F1 is high-pressure; so are Pirelli tires…’unbelievably high’

Let’s face it, Formula 1 is a high-pressure game with millions upon millions of dollars at stake and perhaps nothing has been more high-pressure than Pirelli’s tires this season according to the cacophony of voices from the paddock. The latest is world champion and well-weathered-in veteran Jenson Button:

“unbelievably high considering we didn’t have any issues here last year. It’s very high.

“Front graining’s going to be a massive issue. That’s tough considering we’ve got softs, super-softs and ultra-softs here.

“It’s going to make the weekend reasonably tough for everyone. It’s going to be about cooling as much as you can and driving in a certain way and having to run loads of engine braking and stuff like that. It’s a shame.”

The circuit, as always, plays a large role in the tire selection and the pressures as well as the performance of the teams on any given weekend. For this particular weekend in Austria, Button feels the tire pressures are not going to help matters:

“It’s the type of corners you have here, the high-speed and mid-speed corners,” added Button.

“You’re going to be loading the front left a lot. I think a lot of people are going to struggle with graining on every tyre. It’s going to be tough and controlling that is going to be tricky.”

So this brings us to the entire notion of the tires and what Pirelli are planning for 2017. It should be no surprise that I am not a huge fan of artificially degrading tires and while I may be a heretic in the land of the, “please, more contrivances” crowd, I tend to agree with Alain Prost who suggested that teams should have options on tires and be allowed to run whichever they want staggered or not. Supersoft fronts and softs on the rears—whatever.

I have no issue with Pirelli making advanced tires of differing performance metrics given the opposite of performance would be serious durability and grip later in the race. IF you allow teams to run alternate front and rear compounds—given their chassis appetite for rubber—it may add some interesting outcomes.

Regardless, Button isn’t happy and I did just read an article that claimed to expose Mercedes and their system which lowers air pressure just before the start of a race and after the technical inspection. I have no idea whether that is true but they did make an interesting case for Mercedes cars and cool temps.