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Drivers have to think to win races again - Ecclestone

ESPN Staff
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Pirelli has been criticised for trying to make changes to its tyre compounds mid-season © Getty Images
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Bernie Ecclestone has defended Pirelli and says drivers have to "start thinking about how to win races" as a result of the challenging tyre situation.

The ongoing tyre saga has seen Pirelli attempt to change the compounds ahead of the Canadian Grand Prix next month, with the FIA restricting those changes to those made on safety grounds only. Speaking to the official Formula One website in a conversation with Niki Lauda, Ecclestone backed Pirelli's approach to the tyres and said it was forcing the drivers "to use their brains" again in order to be successful.

"I asked Pirelli to make tyres that would not complete 50 percent of a race - meaning we need pit stops. And that's what they did," Ecclestone said. "It is very, very difficult to predict and say these tyres will last 15 or 20 percent of the race because each circuit is different, we are facing very different temperatures, the cars are different, and last but not least each driver has a different driving style.

"In the times when Niki was racing his biggest concern was looking after the gearbox and the brakes - not the tyres. Then we got away from that and the drivers didn't have to think about anything. Now they have to use their brains and start thinking about how to win races.

"The easiest thing for Pirelli would be to produce tyres that you put on at the first race of the season and take off at the last. That would be easy, easy."

Lauda agreed that numerous pit stops were acceptable, but said four - as seen in Barcelona - was too many.

"As an ex-driver I can say that Pirelli's goal was to have the first pit stop after 12 to 15 laps, but with the different factors that Bernie has just explained they sometimes last only four laps. Three pit stops maximum works. That's it. If you have four stops - and some tyres only lasting four laps - that's the wrong direction. Now we will have a change from Canada onwards."

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