Formula One’s most experienced driver, Rubens Barrichello, has added his voice to the growing number of the sport’s employees who have an opinion on why the Bahrain Grand Prix proved to be a less-than-sensational season opener. Many paddock insiders feel the strategies adopted by the teams were to blame, with Martin Whitmarsh calling for mandatory pitstops and more fragile tyres to be discussed. However, Rubens Barrichello has other thoughts and believes the narrower front tyres have had a detrimental effect on overtaking this year.
For the 2010 Formula One World Championship, the front two tyres have been narrowed from 270mm to 245mm and this, according to Barrichello, has added to the problems of not being able to overtake cars on-track. The Brazilian pilot says that as soon as you get close to the car in front, the car “understeers off the track” and when the driver applies the throttle with steering lock on, the back-end steps out. Barrichello believes that the narrower front tyres have done nothing to help this issue.
You follow another car and you just understeer off the track. Unless you have at least a second on board, which is not the normal thing – I overtook Sebastien Buemi but I was doing 2m01s, he was doing 2m04s and it wasn’t an easy overtake.
You cannot follow, the front of the car washes out. When you grab the throttle back on with lots of lock, you lose the back end so the car in front just goes away. Sometimes I am a bit critical of things, but when I heard they will make the front tyres smaller, I just didn’t understand it. The fact that we had better racing last year was because we dropped the ugly grooved tyres, to slicks. We need, more mechanical grip, to be able to lose the aerodynamics.
It’s not the weakness of the tyre, it’s the weakness of the rule, in my opinion. Bridgestone has proved it has tyres capable. The front tyre is weaker than last year and the rear tyres are of course better. You need more mechanical grip, for me it’s the only solution. They’re going to argue that the car will go two seconds faster. But then you drop the performance on the aerodynamics again.
I can only say from what I saw inside, which is that it’s very dodgy to follow a car because you don’t have front tyres capable of maintaining the car on the road. Rubens Barrichello.
Barrichello went on to say that finding a solution is a difficult task, and even increasing the disparity between the two tyre compounds used over a typical grand prix weekend may not work because of the way the engineers work.
In theory that’s what [Bridgestone] are planning to have – that’s why they bring tyres that are not close together. But the engineers are so clever that we’re still going round within three or four tenths. If you’re talking about two seconds from one tyre to the other, then you have overtaking. A minimum of laps on each tyre might be one thing. Rubens Barrichello.
And of course, as soon as we start having cars that are 2 seconds apart on pace, we then get calls that the speed difference is dangerous. As always, the argument will run and run, but let’s hope the Australian Grand Prix this weekend proves to be as good as it usually is and the 2010 season can effectively start again.