Pirelli believes there is no simple solution to the problem of drivers not running in wet practice sessions, after the lack of action on Friday at the British Grand Prix left Formula 1 teams, drivers and fans frustrated.
Few drivers wanted to put mileage on their wet tires at Silverstone in case the rubber is needed for both qualifying and the race, with F1's regulations allowing only three sets of full wet tires for the whole weekend. Although there were suggestions that a rule change to allow teams to swap a used wet set for a new one on Saturday – as teams can do with intermediates – would have led to more running, Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery is skeptical that it would improve matters.
He reckons that not only could teams have happily completed all the mileage they wanted on the wet tires – because of their long life – he does not think even teams getting an effective free set of wet tires would have made much difference.
"The wets are designed to do 60 laps each, so you cannot say you haven't got enough tires, you've got enough tires to do 180 laps," explained Hembery. "If you are saying that it disadvantages you if your competitor doesn't go out, and I want to follow suit, then that is a slightly different challenge, isn't it? It is a little bit more complicated than saying they don't have enough tires.
"If they had six sets today would they have gone out more? And how many three-day wet events have we had? One in five years, it's something like that. So do you go and spend half a million to one million euros a year to cover an eventuality that happens once every five years?"
Hembery thinks the bad conditions at Silverstone, with downpours at numerous points of the day, contributed as much to the lack of running as the tire situation.
"You don't want to have 80,000 people with cars that are not running, but you have to ask yourself what people would have done with more tires," he said. "Would they have done 25 laps each in the rain? Only the teams can answer if they would really do it.
"Some teams did more laps today and they said it was pretty pointless, because conditions were so bad. I think it is maybe convenient to blame the tire quantities from that point of view. But would [more tires] have changed what they did today greatly? A little bit? Maybe. Hugely? Probably not.
"Why would you run in conditions that could maybe create an off? You might also have been waiting for the best conditions. You might have been waiting for the last half an hour of FP2. So why go out when full rain at the start? There are many, many factors involved. Saying it is not enough tires is not as simple as it seems."
Hembery says the bigger concern for Pirelli with the regulations is the fact that a whole wet day of running means that his company now has to scrap the unused slicks from the day.
"Today we have to strip and scrap 200 slick tires that were unused. There are cost elements. The sport is asking about cost reductions, but we are also a business and we have costs as well."