Teams may stop Pirelli from changing tyres for Silverstone

Pirelli’s planned change to Kevlar-belted rear tyres for the British GP could still be blocked by the teams, despite its apparent confidence that the switch will go ahead.

The Italian company may be a little optimistic, because the change still requires unanimous consent from the teams, and that has not yet been forthcoming.

It’s believed that three teams have been reluctant to agree, in some cases specifically because – as outlined here this week – they would lose the advantage they currently gain by running the steel-belted right and left rear tyres the wrong way round. That will no longer be relevant with the Kevlar tyres.

Regarding the planned change Paul Hembery noted in Monaco: “It risks changing the dynamic of the tyre in terms of shape and deformation for example, you can imagine that there are a number of teams that have been extremely vocal about wanting dramatic changes, and there are a number of equally vocal teams who want absolutely no changes.

“You’re stuck in the middle of that. You have to find a solution that’s sportingly equitable, which means making as few changes as possible, because everybody had the same information and data when we started out the season, and it would be unfair on teams that perceive they are doing well at the moment to penalise them with a chance that is too dramatic.”

No agreement was reached in time for Canada, but in postponing the move until Silverstone Pirelli is at least hoping to diffuse some of the tension resulting from the teams learning that Mercedes ran Kevlar tyres at the Barcelona test, thus getting a jump start on the opposition.

The other 10 teams will now have a chance to run them on Friday in Montreal, with each driver being given two sets under the ‘experimental’ tyre rule.

However if it is wet in Montreal on Friday it seems highly unlikely that even those teams supporting the move will all agree to run the new tyres at Silverstone, knowing that Mercedes is still the only competitor with prior knowledge.

Agreement is required because Pirelli has not played the safety card, which trumps the usual arrangement, and requires no agreement from the teams.

One might assume that Pirelli does not want to resort to formally declaring that its current tyres are unsafe in order to force the change through. Indeed Paul Hembery has repeatedly made it clear Pirelli is more worried from a PR point of view about how a tread delamination looks on TV.

There is also the question of whether a loss of tread can be justified as a safety issue, when in fact it has allowed drivers to continue safely when as opposed to losing control due to a complete tyre failure.

Indeed even Hembery admitted in Monaco that the delaminating tyres could actually be viewed as safer given that they allow drivers to continue.

“It doesn’t deflate, that’s certainly true,” he said. “That is an aspect. Visually from a tyre maker’s point of view, it’s not great. Some of the damage we’ve seen this year more than likely would have caused a deflation, as we’ve seen in previous seasons, so that is debatable. It just looks really poor, so we have to change.”

Others in the pitlane support the view that the current tyres are better.

“The safest mode of failure with a cut tyre is what they have,” one team insider told this writer. “Or you can have a puncture that deflates rapidly and then explodes. The safest thing they can do is basically make this construction not delaminate. That’s just a bonding issue between the tread and the casing, that’s the bottom line.

“They found out that last year’s tyres have the better bond, because the bond between Kevlar and rubber is a lot easier to get right than it is between steel and rubber. For them it’s let’s go back to Kevlar, and then the tread won’t come off. But you’ll get punctures…”

14 Comments

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14 responses to “Teams may stop Pirelli from changing tyres for Silverstone

  1. Mick

    If both Friday sessions are dry will teams have time to run two ‘experimental’ sets per driver in addition to the programmes they need to run to prepare for the race & test new parts using known compounds? I assume they will still have to hand some race spec tyres back at the end of each session so experimental tyres aren’t helping them save tyres for the race.

    Is the weekend timetable so full of support races etc. that an extra session could be run just to use experimental tyres?

    • It will certainly be a busy Friday, if it’s dry… Good news for fans anyway! No provision for extra time, am sure the FIA will tell teams they normally waste half of Friday anyway. Extra tyres are allowable to stop that happening.

  2. Morrow

    Hi Adam,
    Pirelli may not have played the safety card for liability reasons. And isn’t safety the FIA’s responsibility and therefore the FIA’s call whether the tyre needs to change? In reports I’ve read so far the FIA has indicated they are keen for the tyres to change on safety grounds. it’s not Pirelli or the teams to make that call I think.

    • Pirelli can declare to the FIA ‘we think we need to change on safety grounds,’ and they have chosen not to, that’s the point. The FIA clearly does not see any reason to override that decision.

    • Gedi

      Surely Pirelli want the FIA to say “the tyres are unsafe” no more than they want to say it themselves.

      • Arnonym

        And why would the FIA call the tires unsafe? Now the keep the driver running in a controlled altough not race-style way, last year they went out with a bang and risked loosing the car…
        So this years tires are actually safer then last years.

      • Ale M

        @Arnonym
        That’s debatable though, isn’t it? Hamilton’s delamination in Bahrain sure did damage to the car, didn’t it?

      • True, haven’t seen the video in terms of how the damaged occurred, but remember he did drive all the way back to the pits. I’m not saying you can always do that, simply that you can come to a safe halt a few hundred metres later, as Di Resta did in Spain. He even asked the team whether he should stop or not.

  3. Knuckles

    “It risks changing the dynamic of the tyre in terms of shape and **defamation** for example”??? ;)

  4. kenneth chapman

    so far no one has been hurt as a result of a delamination but it is not too hard to imagine a tread coming off at high speed on a straight with one or more cars in very close proximity!! this surely must be a consideration that is paramount in all parties minds, especially the drivers!!!

    the simple fact remains, tyres should not delaminate, at any time, if they are properly constructed. pirelli are complicit in any possible future tragedy and that is a simple fact. that fact alone should convince pirelli to walk away from this ‘tyre comedy’ that we are all being asked to accept as ‘maintaining the spectacle’, as quoted by hembery .

  5. Isha Goel

    WIll we now see rear tyre swapping teams (except mercedes) now use the test saga to prevent kevlar belted tyres from being introduced by claiming mercedes would have an unfair advantage?

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