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Webber: 'F1 talks about tyres too much'

Former Red Bull F1 star says drivers should be the main focus instead

F1-turned-WEC driver Mark Webber has criticised his former sport for devoting too much time to the subject of tyres.

Pirelli’s high-degradation compounds have been a controversial topic for many years, with critics saying that they prevent drivers from pushing to the limit in terms of performance.

“We need to talk more about the drivers and the cars, but we are constantly talking about the tyres,” said Webber. “In Shanghai there were a lot of overtakes but if you ask the drivers, were there genuine overtakes? Not really.”

Last month’s Chinese Grand Prix set the record for the highest number of overtakes in an F1 race, although many of the 161 passes were DRS assisted.

“They can’t really pick where they want to pass because of tyres,” continued Webber. “The drivers really only race in the first two laps and the last 10 per cent of the Grand Prix, because in the middle of the race they are managing things.

“They really cannot push to the limit.”

New rules restricting the information that teams can relay over the radio means that drivers have more to think about than ever before. Tyres, ERS, fuel economy and brake balances are just some of the things they have to keep in mind whilst driving.

Webber – who narrowly missed out on becoming world champion in 2010 – believes these elements can spoil the spectacle, and that the drivers and their cars should be the main focus for fans.

“If we have these components in, you’re still going to have a little bit of domination at the front, but we have to make sure that the whole concept is something that people love to enjoy and watch, and that’s the essence of the sport.

“It has to be cutting edge, it has to be of course futuristic but to be the fastest show on earth, by a long way. And that’s what we’ve got to work towards.”

F1’s regulations are set to be overhauled next season with faster cars and more durable rubber among the many changes in the pipeline, although not everyone believes the new rules will deliver the revolution many are hoping for.

If you are one of these people, fear not: Pirelli has enlisted the help of former Lotus driver Pastor Maldonado in the early stages of its 2017 testing process in Italy and Spain. So at the very least next year’s tyres will handle extremely well… off-road.

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