The high limits on tyre pressure, stipulated by Pirelli at the 2016 Chinese Grand Prix, have been causing problems for a number of drivers at the Shanghai International circuit this weekend.
Romain Grosjean, had a particularly hard time with the VF-16, touting the Haas F1 car as “undriveable”, and after finishing way down the order in both free practice 1 and 2 on Friday, the Frenchman is hoping that Pirelli will amend the limit before Sunday’s race.
Speaking to Autosport, the 29-year-old advised:
“The tyre pressure limit has been ridiculous, everything is up to the roof and the cars are undriveable. “
“Out of the garage the front-tyre pressure is 23psi, which is absolutely ridiculous, with the rear 21 and a half. So imagine on track we are 26 at the front, hot, and 23 at the rear. It’s almost a road car. You just don’t get any feeling.
“With pressures that high you get locking brakes, understeer. It’s like there is oil on the track. You could see a lot of people locking the wheels for no reason. It’s the same for everyone, but it looks like we are suffering a bit more.
“It would be good if we could change a little because it doesn’t feel like a racing car.”
The Frenchman also believes that the amount of lock-ups seen by drivers so far this weekend are as a direct result of the higher pressures, stating that it has been impossible to get any feeling from the car. McLaren driver Jenson Button also concurred with the Frenchman, after struggling himself with the MP4-31. The Brit advised:
“The minimum pressures we can run are massively high so the tyres overheat pretty much immediately/”
“It’s a pretty big issue, especially on the longer runs. It’s just trying to find your best way of getting around that, which we’re not doing a very good job of.”
“They’ve risen a lot over the last year. I think they were 19 or something last year, or 18, last year and they’ve gone up by 4psi, which is massive, that’s before you leave the pits, before they increase through the roof.
“It’s tricky and that’s probably why you see the cars floating around a lot more. They’re not stuck to the road and you can’t carry speed.”
In response, Pirelli have advised that they will be testing the data they gathered on Friday to confirm whether or not they have arrived at the correct levels, as they always do on a race weekend.
Paul Hembery, Director of Pirelli Motorsport, advised:
“Traction was certainly at a premium, it’s true to say.
“We’re conducting our post-race briefing, so we’ll know where we are after that.”
“The process is on a Friday we take the data, the telemetry from the teams and we compare that to the pre-race simulations, then we verify if the prescriptions we have are correct.”
The issue does not appear to be affecting all teams or drivers, with some squads clearly employing a more efficient cooling method than others, so if Pirelli do deem their predicted pressures to be correct, those that have not done so well, may just have to grin and bear it, or find an alternative way of keeping their tyres cool.