Is it All Change in The Pit Stops for 2014?
With a number of rule changes being made for the Formula one season in 2014, the latest proposed change is that drivers will have to take at least 2 pit stops during a race, and they will be limited to how long they can stay out on track on one set of tyres. As of yet this is just a proposal, but this is something that Pirelli for one, would like to see accepted at next month’s F1 Strategy Group meeting.
If this is accepted and the rules are agreed by the F1 Commission and FIA’s World Motor Sport Council, this would see the end of races being decided on tyre strategy. Each driver would have to have at least 2 changes of tyres during any race. One of the proposals is that drivers would also be limited to how long they could stay out during a race on any one set of tyres.
At the moment if a drivers starts a race on the “prime” tyres there is nothing stopping a driver from not changing tyres until he really needs to. So if a driver manages his tyres well during a race he can then decide to change his tyres nearer to the end of the race. Thereby reducing the pit stop to just one during a race.
In the new proposal any driver using “primes” will not be allowed to go further than 50% of a race, and only up to 30% using the “option” compound. I know at first this may seem a bit extreme, and could be said that if a driver is good at preserving his tyres during a race, surely he should be allowed to stay out on track.
When you give it a bit more thought, there are some very good reasons why these changes may be good for F1. The most important reason for me, is safety. Anyone that follows F1 will know that tyres are built to deliberately degrade during a race, and regardless of aerodynamics of a F1 car once the tyres start to degrade the more unstable the car will become.
If a driver wants to take the risk of driving with an unstable car, especially if they were the only car on track, then so be it, but they are not the only car out there. When driving at high speeds on tyres that become unstable you are putting other drivers at risk.
It would be good for the sport if drivers didn’t have to try and make their tyres last as long as possible during a race and Pirelli would welcome this. They received some sever criticism from some of the top drivers this year for the high degree of degradation of their tyres, and the number of tyre blow outs we have seen this season.
Pirelli have been reported as saying that they would like one of the 8 in-season testing days, teams are allowed, to be used for tyre testing. Paul Hembery from Pirelli stated “his company just wanted a clear answer from the sports bosses about what type or product it wanted”.
The latest news on this issue is that at the end of this month three of the big names in F1 are providing cars for Pirelli to test its 2014 tyres. Red Bull, Mercedes and Ferrari have all agreed to provide cars for the test, Lotus who were also invited to take part declined due to financial constraints.
At first reading you may think that these three teams are going to get unfair advantage over the other teams, but it has been announced that the data collected from the test day will be made available to all teams.
With new tyre changes, new engine changes, and new aerodynamic changes, the 2014 F1 season could throw up some interesting results, especially in the early part of the season.