Mercedes chief Toto Wolff has scoffed at suggestions made by Red Bull consultant Helmut Marko who claimed that Pirelli modified their Barcelona tyre to suit Mercedes, which helped Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas score a one-two at the Spanish Grand Prix.
Pirelli made changes to the thickness of the tyres available to teams in Barcelona, the tweak appears to have benefitted the Mercedes W09, something Marko was quick to point out.
But Wolff was having none of it and told reporters after the race, “It’s not the first time the doctor sees ghosts.”
“There were problems with blistering on the tyres in the winter tests, even at Red Bull. The rears looked like a volcanic landscape. So Pirelli improved them. It’s bad for business if tyres explode.”
In a clear swipe at the energy drinks team, Wolff added, “I think it looks weak if you have a bad weekend and complain. First and foremost, we look at ourselves for our problems.
But Marko argued that Mercedes put pressure on Pirelli, “When you’re a team and a manufacturer at the same time, you can do that. We produce energy drinks, of course we cannot influence as much compared to a maker of passenger cars.”
Sebastian Vettel, who finished fourth in the race, believes Ferrari lost out because of the changes, “You don’t have to be a genius to understand that the tyres get harder when you scratch off four millimetres. That’s how other teams got on better than we did.”
Pirelli motorsport chief Mario Isola explained why they changed the original tyres destined for Barcelona, “If you have a high level of blistering affecting all or most of the cars, you have a lottery not a race.”
“It’s not the right approach and we, as a sole supplier, have to provide the same product to everyone that is a safe product, suitable for the circuit and so on.”
“I don’t think that the slight modification in the tread thickness changed the balance of the performance of different cars. The compound is exactly the same and the construction is exactly the same, the difference is the thickness.”
“It is difficult to explain from the technical side because if the supersoft was excluded during the race because the general feeling was that it was too soft, the problem is a bit on the other side,” added Isola.