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Pirelli scraps 1800 F1 tyres after Australian GP cancellation

Pirelli has been forced to scrap 1800 of its Formula 1 tyres after the cancellation of the Australian GP without a single lap being run – but they will have a second life as fuel for an Oxfordshire cement factory.

Pirelli personnel wheel tyres through the paddock

With the current generation of tyres and wheel rims, Pirelli always has to write off tyres that have been mounted but not been used, because of possible damage when they are taken off the rims.

At flyaway races there is no choice but to dismount them, as transporting rims by air is the responsibility of the teams.

In Europe, unused mounted tyres can be transported by road still on their rims, and then re-used at the next race.

Pirelli is used to scrapping unused tyres at the end of a flyaway weekend – often having to throw away 560 wets if there are no weather issues – but the Australian situation is unprecedented in terms of wastage.

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Complete sets of 1800 unmounted tyres have already arrived via sea in both Bahrain and Vietnam.

After the postponement of the two races, they will be kept on site in case the races are rescheduled, and if the events don't take place then they can be shipped to another late season event where the same compounds are used.

"We finished mounting the tyres on Thursday afternoon, and then we had to dismount everything," Pirelli motorsport boss Mario Isola told in Melbourne.

"The tyres for Bahrain and Vietnam are already there, but it's not a problem. We use sea freight for most of the tyres, and they are in thermal controlled containers. It's like having them in a warehouse, it doesn't make any difference for them. If there is any change in the calendar we can use them.

"The only problem is for tyres that are already fitted, because in that case those tyres are going to be stripped.

"At the moment the limitation is that when we strip a tyre from the rim, we give a stress to the bead, and then obviously we are not confident to fit the tyre again, because of the level of forces acting on these tyres is huge. So we don't want to take any risk.

"For the European events we can carry them over, because if we don't use them we keep them fitted, and we load our trucks with tyres and rims.

"In the future, and considering that we will have a sole supplier and standard design for the rims, we will try to work together in order to find a way to fit and strip tyres and re-use them. But we need to make sure that we are not taking any risk."

Used and unused tyres are returned by sea freighter to the UK, where they are disposed of as fuel.

"We crush the tyres in order to fit them in fewer containers, and send them back to the UK where we recycle them in a cement factory close to Didcot. We burn them at high temperature, and we create energy, but not pollution.

"We are investigating many possible ways for recycling F1 tyres, but at the moment this is the way we recycle them after all our analysis."

In Australia last weekend Pirelli took special precautions to avoid spreading the coronavirus.

"We organised the fitting area to minimise to contacts across people, because the point is that Pirelli is in contact with all the teams, so we need to prevent spreading the virus everywhere if there is any contact. So we were trying to manage it in a clever way in the fitting area."

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