Pirelli boss Isola explains Qatar tyre issues that saw Bottas, Russell and Latifi suffer punctures
There was late drama in the first ever Qatar Grand Prix as first Valtteri Bottas, then George Russell, then Nicholas Latifi suffered front-left punctures – with Pirelli F1 boss Mario Isola explaining why he believed those tyres were particularly sensitive at the Losail International Circuit.
Pirelli brought their hardest three compounds to Losail, which was hosting Formula 1 for the first time.
But once the race had got under way, the cameras picked up Bottas in the gravel at Turn 7 on Lap 33 of 57, the yet-to-stop Finn having suffered a puncture. That was followed up by Russell on Lap 50 and Latifi on Lap 52 suffering their own tyre issues, with Isola explaining what Pirelli had learned from their initial investigations into the issues.
“[The] front left [was affected] because it is the most stressed tyre but I don’t want to say that this was caused by excessive energy or something like that,” Isola told Sky Sports F1. “First elements that I can share with you is, all the tyres were quite worn, close to 100%. We have cuts on the tyres that we have to understand if they were caused before the loss of pressure or after the loss of pressure.
“We’re waiting for telemetry data from the teams,” he added. “That is a really important element to understand if the loss of pressure was sudden and [what] was the time for that. All the drivers were able to go back to the pits, so they lost pressure but in a time that was enough to control the car and to go back to the pits. We’re seeing a lot of impacts at high speed on the kerbs here.
“It’s not a secret that [many teams] had also damage to chassis, to the floor, to the wings, and when a tyre is worn, it’s less protected from kerbs, big impacts, high-energy impacts. Then it can happen that they start losing pressure, and you have either to change the tyre or you’re flat.”
Asked whether he felt teams had been running longer stints than Pirelli would have liked, Isola replied: “For sure, we had a few teams trying a one-stop strategy, because here it’s difficult to overtake, they didn’t want to lose time in the pit.
“But the reason why we predicted a two-stop strategy was mainly because of the data on tyre wear that we collected on Friday, and the wear on the front-left was quite high. So today for example, the front-left and the rear-left were both worn to 100%. But the reason why we had a puncture on just the front-left has to be investigated.”