Mercedes denies influence on F1 tyre change

Toto Wolff has rubbished suggestions that Pirelli's decision to bring Formula 1 tyres with thinner treads to the Spanish GP was influenced by Mercedes.

Mercedes denies influence on F1 tyre change
Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes-AMG F1 W09
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W09
Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes AMG F1 W09
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W09
Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes-AMG F1 W09
Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes AMG F1 W09
Pole winner Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1, acknowledges fans after qualifying
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W09

The thinner tyres were specified by Pirelli after teams experienced overheating issues on the resurfaced track in March testing.

Some teams have privately suggested that, as Mercedes suffered more than others, the team thus had the most to gain from the change, which will also apply at Silverstone and Paul Ricard, which have similar surfaces.

Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas locked out the front row in Barcelona on Saturday, with the former earning the team's first pole since Melbourne.

"Is bollocks a bad word in English?" Wolff asked. "Rubbish. All teams had blistering, very heavy blistering at the test in Barcelona.

"Red Bull, Ferrari, ourselves. McLaren have seen it I think also. The tyres wouldn't have lasted in the race.

"And the ambient, and the track temperatures, were arctic. And for that reason Pirelli changed the thickness of the tyre to prevent blistering, and they've been successful at preventing the blistering because we haven't see it on any car today.

"So I don't know where suddenly this rumour comes out that we have been influencing Pirelli and the FIA to change any tyres. I have never seen anything working like that, why should they do it?"

Wolff admitted that the cooler conditions in Barcelona played to the strengths of the Mercedes package.

"We seem to be competitive when the ambient is a bit cooler and the track temperature is a bit cooler.

"That is a pattern that we had in the last years also. We're working on a system to change the climate wherever we go!"

He was keen to downplay the role of upgrades that Mercedes and its rivals have introduced in terms of the impact on the pecking order.

"Every team brought upgrades, but in F1 there's no such thing where you put an upgrade on the car and it goes half a second quicker.

"Somebody says that, he has no clue. It's about adding marginal gains onto the car and then making them work.

"I don't think that we've made a step change that suddenly the car is transformed. We just had the car and the tyres in the right window today, and we need to replicate that in the next races.

"It's not about bolting aero parts on the car and then suddenly changing the behaviour."

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