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2012-04-24 08:36

TYRE-CONSERVATION CONTEST: Michael Schumacher believes too much emphasis has been placed on tyre conservation rather than going all-out during races.

MANAMA, Bahrain - Formula 1 tyre supplier Pirelli has defended itself after being accused by Michael Schumacher of creating tyres that prevent drivers pushing to their limit.

Schumacher, who worked his way through the field from 22nd on the grid to finish 10th for Mercedes, complained after the 2012 Bahrain Grand Prix that current tyres prevented all-out racing and were turning F1 into a tyre-conservation contest.

Schumacher said: "The main thing I feel unhappy about is that everyone has to drive well below a driver's, and in particular, the car's limits to maintain the tyres. I just question whether the tyres should play such a big importance, or whether they should last a bit longer - and that you can drive at normal racing car speed and not cruise around like we have a pace car."


Pirelli was surprised by Schumacher's criticism although it has been clear in the opening four races of 2012 that tyre-preservation had become one of the most important strategic elements in F1. The company's director of motor sport, Paul Hembery, said he was taken aback, especially as Schumacher had been happy with the tyres during winter testing.

Hembery said: "I'm disappointed to hear those comments from someone of Michael's experience. Others were getting on with the job and getting their tyres to work. His comments during winter testing were that he was very happy with the tyres and now he seems to have changed his tune."

Schumacher added that he felt Pirelli should reconsider its approach to tyres because the problem of not being able to push to the limit was experienced by too many people.

Schumacher said: "I'm not happy about the situation. Let's see what happens in future. If this was a one-off car issue, then you could say it's up on us to deal with it, but basically it is everybody, with maybe one or two exceptions.

"And if it is 80% of the field that has this problem, then maybe the tyre supplier should think about that," he said.

The Bahrain race was dominated by tyre preservation and tyre management. Apart from the technical and performance issues that forced many drivers to drive cautiously, tyres also created more pit-stops which in turn, upset the potential of certain drivers.

Race winner Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel admitted that his fast start from pole had enabled him and to control his tyre situation more comfortably than those chasing him.

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