Tag Archives: Pirelli

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.

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Pirelli: We asked for mileage limits on tyres in 2013

Pirelli has responded to Sebastian Vettel’s tyre failure at Spa by saying that it asked two years ago for a limit on the number of laps a driver could run on each type of tyre.

In a statement Pirelli says that its request “was not listened to.” The statement would appear to be an aggressive response to criticisms from Vettel and others today. Pirelli boss Paul Hembery has already made it clear that it believes that the German’s failure was due to wear, and that Ferrari pushed the limits in terms of mileage.

The statement said: “In November 2013, Pirelli requested that there should be rules to govern the maximum number of laps that can be driven on the same set of tyres, among other parameters to do with correct tyre usage. This request was not accepted.

The proposal put forward a maximum distance equivalent to 50% of the grand prix distance for the prime tyre and 30% for the option. These conditions, if applied today at Spa, would have limited the maximum number of laps on the medium compound to 22.”

Pirelli made no other comment on today’s race. It remains to be seen how the FIA reacts to the statement which would appear to be aimed at the governing body and the teams, who between them set the agenda for the F1 rules.

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Lotus able to run after making Pirelli payment

Lotus will be able to take part in the Hungarian GP weekend after Pirelli released the Enstone team’s tyres this morning.

A commercial issue, understood to involve a late payment, meant that Pirelli held onto the tyres overnight. The tyres had not even been mounted and prepared, as the rims and blankets remained at the Lotus truck.

Although the team was able to indicate last night that payment would be made, it was only this morning – presumably as a result of the banks opening in Europe – that the transfer was confirmed.

Team principal Matthew Carter was in phone contact with Pirelli motorsport boss Paul Hembery, who was still en route to the track, and at 9.10am the team was given permission to take possession of the tyres. Deputy team principal Federico Gastaldi even helped to transport the crates of empty rims to the Pirelli truck.

Hembery would only say: “They will be in P1. Everything’s fine.”

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FIA and Pirelli finally confirm F1 supply deal

The FIA and Pirelli have finally got around to announcing that the Italian company has signed a new three-year F1 tyre supply contract.

The confirmation comes just 12 days before the start of testing in Jerez.

In a jointly issued statement, they said: “The world motorsport’s governing body and Pirelli, in collaboration with the teams, have been working together to improve levels of safety and performance in Formula One, resulting in important changes to the FIA Formula One Sporting Regulations regarding the testing of tyres, which will enable the Italian company to continue its Formula One single supply arrangements in the best interests of the sport.

“Pirelli will continue to determine the specification of the tyres and to manage all aspects of their development, in close consultation with the FIA and the teams, and within the parameters set out in the FIA Formula One Sporting & Technical Regulations.”

As previously noted the FIA has agreed to a number of changes to the testing regulations in an attempt to give Pirelli more dedicated track time.

One of the 12 upcoming days of pre-season testing will be dedicated to wet running, while each team has to save one of its eight days of in-season testing for exclusive tyre testing. Either one or two teams will run for Pirelli on each of the eight days.

Pirelli is clearly trying to improve its relationship with the FIA, as both parties “have agreed to discuss a possible partnership on the FIA Action for Road Safety campaign.”

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Bernie Ecclestone: “FOM and Pirelli have a contract…”

Bernie Ecclestone has downplayed Michelin’s prospects of replacing Pirelli as F1’s sole tyre supplier, despite the French company formally confirming to the FIA that it is interested in the role.

Ecclestone has always been close to Pirelli, while FIA President Jean Todt is known to be sympathetic to Michelin.

One senior team figure told this blog at Spa that it would require a bold decision by Todt to open the door for Michelin at this late stage, and given that an FIA election is the way, such a controversial move seemed unlikely to happen.

When questioned by about Michelin’s chances Ecclestone said simply that “FOM and Pirelli have a contract.”

Asked why there was not yet a contract between the FIA and Pirelli – the one that Paul Hembery is awaiting – Bernie dismissed its relevance.

“We don’t need one, I don’t think,” he told this blog. “They are nothing to do with commercial. The FIA’s position is that they are regulators, they regulate all the regulations that have been agreed.”

He was keen to downplay any role for Todt in the process of selecting the tyre supplier.

“Jean is the president of the FIA. If it’s a matter of a vote in the World Council, he has one vote. As it’s not a matter for the World Council, it doesn’t make a lot of difference.”

Bernie also denied that there was any interest from the teams in joining forces with Michelin.

“None of the teams who have spoken to me have said that. All the teams who have spoken to me say they are very happy with Pirelli, and the problems they’ve had, they’re happy that they’ve dealt with them.”

