Well this interview was conducted with Pat Symonds Former Renault F1 Manager in the famous F1 Racing magazine in the January 2011 Issue.
So here we go…
Pirelli will be the sole tyre supplier next season. What does Pat Symons think about it and about tyres in general in F1.
What effect will the changeover to Pirelli tyres have on the cars?
Tyres are fundamental to a car’s performance. With a single tyre formula the teams cannot influence tyre design, so it is vital that they work towards getting the car and tyre operating in harmony. Pirelli suggest they may offer tyres with bigger performance gap than Bridgestone did to improve the show, but I think they will probably struggle even to supply suitable compounds of the nuances of the various circuits.
Chemically, how is a softer compound different to a harder?
The chemistry of tyres is massively intricate. Soft tyres tend to contain less natural rubber and more synthetic polymeric compounds, but fillers in the rubber are also significant. Many long and complex books have been written on the subjects that are way beyond masterclass!
What changes will the teams make based on the Abu Dhabi tyre tests?
We heard many contradictory reports after the test in Abu Dhabi. The circuit was in an unusual condition, having had five days of running on it due to the gran prix and the young driver test. On the first day, the tyres behaved in a similar manner to the Bridgestones with a good front end and slightly increased rear wear. On the second day, they started picking up rubber and the balance moved to understeer. It would be dangerous to draw conclusions from that test.
Why is graining such a big problem?
Graining is caused when the shear strength of the tyre is low and the stiffness is high. This is why graining often affects cold tyres. The surface rubber rolls off in much the same way it does when using an eraser to rub out a pencil line. The little pellets of rubber stop the tyre from making proper contact with the road. They destroy the grip and cause the drivers all sorts of problems.
If the tyres are more extreme, how can the teams limit the wear?
Weight distribution is by far the most significant variable when it comes to optimizing new tyres, but it’s difficult to alter on a car that’s already designed close to the weight limit as the cars fitted with KERS will be next year. The teams therefore asked that, just for 2011, he weight distribution be fixed at 46 % to ensure that no team lucked into a huge competitive advantage. Other than that, tyre wear is largely a function of distribution of energy and slip experienced by the tyre. A well balanced car with smooth torque delivery will look after the tyres. Aggressive driving will do the opposite.
Teams have been using tyre models in the wind tunnel up until now – how reliable are they?
The model tyres are an engineering work of art in that they mimic the shape of the real tyre under all load conditions. When they were introduced few years ago, they represented an immense step forward in the fidelity of windtunnel testing. They are extremely complex to design and will have been a major hurdle for Pirelli to overcome.
Which teams are more likely to benefit from the change in tyres?
The larger teams will naturally be able to apply move more resources to integrating the car and tyre. Many of them have employed specific tyre specialists in recent years to strengthen their vehicle performance departments. Those with most to lose are probably those who had built up the best knowledge of the Bridgestone tyres.