F1: Pirelli hits back at wet tire criticism

(GMM) Pirelli has deflected driver complaints about the quality of Formula 1’s rain tires back onto the teams.

After Suzuka, fans were once again wondering why the sport seems so averse in the modern era to racing in very wet conditions.

The finger was pointed straight at Pirelli, with Sebastian Vettel insisting that the red flag was waved at Suzuka because drivers struggled to cope with the intermediate tires.

Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin AMR22, leads Fernando Alonso, Alpine A522

“We are forced to go on the intermediates because the rain tires are junk – sorry, not so good. So we push ourselves from one emergency to another.

“The whole field was driving on the wrong tires,” the quadruple world champion added.

“We are all responsible for that, but we have an intermediate that is so much faster than the wet tire. The wet is better for the conditions but so slow that you’re forced to be on the next tire.

“That needs to be improved.”

Current back-to-back world champion Max Verstappen agrees.

“I didn’t want to take a dig but I think we need better rain tires,” said the Red Bull driver. “You saw what we could do in the 90s or the early 2000s with the amount of water on the track.

“I’m very happy to do a few test days to try all different kinds of tires because we need better rain tires. The extremes are just slow and they don’t really carry a lot of water away.

“If you compare to 20 years ago, it was perfectly fine in the wet. So there must be a solution. But like I said, this is not criticism because I’m very happy to help out.”

Pirelli’s F1 boss Mario Isola, however, says the main problem is that wet-weather testing is now so rare in Formula 1.

Mario Isola, Pirelli technical director during the Hungarian GP, 28-31 July 2022 at Hungaroring, Formula 1 World championship 2022.

“We only have one compound for the rain tires and one for the intermediates,” he said. “And they have to work everywhere – on 22 different tracks. So we have to find the best compromise.

“Honestly we don’t have many opportunities to test the rain and intermediate tires,” he insists. “We work with the FIA and the teams, but if we don’t have the opportunity to test the tires then we don’t have the opportunity to develop them either.”

And even when there is wet-weather testing, Isola says the teams remain more focused on performance.

“If you remember the pre-season tests in Barcelona, we wet the track for half a day but the extreme wet was used very little,” said the Italian.

“They were focusing on the intermediate.”


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