Pirelli told of resurfacing too late to change tyres

Date published: November 14 2020

Charles Leclerc Turkish Grand Prix

Slipping and sliding at the Istanbul Park, Pirelli boss Mario Isola says they were told about the resurfacing of the track only when it was too late to change the tyre compounds.

Pirelli arrived at the Istanbul circuit with its three hardest compounds, which led to a day of drama for the drivers.

Following Friday’s running in Turkey, reigning World Champion Lewis Hamilton declared that it was “sh*t with capital S”.

He added: “None of the tyres for us at least are working and you’ve seen it, it’s like an ice rink out there, and so you don’t get quite the enjoyment of the lap that you would normally get at Istanbul. I don’t see that changing.”

Isola says if Pirelli had known about the resurfacing a few weeks earlier, they would have readied the softest tyres.

“Obviously we had the information about the resurfacing of the track quite late,” Isola told Motorsport.com. “And we didn’t know about the characteristics of the tarmac.

“And we have a tyre choice that is quite conservative considering the condition of the tarmac, and the type of tarmac we have now.

“I was expecting a tarmac that was more similar to Portimao, where we had smooth tarmac, with bitumen on top, and tyres were able to develop some grip.

“Instead here we had no grip, probably a combination of the temperature, the fact that it was damp, the type of tarmac, and the selection that is quite hard, the hardest that we can have.

“This circuit was resurfaced with the support of Tilke I believe, while Portimao was resurfaced with the support of Dromo, they are two companies that are working around that. So they probably used a different material.”

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He added that he had only been made aware of the resurfacing four weeks prior to the race weekend.

“I believe it was quite a late decision also from the circuit,” he explained. “We are well connected with the FIA in a normal situation, and on tracks where we used to go we have the information in advance. This year, it was a bit more difficult.

“New local promoters, and maybe the information was not so clear. But the result is that I got the information that the plan was to have a new tarmac I believe four weeks ago, just before the start of the works at the track.

“It’s not a drama, in my opinion, because it’s an additional challenge for drivers. And it’s a bit of unpredictability for the engineers. So when you have this kind of situation, sometimes you have even better racing.”

Four weeks, he says, just wasn’t enough time for Pirelli to change compounds.

He said: “Four weeks were not enough for us to change the allocation, basically we already produced the tyres, and the tyres were travelling to Turkey. The tyres are made in Romania, and then we have to go to Didcot for what we call the grading, because the allocation is made by the FIA.

“So we have to do this job before going on track, otherwise we don’t have the possibility to load the tyres on the trailer in a certain way to be quick in fitting, according to the FIA allocation. And then the trucks were travelling to Turkey.

“So even if we have the factory that is very close, half an hour from here, we didn’t get the information.

“What we did is our colleagues from the Turkish factory helped us to measure the tarmac, as soon as they finished the resurfacing of the circuit. We have a tarmac that is very smooth, both macro roughness, and micro roughness.

“We measured it again yesterday, slightly different numbers, but again, not an aggressive asphalt, like we used to know in Istanbul. Basically, our decision on the allocation was based on the circuit layout, the severity, Turn 8 and blah, blah, blah, but also on the type of tarmac.

“So, it is clear that now the selection is a bit too hard for this circuit.”

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