Nico Rosberg says he heard Pirelli warned Formula 1 some “six months ago” that the Lusail kerbs could be a problem for the tyres but that the “sport didn’t listen”.
Formula 1 first raced at the Lusail circuit in 2021 with the grand prix marred by tyre issues as four drivers suffered front-left failures.
Pirelli blamed that on worn tyres with the drivers pushing for one-stop strategies and the pyramid kerbs not helping the situation.
Nico Rosberg: I heard Pirelli did warn the sports six months ago
Fast forward two years and the Lusail circuit not only underwent resurfacing ahead of Qatar’s return to the calendar but the kerbs were also revised.
Although these new kerbs were constructed to the FIA’s specification, they featured raised 50-millimetre pyramid-style outer edges that battered the Pirelli tyres during Friday’s running.
So much so the FIA not only brought in the track limits for Turns 11 and 12 in an attempt to keep the drivers away from the kerbs, but they limited the drivers to just 18 laps per set in the grand prix.
2016 World Champion Rosberg reckons that could’ve been avoided had Formula 1 listened to Pirelli’s concerns.
“I heard that Pirelli did warn the sports six months ago they could see an issue here and the sport didn’t listen,” he told Sky F1. “That was my latest information now actually.”
Effectively altering the track layout through the track limit changes to Turns 11 and 12, the FIA gave the drivers an extra 10-minute familiarisation session ahead of Saturday’s Sprint Shootout.
What they weren’t given, though, were extra sets of tyres which meant that when the three-stop strategy for the grand prix was imposed on Sunday morning, some drivers were left short when it came to brand-new tyres.
“I think one of the things that everyone is so frustrated about is that this issue existed here back in 2021,” said Naomi Schiff.
“When they did race here we saw a lot of people having type failures and things like that. So I think the drivers particularly, and the teams, are frustrated that the issue hadn’t been sorted out, because it’s an existing problem.
“It’s tough out there. A lot of things have changed since 2021; the cars have changed, the regulations have changed, the track surfaces changed, the tyres themselves have changed. And I wonder if maybe Pirelli overestimated the capabilities of the tyres now as opposed to what they were in 2021.
“Unfortunate that this weekend the regulations had to be changed more than halfway through the weekend, multiple times, pretty much the regulations changed each day, so that’s frustrating.”
“Especially,” she added, “when you notice some of them today suffered a consequence of the fact that these weren’t the rules on Friday when they used up some of their sets of tyres and it was almost a case of luck today of what tyres you had available to you.”