Pirelli downplay risk of softer tyres for 70th Anniversary GP

Date published: August 5 2020

Lewis Hamilton tyre failure British GP Pirelli.jpg

Pirelli are sticking with their decision to bring softer tyres to the 70th Anniversary GP despite the late failures at Silverstone.

For the British Grand Prix Pirelli brought the hardest tyre compounds in their range for the demanding Silverstone circuit, those being the C1, C2 and C3s.

The front-lefts are known to take a pounding at the Northamptonshire track, but for Valtteri Bottas, Carlos Sainz and Lewis Hamilton, even the C1s weren’t able to cope.

All three suffered tyre failures late in the race – Hamilton was able to crawl around the last lap to take the win, but his team-mate Bottas and McLaren’s Sainz both lost out on a strong haul of points as a result of their destroyed rubber.

Pirelli revealed that the cause of the failures was a combination of the increased performance of the F1 cars, which shattered lap records across the race weekend, along with the extremely long stints which the teams tried to do on the C1s.

So it was a concern when Pirelli announced that they would still be bringing softer tyres for the second race weekend at Silverstone, that being the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix, where the C2s will be the hards, C3s medium and the C4s will be the softs.

But the minimum front pressure will be upped by 2psi, and the rear by 1psi, so Pirelli don’t expect an increased risk of further failures.

As quoted by Autosport, Pirelli’s motorsport boss Mario Isola said: “The investigation says that the cause of the initial loss of pressure and then the deflation was the level of stress on the tyre, on the construction of the tyre.

“And for that reason the action we are taking for the next race is to increase the pressure, because obviously it is the pressure that is helping the construction.

“And we keep the same compounds, C2, C3 and C4, that have been already decided a few weeks ago. The tread compound is not affecting in any way what happened on the tyres.

“I don’t want to use the word perfect storm, because I don’t like it, but the fact that the safety car was out on lap 12, obviously was pushing everybody to change on lap 12. In a normal situation, a normal strategy was to change for cars that were targeting a one-stop strategy at lap 18-20.

“Consider also that when you follow a safety car the pressure is going down, and then obviously at the restart of the safety car, there is a period in which the pressure grows.

“At the restart of the safety car you have a very quick corner, with a lot of energy that is going into the tyre. We usually consider that in our estimation, when we give the prescriptions, we consider all that. And it was confirmed from telemetry data that the level of energy was very, very high.

“So the safety car plus the long stint plus the fact that the construction with less tread is less protected caused an initial loss of pressure, and the loss of pressure leads to a deflation. If you look at the tyres they had both sidewalls still in place in the right position, and the tread ring was broken, that is the typical situation when you run the tyre flat.”

Isola confirmed that multiple drivers had “cuts” in their tyres come the end of the race, but he didn’t think that was the same situation that Hamilton, Bottas and Sainz had encountered.

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Red Bull boss Christian Horner said there were cuts on the tyres they had taken off Max Verstappen’s car during his pit stop near the end of the race.

“It is true that we recorded a high number of cuts, in some cases they were superficial, in some cases they were quite deep,” he said.

“The high number of cuts was recorded especially on the tyres from the second stint. I believe that the pieces of the front wing lost by Kimi Raikkonen was the main cause of the cuts on the tyres.

“We had one tyre, if I remember well it was the front left from [Nicholas] Latifi, with a puncture. The tyre was still losing air when he was coming back to parc ferme. I confirm that there was debris on track, I confirm we found some cuts.

“Also from the tyres used in the first stint, probably from the accident of Kvyat. But I think we came to the conclusion that the cuts were not responsible for what happened to the tyres of Mercedes and Carlos Sainz.

“It is clear with a high level of wear most of the tyres were close to 100% wear, without rubber on the tread, that is exposing the construction, the construction is less protected, and any impact on the construction has a different effect. And also any piece of debris is more dangerous, because it can cut the construction, and therefore cause a failure.

“But to tell you if the cuts on Max’s tyre were big enough to stop him without an additional pit stop is difficult to say.”

So it won’t be surprising to hear that Pirelli are not expecting teams to try the one-stop strategy again at the 70th Anniversary GP.

“I believe that because we are going with one step softer compounds the length of the stint will be shorter by definition because the compounds are softer,” said Isola.

“Consider that the medium compound that will be the hard for this weekend, the only one that was running 36 laps was Grosjean, and the tyres were completely finished. So I struggle to believe that they can run more than 30-something laps next weekend.”

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