Toro Rosso, Nurburgring, 2011

Soft tyre will be “two seconds quicker” than hard in India

2011 Indian Grand Prix

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Toro Rosso, Nurburgring, 2011
Soft tyres are likely to be the way to go in India

The Indian Grand Prix may see some unusual strategies.

Teams are expected to find the soft tyre two seconds per lap quicker during the race.

With a long pit lane at the Buddh International Circuit, drivers may do very short stints on the hard tyres.

Pirelli are bringing soft and hard compounds to the first race at the Buddh International Circuit. However the tyre company is bringing the hard tyre as a ‘safety net’ in case the track conditions take them by surprise.

Motorsport director Paul Hembery said: “We?ve opted for a deliberately conservative nomination in selecting the hard tyre alongside the soft, simply because on a brand new circuit you are never quite sure of the exact race conditions you will encounter.”

However HRT driver Narain Karthikeyan expects drivers to favour the soft tyre: “The texture of the tarmac is exceptionally smooth compared to most circuits on the calendar, so I think that?s a plus.

“The lap time difference between the hard and soft tyres is going to be huge, maybe in excess of two seconds a lap. I?d expect the teams to use the hard as less as possible: maybe just a short final stint in the race as the benefits in lap time produced by the soft tyre should outweigh its shorter life as the track surface isn?t abrasive at all and track temperatures I think should be under 40 degrees during the weekend.”

Pirelli haven’t supplied the hard tyre since the British Grand Prix, when only one driver used it during the rain-affected race.

As drivers are required to use both tyre compounds during the race, this could lead them to doing several stints on the soft tyres followed by a short stint on hard tyres. Sebastian Vettel and Felipe Massa did this at the Nurburgring this year, using the harder tyres for a single lap at the end of the race.

Karthikeyan added the 600m-long pit lane will also have a bearing on race strategy: “The long pit lane will play a part in strategy as well with teams trying to get through the race with as few stops as possible.

“The layout itself is going to put tremendous energy through the tyres ?ǣ especially the banked turn ten, which is a long, multiple-apex right-hander, somewhat similar to turn eight in Turkey. The front-left will definitely experience a lot of load through there ?ǣ and there are a couple of slow speed corners that will challenge the rears on exit.”

Team will have an extra set of soft tyres to use during Friday practice.

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Keith Collantine
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44 comments on “Soft tyre will be “two seconds quicker” than hard in India”

  1. Anyone else get the feeling that this race is going to be a ripper!

    1. Not for Ferrari! They will be 3 seconds slower on the hards (well they will be calling them iceblocks).

    2. @GeeMac Qualifying may be a bore. Saving soft tyres for the race may even become part of the strategy for the front runners.

    3. Why have they made the soft tyres the “prime” and the hard tyres the “option” for this race that is the wrong way round unless autosport misprinted.

      1. They’ve changed it around at this race in order for the teams to have one set of softs extra (instead of having an extra set of the hards if those had been the primes).

  2. I think we need to remember all the pre race hype about tyres in Korea.. Then sit back, and breathe slightly.

    1. Well put reminder to wait and see :)

      It will be interesting, and I hope we’ll see a great race, but I don’t expect Canda 2010 like uncertainty in the race.

  3. I think this sport becomes too much dependent on tires and strategy. It might be good for the show but it lowers the quality of racing.

    1. Actually, it was a lot more dependent on tyres before the supplier monopoly was set…

      1. @thekuna Absolutely, I mean look at 2004 and 2005.

      2. Yeah, but I don’t remember drivers being lapped after leading for half of the race only because of the difference in tyre performance nor preffering to stand out Q3 before 2011.
        The fact that F1 was dependent on tyres back from 2004 still doesn’t make it right (at least for me). I tend to consider raw speed as the quintessence of motorsport and when it is hampered by tyre-preserving issues then the sport loses it’s purpose.

        1. @Klaas – Personally I’d find it boring and one-dimensional if F1 was just about raw speed. I think Pirelli tyres have been great for both the show and for the sport as they showcase the ability of the driver not just to drive fast but to adapt to changing conditions (tyres included).

          1. @klaas @dirgegirl Couldn’t agree more. There are very, very few categories of motorsport that require so much attention to detail. Having drivers that can balance tyre wear can make the difference between the various feeder series and F1.

            Absolutely every element of the car is tested to a ridiculous degree. That’s sport as far as i’m concerned.

        2. The tyres are the same for each team. It is up to Ferrari (I assume you refer to them) to design a car that is effective on all tyre compounds. It was like this on the Bridgestones as well. Just happens that the Pirrellis are very different from the old tyres. As they indeed should be.

