Sidepodcast - All for F1 and F1 for all

Stupid rubber regulations - Why F1 refuelling made sense - Should tyres take top priority in Formula One?

Published by Mr. C

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Credit: Bridgestone Corporation

For as long as I can remember, I've been visiting petrol stations. It's not the kind of thing I do for entertainment of course, but the practicalities of life ensure regular fuel stops keep me moving.

I haven't only been frequenting the petroleum establishments since I learnt to drive either. As a small person in a booster seat in the back of the car, I vividly recall travelling on long journeys and repeatedly stopping at garages to refuel the car.

Cars need fuel and garages provide that fuel. These are not alien concepts that require much explanation to the modern man, woman or child. You may not have noticed in years gone by, but during your average F1 broadcast, be it practice, qualifying or the race, commentators rarely spent too much time explaining why a car needed to stop fuel. The fundamentals of the internal combustion engine are well enough known, that even the most condescending of reporters could remain quiet on this subject.

Contrast this then, to tyres.

They call it chunking

I don't remember the last time I had to change the tyres on my car. I suspect it was around the time a man suggested to me, a roadworthiness certificate would not be forthcoming without the purchase of replacement rubber.

For the life of me, I don't recall ever having to decide before heading out on a journey, whether to choose wet weather or dry weather tyres. I don't remember a new set of boots giving me any extra pace, neither can I relate in any way to problems of chunking nor graining.

These phrases appear to have been entirely made up by the motor sport fraternity.

Which probably explains why commentators spend so much time obsessing over such details during races. Everything about racing rubber is contrived solely within motor sport and bears no relation to any experience in the real world. Only racing drivers, and those people who think they are racing drivers, have any fundamental understanding of why the expensive, black, round things bear any relevance to anything happening on track.

Let me bore you silly

For better or for worse, this year Formula 1 has opted to eschew the straightforward concept of mid-race refuelling stops, yet retain mid-race tyre stops. To me this is the exact opposite of what should have been done. F1 needs to be more accessible, not less so and this move has played right into the hands of the elitist snobs who like to think they know more than the common fan. There are probably only a few thousand people in the whole world who properly understand race tyre technology and every one of those people are likely already working in the industry.

I can't for the life of me see why tyres are so important to racing and why one driver can't be assigned a single set to last the weekend? I've been driving on four tyres for at least 9 months, which by my reckoning makes me a smoother driver than even Jenson Button. Pass me the drivers title now.

F1 is facing a tyre crisis, one that I would suggest is entirely of its own making. There may not be any tyres to go around next year, yet in 2010, the sports seems intent on making them the focus of the show.

I understood refuelling, I liked what it brought to races in the past. No-one ever needed to explain to me what a fuel hose did, and when cars came it to pit at least you could see the drivers when they stopped for a period of time. It used to be possible to spot a problem unfolding, whereas now a stop is over in the blink of an eye.

Where's the entertainment in that?