How important are they?
Well certainly modern motorsport seems to indicate that it's now all about tyre technology. From F1™ to MotoGP™, tyres are playing a defining role when it comes to team strategy and more importantly, winning races.
Lewis Hamilton once again proved this weekend in Bahrain that while a championship winning driver needs to be able to outshine the rest, he also needs to play a careful management exercise of his rubber - anticipating degradation throughout the course of the race and determining best usage.
Motorcycle supremo Valentine Rossi and the Yamaha factory team also proved to the world this weekend that both experience and the correct tyre choice provided the winning formula.
What does all this mean to us, the everyday motorist? Actually quite a lot. The racing purists would naturally prefer to just see out and out wheel to wheel combat throughout any series, but technology moves on relentlessly. Most manufacturers showcase themselves in these sports to achieve not just publicity but to sell their products and also to ensure they remain at the forefront of advancing technology. What better way to do so than at the ultimate test of endurance and speed?
Modern vehicles are now full of systems, safety and developments that were first introduced and tested in motorsport often five or ten years beforehand. We can therefore anticipate that tyre technology will take another huge leap forward in the coming years and lead significant improvements for us all. This has to be good news for the motorist because lets face it, nobody really wants to buy new tyres, and we all want them to last twice as long but provide even better fuel economy while perfoming at higher speeds with ever more grip!
So next time a race is a bit dull to watch, consider the difference in your own car from the one you were driving 15 years ago. Fundamentally cars haven't changed - neither have our roads much - but the car has - big time!
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