Although the regulations currently ensure that F1 has a sole supplier, there does seem to be some logic in a potential move towards competition in the future, especially if both companies are willing to pump money into the sport.

Intriguingly Bernie indicated that he does not support the idea of Michelin competing with Pirelli: “Because they will want to pick the teams that they think will win, and they’ll pay them a lot more money to take them as opposed to somebody else. We have a deal with Pirelli, anyway.”

Exactly how the tyre saga will play out in the coming weeks remains to be seen, but the bottom line is that time is running out for all concerned.

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Pirelli test secrecy – James Bond… or Johnny English?

In Friday’s Pirelli teleconference Paul Hembery did his best to dismiss suggestions that the Barcelona Mercedes test was a “secret,” notwithstanding the fact that neither the other competitors nor the FIA were informed about it.

The story only emerged after a third party supplier, someone seemingly not bound by the conspiracy of silence woven by Pirelli and Mercedes, mentioned it to the governing body.

Pirelli may blame the media for emphasising it, but the level of secrecy involved is an issue that the FIA will be looking at as it examines the Ferrari and Mercedes tests, and considers whether the contracted tyre company has fulfilled its obligation to maintain sporting equity.

“Some people have described the test as secret,” said Hembery on Friday. “Well, I don’t think we would have won any James Bond prizes, because we booked the circuit in our name, two days after an F1 race.

“We turned up in our trucks, dressed as Pirelli people, with a brightly coloured Mercedes car, at a circuit like Barcelona where when you hear an F1 car fans turn up and take photos. We’d be very bad spies from that point of view.”

So how relaxed was Pirelli about fans “turning up,” either at the Mercedes test, or the Ferrari session that preceded it?

There’s no better man to ask than Pius Gasso, a former racing driver who lives virtually next door to the Barcelona track, and who takes a keen interest in what’s going on.

Apparently nicknamed the ‘all-seeing eye’ by friends on the Spanish motor racing scene, he knows the people who work at the circuit, he knows how to get in – and he knows how to get spy photos that 007 would be proud of.

It was Pius who grabbed a few shots of the Ferrari test, which emerged on the web, but attracted very little comment. Old F1 cars are often in action for filming and so on, and it didn’t seem to be of interest for the simple reason that no-one expected Pirelli to be running full-on F1 tyre tests, ‘secret’ or otherwise.

The Mercedes test was a different story. Despite his best efforts in the end Pius could get only a snatch of audio of an F1 car going round, along with some fuzzy snaps from a hillside some 2kms distance away.

Although he put a picture on Twitter, again there was no red flag, since nobody believed that pukka F1 tyre testing could be going on – with the exception perhaps of Ferrari…

So what was security like at the two sessions?

“At the Ferrari test I could take pictures from the gate on the corner of New Holland [the final corner],” Pius tells me. “But because of the security cameras four security men were quickly sent to me, and they told me it was a private test and I had to leave the area. They told me, ‘Please, Pirelli does not want photos, this is a GP2 test, and the truth is it’s nobody famous.’ I had the picture, so I left!

“At the Mercedes test the door was fully closed at New Holland, covered with a red canvas that made ​​it impossible to see who it was. There were people from ISS, a company dedicated to the monitoring and control of the circuit, who did not let me stay over 10 minutes in the ‘street’ by the gate. I recorded the audio, and decided to climb a mountain to make those pictures.”

Hembery says that his company wants to protect “proprietary information for Pirelli,” even from the attention of teams.

And yet he also says that there was little to be gained from inviting observers from other teams to the Mercedes session – as it did with previous Renault/Lotus testing – because they wouldn’t know what tyres were being used.

In other words Pirelli believes that rival F1 engineers, invited to attend a test and watch from the pitlane, would learn nothing useful about the tyres.

Therefore one wonders quite what anybody standing outside the gate – or sitting in the grandstand – could have learned about Pirelli’s R&D by watching a Mercedes droning round.

So why the excessive security measures? Why stop members of the public from observing from outside the venue, never mind wandering around the spectator areas, enjoying the chance to see the car that was on pole a few days before?

One might conclude that this was little to do with Pirelli protecting its IP – and rather more with not letting the outside world know which car/driver combination was going round, or indeed what was going on in the garage between runs.

Crucially, what invited observers from other teams would be able to do at such a test of course is a) verify that everything was being run to the data protection standards promised with the Lotus testing (see earlier story), and b) confirm that Mercedes was not testing different parts and set-ups, and thus this was a genuine tyre test…

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