Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton have both criticised Pirelli following the two free practice sessions at the Bahrain International Circuit on Friday following their experience of the prototype 2021 C3 compound tyres.
Scuderia Ferrari’s Vettel said he would not be unhappy if he was never to use that tyre again, with the feeling that they were not as good as the current tyre compound that is currently in use in Formula 1.
“They were not a step forward, the opposite pretty much,” Vettel is quoted as saying to reporters in Bahrain by PlanetF1.com. “Probably worth a shot but I hope we don’t see these tyres again.
“They’re probably quite a lot worse compared to the tyres we currently run. If that one is the only option for ’21, then absolutely, I would love to stick with the ’19 tyres.
“I think as long as we don’t have a tyre that gives us anything that the current one doesn’t give, such as less overheating, better chance to fight each other, we shouldn’t get onto a different tyre.
“This one is worse, for sure, and it will make all the problems that we struggle with already only worse.”
Hamilton agreed with Vettel, feeling it would be better at this stage to continue with the range of tyres they currently use, although they have another test coming up, this time with the possible C4 compound, in practice for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix next month.
“Oh god…I’m trying my hardest not to say anything!” the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team racer said after practice. “What I want to say is…weekend in and weekend out, every year, we’ve got a team here from Pirelli. I have the utmost respect for the guys that come here and load our tyres up, bring them here and keep us safe. They do an amazing job.
“Unfortunately, I mean we’ve had the same tyre for two years. At the end of 2019 they brought a new tyre, which they normally do, and it was quite a bit worse so they said ‘ok we’ll just keep the tyre from last year’.
“So they have had two years now to develop a better tyre and we’ve arrived at a tyre which is three kilos heavier and it is like a second worse in lap time. I know for the fans that doesn’t make too much of a difference. But, from a driver point of view, we are working with brands and partners who are at the forefront of technology and elevate [the sport]. If you are going back after two years of development then I don’t know what is happening.
“It definitely doesn’t feel good out there and it is a worry. I definitely just prefer to stay on these tyres again. If that is the best they can do, which it clearly is, it would just be better to stay with this tyre.”
Isola Hits Back at Criticism and Insists ‘No Plans’ to Continue with 2019 Rubber
Mario Isola, the Head of F1 and Car Racing at Pirelli Motorsport, says he would like to talk to the drivers who were unhappy with the prototype tyres and understand why there were complaints about the C3 tyres during and after practice.
“If there is opposition, I want to understand why there is opposition,” said Isola to Motorsport.com. “Because if the opposition is that there is a little bit less grip, as long as the tyres are the same for everybody, it’s not a disadvantage for somebody.
“If the opposition is that there is a bit of understeer, they’ve just thought about the car. For example, I heard the comment, I believe it was a team radio from [Max] Verstappen, saying that he was feeling some understeer.
“We warned the teams that with the new construction, they can have more understeer, and we invited the teams to correct the set-up in order to re-balance the car. This is obviously something they will do next year.
“I’m sure that they will find the way to balance the car, and to extract the performance from the 2021 tyres next year.”
Isola says there are no thoughts within Pirelli to abandon the 2021 tyres and continue with the 2019 rubber for a third consecutive season, and even with the complaints, they are likely to continue with their plan of introducing the new compounds for next season.
“We discussed the introduction of the new tyre, together with the teams and together with the FIA, we explained the reason behind that, and we got the homologation from the FIA,” said Isola. “And we took the opportunity to give the new specification to the teams in order to collect data and to have useful information on the tyres.
“We are not discussing about the possibility to go back to the current tyre. And to be honest, we don’t want to go back to the current tyre, because we did our job, we made a tyre that is more resistant to integrity, that was the main target.
“This is why I don’t think there is a reason to go back to the previous tyre. There is always a discussion, if I look back, every time we try to introduce something new, how can I say, some people are not happy.
“But there is a sort of natural resistance to changes in F1, and that’s part of the job. I think that we have a specification that is an improvement, and there is no reason why we shouldn’t introduce it next year.”