Pirelli vindicated as FIA incompetence is again highlighted


Pirelli Statement

1) The tests carried out by Pirelli on the tyres used at Spa have confirmed the absence of any structural problems. Pirelli has undertaken in-depth analysis on the materials and production processes used, utilising two different methods of tests and checks.

Microscopic analysis, carried out on a large number of the tyres after the second free practice session, showed no signs of fatigue or integrity issues. The same result was confirmed for the tyres used during the race, which were cross-sectioned and analysed in Milan.

Some of the tyres used in the race were subjected to a further laboratory fatigue test, passing all the assessments conclusively and confirming that there was no structural degradation or problem on-track.

Since the start of 2015, 13,748 slick tyres have been used: including on especially severe tracks like Sepang, Barcelona and Silverstone. No problems have ever been discovered, underlining the fundamental solidity of the product.

2) The events of Spa can therefore be put down to external factors, linked with the prolonged use of the tyres on one of the most severe tracks of the championship.

The external factors are demonstrated by a total of 63 cuts found in the tread of the Formula 1 tyres used over the course of the Spa weekend, following numerous incidents that took place during the support races before the Formula One grand prix. In the previous 15 events (10 races and five test sessions) an average of only 1.2 cuts per event were noted. All this indicates an anomalous amount of detritus on the track in Spa, with a consequent increased risk of encountering a foreign object.

If even a small piece of debris – made of carbon or any other particularly sharp material – penetrates and cuts the various structural parts of a tyre (which is obviously subject to high-speed use, and more susceptible if used for a prolonged period) without penetrating the actual structure, this can cause a failure that is different to that found in the event of a normal puncture, which is characterised by a loss of tyre pressure. And the former was the type of event seen on Sebastian Vettel’s tyre at Spa.

As for Nico Rosberg, in whose case the tyre usage was less, the tyre held up – as the footage clearly shows – and the failure was not instantaneous. For four corners previously, an element of the internal structure of the tyre was visible, coming out of the tread pattern. This highlighted the existence of the damage and the consequent start of the tyre’s attrition.

Throughout the Spa weekend (including practice, qualifying and the race) cuts caused by debris were found on the tyres of other drivers, which damaged the construction but did not cause any failures.

3) At the end of qualifying on Saturday at Spa, following the exceptional number of cuts noted to the tyres, Pirelli pointed out the condition of the circuit to the FIA and asked for it to be cleaned, as well as for the teams to be told. The FIA reacted promptly in arranging for the track to be cleaned and advising the teams.

Together with the FIA, Pirelli proposes a study to evaluate the way in which circuits can be cleaned most effectively.

FIA response

The FIA is satisfied with the thoroughness of the investigation and Pirelli’s conclusions as to the reasons for the tyre failures in Belgium. Based on this, the FIA is willing to consider any safety recommendations made by the tyre supplier for the Italian GP and for the remainder of the season.

TJ13 Comment

This appears to broadly be in line with the TJ13’s commentary following the race – where excessive tyre wear was a contributing factor. Further, debris collects around the edge of the circuit and Mr. Vettel was repeatedly in the ‘debris’ zone.

Yet more importantly, the FIA has once again been shown to be incompetent – and when we say the FIA – we mean Charlie Whiting. He is the race director and safety delegate for F1 and in reality – HE the operational individual from the FIA who recommends and drives through F1 change.

TJ13 has repeatedly railed against the stupidity of men with brushes – clearing debris – and the occasional impotent looking machine used to clear the F1 circuits. F1 is a multibillion dollar sport and must do much better.

It has taken Pirelli to demonstrate this ineptitude – despite the abuse Pirelli have received over their product, their thorough and detailed analysis has delivered the answers everyone was screaming for.

It was Pirelli that forced the FIA to place mandatory limits on tyre pressure and camber – when teams were running dangerous settings and blowing up the tyres in 2013.

It is now Pirelli who have identified and highlighted the importance of proper circuit cleaning capabilities.

Hopefully Pirelli will demonstrate that more – rather than less – on track testing is the way the FIA should go – before the next spending war on simulators takes full effect, and the F1 ‘haves’ bound further ahead of the ‘have nots’.

Maybe Pirelli, should just run Formula One.

24 responses to “Pirelli vindicated as FIA incompetence is again highlighted

  1. I call bullshit. No matter how you twist it, a tyre should deflate, not explode. This is by no means a vindication for Pirelli. It’s just an ‘examination’ with which they exonerate themselves. An exploding tyre by default is a faulty product, especially if it happens twice within three days. Complete and utter corporate bovine excrement.

