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Monday, June 18, 2012

The Burnout Question: Pirelli?

I've been banging on about the tyres now for most of the two years that I've been blogging - about 20% of my 209 posts refer to boots in one way or another and really (if you'll pardon my penchant for puns) it wears me out.

There's no question but that the tyres are the most significant factor in a GP weekend at the moment in terms of how your car will perform in the GP itself.  Getting to grips (oops) with the car set up and how it affects the tyres is probably the primary concern of the F1 engineers at race weekends and as such it has generated a lot of headlines and has also created a vigorous online and in paddock debate with some people delighting in the unpredictability created and others (myself included) disappointed that they have failed to show the stability needed to provide the platform to showcase the engineering (and driving) talent along the pitlane.

I'm old fashioned in that I want my racing unencumbered by unknown quantities.  I really don't care who wins [even though I have my favourite team - Williams (previously Jordan), driver - Button (previously Alesi/Fisi), and team/driver combo - Red Bull/Webber (previously Heidfeld/Sauber/BMW Sauber)] once they and the team have done the job on raceday.

So on the one hand I'm delighted with Sauber's great results based on Perez and the teams uncanny ability to nurse these tyres through a race but I'm disappointed that this ability is becoming the defining factor on raceday. Alonso in Canada is the most recent example of a trend that began to show itself in China 2011 - the "falling off the cliff" moment when your car is passed by everyone because you find midway through a lap that you have no more grip.

The debate continues to rage on but I thought I'd give you a couple of links to stories which do not reflect my opinion and one to a story which upsets me which is Peter Windsor's Article in GP Week Link Here.

His article is well thought out and well expressed but its tone is all about media spin.  It tells the teams to rein in the drivers; don't allow any criticism of the tyres in case Pirelli decide to pull out of supplying them.  It's about press management, positive spin, and the "don't rock the boat" principle.  It's not about the tyres themselves rather about making sure that no-one talks about the tyres (what's the first rule of the F1 club? No-one talks about F1).  It is wrong to stifle debate

I hate media spin.  Peter Windsor's approach is typical of PR speak, beware the impact of criticism on the Global Social Media.  Any criticism is to be internal only.  Positivity is the first rule.

He forgets the first rule of advertising and PR - there's no such thing as bad publicity.  Pirelli have had a massive amount of press this year from every race.  The first question that is asked is what compounds they'll be bringing and the debate continues as to tyre management through Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  The Sunday and Monday papers are full of references to the tyres and the F1 coverage itself revolves around the issue.

I think Peter Windsor is a great F1 analyst but I wouldn't want to hire him as a PR guru - his attitude smacks of the Alastair Campbell method.

Here are the links to the guys with whom I disagree - It doesn't mean I don't respect their opinion or take it on board it just means that I think they're more interested in the spectacle rather than the racing:

If the fans, the journalists, the F1 paddock and the tyre manufacturers can't have a healthy debate on the future of the sport how will the sport move forward?

Nobody is blaming Pirelli for the tyres - they have produced exactly what they were asked for - the burnout question is whether this type of tyre should be used next year & the year after that & ...