MARCH 1, 2006
The importance of tyre performance
The thing that is most difficult to judge in F1 at the moment is not the speed of the cars over a lap but rather how they will manage over the 25-lap stints which we are going to be seeing in races this year. With rule changes once again allowing tyre stops in the races it will be the consistency of the tyres that will play an important role as degradation of the tyres kicks in. The rubber will, of course, be a lot softer than that used last year when tyres had to last for the entire race. The overall impact of this is that there will probably be fewer opportunities to overtake because of tyres, an important factor in the racing last season. The rules will however mean that those who have good tyres at the end of a stint will get an advantage and may be able to use pits stops to pass the cars ahead of them.
The indications at the moment are that the Michelin tyres are quick and consistent but that the latest Bridgestone rubber only works well at certain temperatures. This will probably not be a problem in Bahrain and Malaysia where high temperatures are normal but we may see a different picture emerge in Australia and Imola where temperatures are likely to be lower.
the other point worth noting is that while Honda has shown well on one-lap blasts, the consistency of the performance has to date not been a match for Renault, which appears to use its tyres rather more efficiently. The McLarens too seem to have good performance over longer runs but the remain questions of outright performance from the Woking team.
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