Bernie Ecclestone has backed the call made by the Grand Prix Drivers Association (GPDA) for higher performance tyre for the 2017 season.
The comments come days after Chairman Alexander Wurz spoke out about the tyre situation. Saying the drivers felt something needed to be done, as they were no longer able to push the cars to the limits on the Pirelli tyres. Mr Ecclestone has now come out in support of the decision. Agreeing that drivers should be able to push to the limits and race flat out all the time during a race. However, he has also been quick to point out that if the teams and drivers want better tyres, they need to work with Pirelli.
Ecclestone’s comments have been made after fears that the tyres could be undermining the rule changes for the 2017 season. The rules are aiming to make the cars faster, and the races more dramatic. Plans have already been watered down, after Pirelli admitted that they were not sure the tyres would cope. Saying if they used the current tyres on the higher performance cars they would be run at extreme pressures. Which would affect the grip of the tyres.
The tyre debate looks set to rumble on, with a meeting called for at Pirelli’s headquarters in Milan on the 2nd of February. The president of Pirelli and the major stockholders in F1 will be present. Though Mr Ecclestone has made it clear that any driver or team who wishes to turn up and have their say is welcome.
Pirelli became the sole tyre supplier in 2011, and on request from Mr Ecclestone, created a tyre that would force teams to make multiple pit stops in a race. They did this by using the concept of thermal degradation. Thermal degradation sees the tyre damaged if it goes beyond a certain temperature. As a result, teams and drivers now have to keep their tyres below this temperature, which means driving well below the maximum performance of the car. Pirelli’s contract was set to expire at the end of 2016. And despite an attempt by Michelin to take over the contract, Ecclestone announced Pirelli would be the sole tyre manufacturer on the grid till 2019.
Pirelli’s 2016 compounds have already been finalised. And according to Motorsport Director Paul Hembery they will still follow the trend of the last few years, with thermal degradation a key factor to the tyres performance. Hembery has also said that the Pirelli team are ready to listen to drivers and the teams on how to improve the tyres. Hoping they can come up with a solution that benefits everyone.