Fernando Alonso is expressing his regret to fans on behalf of the sport of Formula 1.
After first using the ‘alternative tyre allocation’ (ATA) strategy in Hungary, F1 is going through its second ‘ATA’ test run this weekend in Monza.
The new system allows drivers 11 fresh tyre sets for the entire weekend, down from the standard 13, and dictates specific compounds for the three parts of the qualifying sessions—all in a bid to conserve tyres for environmental reasons.
“The target is to reduce the tyres without damaging the show,” said Pirelli chief Mario Isola.
Carlos Sainz of Ferrari turned heads by setting the fastest time on Friday, but Haas team principal Gunther Steiner suggests the actual speed rankings are still ambiguous.
“You have no sense of who is fast and who is slow,” he said. “Some use two sets of soft in practice, others one set of hards.”
Despite the confusion, F1’s most seasoned driver, Alonso, is adamant that the ATA policy is detrimental to the excitement.
“With so few tyres for practice, it makes us save tyres the whole weekend,” he told Spanish reporters after Friday’s events.
“So we have to apologise to the fans. We just couldn’t do many laps because we only had one set for the session.
“We apologise to all of the fans who have come here. We also did that in Hungary because of this format,” Alonso added.
Pirelli’s Isola conceded that it’s still undecided whether the ‘ATA’ approach is effective.
“I heard some drivers complaining but I believe it can work with some fine-tuning,” said the Italian.
“It’s the sport that wants to go in this direction. Obviously all the teams are focusing on keeping as many softs as possible for qualifying, but I’m still positive about it and I’m sure we can find a good solution.”