Hamilton: Soft tyre “not right for this circuit”

2013 Chinese Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Shanghai, 2013Lewis Hamilton says the soft tyre is too aggressive for the Shanghai International Circuit.

The Mercedes driver was among those to complain about the compound during the high-fuel runs in the second practice session.

Speaking after the session Hamilton said: “The soft is hardcore. I don’t know why, it doesn’t feel like the right tyre for this circuit. I mean I did a couple of laps and the tyres just disintegrated. It was quite unusual.”

“But otherwise the track is great fun to drive and hopefully will give us lots of opportunities for overtaking in the race,” he added.

Despite his concerns over the soft tyre Hamilton is positive about the team’s potential this weekend. “I think mine and Nico’s pace was quite competitive today,” he said.

“I think Nico got a lap, I got a bit of traffic with Hulkenberg on my lap but still I think we would have been quite high up today. Later on in the session, ten or fifteen minutes later everyone went a bit quicker.”

“I think we’re there or thereabouts but who knows, tomorrow we’ll find out.”

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Keith Collantine
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58 comments on “Hamilton: Soft tyre “not right for this circuit””

  1. The tyre degradation is getting slightly ridiculous: when it gets to the point that you can’t do a complete lap, you know Pirelli has gone too far. I hope 2 stops are viable by Sunday.

    1. Hamilton did 27 laps on a set of mediums, so 2 stops ought to be viable.
      The soft looks pretty gruesome, and I don’t expect too many runners to start on it.

      1. @nigel1 true, the medium does look okay but the softs are getting destroyed after 5 laps! Jenson Button’s huge lock-up serves to prove this, and the tyre literally did get destroyed there!

        1. Massa seemed OKish on the soft.

          Not an ideal tyre to start the race on, though.

          1. Massa was over 1 second per lap slower than previous lap on every lap he did with the softs. Unless it improves, it’s totally useless other than the last 2 laps of the race.

          2. Makes for an interesting qualifying session then :) Wonder who’ll go for softs, and who’ll go for mediums in Q3.

        2. I sense that we migth finally see a team gamble on a 20 sec penalty for not not using the second compund! Bring it on!:)

          1. @arrrang The penalty for failing to use both dry-weather tyre compounds during a race is exclusion, not a 20-second penalty.

            If the race is suspended and cannot be restarted, drivers who have not used both types of tyres get 30-second penalties. (Sporting Regulations article 25.4f)

          2. The penalty for failing to use both dry-weather tyre compounds during a race is exclusion, not a 20-second penalty.

            I guess that makes it a bit too much of a gamble then :-)

    2. Softs dont even finish the lap before they start to slow down, Massa did okay with them but that was towards the end of the Practice session, others were doing long runs when Massa was doing his fastest lap.

    3. @Vettel1 Don’t forget the track evolves a lot, as theres probably no racing what so ever apart from the F1 weekend, its dusty and no rubber when they arrive.

      Malaysia also had some people expecting tyres to last only 6-7 laps, and in the race it turned out quite differently. I do agree that it seems folly to force them to start on the softs after having done 1-2 hot laps on them in Q3 though.

      1. @bascb – this is true and was mentioned several times in commentary, but I don’t think the qualifying issue will improve drastically. They’ve got one lap on the softs, which is appalling.

        1. Yes, it really looks like its a qualifying tyre. A really huge shame they have to start on it, otherwise I would be fine with that, as I think that when its used later in the race, they will still be able to make solid pace on a 6-12 lap stint with them.

  2. It’s no wonder as they are essentially driving in China on what was 2011 supersofts and what would be super-supersofts, because with every year Pirelli went 1 step softer with their tyres.

    1. @armchairexpert
      In that sense the Current Soft tires are a Step Higher than 2011 Super Softs . Pirelli said the 3 Stops for all the races is their Target but Teams Running out of tires due to the High Softness. If Tires in 2012 Season 1st Part is Funny then this Year is Ridiculous and Almost Crap. Soft tires lasted on average 55 Km(~10 Laps) in Chinese GP 2012.

      1. @harsha I love the new-spec Pirelli tires and think they’ve done a fantastic job, making for what will be some of the best F1 racing in the modern era! Paul Hembery and his team should be commended for rescuing F1 from the agony of processional racing!

  3. We’ve now got a qualifying tyre which is so awful over more than 1 lap that you can’t justify using it for qualifying. Just ends up becoming a nonsense.