          Most F1 fans will always have one eye on the tyres, and until they design hover cars I think it’s probably going to stay that way.

        3. Actually it was pretty interesting to see a car that was almost the best of the pack fall back that much for misusing its tyres @klaas

          I do not want the tyres to decide everything, and its a fine balance. But the tyres add far more interest and variance to races then DRS ever did.

          1. @BasCB That’s the problem – I don’t think it’s a fine balance. I think they should scrap the compulsory use of two tyre types rule. When a driver gets his best set of tyres and the safety car comes out, his race is screwed (and with it, possibly his championship chances). In the end everyone has it’s own preferences but do you think it’s worth making F1 a game of chance just for the sake of the show?

          2. @Klaas, I agree with you that it would be better to ditch the 2 compound rule. It would force Pirelli to make the option tyres a bit more usable as well (bigger difference in durability).
            But my first choise would be to start with getting rid of the top 10 starting on their tyres from qualifying, that never really did anything to spice up racing (unless you cound people not doing a qualli run to have free choise)

        4. Yeah, but I don’t remember drivers being lapped after leading for half of the race only because of the difference in tyre performance nor preffering to stand out Q3 before 2011.

          The Ferrari was the third-fastest car anyway, he only stayed ahead for so long through – guess what – tyre strategy, relying on staying in front at Catalunya.

        5. @klaas Remember the 1986 Spanish GP with one of the closest and most exciting finishes ever between Mansell and Senna? That was due in large part to tire strategy. Mansell pitted late for new tires while Senna elected to continue on his old ones. Mansell wouldn’t have been closing nearly as rapidly as he was if it weren’t for the difference in tires. Tires and strategy have always been a big part of the game. We’re just more privy to it now with the access we have to information.

    2. Yea, tyres and strategy have played no role in F1 before 2011…

      1. GIve the guy a break. He actually said “becomes too much dependent on tires and strategy”, not that it wasn’t before or shouldn’t be at all now.

        Personally, I think he has a point. Yes have two types of tyre (for the sound reasons described by Hembery) but having to then use both these compounds in the race has always bugged me and still does – feels like artificially spicing up the show. Just let he teams decide what they want to use and when.

        I do however understand that some if not most people like that kind of spice.

  4. Should we prepare for a tyre saving Saturday? Or no, Korea was two weeks ago! Same “rumors”, wasn’t it?

    1. Probably Red Bull won’t waste the softs in qualifying then.

  5. Hopefully Sauber get it right again, after their one off in Korea.
    I always love it when one of the underdogs has something extra with which they can surprise us. In the case of Sauber, they have their tyre saving and both drivers.

  6. Folks, it is Karthikeyan suggesting the difference will be two seconds, not Pirelli.

  7. maybe some teams may start on the harder tire & end with soft at the later stages of the race…. but i have a feeling that this tire hype is not going to play out… teams have learned how to get maximum out of the soft tire. other tire is there just for the sake of being there…

  8. What Pirelli DIDN’T say is how much longer the harder “options” (they switched the option/prime nomenclature for this race) will last compared to the softer “primes.”

    Pirelli don’t seem confident as to the longevity of the hard compared to the softer tyres.

    I wonder if anyone will do a reverse “crazy” strategy – Lap 1 on the hards; and then run softs all the way

    1. its a good idea as you can pit on lap 1 and miss all the bunching up all the over cars will suffer in the first few laps.

    2. yes thats also a possibility if soft tire is found durable…

    3. I’ve always thought that someone in the midfield should do that and then pit after the first lap.

      If they haven’t made it through to Q3, they’ll have enough soft tyres and crucially have at least 10 laps running in clean air until all the rest pit.

  9. Team[s] will have an extra set of soft tyres to use during Friday practice.

    If I read the Autosport article correctly, the FP1 set will be soft instead of hard, so there will be no extra set. Also, I don’t see how this will reduce the number of unused hards (as is Pirelli’s intention), as they are replacing a hard set that is always used by a soft set. If they are serious about not wasting tyres, they should provide 4 sets of softs and 2 sets of hards for qualy and race.

  10. We’ve not really seen anyone really ‘fall off The Cliff’ very dramatically over the last few races. I wonder whether this two second difference will genuinely be the case during the Grand Prix and we will indeed have drivers on different compounds doing very different laptimes towards the end of the race.

