McLaren’s performance director Andrea Stella has accused rival teams of exaggerating the impact of Pirelli’s tyres on their on-track performances.
The thinner-tread rubber was introduced by Formula 1’s tyre manufacturer for 2019 to improve racing by allowing drivers to push harder for longer, but Ferrari, Red Bull and Haas in particular believe the compounds favour Mercedes’ W10.
Haas have had a bizarre season of yo-yo form, leading them to point the finger at Pirelli as they struggle to get any understanding of the VF-19’s issues.
McLaren had been against a return to these older-spec tyres, yet they are enjoying their best spell in Formula 1 since 2014 and believe there is a “tendency” for teams to go over the top with their tyre criticisms.
“I have to say that tyres are definitely a difficult matter but there is also a tendency, I think – you have a certain ambition, you have certain achievements, and you tend to put the difference on tyres,” Stella told Motorsport.com.
“I think this is too simplistic and people should make more of fair questions about what they are achieving and not simply applying mathematics of ‘this is where I want to be, this is where I am, so subtract the difference – and this is tyres’.
“If you do not understand [something] in this business, you can be lucky a couple of years maybe but you don’t dominate.”
Team principal Andreas Seidl, who joined McLaren this year, believes it’s part of the job to understand the tyres.
“It is part of the business to understand what is going on with tyres in whatever category and also for us because we get this question many times,” Seidl explained.
“We don’t know exactly how big our issues are compared to the issues some other teams are facing, [although], okay, some teams are more vocal about it.”
James Key is also new at McLaren having arrived as technical chief, and he admits that understanding these Pirelli tyres is a challenge.
“Sometimes you cannot quite predict what is going to happen next year,” Key said.
“Pirelli do a good job of giving us tyres to test on in Abu Dhabi and so on, but that’s a quite different type of track in what you face in winter testing and the season.
“There is some very good expertise within the team, but again this is a thorough approach of trying to make sure we understand as best we can of how to treat the tyres, how to predict what they are going to do and then modify that view as the weekend progresses as well.
“For me on a personal level it is a very good reference point for next year as there are certain things that go into making your tyre management competitive, it is something we need to ensure that we continue into next year and beyond that – so there are certain ingredients that go into that and it’s important we maintain that.
“It is one of the few things that is identical for every team. So to suggest that we should change tyres just because your car is not working is kind of the tail wagging the dog.”