    1. If they removed the need to use both tyres and start ont the tyre you qualified on, it’d actually be pretty much as it should be! A qualifying tyre that only allows for one quick lap so you have to get it right first time and a decent race tyre. Shame….

      1. But if they’re dying as quickly as they seem to be, drivers aren’t even managing their out-lap before they start to go off, which again removes the point of a qualifying tyre, unless they spend the out-lap tip-toeing up to a last corner blast!

        1. That’s not true @optimaximal. With most drivers we saw them going off by the end of their quick lap – that is after 5 sectors done on them. But Alonso already tried to spare them a bit more and was quick in Q3 of his fast lap.

          I am pretty sure that we will see these guys finding the optimum and come Qualifying they will use them close to perfectly to get great times. As for starting on them, I guess we both agree with what Pete writes.

  4. Qualifying 11th is the target then. Utterly ridiculous.

    1. “Qualifying 11th is the target then”

      Why would you say that ?
      There is no obligation to run in Q3, so at the very least, qualifying 10th would seem more sensible.
      Also, there’s no obligation to run on the soft in Q3, so why not run on the medium ?

      I agree that the soft seems unsuited to this track, though.

      However, it ought still to make for an interesting race, as we should see some running a three stop sprint strategy, while others look to make the mediums last around 25 laps.

      1. Yes you’re right. Best to get into Q3 and stay in the garage. Even worse.

    2. @john-h – well, I’d actually say it’s better to go top 10 and then get out immediately at the start of Q3 and just set sector times, that way if others don’t set a lap you can start higher and be on mediums at the start of the race.

      Agreed though, the top 10 starting tyres rule needs to be scrapped.

      1. Indeed, I am afraid we could be seeing a lot of that

      2. I’m not sure how viable this idea is, but I’ll put it out there, anyway, just to see people’s thoughts.
        Instead of scrapping the tyre qualifying rule (but I agree that scrapping the rule would be better than what it currently is), an additional clause is added, to give those in the Top 10 a boost (as a way of congratulating getting into Q3, if you will).

        I’m not 100% sure what this clause would be, but it would retain the strategic variety throughout the field without directly penalising the best qualifiers.

        Perhaps the Top 10 start the race further in front? (as in, there’s a spot or two vacant after 10th place)
        Or maybe they are given an extra tyre of their choice to use during the race?
        Or possibly allow them to use DRS a lap earlier than everyone else?

        Again, this is an untested idea… But it would be a way to guarantee, at least, two different types of approach to the race.

    3. Better would be qualifying in the top 10 and then not go out for a proper run in Q3. Or go out on the medium and try to get as high as possible.

      Then run the race medium-medium-soft, with the last stop two or three laps from the end.

  5. one of the Mclaren’s even had a puncture on the front left due to the lock-up !! at the end of the long straight, during FP2 on the softs.

  6. I absolutely don’t understand so much complain..

    In the Race situation the Top 10 will start on Soft Tyres and pit in beteween Laps 6-10.. Guys starting from P11 and P12 may get a jump and thus it will be a battle between Old Mediums vs New Mediums. Most top Teams will do a 3 stop Strategy which means about 15 Laps on each M.edium. The Mediums on a green track Today were easily achieving 20+Laps.. So, they can all push the New Mediums..
    Why so much complaining then??
    What should have Pirelli brought here?? Medium and Hards?? We would have seen 1 Stop then

    1. “In the Race situation the Top 10 will start on Soft Tyres”

      I’ll be extremely surprised if all 10 do so.

    2. jimscreechy (@)
      12th April 2013, 9:55

      Er you don’t understand? 6 laps and the tyres are distroyed completely, one serious luckup and the tyre completely deflates then delaminates as happened to Button this morning… whats not to understand? Millions of pounds of investment in aero, engines, mechanical, and all sorts of other tech but then they give you plastacine tyres! Completely ridiculous.

    3. Given that the tyres only seem to last 5 laps, to expect them to survive the out lap, Q3 lap, in lap, and then 6-10 laps of the race with full fuel tanks, would seem a tad optimistic.

  7. I heard Crofty say, Alonso saved tyres on first two sectors on his hot lap to be competitive on the last sector. Saving tyres on hot lap doesnt seem interesting to me

    1. I am pretty sure that come tomorrows Q3 he will know exactly when to start using them to the full.

  8. I didn’t see the sessions this morning. But are we really saying that there is a 1.5 second difference between the mediums and the softs and that the softs are good for 6 laps-ish only?
    If so, that sounds faintly stupid. The tyres are dictating far too much. Great for Pirelli because the focus is on them. Bad for Pirelli because they look about as durable as marshmallows.

