Formula 1 teams are being reduced to “playing games with the thermometer” by 2019 tyre behaviour, says Gene Haas.
The Haas team has struggled all season to stay in the optimum tyre operating window in races, despite often showing promise in qualifying.
Warmer conditions and the nature of the Barcelona track contributed to an improved performance in last weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix, where Kevin Magnussen finished seventh, and best of the rest, and Romain Grosjean was 10th.
But team owner Haas remained frustrated.
“I think we had a miserable start to the season,” he told Autosport.
“We qualified really well, so it says that we can do one or two quick laps.
“But then we lose tyre temperature, and when you lose tyre temperature, the cars sometimes just go away.
“It was warmer [in Spain], and we didn’t have that problem, but even with Grosjean on the restart, his tyres were a little bit cooler, but a couple of laps later he was back up to speed. It’s very critical to keep on top of the tyres.
“It seems like it’s just luck if you get the tyre in that right temperature zone.
“It would be nice if Pirelli could make it so it wasn’t so sensitive to that.
“We’re playing games with a thermometer, not racing cars.”
Team principal Gunther Steiner admitted last weekend that Haas had expected to fare better at Barcelona, where it had impressed in winter testing, and warned there was still work to do to address the tyre problem on a long term basis.
“Coming here we knew from testing that we can get the tyre to work here,” he said when asked about Haas’s change in form by Autosport.
“It is obviously a sign of progress from Baku, because Baku was pretty dull for us – before that we always had the cars in the top 10 in qualifying.
“We know the speed of the car, we just can’t on certain tracks get the tyres to work, and here it’s working, we’re on the limit here, we get it in.
“But what we need to do is we need to find a way to make them work everywhere, because it’s clear that the car is good, there’s no doubt about it.”
Haas also believes his team needs to improve its straightline performance, saying high drag meant its car was not taking the full benefit of the Ferrari engine.
“That midfield is so tight. We were obviously slower on the straights than a lot of our competitors, but we were able to keep ahead of them in the turns,” said Haas.
“We’ve got high speed drag but the downforce makes us better in the turns.”