Pirelli blames teams for causing blowouts by pushing the limits of tyres

Felipe Massa was one of four drivers to suffer a blow out during the British GP

Felipe Massa was one of four drivers to suffer a blow out during the British GP

Formula 1 teams contributed to the dramatic blowouts at Sunday’s British Grand Prix by mounting rear tyres the wrong way around and running them with low pressures, supplier Pirelli said on Tuesday.

Rejecting any suggestion that its product was dangerous, the Italian company said in a statement it would bring stronger rear tyres to this weekend’s race in Germany to allay any safety fears and introduce a new range in Hungary at the end of the month.

Pirelli said some teams had deliberately put tyres intended for the right rear of the car on the left, had run them at lower pressures than recommended by the manufacturer and used extreme cambers for performance advantage.

However, it shouldered some of the blame for these practices. “Mounting the tyres the wrong way round is a practice that was nonetheless underestimated by everybody: above all Pirelli, which did not forbid this,” said the statement.

The offending kerb at Silverstone

The offending kerb at Silverstone

Pirelli also found that the kerbs at fast corners, and specifically turn four of the Silverstone circuit, were also “particularly aggressive”.

Four drivers suffered high-speed rear tyre blowouts at Silverstone – Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes), Felipe Massa (Ferrari), Jean-Eric Vergne (Toro Rosso) and Sergio Perez (McLaren).

The debris from the exploding tyres was flung up into the path of cars behind, with Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso having one near-miss. Fears about the drivers’ safety plunged the sport into crisis with talk of a possible driver boycott.

Pirelli said that the rears to be used at the Nurburgring on Sunday would feature inner belts made of Kevlar, a reinforced fibre that was a feature of last year’s tyres, beneath the tread instead of the steel used so far this season.

Its 2013 tyres have an ‘asymmetric’ structure which means that they are not designed to be interchangeable but some teams struggling with high degradation have improved performance by swapping them around.

Race leader Lewis Hamilton was victim of a blowout

Race leader Lewis Hamilton was the victim of a blowout

“The sidewalls are designed in such a way to deal with specific loads on the internal and external sides of the tyre. So swapping the tyres round has an effect on how they work in certain conditions,” said Pirelli.

“In particular, the external part is designed to cope with the very high loads that are generated while cornering at a circuit as demanding as Silverstone, with its rapid left-hand bends and some kerbs that are particularly aggressive.”

Under-inflating the tyres can also bring a competitive advantage but puts more stress on them.

Pirelli said that, because of the potential danger, it had asked the governing FIA for a technical official to make sure cambers and pressures complied with set parameters in future.

It will also be forbidden to swap the new rears for Germany around, since they too are asymmetric. The front tyres remain unaltered.

The tyres to be used at the Nurburgring had been made originally for teams to try out in Canada last month. But they were not used due to bad weather and opposition from Ferrari, Force India and Lotus whose cars were easier on the tyres and who feared giving up an advantage.

Pirelli 2013 tyre range

Pirelli 2013 tyre range

Those tyres to be introduced in Hungary at the end of July will have a symmetrical structure with the 2013 compounds.

“I’d like to re-emphasise the fact that the 2013 range of tyres, used in the correct way, is completely safe,” said Pirelli’s motorsport director Paul Hembery.

“What happened at Silverstone though has led us to ask for full access to real-time tyre data to ensure the correct usage and development of tyres that have the sophistication we were asked to provide and extremely high performance that has lowered lap times by more than two seconds on average.

“While we wait for a change in the rules, we will introduce tyres that are easier to manage.”

F1 teams will test the tyres for Hungary at Silverstone from July 17-19. Silverstone’s owners had said reports that sharp edges on the circuit’s kerbs might have been to blame for the blowouts were “absolute rubbish”.

Pirelli said that the Silverstone failures were unrelated to previous problems of ‘delamination’ – when the tread is penetrated by debris and separates from the belt underneath, peeling away from the main body, or carcass, of the tyre.