    1. But if the difference is indeed almost 2 seconds, it pays off to go somewhat down that cliff with the softs, as a stop might anyway end you on slow new tyres, depending on stragegy of the competition of course.

    2. You are not counting Hamilton at Suzuka?

  11. Give all the teams just one type of tire compound. Let them decide how to make the best usage of it. Return the concept that would allow any team a mulitude of ways to use the tire to its maximum potential.

    If changing the tires 15 times during a race or baking them before each stint is best for any single team then so be it. You want strategy, you want excitement, you want action then going back to what once was what made F1 exciting, pitstops with unrestricted tire changes.

    If you only had one choice of tire but could use it as often or by what ever means best suited your team then that in my opinion would spice up the nature of each race and make F1 more interesting.

    Time to put to an end the Pirelli Candy Tires and stop the “soft, super soft and extra really super soft” nonsense that is currently vogue.

    Rumor has it that there will be a tire that lasts so long that it will be given to the grandchildren of current drives for their use in the future and on the drawing board is a new tire that lasts just one corner, change direction once and head to the pits for another set.

    Not attempting to qualify due to needing to save tires for raceday isn’t acceptable and this needs imediate action, yet somehow the rule makers are OK with this. Explain to me why after paying $1,200 dollars for cheap tickets for my family and I, I have to justify to my wife that we probably won’t see the best drivers attempt to qualify because they won’t have any tires left to race with on Sunday. That logic would go over well.

    Continuing use of Pirelli Candy Tires will erode the base of support by fans who feel like they aren’t getting their moneys worth.

    1. Well, as mentioned in some earlier comments, the 2-tyre rule is stupid. I think we should go back to the Bridgestone era, when drivers had to choose between the hard and the soft tyres for the rest of the weekend. If Pirelli is capable to construct two tyre-compounds in such way that the performance difference is compensated by the tyre-wear difference, then there may be a lot of strategic variety. Considering this year’s tyre-wear developments, I hope Pirelli will construct softer tyres (they’ll have to get rid of those extremely hard tyres), in order to force every driver to regularly change tyres in the race.

      For next week’s race, I don’t expect much of the tyre strategies. The soft tyres will probably last long and the hard tyres are so slow that everyone tries to cut their use in the race to a minimum (didn’t they say the same in Spain?), so there will be a lot of fake final-lap pitstops. There will probably no opposing strategies, as they will only occur if the soft tyres do wear out quickly. In case of a safety-car, I guess there will be drivers who change to the hard tyres and then immediately back to the soft tyres.

      Anyway, I hope there’ll still be a lot of close racing and good overtakings.

      1. I think we should go back to the Bridgestone era, when drivers had to choose between the hard and the soft tyres for the rest of the weekend.

        Forgive my poor memory, but when was that?

        1. I guess it was from 1997, when Bridgestone entered the sport, till 2007, when Michelin left the sport. I don’t know whether drivers could choose different tyre-compounds before 1997, but in 1997, the great tyre-wear year, they definitely could. Unfortunately, the difference between soft and hard tyres wasn’t visible to the naked eye and usually everyone was using the same tyres, but I think Pirelli can work on that problem.

  12. Im not surprised every Gp this year we have seen 1s diferrence between 2 compounds super-soft to soft or medium to soft in this case we have soft to hard just like in Catalunya Britain and Germany, some cars may have more than 2 seconds if it stays dry unlike Britain we may see another Catalunya finnish crucially potentially boosting Mclaren chances specially if the track temp is cold. Ferrari will struggle unless they experiment some miracle for next season, Mercedes will have a nice race for sure and Red Bull of course.

    1. True. The speed difference on fresh tyres is usually one second per compound-type difference. Would be funny if Pirelly had chosen the supersoft and the hard tyres for next GP. That would have created a massive 3-seconds-per-lap speed difference on fresh tyres. That may well be enough to force all drivers to use the supersoft tyres in Q1.

  13. Tsch, I read that Hubba Bubba are prepairing a chewable intemidiate tyre just in case :-)

  14. 2 seconds sounds about right to be honest. But who knows, if the track is as grippy as Karthikeyan suggests then we could see a closer battle between the compounds. I can’t really speculate any more than that!

    1. The only thing you can count on for sure is that Vettel will get more out of his tires than anyone else. He has proven this at almost every kind of track so far and there is nothing that will change this but for his state of mind.

      1. I think you’re probably right Ted. I fully expect him to out-strip the rest of the pack, getting that all important 1+s gap before lap 3. This circuit looks like it should suit the RB7 quite well.

        By the way, you post a lot, you should sign up for an account!

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