F1 drivers "completely cruising" due to tyre fears
The tyre blistering Formula 1 drivers have had to manage at several races this year has felt like they are "completely cruising round", says Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas.
Blistering occurs when part of a tyre overheats, causing rubber to soften and break apart in chunks, and although it is not a new phenomenon in F1 it has been problematic at several races this season.
F1 tyre supplier Pirelli introduced softer compounds for this season as well as debuting the new hypersoft tyre, and Bottas is hopeful that some of the experiments it has undertaken in its 2019 development work will improve the matter next year.
“We had to do a lot of management at pretty much every race this season and especially at the last few there have been issues with the blistering,” said Bottas.
“Once we are getting to a certain temperature, we know it’s going to happen at some point, so then we’re just not pushing to go over those temperatures and trying to manage.
“At some places, when it’s hot, in a high-energy track laterally, it’s pretty difficult and it does feel at times that you are completely cruising round, which is not ideal.
“You know there’s so much potential in these cars and my thinking is if you do one-stop pushing flat out it would be more fun, but that’s the issue for everyone now.
“I was involved in some of the testing for next year’s tyres a couple of weeks ago and I’m sure they are pushing flat out and hopefully it’s going to be a bit better.”
Pirelli designed a thinner-gauge tyre to use at three races where it feared blistering would be problematic.
Teams reported this special design was much better when used in Spain, France and Britain, but have struggled at several other circuits where it has not been present.
Bottas’s Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton, who won two of the three races with the thinner-gauge tyre, thinks is worth using more in 2019.
“I think Pirelli have done a really good job this year,” said Hamilton. “The cars are faster than ever before, we have more downforce than ever before, so there’s more force going through the tyres.
“They do have the lower-gauged tyre which we used earlier in the year on which we didn’t see any blistering.
“I’m not really sure why they didn’t continue using that for the year but I’m sure that’s probably something they will engage in next year.”
Hamilton agreed with Bottas that the current tyres were not helping avoid lower-paced races but said this was not something he had a major problem with.
“I think it takes skill and management to keep the pace up and lose as little as possible whilst still keeping the tyre alive,” Hamilton said.
“If we could keep pushing the whole way and not having rear overheating, that would definitely enable us to follow for longer and race for longer.
“But that’s something that they are constantly trying to battle."
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W09, locks up
Photo by: Glenn Dunbar / LAT Images
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