    • I’d at least expect an independent analysis to be carried out to remove any potential basis designed to give good PR over actual facts that might prove embarrassing. I think you have to expect cuts to happen to tyres in F1, but rather than the tyres exploding to deflate either instantly or slowly.
      But it’s F1, the sport where peeps clap each other on the back and look the other way when problems arise.

      I’m still anxious that, it’s only a matter of time before another tyre lets go but instead of causing no real harm (other than to the pants of the drivers) it leads to something much more disastrous for the drivers and/or marshals. F1 is far to complacent about certain aspects of safety.

    • Seriously, have you never seen a sudden tire explosion before? A “slow” deflation is something that happens at 120 km/h, it will always be different when the tire is running 250+ km/h and stressed by the forces of a corner. I’ve seen all brands explode, especially at high speeds. This is a sudden failure of probably a Dunlop tire on an LMP2 car at Eau Rouge in 2014. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nyIQNM-1hUc I’ve seen it happen with Michelins at Le Mans as well. The chance of an explosion instead of deflation with delamination seems higher at higher speeds in a corner.
      Vettel’s tire didn’t explode. I just watched the replay from the rear looking camera on the car. It just deflates and delaminates rapidly. You cannot call that an explosion.

    • Your comment reflects more on you lack of knowledge than anything else.
      It is a well known fact that when the structural component of the tyre is damaged, without penetrating the ‘air membrane’, the remaining carcass will eventually explode.
      The most tragic occurrence of this phenomenon was when the structure of the Michelin tyre on Concorde was cut by a piece of metal left on the runway by a previous aircraft – the tyre exploded and 113 people died as a result.
      Michelin had already reinforced the structure to as far as, they claimed, was possible yet the tyre still exploded and the debris punctured the fuel tanks in the wings.
      Maybe with your infinite knowledge you can propose an alternative tyre construction methodology to the tyre manufacturers!

      • From another engineer: It is a well know fact that a tyre should not expose its structural component as a result of reasonable wear, when wearing a tyre loses performance, it does not go directly to exposing its structural component and exploding. When a tyre explodes it is because, as you pointed, the structural component is already exposed. Why does Pirelli tyres expose their structural components in situations where other tyres don’t -63 of them in a single event-. The problem is Pirelli.

        • How do you know that other tyres wouldn’t have “expose[d] their structural components” in the same situation? It’s not like they reran the same event, under the same conditions with Bridgestone tyres. So how can you predict how they would have performed in those conditions?

    • @hippo

      I could be wrong, but did I not once hear you mention on one the podcast that you had a tyre blowout whilst doing over a 100 mph? Did you experience any deflation before it blew out?

      Apologies in advance if my recollection is incorrect.

  2. They did this to over their own ass, Ferrari should do an internal investigation too and after 2 weeks conclude it was not the fault of their strategy but Pirelli. As for Pirelli running F1, that would be a disaster but is obviously a joke. Teams and drivers might not even listen to Pirelli’s advice, but they would if Charlie Whiting told them, so maybe Pirelli should warn Charlie first and then he can let the teams know since they will listen to him with more authority. Tyres should not explode all of a sudden but drop off the give warning as everyone has said, and if you’ve watched the actual race in Spa, all of the drivers were using the kerbs, the only thing that separated Seb from the other drivers was the 1 stop strategy, not his driving style or use of the kerbs.

  3. “Maybe Pirelli, should just run Formula One.” Get a room.

    In the meantime, who could have expected the investigation to reach conclusions which exonerate Ferrari’s strategy and Pirelli itself so effortlessly? It’s too hard to not be cynical about it. All this while claims of excessive wear, without any significant correspondent drop off in Vettel’s lap times, remain a fabricated assumption.

  4. Some very basic maths tells me that the centrifugal acceleration of a tyre at 200mph will be in excess of 2500g. I can see why if tyre becomes damaged all hell might break lose.

    Regardless of who’s fault it is for the failure, I’m not sure how people expect a tyre to fail gently at these sorts of speeds and forces. Or at least a practicable way to stop this happening. I’m sure the road tyre market would love to know how as well, could be quite the money maker!

  5. I have two relatively divergent views on this matter… One view is formed from the remnant memory of a young racer who expected perfection in componentry, personnel and himself. The second, and near opposite view, is born of an older man, one that is aware that he (and no one) lives in a perfect world. A man who can recognize we live in a relative world, not an absolute world. One that can identify a “relatively” honest corporation and one less so in the paradym of corporate behaviour.

