The tire wars are going away from F1 very soon, and we’ll be back to a single provider. Allegedly this is to cut down on costs but it will also cut down on confusion. People probably don’t care (and definitely don’t cheer) about a particular tire manufacturer. But simple economics will tell you that reducing competition won’t drive down costs.
I suppose there is an argument to be made that you’d need less testing if there was only one tire manufacturer but I don’t imagine that there will be any shared data between teams. I guess there might be a reduction in the cost of industrial espionage if you’re all on the same tire there’s less to modify in setup and so the winter testing stats might be easier to read. But none of this really makes me think that it’s much to do with costs.
I’m glad that proper pits with tire changes are back in many ways. There was something rather interesting about last year when there was only a continuing degradation in the tire towards the end and you had a driver simply trying to hang on to the thing for grim death. This year we still have that kind of situation with the engines but with the engine it seems to be a bit safer for the driver (although there were more flames than usual coming out of the back of Jenson’s car in Oz)*
So I emotionally think that a single tire supplier will be good for the sport. I think that nobody cares which tire you were racing on, and that it’s often confusing as to which compound of which supplier each driver (let alone which team) is on.
I think that a lot of the mixing up of the races that we’ve enjoyed so much in the last few seasons has been caused by the resurgence of Michelin. The fact that it’s not clear who has the better compound, who is working the best on a given day etc has really spiced up the races.
Take Australia for example (I can’t believe I haven’t written a post just about that race yet) Toyota, Williams and yes Super Aguri all benefited from the Bridgestone tires flattering their cars I think. But why didn’t Ferrari get a performance bump if that were the case? Because they didn’t use the new compound. Ferrari don’t trust Bridgestone anymore after last year so they decided to stick with what they know.
The tire wars have created an extra roll of the dice to the mix of F1 which I think we may miss more than we think we will in the coming years. I remember all too easily the years a few years ago when Martin would say “maybe the way to spice up F1 would be for Bernie to add sprinklers to all of the tracks and set them to random”.