Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc have both urged F1 tyre supplier, Pirelli, to improve of their extreme wet weather tyres after a very eventful and controversial Japanese Grand Prix.
The drivers and the teams all consider the wet tyre to be terrible. They are too slow, and they don’t remove enough water from the track. Teams typically avoid the tyre unless they have been mandated to use them by the FIA, preferring the Intermediate tyres which are much faster. That’s why during the Japan GP, all the teams started on Intermediates despite the horrible weather.
When talking to the media after the race, Verstappen argued that the wet weather tyres need to be improved and that he is willing to help make that happen: “I don’t want to take a dig out of anyone, but I think we need better rain tyres. If you saw what we could do in the 1990s or the early 2000s, with the amount of water on the track [there is a big difference to today].
“I’m very happy to have a few test days, and try all different kinds of tyres, but we need better rain tyres. The extremes are just slow, and they can’t really carry a lot of water away. That’s why everyone always tries to switch very quickly to the Intermediate because it’s just so much faster over a lap.
“You could see from one lap to the next, we went from the extreme to the Inter today, and we went to nearly five seconds faster and that is just too big. That’s why nobody really wants to run the extreme. And when it rained like it did when the red flag came out, you would have put extreme tyres on, I think it would still be really difficult to drive.
“But then if you compare that to 20 years ago, that would have been perfectly fine. So there must be criticism because I’m very happy to help out and I really should look into it. Maybe we can just organise more tests in the wet and work together [with Pirelli] to try and find better tyres to at least have an opportunity to really drive in the wet and not always only drive like two laps on an extreme, switch to Intermediate and call it a wet race, because a wet race is also normally driven with heavy rain.”
Charles Leclerc believes that even with better wet tyres, it’s visibility in the wet that is the real issue, and the 2022 cars are making it worse: “I think a big problem of these cars is just the visibility. So whatever we can do to try and improve the visibility, and minimise the spray, especially behind the cars, this will be hugely beneficial because I believe that sometimes we can actually run for the conditions of the track.
“But just because of the visibility, because it’s so dangerous being behind and you don’t see anything that we don’t end up running at all. We should try and find a solution to try and minimise spray.”
It seems that there is no simple solution as tests simply have to be run. The cars are different now, that will require new tests. The cars are different, so the tyres react differently. The cars are different, how does that affect spray and can it be reduced? There are a lot of unknowns so the task will be a formidable one.
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