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"A disaster" - Lewis Hamilton leads criticism of Pirelli plan to resolve F1 tyre issues

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"A disaster" - Lewis Hamilton leads criticism of Pirelli plan to resolve F1 tyre issues
Sep 3, 2015, 3:52 PM

Lewis Hamilton has led criticism of Pirelli’s proposed ‘fix’ for the recent problems with tyre failures, claiming the suggested increase in t...

Lewis Hamilton has led criticism of Pirelli’s proposed ‘fix’ for the recent problems with tyre failures, claiming the suggested increase in tyre pressures will be 'a disaster'.

The Italian company has explained that tyre blowouts witnessed at the Belgian Grand Prix were caused by the large amounts of debris on the Spa circuit and has said that it would like teams to run an extra 5psi of pressure, taking the level from around 17/18psi to around 22/23psi, which all drivers feel is very high.

Pirelli also wants the teams to run a low camber angle alongside the tyre pressure adjustments. The idea behind the changes is that the tyres will flex less under loads in acceleration and especially deceleration if they are more inflated.

Hamilton said this afternoon that Monza is a very different kind of circuit from Spa: “In terms of putting the pressures up, I don’t think it’s the right thing, but they might not do it anyway.

Lewis Hamilton

“But I don’t think any of us have tried 5psi more because they are not designed to have 5psi more; they work in a range. So we will be moving out of the optimum range of the tyre, we’ll be using a different part of the tyre, which means more wear, less grip.

"It’s going to be a disaster. So I hope they don’t put 5psi more in. A couple is ok.”

Many teams and drivers had expected Pirelli to impose a maximum number of laps each compound set can do, along the lines of 15 laps for soft and 20 for mediums. But so far that has not materialised. However this site has learned that this remains a possibility for the race, depending on the wear rates seen during Friday’s two practice sessions.

In a statement released on Thursday at Monza, Pirelli said that tests conducted on all the tyres used at Spa confirmed the absence of any structural problems.

The statement read: “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.

Pirelli

“The external factors are demonstrated by a total of 63 cuts found in the tread of the Formula 1 tyres used over the course of the Spa weekend, following numerous incidents that took place during the support races before the Formula 1 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.”

In the pre-event press conference at Monza, Vettel and Rosberg both said that they were satisfied that Pirelli had conducted the investigation in a thorough and professional manner. However several leading drivers were not impressed with that explanation. Williams’ driver Felipe Massa called for Pirelli to produce tyres that could withstand all the debris that builds up of the course of a Grand Prix weekend.

He said: “We have debris every race, some races we have more debris than others. The tyres should be strong enough to accept the debris and what we have inside the track.

“I don’t think it’s common and [Williams] had cuts [on the tyres] as well during the weekend.”

Felipe Massa

Failures still "Not acceptable"

Vettel, who along with Rosberg, suffered one of the high-profile tyre failures in the closing stages of the Belgian race, reiterated his point that high-speed tyre failures were not acceptable.

He said: “I think it is not acceptable to have a blow up at that sort of speed out of the blue and that is what I said after the race. The investigations that have been going on, the stuff that got analysed and talked about, explains some of it – maybe not all of it yet [though].

“It’s still on-going and the most important thing is that we make progress [on the issue]. At the moment from Pirelli’s side it looks very professional and they handled it with extreme care so I think things are going the right way.”

Ahead of the race this weekend, Pirelli has informed teams that they must add an extra 5psi to their tyre pressures. This should increase tyre pressures to around 22psi, a relatively high amount that could lead to less traction available to the drivers, meaning the teams will have to go with a soft rear suspension to compensate for the change.

Sebastian Vettel

When asked if he though the tyre situation was now acceptable, Vettel said that while it was too early to predict the impact of the changes, he was happy that Pirelli had tried to improve the situation.

He said: “There have been some short-term changes about tyre pressures and we’ll see how it feels. If that’s a short-term reaction from within those couple of days or weeks from [the last race] that is one thing, then long-term we need to properly understand what happened.

“I think the feeling that I got when I spoke to the engineers and Pirelli is more important than any press release.”

"We’ll be driving safely here"

McLaren driver Fernando Alonso disagrees with the criticism of Pirelli's approach and thinks that the new pressure limits are "necessary". However, he conceded that it was "regrettable" that limits have to be imposed with the effort the F1 teams go to in order to gain tiny advantages and the high standard of technology in the sport.

Alonso's teammate, Jenson Button, also disagreed with Hamilton and said that Pirelli were, "right to be extreme in terms of safety."

But Rosberg, who suffered his high-speed tyre failure during the second practice session ahead of the Belgian Grand Prix, explained that he was satisfied with Pirelli’s investigation so far and was confident of a safe race in Monza.

He said: “It’s being handled with extreme precision and a lot of energy is going into it and I’m happy to see that. I’m confident that we’ll be driving safely here.”

Monza

An increase of tyre pressures will mean that drivers have to run the rear suspension quite soft, as the rear of the car will lose traction out of slow corners such as Monza's chicanes.

All eyes will be on the decision after FP2 on lap limitations as this will affect strategy and the outcome of the race. The pit lane is very long and slow at Monza so drivers lose 22 seconds by stopping. Hence the desire to try to do one-stop strategies.

A driver would need to complete at least 35 laps on the medium tyre to do that. They will need a trouble free practice session with no red flag stoppages to get an accurate idea of how the tyres will wear over the long runs. Although the speeds at Monza are very high, the track doesn't stress the tyres like Spa, so there is no reason why the wear should be high or even a significant problem here.

But it's becoming quite a political hot potato.
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Series Formula 1
Tags innovation