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.
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.
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.