Formula One: Pirelli in a spin over tire debate

by Tim Collings, Agence France-Presse

Posted at Apr 23 2013 10:31 AM | Updated as of Apr 23 2013 06:31 PM

MANAMA - Pirelli is expected to hold talks at its Milan factory on Tuesday to decide what, if any, changes are needed to improve the performance of their controversial Formula One racing tires.

After four races dominated and decided by tire-wear and the strategy required to cope with this season's fast-wearing rubber, F1's leading teams are keen to see Pirelli switch to producing more conservative tires that help ensure truer racing for the drivers.

Despite seeing his defending triple world champion driver German Sebastian Vettel claim his second win this season to open up a 10-points gap in the title race, Red Bull's chief Christian Horner said he remained critical of the tyres and still wanted changes.

"I think the tyres are still too on an edge," he said.

"Needing to four-stop in a race is I think a bit too extreme. There are other teams that look like they have bigger issues than Red Bull with their tyres, but you need to speak to them to ask their opinion.

"But I do feel the tires are on an edge and just need to come back a little bit."

Vettel's dominant showing in the Bahrain Grand Prix did nothing to persuade Horner to change his mind.

Red Bull still wants Formula 1 tyre supplier Pirelli to change its tyres for the remainder of the season, even though it triumphed at the Bahrain Grand Prix.

"These tyres are very complex and we got it just right here," he told reporters.

"The strategy worked, the strategy from qualifying worked in the race, and Seb had plenty in hand. When you're in the window with the balance with these tires, then you can have a dominant display.

"But that window is very, very fine and if you're outside of it then you can be four or five-stopping."

Pirelli's motorsport director Paul Hembrey, who spent most of the Bahrain race weekend fending off criticisms and questions about the unpredictable tires, said the Italian company planned to hold a meeting to evaluate how their tires performed in the opening four races.

He said that the extreme cases of tyre-degradation seen at the Bahrain International Circuit, where several drivers experienced tires that appeared to throw off their entire tread blocks, were due to the unique combination of heat, dust and a demanding track layout.

"We are at extremes, as we were last year, when there were similar comments like, 'oh my god, you have gone too far,'" he said.

"If we made products that would just work here, we would find we had major problems when we got to the rest of the season. So, it is a balancing act and that is what we have to look at."

While Vettel revelled in the conditions to romp to a surprisingly easy win, German Nico Rosberg, who took pole for Mercedes with a blistering lap on Saturday, found himself facing a struggle to cope with the demands of the race -- due to the high wear of his rear tyres.

"I think that, in terms of the way, we manage the tyres and the tyre temperatures, we took a step in the wrong direction and didn't get the best out if it.

Altogether, from first to ninth was unreal. I can't believe it. This sport is tough sometimes.

"As nice as it was on Saturday with the pole, it was a terrible Sunday. But there we go. The great thing is we have a great car. We just need to sort out these tyre issues, which is easier said than done.

"It is a massive mission and it is the same for everyone. Some people are doing a better job so we are pushing hard for that."

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