Pirelli chase FIA and F1 talks over controversial rule slammed by Lewis Hamilton

Jamie Woodhouse
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, in the paddock at Suzuka.

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton.

Formula 1’s tyre supplier Pirelli wants to hold talks with the teams and governing body FIA over the wet-tyre ruling which it appears sparked an alarming lack of action at Suzuka, much to Lewis Hamilton’s frustration.

Light rain made for a greasy track during the second hour of practice ahead of the Japanese Grand Prix, but despite the threat of rain still lingering for the rest of the race weekend, there was a serious lack of drivers out on the track.

Pirelli hopes to discuss F1 rule change criticised by Lewis Hamilton

An FIA rule from the 2023 regulations – which granted drivers an extra set of intermediate tyres should they have used a set in a wet FP1 or FP2, or if FP3 carried a high risk of being wet – has been removed, which is therefore being blamed for the lack of running during the FP2 session at Suzuka with teams trying to preserve the tyres they have.

Pirelli’s chief engineer Simone Berra is confident that this was indeed the situation which unfolded, as he called for discussions with the FIA and teams to ensure that there is no repeat.

“This [rule change] was obviously voted by all the teams together with FIA and F1,” said Berra.

“Obviously nowadays a team doesn’t have to return one set of intermediates after it is used in free practice, like it was last year.

“So especially at this circuit, where you have, let’s say, a high level of degradation, and considering that we could have some rain on Sunday, most of them decided to keep the five sets unused apart from RB and other teams that did an out and in-lap.

“It is something that we will discuss further with the FIA and with the teams, to try to find a way to make them run in practice. It is not our decision in the end, but in the next weeks it will be a topic for discussion.”

And Berra has a suggestion of his own to put forward, that being making it mandatory that a set of intermediates is returned after a wet session, at which point teams would have no reason to avoid the track and hand back a new set.

“They can keep the five sets from the start but, if a session is declared wet, then you have to return one set of intermediates,” Berra proposed.

“It then makes no sense not to use it and [instead] return a new set. So that will be a way to encourage them to run.”

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Mercedes’ seven-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton made his dissatisfaction at the updated tyre ruling clear, stating that it “doesn’t make sense”.

“It’s a shame we didn’t get that [FP2] session,” he said.

“They have changed the tyre rule, so therefore no one goes out and drives runs on the intermediate.

“It just doesn’t make sense, really, but there you go.”

Hamilton’s team-mate George Russell joined in on the criticism, as he called for a “common sense” resolution to be found.

“It’s such a shame for all the fans here, people watching at home, or those who have travelled three-quarters of the way around the world,” he said. “To not do any laps is pretty annoying.

“I hope the FIA allows all the teams to carry over [an extra] set of tyres into FP3 because, ordinarily in FP3, we don’t do many laps – just practicing for qualifying.

“So that’d be great for us and the fans. So I hope common sense prevails there and I hope we just find a solution for these kinds of conditions because it’s not the first time this has happened and it definitely won’t be the last time.”

Pirelli has been Formula 1’s sole tyre supplier since 2011 and last year secured a new deal running until the end of 2027, with the option of a one-year extension.

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