Formula 1 commercial chief Bernie Ecclestone believes Pirelli's high-degradation tires mean drivers once again have to "use their brains" to win grands prix.
Pirelli has been accused of preventing drivers from racing flat-out with its aggressive 2013 compounds, with Red Bull boss Dietrich Mateschitz saying F1 was now "nothing to do with racing" as tire conservation took precedence. But Ecclestone said taking care of tires now was no different to looking after fragile machinery in previous eras, and that rather than deserving censure, Pirelli has improved the show by reintroducing a strategical element into modern F1.
"The easiest thing for Pirelli would be to produce tires that you put on at the first race of the season and take off at the last. That would be easy, easy," Ecclestone told F1.com. "I asked Pirelli to make tires that would not complete 50 percent of a race, and that's what they did.
"In the times when Niki [Lauda] was racing his biggest concern was looking after the gearbox and the brakes, not the tires. Then we got away from that and the drivers didn't have to think about anything. Now they have to use their brains and start thinking about how to win races.
However, Lauda – now part of Mercedes's F1 management – said that Pirelli's aggressive compounds stop being beneficial to F1 once more than three stops are required to complete a race.
"As an ex-driver I can say three pit stops maximum works. That's it," he said. "If you have four stops – and some tires only lasting four laps – that's the wrong direction."
Pirelli will alter its tire compounds for the Canadian Grand Prix, but the changes will be more limited than was first suggested after the FIA prohibited changes for any reason other than safety.