Mercedes Tyre Troubles

19 May
We’re 5 races into F1 2013 and so far Mercedes have really struggled, despite qualifying on pole 3 many times they have struggled in the races, only finishing twice on the podium, and recently had a dreadful Spanish GP where after qualifying 1st and 2nd they could only finish 6th and 12th.
SO WHAT DO YOU THINK’S THE PROBLEM?
Well for a team to have such a contrast between qualifying and the races it indicated that there is a problem with the way that they use their tyres, and with thus year’s Pirelli tyres degrading very quickly Mercedes are being left for dead by the rest of the top teams.
WHAT COULD THIS PROBLEM WITH THE TYRES BE?
Well all F1 teams have to do a compromise with the design of the cars when it comes to tyre degradation.
Qualifying is a vital part of a race weekend, if you can qualify high up you have a much better chance of winning the race and winning points, and for qualifying you want a car that can heat up it’s tyres quickly so that it can have the tyres at the optimum temperature for a qualifying run, but this erodes the tyres quickly.
Whilst in the races you want a car that is light on it’s tyres so they can last longer and you don’t have to do as many pit stops.
As you can see this means team’s have to compromise when designing the car, but almost every team will make a 70-30 split towards race pace since championship points are only available in the race.
SO MERCEDES HAVE FAVOURED THEIR DESIGN TO QUALIFYING?
It appears that way and this is giving the team nightmares in the race where they simply don’t have the tyres to race and compete.
IF THIS COMPROMISE IS THE CASE, THEN HOW COME THE TEAMS WHO WIN RACES ALSO GO FASTEST IN QUALIFYING?
I understand where you’re coming from, but since every team favours the compromise towards race pace then it evens out and so generally the teams fastest in qualifying are also fastest in the race.
Of course teams change the balance around occasionally and that is well shown by Ferrari this season, at Spain they were the fastest on race pace, but were off the pace in qualifying indicating that their compromise is even more set on race pace than other teams. This could potentially be a good decision for the team since points are only available in the race, but on the other hand they could struggle to pick up points at tracks where it’s hard to overtake e.g. Monaco.
CAN MERCEDES SORT THEIR PROBLEM OUT?
They of course can, but the time put in to sort out this problem is time which isn’t being spent on other important parts of this year’s car and also time being lost on next year’s car.
SO SHOULD MERCEDES PACK IT IN FOR 2013 AND CONCENTRATE ON 2014 WHEN THE RULES CHANGE?
That is of course an option for Mercedes and could be a great decision for the team as it will give them a big head start on the competition, and of course Brawn has taken this strategy before in 2008 when he quickly gave in on the 2008 Honda to concentrate on the 2009 car which was eventually branded as Brawn GP and dominated the 2009 season.
One problem with this though is that sponsor’s only want immediate success, they want the team winning now not in 12 months time, so by cutting their losses on this season they could lose sponsorship and funding which could leave them without enough to be as competitive next season.
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