Analysis: F1 tyre tweaks could boost Raikkonen, Alonso title hopes
|By Jonathan Noble||Monday, July 22nd 2013, 10:19 GMT|
Kimi Raikkonen's and Fernando Alonso's world championship chances could be boosted by the switch to the new low-degrading Pirellis that their own teams initially campaigned against.
On the back of last week's Silverstone test, initial analysis suggests that the new tyres do not perform in a dramatically different way to this year's rubber, but do degrade less.
While a move to consistent tyres should at first glance be a hindrance to teams like Lotus and Ferrari, senior engineers think the change could help teams that can look after the tyres because of the impact it will have on strategies.
PUSHING THE LIMIT ON SOFT TYRES
The key element in the fight for wins could be in how the lower degrading tyres affect the preferred choice of rubber for the race.
More often than not this season, because of the high level of degradation experienced with the 2013 construction, the best tyre for the race has been the harder 'prime' tyre.
That has limited the advantage of teams that can look after the tyres, especially as squads like Lotus and Ferrari have struggled to get the best performance out of the harder tyres.
If the shift to the lower degradation experienced at Silverstone stays in place, then the softer 'option' could become a viable choice for teams that can look after the rubber better.
In Hungary, for example, that could deliver a dramatic difference, because the performance step between the two compounds can be worth up to one second per lap.
SPEED LIMIT CHANGE A FURTHER BOOST
The chances of a strategy shift caused by the new tyres have also ramped up because of the reduced 80km/h pitlane speed limit being brought in from the Hungarian Grand Prix.
Although the change does not seem dramatic, it could have a big impact on race strategy, especially at grands prix where there has previously been a close-call between a different number of stops.
In Hungary, where last year there was divided opinion between the leading teams about whether to run a two or three-stop race, the total time travelling through the pitlane (excluding stops) will be increased from 12.3 to 16.4 seconds.
Each stop will therefore cost an extra 4.1 seconds - which could be enough to force teams to perform fewer stops and make it even more essential to look after tyres.
NO DRAMATIC SHIFT IN PACE
One key message coming out of the Silverstone test is that despite the politics at force earlier this year - when Force India, Lotus and Ferrari rallied against a change in tyre specification – there will be no dramatic shifting around in the order.
Williams chief race engineer Xevi Pujolar thinks that on single-lap form the tyres behave very similarly, and that differences will only come out in the races.
"The warm-up is a bit different from the 2013 [tyre], and in the long run they perform a bit different, so I think it may change a bit the racing," he said.
"It will hopefully move things around, but it will be no revolution."
A revolution may not be needed though to reignite the world title battle, with things so close at the front of F1.