“What happened at Silverstone was completely unexpected and it was the first time that anything like this has ever occurred in more than a century of Pirelli in motorsport,” said Hembery.

“These incidents, which have upset us greatly, have stressed the urgency of the changes that we [had] already suggested.” Full Pirelli statement here>>> (Reuters)

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  • Blah

    Steve Jobs blaming his customers for the weaking signal on the iPhones: “do not rest your thumb on the side of the phone case or the signal will get too weak, you are using our product wrong”.

    Pirelli blaming everyone but themselves: “our tyres will explode if you use it to maximize your performance, do not do that, just drive around slowly seconds slower than the laptime you can normally do, avoid the kerbs and after the race you have to say how great the tyres are”.

    Stop whinging Pirelli, you are the laughing stock in motorsport. Why even change the 2012 tyres while they did the job.

  • Creepy Neighbour

    Thought F1 was all about Man pushing the machine to the limit. And one of the components of the machine are tyres!! So what are you talking about Pirelli Man?

  • =El Presidente=

    @ blah :

    I don’t agree with you, Pirelli stated every time clearly what their parameters.
    If teams ignore that, youcan not blame Pirelli.. it isnot like the Iphone as you say, it is more like charging your Iphone deliberately witha diesel-generator, or like taking your in the swimmingpool!

    Thats not a product-failure, thats just wrong use of the product.

    It is known that some teams have way lower presuures then recommended also!

  • anonops

    pirelli sucks

  • jurrabi

    “A few good men” movie comes to mind…

    If 2013 specifications are safe (used properly) why the need to go back to 2012 ones?

    Pirelli is acting like a bad drivers that always find excuses and blames everyone else of their failures.

    I’m sure teams push tires to the limit. But there is no excuse for the tires to blow, and they are the ones to blame for it.

    In the end this disaster is the best thing that could happen to pirelli since now they will be able to change whatever they want without the need for the approval of the teams under the umbrella of “safety reasons”.

  • Off

    =El Presidente=, if you dont like teams/drivers pushing the material they have, try bowling.

    Pirelli is screwing up, full stop.

  • Matthias O’keeffe

    Pirelli is stupid for blaming the teams… It’s not the teams fault… It’s their fault for creating stupid tyres that doesn’t last long…

  • Psych4191


    You’re an idiot. The Tyres are not the problem. It’s the teams. The tyre last if it’s used correctly. Look at Force India. They follow the directions Pirelli gives them, and they’ve been able to pull a one-stop race, they’ve been able to make the softer compounds last a fairly long time. It’s the teams faults for not following the guidelines laid out by the manufacturer.

    Pirelli is not at fault here. It’s the FIA and the teams for handcuffing them.

  • JR

    Fan boys never blame the teams, they look for scapegoats elsewhere.

  • GoldLeaf

    What we have here is a tire manufacturer that was incapable of providing a competitive tire that also incorporated even the minimum amount of safety margin. Pirelli took the contract offered to it under the conditions specified by the FIA and failed to supply a tire that met the minimum standards of safety due to what appears to be a demonstrable lack of engineering expertise. Blaming everyone else and accepting no responsibility themselves makes Pirelli look even worse than it might have.

  • Spartacus

    If the teams were doing all of the tricks that Pirelli now accuse them of, then it was with Pirelli knowing that’s what they were doing. Yet, Pirelli did nothing to stop these practices.

    The FIA ruled that Michelin has brought faulty equipment to the race in Indianapolis (USA) in 2005. This is exactly the same, Pirelli have faulty equipment. Just like Michelin, Pirelli are blaming the lack of testing.

    The only problem the FIA have now is that nobody else is willing to supply tyres to F1. It’s Pirelli or nobody.

  • Bec

    The teams that suffered the blow outs were the teams that were not using the tyres in the proper way, they pushed the boundaries by under-inflating the tyres etc, and suffered the consequences …

    Teams have always pushed the boundaries, and have had wings fall off, turbos blow, suspension failures etc, etc, etc, that’s the nature of F1.

  • Butterfly

    I see a trend here with Pirelli always blaming someone else for their problems.