After extreme blistering during the Barcelona test, Mercedes asked Pirelli for help.
The German Auto Motor und Sport publication has learned that Pirelli offers a solution within 3 races: tyres with a thinner tread. Not exactly to the delight of the competition.
Pirelli blamed it on the new asphalt of Barcelona. “Because all the bumps have been smoothed out, the cars can drive lower and produce even more grip than usual. This can lead to overheating under continuous load and the low wear of the rubber in the fast corners“, Pirelli’s sports director Mario Isola explains.
But there is another side to to the story. Pirelli has designed its compounds one level softer than their 2017 variant. This lowers the temperature range in which the tyres work. Therefore, the tendency to overheat starts earlier than last year. This slows down the cars in the race and additionally contributes to the lack of overtaking.
SOLUTION: RUBBER LAYER THINNER BY 0.4 MILLIMETERS .
Mercedes suggested Pirelli should reduce the rubber layer on the critical racetracks. A thinner tread means less movement of the rubber and thus less risk of overheating.
Pirelli agreed to aid Mercedes. “We would have done that too. That’s how we were in Monza and Spa in 2011 and 2012, “says Isola. In Barcelona, Silverstone and Paul Ricard, the rubber layer on the tire is reduced by 0.4 millimeters. That reduces the weight of a set of tires by at least one kilogram. The teams have to fill that gap with ballast.
On the 3 mentioned tracks the asphalt was recently renewed. “It’s the same contractor as in Barcelona,” says Isola. Pirelli would actually have needed 70 percent approval for a short term change. But here is the safety argument, that gives them more fire power. The competition reacted angry. “We have no problems with blisters ,” says McLaren.
Red Bull reluctantly relinquishes a competitive advantage: “Our car treats the tyres more gently than the Mercedes,” explains Daniel Ricciardo. A team boss rumbles: “Why should we change the tyres if Mercedes has a problem? You have to see for yourself how you manage the tyres.“
Up until now the British media is suspiciously silent about it. Could you imagine how it would have been if Pirelli would have done the same for Ferrari?