As if the trend hadn’t already established itself this
season, then the Turkish Grand Prix looks set to be the race which proves that
it is not how quick the car is, but how quickly the tyres on the car wear.
The outcome of the Chinese Grand Prix, hailed as one of the
greatest races of modern times, was largely down to tyre degradation and
strategy, with Sebastian Vettel leading the way before his two-stop strategy left
him on tyres showing increased sign of wear, enabling McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton
to pass the German with four laps to go on fresher rubber.
Before each race Pirelli must nominate two different types of tyre each team must use during the race and
for the live f1 race in Turkey, the
Italian tyre manufacturer has once again nominated its hard and soft tyres as
the prime and option tyres respectively.
The hard will be used for lengthier stints at a slightly
slower rate, while the soft tyre will be used in order to increase pace, but will
be susceptible to heavy degradation on the abrasive Turkish surface.
Similar to the Malaysian Grand Prix earlier this season in
terms of wear, the Istanbul Park circuit will be the most difficult for the
Pirelli tyres, which were introduced this season, according to the company’s
director of motorsport, Paul Hembery.
“The next race in Istanbul is very tough on tyres - and is
probably the worst for us as a tyre maker. So that will change again the type
of strategy needed in a race.”
“But we have had a lot of credit from a lot of people about
the nature of the races so far and if we continue like that we will have a
In truth few teams have been able to avoid the rapid
degradation of their tyres – although Sauber’s Sergio Perez remarkably finished
the Australian Grand Prix having pitted just once compared to the rest of the
field having to stop two or three times – and the fact that the Istanbul race
will be a nightmare for tyres will not particularly favour anyone hugely.
Red Bull will be slightly concerned that their tyre wear
seems slightly heavier than their race rivals, but if the Chinese Grand Prix
proved anything, it was just how important it is to be at the right place at
the right time with each set of tyres.
If Red Bull, or anyone for that matter, are caught out like
the Milton Keynes-based outfit were in Shanghai, then it could swing the
Rubber nearing the edge of the cliff can cost up to three
seconds a lap, something Vettel’s team-mate Mark Webber was able to use to full
effect as he surged up the field to secure a spectacular podium finish.
Expect to see anything up to a four stop strategy which
could also affect the race outcome. Over 60 stops were executed in Sepang, and
one false move could hand an advantage away, something Jenson Button will be
all too familiar with after his disastrous error in the pit-lane handed a race
position to Vettel in China.
Updates to the McLaren cars are expected to close the gap at
the front of the grid, while Mercedes displayed hitherto unseen pace in
Shanghai which will stand them in good stead as Formula 1 returns to Europe,
something which could spell trouble to Renault’s podium ambitions.
McLaren and Red Bull will continue to fight it out for race
wins for the remainder of the season, and while the Woking outfit has closed
the gap on Red Bull, their updates will need bedding in before that gap is
reduced further. Vettel’s spectacular qualifying lap to put him on pole for
China show they still have the quickest car, and Red Bull once more be the team to
beat in two weeks time.