Pirelli has called for a change to the red-flag rules in Formula 1 to prevent teams from changing tires if a race is stopped, saying fans were robbed of a great finish to the Monaco Grand Prix.
The battle for victory in Monte Carlo was finely poised between Sebastian Vettel, Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button in the closing stages of the race, with all three running around on tires that were at very different stages of their wear life.
However, with their individual situations set to create a thrilling climax to the race, the battle came to a premature end when a late-race red flag, caused by Vitaly Petrov's accident, meant they were allowed to change rubber. That left the result pretty much a foregone conclusion, with the top three finishers effectively running around in procession to the checkered flag.
Pirelli director of motorsport Paul Hembery thinks that the freedom to change tires robbed fans of an entertaining finish to the race - and believes the rules should be tweaked to prevent teams from switching rubber if there is a late red flag and restart.
"I can understand there is a safety consideration but I am thinking about it more from a fans' perspective," Hembery told AUTOSPORT. "I've had a lot of people shout at me from the boats around the harbor saying, 'Why were they allowed to change?' It took away something from the race – and the big question was could they have lasted? That is what we were all asking with six laps to go and that was going to be the excitement: would Sebastian hit the [tire degradation] cliff?"
He added: "We don't really understand the rule, and maybe we need to ask the teams why they think the should be allowed to change tires. The race distance was still the race distance – it wasn't extended. The cars had stopped and there had been a safety car anyway. I don't really understand why they are allowed to change tires, but maybe I am missing something."
Hembery believed that up until the red flag, the Monaco GP had been brought alive by the varied strategies adopted by the top three runners.
"Overtaking is at a premium here, so having the strategic element and such varied strategies, one, two or three stops, gave it an extra bit of intrigue," he said. "I think it was a bit of a shame with the red flag, of course, because if they hadn't changed the tires, then they would have had to fight to the end as they were all on different strategies, and the tire wear and life was very different.
"It is such a shame we were not able to see the finale of the strategy game that had been played."