Dreaming of more simple days…


Dear Nigel,
Do you not think F1 would be better if one set of tyres was expected to last the race distance (I cannot believe it is a good sales advert for Bridgestone, or any other such company, to have tyres that need replacing during a race) and there was no refuelling during a Grand Prix? Or am I being an old-fashioned dreamer?


Dear Peter,
In 2005, it will be remembered, there was just such a rule in F1: you had one set of tyres for the race, and only in exceptional circumstances – a tyre damaged, rather than merely worn – were you allowed to change them.

The rule, in the opinion of most people, worked out very well for the simple reason that, for the first time in a long time, you had different cars being quick at different points in the race. Thus, if you took care of your tyres in the early laps, you were in good shape towards the end; if you didn’t, you weren’t. Believe it or not, this even led to a situation where drivers were overtaking in the late laps at Monaco!

After only one season, though, the rule was rescinded, and the cynics unworthily suggested that this was because Bridgestone had failed to match Michelin in the quest to make a tyre that gave good grip for an entire race.

Of all the front-running teams, Ferrari alone was on Bridgestones, and in 2005 won but a single Grand Prix – and that at Indianapolis, where Michelin goofed, and only the six ‘Bridgestone cars’ (Ferrari, Jordan, Minardi) started the race. Michael Schumacher won that day – having won 13 races the year before!

Bridgestone has a monopoly in F1 now, of course, and the one-set-of-tyres rule could be revived, but the compound would have to be mighty hard, for next year, of course, refuelling is banned. There might have been a ‘one set only’ rule in 2005, but at least the tyres never had to cope with a heavy fuel load, too.

In the ’80s it was the norm for a driver to run an entire Grand Prix on one set of tyres (and no refuelling, of course), and Alain Prost had a particular genius for setting up his car so that it would work well on full tanks or virtually empty. But that was then, and this is now. You are, I fear, being an old-fashioned dreamer…

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