Skip to content

Tire management remains the difference between winning, losing

Mar 17, 2013, 9:02 AM EST

This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!

The aerodynamically superior Red Bull Racing RB8’s lined up in P1 and P2 for the race start after dominating the early part of the weekend, but couldn’t match Lotus on its tire management at the Australian Grand Prix.

The main story of the weekend, and indeed 2013 so far, is all about the Pirellis and their absolute requirement to operate in a very specific temperature window.

Melbourne was cold on Sunday, in stark contrast to the hot temperatures we saw earlier in the week and it’s impossible to overstate the impact that has on the way the cars and their tires behave.

Kimi Raikkonen drove a great race to win and the E21 continued where its predecessor from 2012 left off in being ‘light’ on its rubber. Running longer than others on each of his three stints meant he could make one less stop than his main competitors and still have life left at the end. The degradation was so minimal, in fact, that he was able to set the fastest lap time of the race just a lap before the checker flag.

Last year’s Lotus was also considerably better in hot conditions, struggling to get heat into the tires when it was colder. We head to Malaysia in just a few days time, where, if that holds true once more, we could see another very competitive display from the team.

Ferrari look to have a good car. The F138 is more manageable and easier to find the sweet spot in terms of setup. Last year’s struggles forced the team to dig pretty deep to find technical solutions to a host of issues and it looks promising so far.

It’s a desperate time at my old team, McLaren. After going pretty radical with their concept design for this season, they’re really struggling to make it work. At the pre-season test in Spain in February, the car looked quick on the first day, but then has struggled since. Martin Whitmarsh confirmed yesterday that a front suspension part had been incorrectly fitted on that first day, running the car too low. It worked for them there and on that day, but they can’t now replicate the effect with settings that are feasible elsewhere.
The car’s difficult in all areas right now and the team won’t rule out a switch back to last year’s MP4-27 should the disaster continue.

Must just say things are looking up for Force India. A great showing for them with a car that was competitive amongst the front-runners. It’s a car that’s been developed from a technical partnership with McLaren and uses the same gearbox and Mercedes engine. After race one, it could be McLaren needing the technical assistance, not the other way round.

It’s important to remember this is only part one of a nineteen race calendar and I’m pretty sure that the Red Bulls will be strong in Malaysia. Tires will be key again, but conversely to Melbourne, the issue won’t be getting them up to temperature, but stopping them from overheating in the tropical heat.

Australia’s given the teams a lot of data to work through, but with race two only a few day away, it’ll be setup and operational tweaks, rather than technical upgrades that make any differences this time next Sunday.

Marc Priestley can be found on Twitter @f1elvis.

Latest Posts
  1. Pippa Mann to serve as a Team Captain in Komen Central Indiana Race for the Cure

    Mar 3, 2015, 4:45 PM EST

    Photo: Susan G. Komen Central Indiana Affiliate Photo: Susan G. Komen Central Indiana Affiliate

    Pippa’s Pink Posse to feature prominently in Komen Race for the Cure, for Central Indiana Affiliate.

  2. F1 2015 team preview: Mercedes

    Mar 3, 2015, 4:00 PM EST

    F1 Testing In Jerez - Day One Getty Images

    It’s the race to repeat in 2015, but will it be Lewis Hamilton or Nico Rosberg who takes the title?

  3. McLaren’s already difficult offseason unaided by its handling of Alonso story

    Mar 3, 2015, 3:00 PM EST

    McLaren-Honda Announces New Driver Line-Up For 2015 Getty Images

    Fernando Alonso’s accident in testing has raised way more questions than answers.

  4. Florida Power & Light signs onto Miami ePrix; Brabham enjoys demo run (PHOTOS)

    Mar 3, 2015, 10:51 AM EST

    Milwaukee IndyFest - Day 1 Getty Images

    Formula E partners with FPL for Miami ePrix; Matty Brabham does the demo runs.

  5. Rolling Stone partners with Tequila Patron ESM for the 24 Hours of Le Mans

    Mar 3, 2015, 10:06 AM EST

    PatronD24 AP

    Tequila Patron ESM, Rolling Stone come together for one-off outing at 24 Hours of Le Mans.

  6. Susie Wolff will have at least two FP1 outings, Spain and Britain

    Mar 3, 2015, 9:53 AM EST

    Australian F1 Grand Prix - Practice Getty Images

    Susie Wolff confirmed for Spain, Silverstone FP1 outings and another day in Austria.

  7. Fernando Alonso ruled out of Australian Grand Prix

    Mar 3, 2015, 7:54 AM EST

    Fernando Alonso AP

    Alonso ruled out of season opener, following medical advice.

  8. Mercedes F1: Race to Repeat: Teaser clips and preview (VIDEO)

    Mar 2, 2015, 7:31 PM EST

    F1 Testing In Barcelona - Day Three Getty Images

    Mercedes F1: Road to Repeat premieres this Thursday, March 5, at 8 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

  9. GP of NOLA weekend schedule announced

    Mar 2, 2015, 5:16 PM EST

    indynola

    Jam-packed schedule for inaugural GP of NOLA weekend.

  10. FIA WEC: Toyota Racing’s lead trio tackles Tokyo (VIDEO)

    Mar 2, 2015, 3:00 PM EST

    FIA World Endurance Championship 6 Hours of Bahrain Getty Images

    Toyota Racing’s trio of Davidson, Buemi and Nakajima tour Tokyo.

  11. Indy 500 ticket reveal set for March 5

    Mar 2, 2015, 2:00 PM EST

    Ryan Hunter-Reay AP

    RHR’s image on Indianapolis 500 tickets to be unveiled on Thursday.

  12. PWC enters 2015 season with an overflow of riches in all classes

    Mar 2, 2015, 1:00 PM EST

    WC

    With 114 cars total and a manufacturer overload, things look promising for Pirelli World Challenge heading into 2015.

  13. F1, IndyCar seasons finally premiere in 2015’s version of March madness

    Mar 2, 2015, 11:00 AM EST

    Mercedes Formula One driver Rosberg of Germany leads the pack at the start of the Australian F1 Grand Prix in Melbourne Reuters

    F1 and IndyCar kick off; NHRA, sports cars and ladder series also have a busy month of March ahead.

  14. F1: Barcelona second test wrap, and 2015 test times cumulative roundup

    Mar 2, 2015, 9:30 AM EST

    RosbergFinalBarc Getty Images

    Mercedes leads in pace, and lap count as F1 preseason testing is in the books for 2015.

  15. Michael Schumacher’s son Mick to race in ADAC F4 championship this season

    Mar 2, 2015, 8:59 AM EST

    MickSchu Getty Images

    Mick Schumacher to advance from karting into cars this season.

  16. Max Chilton makes intriguing career shift with Nissan LMP1 move

    Mar 2, 2015, 8:21 AM EST

    ChiltonColumn AP

    With potential Indy Lights success there for the taking, Max Chilton instead opts for the LMP1 route with Nissan.

  17. Max Chilton, Alex Buncombe complete Nissan LMP1 lineup

    Mar 2, 2015, 7:45 AM EST

    Photo: NISMO Photo: NISMO

    Max Chilton and Alex Buncombe round out the Nissan LMP1 lineup; Chilton full season and Buncombe at Le Mans.

  18. Barcelona F1 2nd Test Paddock Notebook – Sunday

    Mar 1, 2015, 5:00 PM EST

    F1 Testing In Barcelona - Day Four Getty Images

    Here’s the final recap from the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya as pre-season testing comes to a close.