Lotus F1 team boss Eric Boullier has reacted angrily to Pirelli’s announcement that it would alter the construction of its 2013 tyres for the remainder of the Formula 1 season, following complaints regarding the high-wearing tyres from several rival teams.
The series’ official tyre supplier confirmed earlier this week that it would offer more durable tyre constructions from the Canadian Grand Prix onwards, following last weekend’s pit-stop laden Spanish Grand Prix, which saw many drivers having to make four pit stops to see out the 66-lap race at the Circuit de Catalunya.
The change-up will undoubtedly benefit the likes of Red Bull Racing and Mercedes, who have been most vocal in their criticism of Pirelli after experiencing major difficulties with the tyres last time out.
That being said, Mercedes has claimed three pole positions on the trot, while Red Bull Racing has won twice in the last four races, which are facts not lost on the Frenchman, who argues that few sports would accept such a major change in the playing field midway through a season.
“There aren’t many sports where there are such fundamental changes to an essential ingredient part-way through a season,” Boullier said yesterday.
“Just imagine for a moment that, because a football team can’t run as fast as its opponent, the dimensions of the pitch are changed at half time!
“That there are changes to come can be seen as somewhat frustrating, and I hope they are not too extreme. It’s clear that Pirelli have found themselves in a difficult situation and under pressure from different quarters.”
The Lotus squad stands the most to lose from this rules change, with its E21 proving to be particularly gentle on its tyres to-date.
And as he rightly pointed out, his squad should not have to suffer because some teams have taken the wrong design path for the 2013 season.
“It is frustrating when you’ve developed a car from a set of tyre specifications which are available to everyone – for tyres that are the same for everyone – to then be told that they are being changed mid-season,” he continued.
“Last year, when we were designing our 2013 car, each team received information from Pirelli and everyone did the best job they could to develop a chassis which would make best use of the tyre characteristics.
“We even ran with some experimental 2013 tyres at the end of last season [at the Brazilian Grand Prix], to assist us in confirming our development paths.
“As with every season, some teams do a better job than others with their designs, and some drivers are more adaptable than others to the changes of both car and tyre.”
With lead driver Kimi Raikkonen lying just four points adrift of current championship leader Sebastian Vettel as the grid heads to Monaco for next weekend’s sixth round of the championship, Boullier concedes that his team will have to suck it up and recover any potential ground it may lose.
“We have a team of talented designers and engineers who will be working twice as hard to ensure we adapt to these changes in the most competitive manner,” he shrugged.
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