The Importance Of Tires In Formula One
There’s absolutely no doubt that you need to be talented to win a Formula One race, without such an attribute success is something that will pass you by and with the likes of Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen possessing talent in their droves, it is incredibly rare that either of these have an off day.
However, if Formula One was nothing more than a talent contest, it would also be incredibly boring at the same time and although knowing how to tame a glut of horsepower is one thing, knowing how to control your tires is another.
Because tire management is an incredibly important aspect of any race that takes place in this day and age and although some will argue that those black circles play too a big part at times, there is no doubt that it also generates a huge amount of drama at the same time.
Whether the Formula One bosses purposely create artificial drama by having sub-standard tires is a point that can be contested and if that were a topic for debate, they would counter by saying it is all part of the show.
A show that is undoubtedly successful and you only have to look at the 100,000 supporters that attended the British Grand Prix, as evidence of the sport’s continual appeal during a difficult 18 months or so.
While it was a show that also saw Lewis Hamilton snatch a late victory after suffering a 10-second time penalty early on and although the seven-time champion would have loved to push his accelerator pedal all the way, a pragmatic style would have also been needed also.
Because had the Stevenage, England born ace cooked his tires early on, another stop in the pits would have then been required and another entry into the garage, would have not only handed the win to Charles Leclerc, but also minimised the blow that Max Verstappen suffered.
Then again, when it comes to race management, Hamilton is undoubtedly the boss and although the orders from Toto Wolff would have been to preserve the tires for the length of the race, the 36-year-old knows how to squeeze every last drop out of them.
Where others may hold back, the Mercedes pilot has an innate sense of just how much give there really is left in his car and although the margins are incredibly fine, those same margins are never overstepped either.
Which is why victory at the recent British Grand Prix was one that was incredibly sweet and although it was mired in an element of controversy at the same time, the complexion of this year’s championship race has now morphed into a new shape.
One that sees just eight-points separate the challenger from the champion and where Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was starting to build up a head of steam, his DNF at Silverstone has seen most of that evaporate.
To the point where the Dutchman did not even get the opportunity to warm up his own tires at this year’s British Grand Prix and after his first lap exit, there has been a swing in the 2021 outright betting market as well.
A look at the odds by Unibet one of the best bookmakers in the market, show that there has been a considerable amount of backing for Lewis Hamilton and although he is still second favourite at the time of writing, an eighth championship no longer looks insurmountable either.
With the raw pace that both the Mercedes and Red Bull can create, it is not as simple as saying that the fastest of these two cars will win and with the choice of tire being a decision that is fundamentally important to performance, such a decision is usually the difference maker.
Get your compound and strategy correct and your chances of scooping victory increase enormously while if you are to get such a combination of factors wrong, it will only lead to despair on the racetrack.
Of course, these are decisions that are not necessarily made by the drivers themselves and with fellow team members also privy to making such important calls, they must make sure the choice of rubber is not incorrect on any given Sunday.
Because in Formula One you win as a team, but you also lose as a team and although it is the man at the cockpit who will earn all the spoils, they must also give a nod of acknowledgement to those who study reams and reams of data on their behalf.
Data that will highlight just how important the correct tire choice is and with such a call being the difference between a potential race win and second place on the podium, it could also be the difference between Lewis Hamilton or Max Verstappen being crowned this year’s champion.
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