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Pirelli launches investigation into Silverstone tyre failures

Mat Coch

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Monday 3rd August, 2020 - 9:30am

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Carlos Sainz

Pirelli has launched an investigation into why three drivers suffered tyre failures in the closing stages of the Formula 1 British Grand Prix.

Valtteri Bottas, Carlos Sainz, and race winner Lewis Hamilton all suffered left front punctures within two laps of one another.

In Hamilton’s case, the failure occurred on the final lap, though he was able to maintain top spot to claim victory.

In response, Pirelli has begun investigating the root cause of the failures to determine whether they were the result of wear, debris, or something else.

“It could be high wear because for sure tyres with 38 laps or more on this circuit are quite worn, but I’m not saying that the wear is the cause of the issue,” explained Pirelli’s Mario Isola.

“It can be debris because we had some pieces of the front wing of Kimi (Raikkonen) as well that were on track but also some other debris.”

Most teams opted for a one-stop strategy, though Red Bull pitted Max Verstappen from second on the penultimate lap.

The decision likely cost Verstappen victory as it dropped him too far back to catch the Hamilton after his tyre deflated.

Speaking after the race, team boss Christian Horner revealed that his Dutch driver had reported similar vibration issues to Bottas, raising concerns that a similar fate awaited.

Following the stop it was noted that the tyre had a number of cuts.

Elsewhere, Isola reported that Pirelli had seen instances where the tyres had quite simply been run to the full extent of their life.

“Looking at the tyre from (Romain) Grosjean on the first stint it was completely worn and I also had a look at some tyres coming from the second stint and the level of wear is close to 100 percent,” he explained.

“When you have a tyre that is completely worn, the protection of the tread on the construction is less, so if there is any debris, any small piece of carbon on track, it is easier to damage the tyres because you don’t have any rubber on the tyre that is protecting the cord and some cords are visible on the tyre.

“So that’s why I’m saying that the the level of wear is close to 100 percent.”

Formula 1 is set to remain at Silverstone this weekend for the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix, though tyre compounds are set to move one step softer.

With higher temperatures also expected, there are concerns the problem could reappear.

“Depending on which is the cause of the issue, we have to react appropriately,” Isola reasoned.

“But the reaction can be different. If we are talking about the wear, for example, it doesn’t matter if we go with the same compounds we used (on the weekend) or with the softer compounds, each tyre has a maximum number of laps that depends on each car.

“If the issue is the wear, we don’t fix it with changing to the same compound choice.

“We don’t have a harder one, so we don’t have any tyre that is able to run the entire distance of the race in Silverstone.

“So we cannot go one step harder and it’s probably also not the target, because we spoke many times about the possibility to have two stops or different strategies.

“If the issue was due to punctures, then obviously there is very little we can do, it’s a matter of having debris on track or not.

“If there are other issues, we have to understand which are the issues in order to react in the proper way.”

F1 is back in action this weekend, with opening practice set to commence at 20:00 AEST on Friday.

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