Formula One’s sole tire supplier will be bringing more tires than usual to the Grand Prix this weekend, which is also the inaugural Austin Grand Prix. They will be supplying the teams with an extra set of the harder tires to encourage more laps set during practice.
The official line out of Pirelli today is that the teams will need an extra set to learn the new track, which will also be very ‘green’ (lacking grip), as it is a newly laid surface. Paul Hembry also admitted that it was hard to make a final choice on the tires to bring.
“Stepping into the unknown is a situation that we are used to: last season the majority of tracks were completely new to us.” he said. We’ve chosen the hard and the medium compounds as we think it will be quite a demanding track, based on the asphalt samples and simulation data we have gathered. Naturally we’ve leaned towards a slightly more conservative choice in order to cover every possibility at a brand new circuit, but the tire choice in Abu Dhabi was also conservative and yet we saw one of the most exciting races of the year.”
But its clear that the main factor behind the decision is that the FIA want to have the American fans impressed. In the last few seasons, there has been big problems with teams not running in a bid to save tires, and this can be quite a boring affair. The FIA will undoubtedly be nervous on the run up to the race, really hoping that this can be the successful break into America that F1 has always dreamed of.
It won’t be the first time that tires have been in the news for an F1 race. Nobody will easily forget the hugely embarrassing 2005 US GP held at Indianapolis. 2005 saw two tire suppliers, Michelin and Bridgestone, and due to big safety concerns, Michelin were forced to retire all cars running their tires in USA, leaving just SIX cars on the grid. Ferrari, Jordan and Minardi were the only teams on Bridgestones and led a parade for the race, which served a near lethal blow to F1’s campaign in America.