Renault and Tyre Wars

The extremely banal first race of the 2010 season has led to some people baying for the blood of Max Mosley the former FIA president who brought about this raft of changes to the technical regulations to create "closer" and "more exciting" racing. A large section of F1 press types seem to have decided it’s now due to the single tyre manufacturer currently in the sport, having a tyre war, so the theory is would make the racing more exciting.

The last competitor to Bridgestone was Michelin who left F1 at the end of 2006, winning the championship with Fernando Alonso and Renault. During Alonso’s two championships the Renault team enjoyed rich success with Michelin, using a special suspension system developed in conjunction with the tyre maker and ignored by every other Michelin competitor. Races had been won on Michelin prior to this, but for the most part they were the second tyre supplier in F1, Bridgestone being dominant in previous years with the Ferrari team.

When Renault became super competitive in 2005 F1 was excited, here finally was a challenge to the then crushingly dominant Ferrari team, here was the answer to all of those "dull" races; however this author saw a large problem with this. One team’s dominance was swapped for another, it was nice to see another team lead the standings but it was the same dull repetitive results. Michelin was dominant to the tune of seconds a lap, the one interesting race I can remember was at Imola between Alonso and a resurgent Michael Schumacher, who harried and hounded yet could still not find a way past Alonso. Some said it was a changing of the guard, Schumacher’s day had come and Alonso was the new guy in town, some said the engine was the problem, others the car, to me it was simply down to tyres and when Michelin left I seemed to be proved correct; Renault were nowhere.

Since those days Alonso left and returned, cheated (or others did for him) on his first return victory for the team, but deservedly won his second, for the most part he was nowhere to be seen a shadow of his former self. I bet he wishes he’d kept a few sets of those tyres hanging around, and so do Renault, very much a "C" team in F1 now, whilst perhaps not in engine, certainly in chassis design.

Tyre wars result in one crushingly dominant tyre, leading to races around that tyre manufacturer with cars very close in performance, the "other guys" tyres are tenths or maybe even seconds slower, sure it looks fun on paper but the actual racing is no more interesting at the front, where it matters. Another idea is required, banning wings might be it…

One Response to “Renault and Tyre Wars”

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