In the aftermath of an intriguing and incident packed Monaco Grand Prix we should be talking about Nico Rosberg’s splendid win and history being made on the streets where he grew up. It should be on some of the big overtaking moves that worked and others that didn’t, not to mention some huge shunts.
Instead the post-race headlines were all about tyres. In fact most of the season has been about tyres. I for one am sick and tired of tyre talk, but that is the current hot topic and it won’t go away.
The tyre situation in Formula 1 is akin to a global soccer championship being played and the only issue which is being reported about is the players’ soccer boots. Picture a scenario whereby the best soccer players from the best clubs start a big match with a shiny pair of boots. But the harder they play the boots start to disintegrate, the studs lose their grip.
It leads to a situation which forces players to play at half their capacity, just so their boots last the 90 minutes. It’s ridiculous but that’s pretty much what it is when we talk about the situation in Formula 1.
The best drivers in the world and the best cars, but with pretty much the worst tyres you can manufacture bolted on for the so called ‘benefit’ of the show.
It’s very easy to point a finger at the sole tyre supplier Pirelli for the situation. But this was what was demanded from them when they bid for the rights. Formula 1 bosses wanted a tyre situation that would ‘spice up the show’ – yes those are the words they used.
Pirelli duly delivered tyres which were fast wearing, changed from good to bad in the space of a lap – referred to as ‘falling off the cliff’ by F1 insiders. This is where one has to question Pirelli’s wisdom to accept the mandate, apparently unconditionally.
If they are in F1 to promote their products, and ultimately sell more tyres, why would they build tyres that don’t last? What message does that send? I can’t imagine they have convinced anyone of the half billion viewers to buy their tyres. Quite the opposite I would imagine.
The problem with modern Formula 1 is that the bosses believe it needs to be a show to attract viewers, convince sponsors, hosts and investors to pump money into the sport at highest level. To achieve this Valhalla they have attempted to reduce costs, equalise the cars, restrict inventiveness and dilute the ethos of what Formula 1 is and always has been about — excellence without compromise.
The big teams will always have the money and resources to stay big and stay on top. Restricting them in an attempt to allow minnows to compete is very noble, but not what people want. Millions of aficionados care deeply about what happens with Ferrari or McLaren, and facts are facts. No one gives a hoot about Caterham or Marussia.
Attempting to level the playing field artificially with wacky wearing tyres and a host of Playstation style boost buttons — KERS and DRS — may work for a while (did it ever?) but once the novelty wears off, then the whole thing becomes farcical. And this is where Formula 1 stand’s at the moment.
Monaco perhaps disguised the extent of the tyre debacle because by nature it is not a track that was going to push the limits of the Pirelli rubber. Two safety car periods and a red flag stoppage during the race further limited the tyre factor.
Fast forward to Canada and we have a totally different scenario where the tyres will be tested to the max. Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on the Ile de Notre Dame is also a temporary circuit, but unlike Monaco it is a very fast complex.
Essentially the layout consists of two hairpins either side with long stretches between them, punctuated by a couple of chicanes on each of the straights. A point and squirt track where demand on tyres will be challenging.
Exacerbating the controversy is the fact that Pirelli have been urged to modify the compounds ahead of Canada, which is akin to making those soccer boots last longer midway through the championship. Which in itself is unfair considering that some players have managed to make the most of those dreaded boots and are scoring goals regularly.
Add to this the revelation on race day in Monte Carlo that Mercedes conducted top secret tyre testing with Pirelli before the race at the principality, and with it defied the stringent testing ban. Needless to say an almighty furore has erupted among the other teams.
Alas for this season, there does not seem to be an end in sight to the multiple tyre sagas. The damage is done. Formula 1 bosses have simply gone a step too far with their ‘spice up the show’ demands and it is all backfiring.
I long for the days when the best teams, the best cars, the best engineers, the best designers, the best tracks, the best tyres, the best engines and - foremost - the best drivers conspire to deliver the best motor racing in the world. Anything less than this turns Formula 1 into formula two.
The writer is the corporate communications manager at Dubai Autodrome llc.