While many are calling the new tire specifications for 2011 (that is, tires with the durability of oatmeal) a resounding success, there have been a few complaints. For one, some of the drivers have said that the new tires tend to shed more marbles than you might find on a grade school playground at lunch time. Pirelli reps have countered with the riposte that you can’t make an omelette without breaking a few radials.
But the FIA seems to be satisfied with the general effect of the new tires. The whole point of creating quickly degrading tires is to create changing speed differentials between cars, which, in turn, creates overtaking opportunities (which F1 had been demonstrably lacking), and also mandates more creative pit strategies from the teams.
Thus far, with three races in the bank (out of 19, with little likelihood of Bahrain being rescheduled), the new tires (in conjunction with KERS and DRS) seem to be quite effective at spicing up the show.
Still, there’s always a fly in the ointment (if not a multiplicity of them), and in this case, there’s also a complaint being voiced by the fans, namely, that it’s difficult to distinguish between the prime tires and the options when the cars are in motion.
Pirelli created a color coding system (see photo above) for the entire range of the tire compounds this year, but when the tires are spinning the tinted lettering on the sidewalls tends to blend with the black background, which washes out the color.
Pirelli tried to resolve this issue for Shanghai by adding a narrow stripe along the outer perimeter of the sidewalls, but this proved to be minimally effective.
Ergo, the design wizards at Pirelli have decided to take the remedy a step further: commencing at the next race venue in Istanbul, the entire sidewall space of the option tires will be colored, with, presumably, the brand lettering being offset in black. This will be a negative image of the current design, which has colored lettering on the black background of the sidewalls. The folks at Pirelli feel that this change will be adequate to correct the problem.
As for the purist fans who believe that disintegrating tires are a gimmick that artificially create passing opportunities and on-track drama? As long as the new tires seem to improve the show, they might as well get used to it. It’s not likely that the FIA will be in a hurry to return F1 to a series of processionals in which the only passing is done on pit lane.