Hamilton leads Pirelli criticism

Date published: May 20 2011

Lewis Hamilton has slated Pirelli’s new super-hard tyre as “a disaster” that throws this weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix into the melting pot…

Lewis Hamilton has slated Pirelli’s new super-hard tyre as “a disaster” that throws this weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix into the melting pot.
In a response to beef up their rubber, Pirelli have introduced a new tyre that offers a little more durability over a race distance.
It means there is now a wider time differential between the soft and hard compound, seemingly allowing the teams an opportunity to run more aggressive strategies.
However, Hamilton pulled no punches in his condemnation of the latest tyre from Pirelli, who appear to have taken a step back.
“The super-hard tyre is a disaster. It wasn’t nice to drive,” said Hamilton, who finished second quickest in practice in his McLaren, just 0.039secs behind Red Bull’s Mark Webber.
“I don’t know why they (Pirelli) have brought that tyre because the previous one was pretty good.
“This looks pretty difficult to get it to switch on, and we’re now about two and a half seconds off the pace.
“We were thinking ‘Wow! This is insane to drive’. Then you go out on the soft tyre, and boom. There is such a huge difference between the two tyres.
“The soft is fantastic, so I can see most people driving that for the weekend, using as short a stint as possible with the new tyre in the race. It’s not good.”
Most of the drivers in the top teams are able to get through the first session of qualifying on the harder tyre, saving the softer rubber for Q2 and Q3 if they make it.
Jenson Button fears that could change this weekend as he said: “The tyre is seriously hard, and a little bit of a shock.
“We’ve all got to work with the same tyre and make the best of it, but I don’t think you’d want to do more than one stint (in the race) on that tyre.
“It’s going to be tricky to get through (Q1) on prime, so for the first time this year we’re going to have to stick on the options (softer tyre), which leaves you with one set for Q3.”
Asked if he agreed with Hamilton’s assessment that the tyre is “a disaster”, Button added: “Yeah, he’s right. You don’t want to be on that tyre for too long.”
Another to voice his criticism was Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso, who said: “There was already a big difference in the first four races.
“For whatever reason they (Pirelli) have decided to change the hard tyre and bring a slower tyre.
“Now it’s difficult to think about going in Q1 with the hard tyre, so unfortunately I think 95% of the people will try to use one soft in Q1.
“We’ll see if anyone takes the risk.”
As for Webber, he was also not a fan with the Australian adding: “My first set was pretty decent and we had a pretty good run.
“But on the second set there was a bit of mystery. We didn’t get the performance out of those that we would have liked.”
In defence of Pirelli, Webber said: “The tyres are a huge factor.
“You can gain and lose a lot of time when you get them right and wrong, and Pirelli are still learning as we go along.”