The British press hit out at tyre-dominated nature of F1 after 2013 Spanish GP
Fleet St says race 'dizzying' & 'rambling sequence of place-swapping'
By James Galloway
Last Updated: 13/05/13 1:40pm
The consensus among the majority of drivers, team bosses, pundits and fans after Sunday's race at Barcelona appeared to be that tyre wear, and principally tyre conservation, has become too overbearing a factor in the outcome of grands prix in wake of the 82 pitstops that took place during the 66-lap event.
That view was nearly universally echoed by Fleet Street's finest on Monday morning. Labeling the Spanish GP the 'tyranny of the tyre', the Daily Telegraph suggested the core essence of a motor race had been diluted.
'Once again this season, the race was mired in a complex subtext of tyre degradation, as the narrative of the afternoon became clouded by an astonishing 82 pit stops and uncertainty over how quickly a set of medium compounds might shred to pieces,' Oliver Brown wrote.
'Paul Hembery, motorsport director for Formula One tyre-makers Pirelli, could be forgiven for feeling persona non grata in the paddock. "What do you want?" he snapped at reporters. "We are only doing what we are asked to do. It is damned if you do and damned if you don't."
'Hembery's theory is that if the sport were to revert to the predictability of one-stop strategies, Red Bull's championship leader, Sebastian Vettel, would once again sail off into the sunset. The problem, though, is that the unloved novelty of four stops per car is conspiring to reduce the sport to a rambling sequence of place-swapping that bears little resemblance to racing.
'The tyres of 2013, which appear to melt away faster than a Cornetto under a hot lamp, are infuriating the drivers, too.'
Highlighting the inability of drivers to push to their cars' limits during a race, The Times argued that the compelling narrative of a grand prix was being lost amid the array of pitstops and on-track passes.
'Pirelli were ordered by the teams to make tyres that would shred - "degrade" is the technical term - but F1 racing is in danger of becoming Fred Karno's Circus, featuring drivers trained for perfection but reduced performing every instruction of their engineers and £2 million speed machines reined into lap times as slow as the junior GP2 cars that featured in the support race,' said Kevin Eason.
'In the quest for excitement, fans have been robbed of a narrative, of a pivotal moment in the race, simply because there is a constant flurry of activity. Cars can overtake at will with drivers helpless to fight back.
'Watching the timing screens is dizzying as names yo-yo from top to bottom without any apparent reason. The anoraks will get it and love it, but the casual observer watching on television was probably utterly dazzled by the frenzy.'
Meanwhile, the Guardian's Paul Weaver claimed that the sport's recent attempts to spice up the show had finally combined to make an F1 race 'contrived and tedious' with the spectacle at times bewildering.
'To be fair to Pirelli, it was given the brief to make the sport more entertaining, to get away from the monotony we saw in the Ferrari-dominated days at the start of the century. But at least that was real.
'What we have now is contrived and tedious. It means that only the start of the race and the final burst, when the cars finally start racing after their final stops, are compelling. You may as well watch a football match for the 90 minutes in between times.
'F1 drivers are now finding life so tricky that words such as "confusing", "mess" and "frustrating" are popping up from those in the sharp end of the cars, who are growing increasingly fed up with engineers warning them to back off to save tyres.'