Pirelli tires are assessing their 2012 tire program for Formula One and more specifically they are looking for a tire regulation change from the teams and governing body, the FIA. The issue at hand is the waste of tires at the end of a grand prix.
The teams have opted to run the softer compounds more frequently in any given weekend and this leaves a pile of unused harder compound tires come Monday morning. Imagine that! The pragmatic thinking behind the sole-source tire supplier and the mandated usage of both "prime" and "option" tire has created waste in Formula One.
Pirelli director of motor sport, Paul Hembrey, has asked the FIA to look into a regulation change for next year to prevent the wasted tires saying:
"At the moment, if the teams want to keep the same regulations then we will have to go to the FIA and tell them there is no point in having six sets of one and five sets of the other - we may as well have five and five and we save money.
"We have to take these extra [hard] tyres to every race, so if they don't want to change the sporting regulations then we can give them the stats that it is 100 per cent certain they are not going to use them, change the regulations and save us all money.
"The FIA does have a role to play in terms of regulations, and we need to have stimulation from them, because it is a cost that has no benefit to the teams, the sport or Pirelli. It is nonsense."
Logically the teams are keen to keep all options available to them and reducing the amount of tire sets they receive for a race weekend is not something they are eager to accept. Pirelli feels this adds a nonsensical burden on them financially and is wasteful. Therefore, Hembrey has alluded to FIA involvement in getting the regulations changed in order to support their cause and money-savings efforts.
The current regulations mandate that all teams must use each of the compounds during a race and the knock-on effect has been to save the best tires--the softer compound or "option" tire--for the race. This, in turn, has teams choosing mot to run many laps, if at all, in the third qualifying session on Saturday in an effort to conserve the best tires for Sunday's green flag.
Hembrey says Pirelli were trying to understand the reason when the wasteful truth became obvious:
"We fitted the tyres, brought them to races and then we destroy them - so it is very hard for us hearing that teams haven't got enough tyres when they actually have plenty of tyres. They are just not using them.
"We went to the teams to look into lightly changing the regulations. The simple way we thought we could get rid of the top teams avoiding running in Q3 would be to invert the allocation. So you had six of the soft set and five of the hard.
"Then, after FP1, you took away one of the hard sets, so five becomes four. Follow the same regulations through; you will end up doing qualifying and the race with four sets of the soft tyre and then two of the hard.
"So, in that scenario, the top teams would use one hard for first qualifying, two soft and then have two sets of soft tyres for the race. That would have eliminated the problem. But that was not unanimously accepted."
The teams are not keen to see their arsenal of rubber compromised. The more rubber you have at your disposal, the more you can adopt strategies on the fly if need be. It is also never a bad thing to have more options tactically in a race weekend as you never know how the track surface will impact the "option" tire. Hembrey concluded:
"At the end of the day it is for their benefit. We are just saying it seems bizarre to be in this situation of having new sets of tyres at the end of the race, when during the weekend there have been some occasions when teams are reluctant to run.
"We want to sit down and find a way to eliminate that need. It doesn't cost anyone in the sport any more money, the only thing it will cost us is time in a meeting room to come up with something that works for everybody.
"At the moment I wouldn't say there is an impasse but they have decided they want to stick with the current regulations but we need to return to that because in many ways it is nonsense."
One missing element in Hembrey's concern is that the teams are not going to run in the third qualifying session on hard tires. As much as Hembrey's assertion that the waste is nonsensical, so too is the thought that the teams should run more laps on tires that are not capable of securing pole position on Saturday's Q3 session.