F1 teams blamed for pushing limits of Pirelli tyres as driver boycott looms

Sebastian Vettel on the Silverstone grid. Inset shows that a left-hand tyre has been fitted to the right of the car

Sebastian Vettel on the Silverstone grid. Inset shows that a left-hand tyre has been fitted to the right of the car

Formula 1 is on the verge of a major crisis as a F1 drivers boycott of the German Grand Prix is a very real possibility in the wake of the headline grabbing tyre blowouts at Silverstone and although Pirelli are copping the brunt of the criticism, many of the teams including world champions Red Bull are very much to blame too.

In the constant battle to seek an edge over rivals teams have throughout the ages done everything possible to eke out an advantage and in the light of the Silverstone blowout saga it has emerged that pushing tyre usage to the maximum is common practice.

Pirelli motorsport boss Paul Hembery said at Nurburgring, “As long as there is no system in place which allows us to enforce tyre related specifications, like tyre pressures or camber – the incorrect use of which were contributing factors of the tyre failures in Silverstone, we prefer to bring a less sophisticated tyre.”

Sutton Images have released a photo (above) clearly showing the swapping of a left tyre to the right side of Sebastian Vettel’s Red Bull. The world champion did retire from the race, but ironically not through a tyre failure but rather a transmission problem on the RB9.

Pirelli technicians fit tyres at Silverstone

Pirelli technicians fit tyres at Silverstone

“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.