This idea to introduce another compound seems to ignore the fact that Formula 1 is looking for simplification.
This news is almost funny. Pirelli, sole supplier of Formula 1 until 2019 (It is possible they will continue a couple of years more), of course in full harmony with FIA and FOM (Liberty Media), they decided to introduce another tyre: an even softer one.
At the end, a consultation using Twitter made possible to choose even the name of this new tyre: the name chosen was Hypersoft. At this time, Pirelli has already seven different type of compounds. They range from red, purple band, supersoft yellow, ultrasoft orange and white for medium. Green is intermediate wet asphalt and wet blue for heavy rain.
Now be careful, it is a waste of time to blame Pirelli…
Infact, they have no choice but to follow any rule imposed by sport authorities. It is like to say, Pirelli is a mere executor of directives. Now the question is quite simple: what is the reason to create a chaos like this one ?
Increasing dramatically the number of compounds can be useful to anyone ?
Would not be more important to give more power to pilots and reintroduce refuelling during the race ?
I mean, can Liberty Media be sure Formula 1 needs more pit-stop to fix its problems ?
Latest F1 era, since the invention of wingcars that changed everything, proved everytime tyres were a disturbing factor in a challenge between teams. In 1978, second year of Michelin radial tyres, these tyres were fighting against traditional Goodyear tyres. The brand of Akron said loud and clear that they could not supply all their customers. They created a priority lit of prominent teams and less important ones. Poor teams received compounds so hard, their tyres were similar to wood.
It was during that period of time, Roolf Stommelen got a set of tyres marked F5000: a set of tyres made four years before. It was worse than having a tricycle with tyres.
When they introduced qualyfing tyres capable to last only one lap, this complicated even more the situation.
It was a particular moment because poor teams were running with a piece of wood and not tyres: those were made specifically by Avron.
Let’s explain in another way, this issue remained the same along the years: if you select the right kind of tyres, you can reduce your lap-time of one second in one day and almost for free. If you would like to remove it with your engine, it will take one year an half of work and huge amount of money. Tyres are an important subject because they touch the ground and they can make a difference in your performance.
Due to this, after 1997 tyres have been used to limit performance and make more difficult to drive. This was the year of tyres with treads, reducing tyres footprint. Finally, they were abolished at the beginning of 2009, the year when Brawn Racing team won the F1 world championship.
In any case, problems with your tyres can provoke irreparable damages during a GP. Thinking back to GP USA 2005, at Indianapolis we watched a horrible show with only three Bridgestone teams at start. Michelin teams decided to withdraw after warm-up lap: their tyres could not be safe enough to complete the race…
Once Michelin left Formula 1, Bridgestone became the only supplier in 2007. They decided to introduce four kind of compounds: two hard and two soft tyres. Quite simple if compared with the actual mess.
On 2nd November of 2009, Bridgestone announced his retirement from F1 at the end of 2010. This is the time Pirelli era started. At the end, it is a positive experience and there is no doubt the effort and commitment has been important.
But there is a problem…
Every single GP is regularly affected by an obligation to stop and use at least two different types of tyres to race. In fact, it is a bad idea to carry-on to give too much attention about the tactics and pit-stop. This is the real center of gravity of each race. Too many races are boring and lacking a real challenge. Only the undercut (A way to fool who is before you, trying to advance tyres change) can sometimes create a bit of surprise. During last years, this was the only system to defeat a direct opponent while overtakings start to decrease gradually.
At this point, things are likely to stay that way for a long period of time.
Maybe one day, someone of F1 rulers will understand compounds, tactics and undercuts are not necessary. It is much better to watch a race where pilots are overtaking each other with a knife between their teeth…
But is it never going to happen ?
Now, Liberty Media has come to an idea to increase even futher the range of compounds produced. This is increasing the problem instead of shrinking it.
Would not be more logical to move exactly in the opposite direction ?
It is better to take advantage of having a unique supplier and use less possible compounds while giving all the resources to drivers, leaving them free to overtake each other as much as possible. Doing something different is not a great idea but another way to improve this show without a real investment in new ideas.
If we continue with the same philosophy any Sunday will be a waste of time because it will be more important the compound selection and not too much what a pilot is capable to do. It would be better to leave those competitive pilots to be capable to make the difference during a race, fighting anytime there is a chance to overtake his opponents and defeat them and not to be focused about the right sequence of compounds to have a good pace.
Now, you can think what you like but this idea to increase the amount of compounds is not a good signal for F1…