Formula One tyre supplier Pirelli has launched a comprehensive investigation into what caused the series of dramatic tyre failures at the end of the British Grand Prix.
Valtteri Bottas, Carlos Sainz and then race leader Lewis Hamilton suffered front-left punctures in the final four laps. Red Bull said Max Verstappen’s tyres had also been “right on the limit”, with up to 50 cuts detected to his tyre believed to have been caused by debris.
Shortly before the failures, Kimi Raikkonen’s Alfa Romeo had suffered a front wing failure which left debris scattered around the track. Pirelli’s F1 boss Mario Isola believes that may be a factor in how the end of the race played out.
“We will obviously investigate what happened in the last few laps,” Isola said on Sunday evening. “It’s a bit early now to give you any conclusion. 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 that the wear is the cause of the issue.
“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.”
A quick conclusion to the test is essential as F1 is racing again in Silvestone this weekend, at the event titled the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix, in honour of the circuit hosting the first world championship F1 race in 1950. Pirelli hopes to have results by Monday or Tuesday this week. Pirelli is bringing a ‘softer’ range of tyres to the second Silverstone race, a change made in a bid to spice up a double header at the same venue. While there were suggestions this would raise the prospect of similar punctures at the follow-up event, Isola does not believe Pirelli needs to make a late change to the selection.
“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.”
Red Bull boss Christian Horner suggested teams will take a more conservative approach to race strategy at the upcoming event.
Asked if he had concerns about the second race going ahead with the current selection, Horner said: “Not really. There’ll probably be a few more pit stops next week!
“I don’t really have any concerns about that, it’s the same for everybody at the end of the day.”