    The young man in me finds this completely unacceptable. The tyre is faulty, end of story. Vettel is correct, any further her back and at that speed he’s an unbrakeable, but very breakable, projectile. A projectile that we hope doesn’t hit something like, oh I don’t know, a tractor pulling another car off the circuit for some reason. The young man, in similar positions, could accept a body work failure, electronic failure, a motor munching itself, a gearbox full of bolts, even a suspension collapse… but under no circumstances can brakes or tyres instantanously fail. That’s the only thing that can retard speed / transfer said retardation into the track. The young man would even consider a steering failure less troublesome.

    The older man… well he’s abundantly aware now that all racing is prototype racing. Even one-make series; and prototype racing, like F1 or MotoGP, is really, really “prototypey”, for want of a better word, if you get my meaning. The older man realizes in the “prototype world” EVERYTHING is connected, all forces work on everything and everything is at the limit. Think you’ve got your brake temps sorted? Yeah? Really? All of a sudden new rubber or a softer rear set up gives you better exits down the straight off a final corner. You now begin arriving at a the first corner braking event 6 clicks quicker, on every lap. Within 10 laps, you’re temps are through the roof! But they (the brakes) were sorted ALL bloody year! Right? In reality, it was marginal, because you only develop for purpose and you just found a new rear set up helping exits worth 0.2 per lap. So, brakes get too hot, you feel the peddle getting longer, you’re not able to wash off 100 clicks in 3 secs anymore, the distance gets longer and longer… That’s it, you pull in, it’s over. Failure is to close. Now what? Scream at the brake maker? Scream at the pad supplier? Scream at the engineer? Screen at your Dad? Maybe at yourself? Nah. Move on sunshine… move on.

    The older man also realizes we live in a world where corporate accountability is at best shirked until someone yells loud enough, or at best, totally covered up. #JulesBianchi

    Pirelli’s actions immediately after the Italian GP, and to this point including this statement, suggest to me they are too PR reactive, relatively honest, extraordinarily frustrated and flaccidly constructive. My sniff test doesn’t detect any “cover up”, overt dishonestly or subtle message manipulation. I see facts provided, with as little subjective inference for the reader drawn as possible. Get that from the FiA, Ferrari or FOM… yeah right, mate. Pull the other one. #MaríadeVillota

    But the young man still whispers to me, “no, it’s unacceptable”. I hear you, young bloke. I do. But, the increased stress of an ever improving formula, an undulating and high pressure track like Spa… it can happen and if it was going to, it would be there under those circumstances combined with one of the longest extended stints this year. But, but, but… No, mate, sorry. Learn. There’s having a healthy risk appetite, then there’s being an idiot. Learn. Shut up and learn. Sure, we should be able to take a sledge hammer to the tyres, then poke them with knives, and send them out and they not bust, but that’d be naive.

    I don’t know… I can’t reconcile the two men. I get it, and, I get it. Better of making allies and controlling outcomes as the Sun, then blowing like a Cloud. #Aesop



  6. Perhaps all the drivers should learn from Vettel and not go racing since it endangers their lives They might as well do 60 formation laps. ]

  7. Now I have a great deal of sympathy for what is expected of Pirelli with such limited testing and just four dry compounds to to pick from for a range of circuits, surfaces and climactic conditions.

    And Pirell’s explanation may well be perfectly correct.

    Honestly, a little circumspection is required here. Using words like “vindicated” and “incompetence” is over the top when one considers that this is Pirelli’s investigation into itself.

    A serious journalist would retain a healthy degree of skepticism, and continue to ask the hard questions, rather than rushing to judgement and deploying hyperbolic headlines on the basis of a company’s investigations into its own products.

    Actually never mind, think I’ve answered my own question.

  8. The judge is very defensive of Pirelli and his reasons are sound in regards to testing, but drivers past and present comment comment on how primitive these tyre are compared to the Bridgestone/Michelin tyres, To put it in perspective, the Pirelli wet tyre can only shift 2/3rds of the water of the old Michelin tyre could. I’m not suprised Michelin would like a tyre war.

    I just wonder how long the voice of the drivers past and present can be ignored for, they’ve driven nearly every damned incantation of car and tyre, if they the tyre isn’t everything it should be, I’m inclined to believe them.

  9. This weekends Pirelli bananaskin.

    Lewis Hamilton on the BBC website

    “…Increasing the tyre pressure, as they (Pirelli) are planning to do, reduces grip and increases wear, and no-one has any experience of running the tyres at those pressures…”

    Drivers and teams will stretch the rules and push the boundries to win. Pirelli haven’t made any allowances for that, which is why they’ve been bad news for F1 since they got the gig. If Pirelli had balls, they would not accept the stupid rules the Bernie and the FIA have forced on them. Michelin won’t, why should they harm their hard earned reputation for the sake of the show? Joking tyres have no place in motorsport.

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