Recent murmurs in the Qatar paddock suggest that Pirelli has successfully fended off Bridgestone, clinching the Formula 1 tyre contract extending through 2028.
This is a positive turn for the Italian manufacturer, but the formal proclamation isn’t scheduled until several days after the upcoming grand prix.
However, Pirelli is currently under scrutiny due to a significant issue at the revamped Losail circuit, originally crafted for MotoGP.
The newly introduced kerbs aim to aid F1 with its ‘track limits’ dilemma and ensure safety for motorcycle competitors.
Yet, after the preliminary laps this weekend, Pirelli identified minuscule abrasions on some extensively-used tyres, leading to a swift response from the FIA.
Amended kerbs were delineated on the track to prevent drivers from straying too wide onto the ‘pyramid’ kerbs, which, according to Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz, “simply kill the tyres”. An additional warm-up round was also integrated into the event’s agenda.
“I don’t blame Pirelli,” he said, “but at the same time it is obvious that something is going on here.”
There’s a growing expectation that the FIA, alongside Pirelli, will advocate for three-pit-stop strategies for the Sunday grand prix.
Sainz expressed his frustration about being uninformed about the track alterations and three-stop speculations upon his Saturday arrival.
“We heard in the press,” said the Spaniard. “No one told us. I can say that the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association is not happy with this situation.”
Gunther Steiner, the head of Haas, voiced similar sentiments.
“This should not happen in F1,” he said. “But now we must see how to get out of it.”
F1’s seasoned driver, Fernando Alonso, echoed Sainz’s sentiments.
“Since we didn’t know how many mandatory stops we are going to have on Sunday, we had to save tyres in the sprint and we saved the medium because we don’t trust the softs,” he mentioned.
“So we had to throw one of the two races in the trash and we threw away the sprint,” Alonso relayed to DAZN.
“It’s never pleasant not to have the drivers involved in these decisions. These are all things that shouldn’t happen in F1, but I prefer not to talk anymore.”
Lastly, the reigning world champion, Max Verstappen, weighed in: “I think this sort of thing is never a good look for the sport of course.
“They’ve already changed two corners, the high-speed corners, which I find quite interesting – how quickly these things can be changed when sometimes we just want a white line changed and suddenly it’s all very hard.
“That’s something for the future that we need to speak about, because I think we need to be heard a bit more. But for tomorrow, safety is foremost so let’s see what happens.”