- Commenting on ... the Spanish Grand Prix
Ferrari's bittersweet weekendChris Medland May 14, 2013
In the immediate aftermath of the Spanish Grand Prix - an almost perfect race for Ferrari and a good one for Lotus - there was a certain comment made which will have tempered the celebrations at Maranello and Enstone slightly.
After a four-stop race, Paul Hembery said Pirelli had "got it wrong". He wasn't just talking about its tyre choice at the Circuit de Catalunya either as choosing the medium and hard compound was as conservative as the tyre manufacturer could go. When he said Pirelli had been "too aggressive", he meant with this year's compounds as a whole.
But it's what he said next that will worry Ferrari and Lotus. Hembery said Pirelli would make changes to the compounds by the British Grand Prix at Silverstone - now revised to Canada - leaving just the Monaco Grand Prix on the current compounds.
Firstly, it's understandable that Pirelli wants to react after seeing a race won on a four-stop strategy on the hardest compounds it has available. For the first time teams could legitimately say the tyres aren't doing what was asked; which is to provide races with an average of two or three stops off the back of an exciting Canadian Grand Prix in 2010.
Having said that, should Pirelli really be making changes? It was asked to deliver exciting racing and so far has done a good job of it. The rubber is the same for all the teams and we've seen them manage to get the most out of the tyres by the end of both of the previous seasons.
The situation in Spain will only potentially be matched at Silverstone itself when a lot of energy will be put through the tyres through the high-speed corners. By then, the teams will have two more races' knowledge and the data from Bahrain to look back on, which would have helped matters.
But most importantly, any changes are going to affect the championship. Complaints that Pirelli has too much influence already hold no water with me; all the teams get the same tyres to work with and the four corners of the car are just part of the whole package needed to win. But changing that aspect of the equation means moving the goalposts mid-season and penalising those who have been doing a better job than others.
That doesn't necessarily mean Ferrari and Lotus - as the two teams doing the best job with the tyres in Spain - will lose out, but it will help those struggling to close the gap in a similar situation. We saw a number of updates at the Circuit de Catalunya and they will have been designed with the preservation of the current tyres in mind. As Lotus team principal Eric Boullier said when I asked him about Hembery's comments, it would be "unfair" on the teams doing the best job.
I've previously said it seems that some people are hard to please when it comes to Pirelli, so personally believe changes to the tyres should only be made if all the teams agree. Unfortunately, in the absence of a Concorde Agreement, nothing binds the teams and therefore there is no way of enforcing such a requirement.
Ferrari in particular got it right at Barcelona, with Fernando Alonso finding a way of pushing hard on each set and making a four-stop strategy quicker than Kimi Raikkonen's three. The delight of Alonso's home crowd made it a special result for the team, but there will now be some concerns in the Ferrari and Lotus garages that Pirelli's next move could tip the scales back in to Red Bull's favour.
Chris Medland is assistant editor at ESPNF1