Skip to content

Could the tire changes give Mercedes their opportunity?

Jul 6, 2013, 7:45 AM EST

Sebastian Vettel talks to Nico Rosberg during a news conference ahead of the German F1 Grand Prix at the Nuerburgring Reuters

The waters appeared to have settled in the Pirelli saga that reared its ugly head at the British Grand Prix, following five tire failures that sparked the Italian supplier to make adaptations to its compounds for this weekend’s race at the Nurburgring. Further to that, the 2012 tire construction will be re-introduced at the Hungaroring later this month, meaning that many of the teams will be starting from square one once again.

The media has been pestering the drivers all weekend about the changes that will ensue, and Nico Rosberg has been particularly optimistic, using the word “opportunity” on more than one occasion:

“For sure, it’s very likely that it’s [the changes] going to have an impact, on performances, differences, qualifying, race, so it will be interesting,” Rosberg said in Thursday’s press conference.

“It’s possible that it’s going to mix things up a little bit but it’s also an opportunity, yeah, for us as a team to try and understand it better and earlier than other people and try and make the most of it.”

Had Mercedes nailed their tire management at the beginning of the season, it is likely that another German would sit atop of the standings as the Silver Arrows have been in a different league so far this year in qualifying. In Bahrain and Spain, Rosberg was hurt by the extreme tire wear on the W04, seeing him pick up just 10 points from the two pole positions. Monaco was a different story thanks to the nature of the circuit, meaning that Silverstone was the first sign that Mercedes may have remedied their tire woes, even if Rosberg did see Sebastian Vettel retire from the lead. On the face of things, Red Bull still have the upper hand in the races. This is a fact that Rosberg recognized, openly accepting after the race that he would have caught Vettel.

It is therefore easy to see why Mercedes are not too concerned by the changes. In the drivers’ championship, Hamilton trails Vettel by 43 points with Rosberg a further seven points back, meaning that neither driver cannot realistically be considered as being ‘in the hunt’ for title on math alone. Instead, the correlations can be drawn with last season. Vettel trailed Alonso by 40 points last season and he was able to claw it back rather comfortably as he had the quickest car on the grid, which is a greater advantage than most championship leads.

Rosberg is right to see this as an opportunity to close the gap, banking on Red Bull losing their pace advantage due to the new compounds. Looking into the times from practice, it is hard to see just who is out in front on the long-runs. Rosberg did a long stint of 16 laps in FP2, averaging a time of around 1:37.5 on the medium compound and posting a best time of 1:36.400. Vettel’s average was quicker (1:36.4), but his stint was shorter (12 laps). One may imagine that the four laps of life won’t make up a 1.1 second gap, but the battle is finely poised.

As for Vettel’s thoughts on the changes?

“I think Pirelli has absolutely no interest in trying to shuffle things around.”

All of a sudden, the scene may be set for a dogfight between Red Bull and Mercedes in both championships.

Latest Posts
  1. (Updated) Remembering iconic motorsports PR great Denny Darnell

    Nov 23, 2014, 6:10 PM EST

    Denny Darnell (far left), with wife Jean, and Cyndee and Jerry Bonkowski. Denny Darnell (far left), with wife Jean, and Cyndee and Jerry Bonkowski.

    The world of motorsports — particularly NASCAR and NHRA — is mourning arguably the best public relations person it has ever seen, Denny Darnell, who passed away Saturday.

  2. Post-race fights in NASCAR Chase joked about during Eagles-Titans skirmish

    Nov 23, 2014, 6:00 PM EST

    Brad Keselowsk AP

    The Charlotte and Texas brawls from this year’s Chase are still resonating weeks after they occurred.

  3. Marcos Ambrose wasting no time gearing up for V8 Supercars return in Australia

    Nov 23, 2014, 5:17 PM EST

    Marcos Ambrose is back home in Australia and already back in a V8 Supercar, preparing for his first race in two weeks. (Robert Cianflone/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Marcos Ambrose is wasting little time in his return to racing V8 Supercars in his native Australia.

  4. Virtual insanity: Meet the Chevy Chaparral 2X Vision Gran Turismo

    Nov 23, 2014, 4:30 PM EST

    Los Angeles Hosts Annual Auto Show Getty Images

    A wild concept collaboration for Gran Turismo 6 between the Bowtie and famous race car builder Chaparral.

