MAY 15, 2015
F1 should green-light new tyre war
David Coulthard thinks F1 needs a 'tyre war' once again.
This week, the former F1 supplier Michelin revealed that its interest in working at the pinnacle of motor sport has returned.
But boss Pascal Couasnon laid down his conditions: no more heavily-degrading tyres for "the show", a modern 18-inch profile, and a product that allows drivers to "show their talent".
Immediately, F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone backed the sport's existing control tyre supplier Pirelli, who he says have done everything they were asked to deliver.
Gone now are Pirelli's highly-controversial days of tyre explosions and questionable quality, with chief Paul Hembery declaring: "I think we have a good balance at the moment."
He says the Italian brand will sign up for the 2017 tender process as long as "the sport is going forward".
"Has life become easier now that we're not the 'bad boys' to that extent anymore? There is always somebody complaining," Hembery told F1's official website.
"But don't get me wrong, we do our job well and keep an eye on the ball, as this sport is changing rapidly. We must not become complacent."
However, former F1 driver David Coulthard - who drove throughout the sport's high-performance 'tyre war' days - said he sees no reason why Pirelli cannot now go head-to-head with Michelin.
"The bosses of the sport do not want a tyre war," he told the BBC, "but I don't understand why.
"As long as the boundaries were set out - no testing, limits on costs to teams - there is no reason why a tyre war would have to have cost implications," said Coulthard.
He thinks that if two companies were competing for victory each weekend, the tyres would be "racier".
"I have no doubt that, if challenged to do so, Pirelli could build much racier tyres," said Coulthard.
In contrast, he argues, today's tyres are too "sensitive", requiring too much "management", often resulting in processional races.
"The drivers I know who compete in the World Endurance Championship, where they use Michelin tyres, tell me that they push on every single lap through a 24-hour race," said Coulthard.
"That's great for them, but it used to be what I was doing when I drove in F1. Now ... the times the drivers are completely on the limit during a grand prix are a small minority. Sometimes they never are," he lamented.