Pirelli investigating after Hamilton, Bottas and Sainz all suffer late tyre issues in British GP
There was drama in the closing stages of the British Grand Prix as Mercedes duo Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas plus McLaren’s Carlos Sainz all suffered dramatic tyre issues, with F1’s tyre supplier Pirelli confirming after the race they had opened an investigation to get to the root cause of the problems.
Bottas was the first to suffer a deflation on Lap 50, the Finn dropping from second to out of the points, before Sainz encountered the same fate on the last lap when running fourth. And race leader Hamilton’s suffered his own issue but managed to nurse the car over the line to win.
The tyres are currently being analysed by Pirelli technicians so boss Mario Isola admits it is too early to make a conclusion on what happened to the rubber at the high-speed Silverstone circuit.
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“It could be high wear because for sure tyres with 38 laps or more on this circuit are quite worn, but I’m not saying wear is the cause of the issue,” he said. “It can be debris because we had pieces of front wing of Kimi [Raikkonen] which were on track, but also some other debris.
“This is why we want to investigate not only the tyres with the failures but all the tyres used in the last few laps of the race, to understand if we find any other cut or any other possible indication of what happened. We have the possibility to do some analysis in our laboratories at the track.
“We don’t have a lot of time to investigate as we have another race [the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix at Silverstone] in another week, so we have to come to a conclusion as soon as possible. The target is to have something more by Tuesday at the latest.”
Isola admitted that the wear on some tyres was close to 100%, having looked at the medium rubber which Romain Grosjean ran for 36 laps and some of the hard tyres which did 40.
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“The level of wear is quite high,” he said. “Looking at the tyre from Grosjean from the first stint, it was completely worn. I had a look at some tyres from the second stint, and the level of wear is close to 100%, so we have to understand if this is the cause of the failure.
“What is clear is that when you have a tyre that is completely worn, the protection on the tread is less so if there is a small piece of debris on track, it’s easy to damage the tyre. Some chords are visible on the tyre, so that’s why I’m saying the level of wear is close to 100%.”
He added: “Each tyre has a maximum number of laps, but this depends on the car, it depends on set-up, level of energy, which is why we cannot say that the limit is the same for everybody.”
What can we do on the short term? Implementing a maximum number of laps is something we have to discuss with the FIA, as soon as we find the cause of the issues today.
Isola admitted that the early Safety Car, introduced following Daniil Kvyat’s crash on lap 13, forced the teams to stop earlier than planned, which in turn led to an enforced longer that expected second stint.
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“The second stint was very long, longer than expected. I struggle to believe the teams were planning to stop on lap 13 and go to the end of the race,” he said. “Our prediction was to stop on lap 18 and then fit hard and go to the end of the race. Safety Car was lap 13, so it was a different story – and nobody wanted to stop the last two laps to risk losing the position.
“What can we do on the short term? Implementing a maximum number of laps is something we have to discuss with the FIA, as soon as we find the cause of the issues today. If it is confirmed it is wear, we have to find a system.”