As the 2013 the Formula One season takes its summer break at the half way stage, Sebastien Vettel’s 38 point lead over nearest rival Kimi Raikkonen appears to have put the German in pole position to claim his fourth successive drivers World Championship.
However this year the biggest stories in the paddock haven’t been about exciting overtaking moves or full throttle racing, but about the unpredictable and at time dangerous tyres which have had a huge effect on this year’s racing.
Pirelli were named the official tyre manufacturer back in 2011 and have been asked to produce tyres with limited life to promote overtaking and more pit stops.
But this year the company appears to have gone too far as many of the drivers have complained that the tyres are wearing too quickly and that they have to slow down to avoid wrecking the tyres completely.
Current Championship leader Vettel was quoted earlier this year saying “you end up going around way under the car’s [potential], it’s not a lot of fun but that the way it is.”
This begs the question - if the drivers are not able to drive their car flat out and to the limit, is the sport still designed for the fastest drivers in the world or just those who can stop their tyres going off?
There is also the argument that with the current DRS and KERS systems in place does the sport need to make tyres with a limited life to increase overtaking?
This season we have seen cars which have started on the front row of the grid drop all the way down and out of the points on race day, simply because they have damaged their tyres too quickly.
At the British Grand Prix back in June, the race witnessed a shocking four blowouts as tyres suddenly burst causing drivers to lose control of their cars. This triggered inevitable criticism towards Pirelli who were lucky that any serious accidents were avoided.
Qualifying has been reduced as a spectacle as cars who qualify in the top-ten shootout now have to start the race on the tyres they qualified on.
This means teams who don’t have a realistic chance of clinching pole position hold back and don’t set a time, because they would rather sacrifice a place or two for the benefit of starting the race on a fresh set of rubber.
So are the F1 drivers of today being held back by the current tyres, denying spectators the chance to see committed drivers pushing their car to the limit?
Pirelli’s efforts to improve their tyre haven’t gone unnoticed, only time will tell if the dilemma is solved but for the time being the sport seems to have lost a bit of its edge.
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