Pirelli says Formula 1 tracks, not tires, are the key to the most exciting speed races

Pirelli says Formula 1 tracks, not tires, are the key to the most exciting speed races

Teams and Formula One chiefs have begun discussions about potential changes to drag racing for 2024 following concerns that the current setup does not offer enough for fans.

There are a range of options on the table, including the possibility of reverse grids, a full independent sprint championship, cash prizes, and an overhaul of the weekend schedule to switch sessions.

There have even been suggestions that Formula 1 should do more to ensure there is greater strategic differentiation in terms of tire choices – as that was a key factor in making this year’s Qatar Grand Prix so exciting.

But Pirelli believes it’s not necessary to start tinkering with the sprint itself – because it will always be difficult to try to engineer conditions that open the door to varied tire calls.

Instead, Pirelli’s chief engineer Simone Pira believes the best way to ensure good racing entertainment is to ensure that events take place on tracks that offer overtaking opportunities.

“I don’t think we should change anything regarding the sprint distance,” he explained.

“I think it is better that we decide correctly where the circuit layout can help a lot because we can make decisions to help the sprint race to be more exciting.”

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing leads at the start

Photography: Red Bull Content Pool

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing leads at the start

Pera believes the reason Qatar proved so efficient, with the soft-tire racers pushing to the front at the start before falling back later in the race, is that none of the tires proved ideal for the conditions.

He added: “We had good speed races. But in Qatar, there was a high level of degradation, and this affected the choice of complex.

“We didn’t have a really strong compound. We had a C2 and a C3, but they both suffered from graininess.

“I think the layout of the circuit is very important, to choose the right circuits to get a good spectacle.”

Berra believes it will be very difficult to engineer conditions where tire choice is marginal all the time, as there is always a fine line between offering products that allow drivers to push, while also allowing for good racing.

“The balance is not easy because if you have high degradation they (drivers) have to deal with it, but if you have low degradation they can push but you don’t have any difference in speed because the degradation is low for everyone.

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“So, it’s always a combination where you choose the path, you choose the combinations, and some teams are able to do better than others.

“For example (in the Brazilian race), Mercedes dropped a lot in the last laps, especially (Lewis) Hamilton. And even (Oscar) Piastri at the end of the race, so that was really important.”

“So having to manage the tires there means there’s some fighting and some other people from the back are gaining positions.”

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