May 26, 2011
That's why Pirelli, the sport's new tire manufacturer, had such a daunting task ahead of them this year. But then, just to make things even more "exciting," the city streets of Monaco demand all the traction a car can find. Every wing on the cars are cranked as high as possible, the suspension is as soft as the teams can make it, and the tires? For the previous five races, Pirelli brought their Hard and Soft compounds to the track. Here? The "hard" tire is actually the soft compound. The "soft" tire is the season debut of the super-soft rubber. Earlier in the week, Pirelli thought the super-soft compound would last about 10 laps, which doesn't sound too horrible. It's hardly great, but it seems workable.
Until you realize that Monaco is the shortest track in F1, just a hair over two miles long. By way of comparison, the Turkish Grand Prix is run on a 3.3 mile circuit. THEN you think "how many laps comprise a race at Monaco?" The answer is 78. If your stomach just got a little queasy at that revelation, congratulations! You too could be a strategist for a F1 team!
As it turned out, the super-soft tires might have a little more life in them than anybody thought. Towards the end of P2, Seb Vettel went out with a full load of fuel and the red-lettered shoes and managed to keep them on the car for 22+ laps. Again, that doesn't sound too bad... until you look at the timesheets and see that his last laps were over three full seconds slower than the first laps. This at a time when he should have been faster simply because of fuel burning off! Feeling a little more nauseous?
The super-soft tires are approximately one second faster than the softs, which are about twice as durable. Pirelli claims that it's theoretically possible that someone do the race on two stops. I think three is probably more likely, and maybe someone will go for a four-stopper.
To get a good lap around Monaco, a driver has to be 100% committed, 100% of the time. At every other circuit on the calendar, there's at least one place where a driver can relax, even if it's only for a few seconds: Abu Dhabi leaps immediately to mind, with its nigh-on 3000ft long back straight. Nothing like that at Monaco... even the front "straight" bends to the right. Felipe Massa showed just how focused you have to be around the Principality on one hot lap in P2. Through the Swimming Pool complex, he was actually turning while airborne over a curb. He then drifted around Rascasse and fishtailed through Anthony Noghes. There, he looked like he was going to permanently embed his left-rear wheel in the armco barriers, but the curbing there kicked him away... and right towards the armco on the INSIDE of the turn. A quick flip of the wrists kept him clear of those, and he crossed the line with the third fastest time of the session up until then. Breathtaking! Heck, the Legendary Announce Team was actually laughing about it.
Yes, should be a fun race weekend... the way it's going, we just might see someone in the harbor. See you Saturday for Quals!
I have mixed feelings about this whole tire business. It's not that it's unfair. Everyone is using the same tires, so it's even.
But the tires are so variable, and so much of a problem, that there seems to be a risk that they'll drown out all other factors in the race. This sport should be about driver and car design excellence, not about skill in conserving tire rubber.
Posted by: Steven Den Beste at May 26, 2011 07:30 PM (+rSRq)
They did try to take tires out of the mix for a while there, when they said no tire changes during a race. That didn't work well either.
What it comes down to is that tires and cars are impossible to separate. At least there's some interest with the differing compounds. Whether it's good is another question.
F1 used to be all about technological innovation, but when they neutered things like the fan car and ground effects and all the rest in the name of safety, a lot of that went away. I'd rather have my drivers alive, yes, but the old cars were a lot more interesting.
Posted by: Wonderduck at May 26, 2011 08:00 PM (n0k6M)
Posted by: Avatar_exADV at May 26, 2011 09:40 PM (pWQz4)
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