  5. Petty’s 1988 Daytona wreck sold as prelude to upcoming auction of NASCAR Hall of Famer Cotton Owens estate

    Nov 23, 2014, 3:53 PM EST

    (Photo courtesy Greenville News) (Photo courtesy Greenville News)

    The remains of Richard Petty’s crashed 1988 Pontiac Grand Prix from the 1988 Daytona 500 sold Saturday, a prelude of an even larger auction of late NASCAR Hall of Famer Cotton Owens on Dec. 6.

  6. After thrilling title finale, NASCAR withdrawal now setting in

    Nov 23, 2014, 2:30 PM EST

    Ford EcoBoost 400 Getty Images

    This weekend is the first without a NASCAR race since mid-July.

  7. Abu Dhabi GP Paddock Notebook – Sunday

    Nov 23, 2014, 2:00 PM EST

    Lewis Hamilton AP

    For the last time in 2014, we round up all of the action in the paddock as Lewis Hamilton became Formula 1 world champion for the second time.

  8. Force India rallies to double points score in Abu Dhabi

    Nov 23, 2014, 1:30 PM EST

    F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi - Qualifying Getty Images

    It’s not enough to beat McLaren in the constructors’, but a great result nevertheless for Hulkenberg and Perez in Abu Dhabi.

  9. Lotus’ Twitter hilarity powers through a challenging Renault sendoff

    Nov 23, 2014, 1:15 PM EST

    MaldonadoAD Getty Images

    Lotus laughs rather than cries after a fitting end to its challenging 2014 season.

  10. Button top-five caps off end of what could be several eras at McLaren

    Nov 23, 2014, 1:00 PM EST

    ButtonSignoff Getty Images

    We know McLaren and Mercedes are done. But what of Jenson Button and/or Kevin Magnussen?

  11. Ricciardo stars once more, from pit lane to fourth in Abu Dhabi

    Nov 23, 2014, 12:45 PM EST

    RicciardoAD Getty Images

    Quite a drive from Daniel Ricciardo, primarily aided by start on primes.

  12. Vettel thanks Red Bull for “incredible journey”

    Nov 23, 2014, 12:15 PM EST

    F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi Getty Images

    After winning four world titles with Red Bull, Vettel is bound for Ferrari in 2015.

  13. Prince Harry and David Cameron congratulate Hamilton on F1 title

    Nov 23, 2014, 11:45 AM EST

    Mideast Emirates F1 GP Auto Racing AP

    On a great day for British motorsport, Prince Harry and British Prime Minister David Cameron send their congratulations to Hamilton.

  14. Alonso rates time with Ferrari as 9/10, finishes P9 in final race for the Scuderia

    Nov 23, 2014, 11:30 AM EST

    Mideast Emirates F1 GP Auto Racing AP

    Alonso is set to join McLaren in 2015 after five years with Ferrari.

  15. Rosberg gracious in title defeat, says Hamilton deserved championship

    Nov 23, 2014, 11:15 AM EST

    Mideast Emirates F1 GP Auto Racing AP

    An engine failure cost Rosberg the chance to emulate his father and become F1 world champion.

  16. Williams double podium caps phenomenal comeback season

    Nov 23, 2014, 10:56 AM EST

    ADpodium Getty Images

    Second and third for Massa and Bottas caps an incredible 2014 season for Williams.

  17. Hamilton calls second title victory “the greatest day of my life”

    Nov 23, 2014, 10:13 AM EST

    AUTO-PRIX-F1-ABU-DHABI-PODIUM Getty Images

    British driver wins his second F1 championship in Abu Dhabi as title rival Nico Rosberg fails to finish in the points.

  18. Hamilton clinches second F1 world title by winning Abu Dhabi GP

    Nov 23, 2014, 9:45 AM EST

    F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi Getty Images

    An engine failure for Nico Rosberg leaves Hamilton free to win the race under the lights in Abu Dhabi and clinch his second world title.

  19. GP2: Coletti wins final race of the season in Abu Dhabi

    Nov 23, 2014, 8:30 AM EST

    © GP2 Media Service © GP2 Media Service

    F1′s feeder series comes to a close in Abu Dhabi on Sunday.

  20. GP3: Stoneman and Niederhauser close out season with wins

    Nov 23, 2014, 7:45 AM EST

    © GP3 Media © GP3 Media

    The third tier single seater series comes to a close in Abu Dhabi, with Alex Lynn winning the championship.

Top 10 NASCAR Driver Searches
  1. J. Gordon (1937)
  2. J. Johnson (1866)
  3. D. Hamlin (1740)
  4. J. Logano (1727)
  5. T. Stewart (1678)
  1. K. Kahne (1590)
  2. J. McMurray (1513)
  3. R. Newman (1444)
  4. K. Harvick (1394)
  5. A. Almirola (1236)