Tyres. The political dramas aside, that word utterly dominated the Bahrain grand prix weekend.
Afterwards, Michael Schumacher admitted he was “unhappy” with the situation. “Sometimes we are driving only 60, 70 per cent through the corners,” he is quoted by Bild newspaper.
Pirelli did not take the criticism lightly, insisting it has made Canada 2010-style, heavily degrading tyres to order, for the benefit of the ‘show’. Motor sport director Paul Hembery on Monday ‘re-Tweeted’ a message from a follower accusing the seven time world champion of having thrown “his toys out of the pram”.
Moreover, Pirelli said Bahrain is perhaps “the most demanding” on the entire calendar when it comes to degradation.
“As a result, knowing how to manage the tyres and contain thermal degradation was a vital skill” on Sunday, the Italian marque said in a statement.
On Twitter, The Times’ correspondent Kevin Eason called Bahrain an “excellent race, although I am not sure we haven’t moved from tyre management to lottery”.
The roulette wheel didn’t spin up for McLaren – the team with arguably the best overall car so far in 2012 – on Sunday.
“Nobody has added a second to their cars in just a week after China,” lamented Jenson Button, “but here we were a second off the pace.”
His boss Martin Whitmarsh told Auto Motor und Sport: “Maybe it was the pressures, maybe the temperatures. We really don’t know.”
The German reporter said Whitmarsh’s comment indicates an “uncomfortable realisation” for such a scientifically meticulous team.
Whitmarsh agreed: “It is now more important to understand the tyres than to find a bit more downforce.”
The tyre marque’s test driver Jaime Alguersuari told Mundo Deportivo newspaper that Pirelli deserves credit, not criticism.
“Pirelli is largely responsible for making F1 the most spectacular it has been in a decade,” said the young Spaniard.