Debris caused the problems in Spa, says Pirelli

Pirelli has released the findings of its investigation into the Spa tyre failures – and the Italian company is adamant that its products were not at fault.

Instead it says that the problems faced by Sebastian Vettel and Nico Rosberg were down to external factors, or in other words debris.

At the same time Pirelli has not entirely backed down on Ferrari’s usage issue by stressing that Vettel’s long second stint at Spa left the tyres worn and more susceptible to damage from debris.

Pirelli’s conclusions were as follows: “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.”

In the second part of its conclusion Pirelli underlined that external factors had caused the cuts in Belgium, while stressing that worn tyres were more vulnerable.

“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 One 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.”

Pirelli concluded by noting that it has talked to the FIA about the issue of debris.

“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.”

Meanwhile the FIA issued its own response to the Pirelli conclusions, noting “The FIA is willing to consider any safety recommendations made by the tyre supplier for the Italian GP and the remainder of the season.” It also added that Pirelli has decreed that Vettel’s tyres only had 30% of their tread left when he had the failure at Spa.


Filed under F1, F1 News, Grand Prix News

8 responses to “Debris caused the problems in Spa, says Pirelli

  1. AndyB

    A tyre should be no more susceptible to failure with 30% tread than with 100% tread… Pirelli needs to rethink the entire design and construction of their tyres if this is an issue…

    • TR4

      While I understand your thrust, how can this possibly be true? ANY material must logically be weaker when it is 70% thinner, no?

      • AndyB

        Not if the tread is a disposable element that does not significantly contribute to the strength of the tyre, and the underlying carcass and construction is built to be resistant to puncture or penetration. Think of the tread as a sacrificial part such as the anodes used to protect metal structures in sea water etc…

    • Jordan

      Do you reckon a house built with 27mm studs will be as strong as one built from 90mm??

  2. Mick

    I always find it odd that with all the technology in F1 we still see debris from accidents being cleaned away with brushes, or perhaps a road sweeper (a mechanical brush) after a severe accident. The downforce of the cars will suck tiny pieces of debris back onto the track afterwards.

    Any of the F1 teams, on behalf of the FiA, could design & make high power petrol or battery operated vacuums for use by marshals in the blink of an eye.

    Same with something more effective than a bog standard road sweeper that could be fitted to a vehicle wouldn’t be hard either …I’m thinking Mercedes AMG with 5 Dyson vacs strapped on the back. I’m available to drive it 🙂

    • GeorgeK

      Want to effectively clean the track surface? Go buy a couple of jet blowers of the type used by NASCAR. Blow the entire track after every day’s use, and even consider bringing it out in race if there is a particularly bad carbon shredding accident.End of problem.

  3. GeorgeK

    Pirelli’s response is acceptable to me. especially the part where they WARNED the teams and FIA, and all were aware of the potential for damage. NO ONE has pointed this oput or discussed it previously, at least to my limited knowledge.

    Much ado about, relatively speaking, nothing.

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