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Pirelli changes mind on F1 tyres for Brazilian Grand Prix after Massa calls

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Pirelli changes mind on F1 tyres for Brazilian Grand Prix after Massa calls
Oct 17, 2014, 12:29 PM

Pirelli has decided to bring softer tyres to the Brazilian Grand Prix, due to further analysis of the resurfaced track layout.

Pirelli has decided to bring softer tyres to the Brazilian Grand Prix, due to further analysis of the resurfaced track layout.

Earlier this week Williams driver Felipe Massa had called the choice of medium and hard compounds for his home race at Interlagos "dangerous" and "unacceptable". Pirelli justified it at the time by explaining that there are many high energy corners at Interlagos and the extra stability of the harder tyres would be a better option.

"Normally whatever track I go to where they put down new asphalt, it gets even easier on the tyres. I have no idea why they choose these tyres," said Massa.

Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery responded by saying, "That's a little bit strange as we've raced before there with the hard tyre.

"The data would suggest, as it has done for the last three years, it's one of the more aggressive circuits we have on the calendar, with a risk of blistering problems. We know the soft tyre, with the extreme loads, has potential to blister, so the decision was taken to go with the harder tyre." But he reserved the right to change his mind having studied the track surface more closely.

But today he has taken a U turn and changed to soft and medium.

Hembery said: “We’ve always said that we would be open to any changes if they were required. After further technical analysis of the impact of the revised circuit surface, together with a risk assessment suggesting a low probability of compound overheating due to extreme track temperatures, we have made this change with the unanimous agreement of all 11 teams.”

The background here is that Pirelli has been quite conservative of late, with teams complaining in Sochi that the tyres were too hard for the circuit. Nico Rosberg did all but one of the 53 laps in the race on a set of medium tyres and set his fastest lap near the end.

The Mercedes works well on tyres from the harder end of the range and is one of the few cars that really benefits from that choice. Williams on the other hand, has struggled a bit more this season in general when the harder tyres are brought.

The tyres are a little harder anyway this year than last year, due to concerns over the superior torque of the hybrid turbo engines, so it would make sense to bring the soft and medium to Interlagos.

The news will come as a relief to teams that have struggled with getting the harder tyres into operating range, losing out on strategy as a result.

Brazilian GP 2013

What's so special about Interlagos, Brazil from a tyre point of view?

Notes from the 2013 UBS Race Strategy Briefing, Brazil :

The choice of medium and hard, rather than the soft and medium of 2011, was considered very conservative by Pirelli and repeats last year’s decision. In 2011, they brought soft tyres to Interlagos and it was a three-stop race for most of the runners. In the race Jenson Button managed 28 laps on the medium and Heikki Kovalainen did 37 laps on the hard.

Pirelli justified its choice by pointing to the high-energy loadings through the high speed corners. After a difficult year on circuits with high loadings like Silverstone, the Italian company wanted a quiet end to the season.

The track does not have a particularly abrasive surface and the energy going into the tyres is largely from the series of left hand corners before the final straight. On top of that, the tyres get plenty of rest on the two long straights and a safety car around one third race distance could change the decision making process.

The limiting factor on this track is the rear tyre, with the stop-start traction events in the series of corners in the middle part of the lap and the last corner onto the uphill final straight. The cars tend to slide quite a bit on the hard tyre and this adds to wear.
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