    1. Softs are not good for 6 laps. The first lap is 1.5 seconds quicker than medium. The 2nd lap is the same. After that you are slower than the medium tyre, getting worse by about a second a lap.

    2. @timothykatz – this is probably the worst publicity Pirelli has ever gotten (and at their cost)!!

      1. Any publicity is good publicity. Pirelli must be laughing all the way to the bank.

  9. So once again, I guess we’ll see many drivers run options in Q1 and Q2 so that they have only 1-2 sets of options left for Q3/opening race stint.
    Expext most guys to go soft, medium, medium..

  10. How much of this was down to the warmer temperatures? I remember that it was cold last year which allowed Rosberg to do one less stop than the rest, so could that be making a difference?

  11. Chris (@tophercheese21)
    12th April 2013, 11:46

    I think Pirelli really have gone too far with the tyres. The soft and super soft are just fundamentally too soft.

    They HAVE to make a change to the durability of the tyres post Bahrain.

    I’m all for this new brand of Formula One (2011 onwards), but this is just getting a bit much.

  12. Michael Brown (@)
    12th April 2013, 11:54

    Thanks a lot Pirelli. The 2011 Pirellis were very good in my opinion but this is just stupid.

  13. Wonder if there is the possibility of someone attempting to do mediums for the entire race then changing to softs on the last lap.

  14. To be fair, we always hear endless blabbering about how insane the tyre degradation is throughout Friday practice. Then the race begins and teams like Red Bull in Malaysia seem to look as though they are running a totally different compound of tyre. It’s in the teams interests to obliterate the tyres on a Friday, it leads to headlines about Pirreli making rubbish tyres etc etc, puts pressure on Pierreli and increases the chances of the compounds being changed to better suit the teams. After all, the tyres for FP1-3 do not need to be used for the competetive sessions. Why come into the pits with extra rubber when you can make a drama out it by potentially deliberately locking up and wrecking the tyre to put pressure on Pirreli.

    The tyres should not be changed mid season. The teams all have the same rubber.

    1. Good to see someone looking broader than one weekend’s practice @Nick-uk, sure enough both the teams learn, and the track evolves.

      1. @bascb I can’t tell if you are agreeing with me or being sarcastic…

        1. Oh, sorry for that, I agree with you @nick-uk!

          1. @bascb Ahh no worries :)

    2. Indeed. Let’s just look back 2 races to AUS when the EXACT same things were being said about the super softs. Then we get to the race and the Mercs do about 15 laps on them consistently getting quicker.

  15. Pirelli will change their mind once China and Bahrain are over. The very least they’ll do is dropping the qualifying tire idea and come with more conservative compounds to the other races.
    Sure everyone has the same tires and just needs to figure out a way to deal with them but if the balance of racing vs. tire management shifts completely towards tire management it’s no longer fun to watch.

    1. @tmf42 – you’d think, but alas they have retained DRS and the fans also don’t like it. I think they are probably going to remain the same :/

  16. Conspiracy theory: Q2 will see all the teams going for broke on the softs. Then the teams will agree that nobody participates in Q3. Start of the race will be on mediums, grid set by Q2 times. ;=}

  17. This is getting quite ridiculous now, if a tyre can’t last one lap without losing 15 shreds of rubber, I’d say that is taking it to far. But then again it is down to the teams to get on it and get control over these tyres.

  18. When Pirelli are dictating how the races pan out – when cars should pit and how many times, then you know it’s become stupid.

    It should be up to the teams.

  19. Hmmm, I find it interesting having read all the comments how the winds have changed. Most praised Pirelli for their tyres but now, they´ve taken it too far? Guys, take it as it is; it just puts more emphasis on strategy, it´s a shame but it is what it is.

  20. The tire situation will make for a great second act in the team orders saga for RBR and Mercedes. You will have a situation where any actual “racing” could be disasterous and where teams will want to limit that at all costs. Look for Vettel and Webber to make 5 stops while they battle hammer and tong, and finsih the race creeping on inters when they run out of tires.

  21. Rosberg, Massa and Webber seem to be out-pacing their more illustrious teammates, on today’s evidence at least. What’re the odds I wonder that those three make up the podium on Sunday?

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