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Pirelli explains why F1 drivers' wasted wet tyre claims are wrong

Formula 1 tyre supplier Pirelli has explained how concerns from drivers about wet tyres getting binned after every race are wide of the mark.

Pirelli tyres

Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images

The trial of the new Alternative Tyre Allocation rules at this weekend's Hungarian Grand Prix has prompted some debate about whether or not the move to improve sustainability is the right direction.

For the Hungaroring weekend, F1 has reduced the number of dry tyre sets available to drivers from 13 to 11, with teams also forced to use the hard, medium and soft compounds in the three qualifying segments.

It is understood that the reduction of tyres needed for the weekend saves a total of 17 tonnes of equipment being shipped to each race.

While the tweaks appeared to spice up the battle for pole position on Saturday, there were criticisms from some drivers about how the lack of available tyres limited track action in practice on Friday.

Lewis Hamilton was one of many who reckoned that things could be improved, as he questioned the sustainability push because of what he thought happened with wet tyres that never got used.

"I think when we're talking about sustainability, just taking one set of tyres or two sets of tyres away is not enough," he said. "Each weekend there's a lot of wet tyres that get thrown away, every single weekend."

Ferrari's Carlos Sainz added: "There's a lot of wet tyres they throw away on the weekend, and that's what we need to figure out. How can we do better there, rather than reduce the entertainment for the fans."

But Pirelli has explained how the drivers' claims over the wet tyres are wrong because unused wet weather tyres at European races are kept in play for following races.

Pirelli wet tyre

Pirelli wet tyre

Photo by: Erik Junius

Pirelli's head of F1 and motorsport Mario Isola told Motorsport.com: "For the European events, we keep the tyres fitted on rims, and we carry over the tyres that are new. So we supply the teams with the same sets [as previous races].

"For overseas events, it is more complicated because the rims have to travel with the teams, while the tyres have to go with us for customs reasons."

While the situation with the flyaways is different, Isola says research is going on to try to find ways to reuse the rain tyres so that they can be brought back into action even after being removed from the rims.

"The idea for the future is to have the possibility to dismount the tyres from the rims, and fit them again, at the following event," he said.

"Another idea that we have discussed in the past was for races where we have weather conditions that usually are sunny, like Bahrain, Abu Dhabi, or Jeddah, not to fit all the tyres.

"So if they don't fit the tyres, when we have this new procedure, we can use those tyres for another event. There are many ideas for the future to reduce the waste of wet and intermediate tyres."

Isola added that work was also going on to evaluate better whether tyres that are stripped from rims can be brought back into action.

"When we strip the tyres, and we dismount the tyres from the rims, we send them back to the UK to Didcot and we have people checking all the tyres to understand if there is any damage to the bead," he said.

"Looking at the analysis done in the first races, we have a percentage [that cannot be used] that is very, very low."

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The potential for reusing tyres is also increased with wet weather tyres that are not pre-heated, as rubber that has gone through a heat cycle cannot be used again.

"We can do that with the wet tyres because they are no more in blankets and we will do that for intermediate tyres with the new version without blankets.

"That is because if you have one tyre damaged in one set of tyres that had some heat cycle, then you have to replace all the tyres to have all the four the same.

"This is not ideal because if you have, say, 10% of tyres that are damaged but you have to replace 40%, it makes no sense. Without blankets, you can just replace one tyre so it saves a lot."

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