact remains that it is the long-suffering people in the stands and those watching on their TVs that have to put up with the sport's powers-that-be insistence that 'we know best'.

The French-Canadian world champion recently blamed fans for the gimmick that is DRS, claiming that the fans asked for it. No, we argued, the fans simply wanted to see more overtaking and DRS was the powers-that-be's way of making that happen.

Time after time, rather than checking out the many fora devoted to the topic or even checking out readers comments on the numerous F1 websites, the powers-that-be ignore what lifelong fans really want - and their suggestions as to how this might best be achieved - in preference to coming up with their own solutions. As far as F1 is concerned, the fans are continually reminded that ‘the customer does not know best'.

Most F1 fans could list what's wrong with F1 and how to cure it on the back of a cigarette packet, and in most cases it wouldn't cost a fortune to implement.

But the various groups and committee, each with their own agenda, are the experts, the ones pulling the strings, and therefore we get the likes of DRS.

For as long as we can remember, we were told that the new aero and tyre regulations for 2017 would bring back excitement, shake up the order and basically give F1 a kick-up-the rear after the introductions of the hybrid formula which has seen Mercedes will all but eight races since its introduction.

However, in amongst the hyperbole there have been little clues that perhaps the changes wouldn't be that big, that perhaps we shouldn't get out hopes up.

We know that Mercedes has done such an awesome job of mastering the hybrid formula that it will take more than wider tyres and a change in wing size to dethrone them, but now Pirelli is warning that Sunday afternoons may be as processional as ever.

"I think the drivers will enjoy it because with that level of performance, you are going to feel it aren't you?" Pirelli Motorsport boss Paul Hembery told "That will give them a physical challenge they haven't had for a while."

Great, the drivers will enjoy it... but what about the fans?

"The true impact of overtaking will be down to the relative performance of the cars," he admits. "If the performance of the cars is close together, then there might be chances, if they aren't then it will be a procession."

As with DRS, this is all about the sport's powers-that-be insisting that they know best and, in this case, telling Pirelli what they must specifically provide in order to provide the show that fits entirely to the powers-that-be's script. That is, rather than the tyre manufacturer – presumably the experts in their field - being allowed to get on with the job of providing race tyres, it is told to produce tyres that degrade (or not) according to the powers-that-be's whim.

Recalling 2012, Pirelli's second season back in F1, when the opening seven races were won by seven different drivers for six different teams, Hembery admits: "It is going to be quite the opposite to that, but that is what the sport has asked us to do.

"It asked us to do that (produce high degradation tyres) back in 2011, and now we are being asked to do something else. We will ask it to the people to ask what is the best approach. We are just trying to deliver what we have been asked to deliver.

"On any of these subjects, there are always some pros and some against. I think we will know after five or six races what we have done and if it is right or wrong."

Note, Pirelli is claiming it might take "five or six races". Fact is the most anticipated race of the season is the opener, the Australian Grand Prix. It is the benchmark by which many fans - regular and casual - measure the forthcoming season. If Melbourne witnesses another all-Mercedes front row, another 1-2 on Sunday afternoon, and doesn't feature any sort of radical shake up to the order, or promise of a shake u in the races that follow, the fans won't be there for the fifth or sixth race. Fact!

"We had six years where the input was to create a challenge for the teams and drivers," says Hembery, "a thermal challenge where you had to manage overheating and degradation. Now we are going to a situation where we are asked to reduce that, so the thermal overheating is significantly reduced and wear levels are reduced, so the drivers in overtaking situations can push harder and not go into an overheating scenario.

"That needs to be combined, of course, with the aero changes that reduce the level of disturbance of the air that arrives to the front of the following car. That, combined with the tyres, should enable people to make more aggressive overtaking manoeuvres."

However... and here comes the crunch...

"But on the other side there are going to be more corners flat out, and that is not going to help overtaking because people won't be backing off as there is no braking."

All together… "arghhhh!!"


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1. Posted by Pierrauto, 23/01/2017 15:59

"Make standard front wings to reduce cost and downforce. It will reduce the losses of following a car and increase the braking zone to help overtaking. Get rid of DRS (artificial). "

Rating: Negative (-1)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

2. Posted by DJ, 23/01/2017 13:51

"Do the clowns in charge really think that widening the cars will help overtaking? The tracks are already too narrow and the F1 brains trust decide to widen the cars?!?!?!"

Rating: Positive (2)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

3. Posted by Motorsport-fan, 23/01/2017 12:21

"DRS was the "cheap" solution to the overtaking issue, but as we have seen, sometimes it has been far to easy to get by the guy in front with this option.
When watching some races where this has been the case, have often wondered if the DRS zone could be shortened during a race? this would allow the DRS to assist a possible overtake, but not so as the overtake is completed before the breaking area. "

Rating: Neutral (0)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

4. Posted by Ro, 23/01/2017 12:12

"for heavens sake! get rid of the crappy engines and downsize the wings...

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