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GP Week : Issue 151
In the aftermath of the Bahrain Grand Prix, Mercedes driver Michael Schumacher was openly critical of the Pirelli tyres, which he felt were having too great an impact on the racing. “I just question whether the tyres should play such a big importance, or whether they should last a bit longer, and that you can drive at normal racing car speed and not cruise around like we have a Safety Car,” Schumacher said. “I’m not happy about the situation.” Schumacher’s comments sparked off a tyre debate among fans and teams alike, as Pirelli’s aggressive strategy has been viewed by many as one of the great contributing factors to the return of edge-of-your-seat racing over the past two seasons. Mercedes boss Norbert Haug disagreed with his driver, saying that Pirelli’s tyres had been a contributing factor in the “very great competition” and “very good races” that we’ve seen in 2012. Over at Williams, chief operations engineer Mark Gillan said that the 2012 rubber had led to an increase in the importance of strategy, but that race results were not a tyre-driven lottery. “I would not say it is a lottery, but strategy is becoming much more important – and reacting to the changes in the strategy is key,” Gillan said. “On the pit wall it runs at quite a pace coming up to the stops, and teams have to understand the degradation - is it wear based or thermal based? It is all about reaction.” Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery has been called to defend his team’s approach to 2012’s racing rubber, and argues that any challenges posed by the tyre compounds are likely to be short-lived. At last year’s Chinese Grand Prix, the third race of the season, there were complaints that Pirelli’s rubber development strategy had been too aggressive, that fans and journalists were unable to keep up with the excess of pit stops, and that the racing had become a lottery. But by the time the teams were into the European leg of the season a few short weeks later, the criticism had died away. The engineers and strategists had figured out how best to maximise their performance on the rubber at the various stages of its lifecycle, and the races settled down to a more gentle pace. By Valencia, the traditional snorefest had been restored, despite Pirelli’s best efforts to shake things up. According to Hembery, that will continue to be the case this year. SCHUMACHER SPARKS TYRE DEBATE EDITOR: Adam Hay-Nicholls firstname.lastname@example.org ASSISTANT EDITORS: Naoise Holohan, Kate Walker F1 ANALYST: Peter Windsor MOTOGP EDITOR: Michael Scott email@example.com RALLY EDITOR: Martin Holmes firstname.lastname@example.org PRODUCTION ARTIST: Cedric Dufour PHOTOGRAPHY: Sutton Motorsport Images www.sutton-images.com Keith Sutton email@example.com: Mark Sutton, Patrik Lundin, Dirk Klynsmith, Emily Davenport PUBLISHER: Chris Lambden firstname.lastname@example.org PUBLISHED BY: Grand Prix Week Ltd 61 Watling Street, Towcester Northants NN12 6AG United Kingdom ADVERTISING: n Richard Partridge email@example.com Ph: + 44 1273 232 566 Mob: + 44 7771 567 644 n Mark Sutton firstname.lastname@example.org n Gaye Grinsted (WRC/MotoGP) email@example.com Ph: +44 (0) 207 254 8796 Mob: +44 (0) 7921 283 070 n Adam Hay-Nicholls firstname.lastname@example.org n SE Asia, Australasia GPWEEK (Australia) email@example.com .com WEEK 4 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: F1 >>> NEWS