Three delaminating and disintegrated left front tyres left Pirelli red-faced and with explaining as well as serious investigations to do after a dramatic finale to the 2020 British Grand Prix at Silverstone on Sunday
What appeared to be another Mercedes canter to a one-two at Silverstone on Sunday, nearly ended in the most bizarre defeat for the F1 world champions when both Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas suffered scary left tyre failures, as did the McLaren of Carlos Sainz who dropped from what might have been fourth on the day to 13th.
A disappointed Bottas limped home to 11th while Hamilton somehow nursed the stricken car home with a huge hole through the canvas. They had seriously fallen off that proverbial cliff without any warning.
A Pirelli man was on hand as the winning Mercedes rolled into parc ferme, trying to block the intrepid FOM cameraman and photographers from getting images of the disintegrated tyre which will only promote conspiracy theories.
What was he even doing in parc ferme? All looked unnecessarily shady for the Italian company. Hamilton did them no favours either as he gorged open the carcass for the cameras.
Pirelli chief Mario Isola stated the obvious in his race report afterwards, “We’ll, of course, be investigating exactly what happened to the tyres on the two Mercedes cars as well as that on the McLaren of Carlos Sainz in the final two laps of the race.
Expertly spreading the blame, he added, “What we already know for sure is that the tyres involved in these failures were extremely well-used, with nearly 40 laps of running; albeit some behind the safety car.
“The race was very much influenced by the safety car, with the second one prompting a pit stop for nearly everyone, leading to a very long second stint. After a complete analysis we will be able to understand fully what happened, which will obviously be very valuable information for next weekend,” was the spin until he was obliged to expand.
Later he told reporters, “It can be debris, because we had the pieces of the front wing of Kimi that were on track, but also some other debris. So that’s why we want to investigate not only the tyres with a failure, 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 on what happened.
“We don’t want to exclude anything, we want to analyse everything 360 degrees and avoid excluding any possibility because it’s a big mistake when you make these kinds of investigations. We have to consider all the possibilities.
“What we can do is to analyse the tyres from the race to understand if there is anything in the construction that was subject to excessive stress, or whatever, but this is one of the investigations.”
“The level of wear is quite high, this is a factor, looking at the tyre from Grosjean the first stint, it was completely worn, and I had a look at some tyres coming also from the second stint, and the level of wear is close to 100%.
“Then we have to understand If this is the cause of the failures or not. What is clear is that when you have a tyre that is completely worn the protection of the tread on the construction is less.
“So if there is any debris, any small piece of carbon on track, it is easier to damage the tyre, because you don’t have any rubber on the tyre that is protecting the cord, and some cords are visible on the tyres. So that’s why I’m saying that the level of wear is close to 100%.”
“We have the possibility to do some analysis in our laboratory here on track. It is clear that we don’t have a lot of time to carry on with the investigation, because we have another race in less than one week. So, we have to come to a conclusion as soon as possible. The target is to have something more fully by tomorrow, or Tuesday at the latest. So that is the plan.
“If there is the need to run any tests that are not possible to run here on track we will send the van quickly to Milan where we have our facilities, laboratories, indoor testing, with obviously more possibilities, more testing we can do there. But I’m confident that we can have some good indication from the laboratories that we have here on track.
“There are a number of question marks at the moment and depending on which is the cause of the issue, we have to react appropriately.
“But the reaction can be different if we are talking about the wear, for example, it doesn’t matter if we go with the same compounds we use today, or the softer compounds, each tyre has a maximum number of laps that depends on each car. Each car is different,” added Isola.