Tyre explosions caused by “something new” – Pirelli

2013 British Grand Prix

Posted on

| Written by

Pirelli say the spate of tyre explosions seen during the British Grand Prix had a “new” cause and they are investigating the problems.

“Obviously today wasn’t foreseen,” said motorsport director Paul Hembery after the race. “We’ve seen something new, a different type of problem.”

“We’re currently performing as ever our analysis. We’ve got to go away and understand what happened today. When we’ve got the facts then we can understand what’s happened and get to the core of the issue. We take these things seriously and when we have the answers we’ll let you know.”

Hembery wouldn’t be drawn on the potential cause of or remedy for the problems until Pirelli has completed its examination of the failures: “It was one tyre at the back, the left-rear, so we need to understand that.”

Sergio Perez was the first driver to suffer a left-rear tyre failure during final practice yesterday. Qualifying passed without any further failures.

Pirelli previously said Perez’s failure was caused by a cut in the inner sidewall of the tyre.

During the race Lewis Hamilton, Felipe Massa, Sergio Perez and Jean-Eric Vergne all suffered major failures of the left-rear tyre. Afterwards teams increased the tyre pressures they were using the guard against a repeat.

Pirelli saw a series of delaminations earlier in the season and proposed changing the construction of their tyres to ones that use Kevlar belts. This was blocked by some teams.

Further prototype tyres were tested during practice in Canada and at Silverstone this weekend. But teams only accrued limited mileage on them due to wet weather.

2013 British Grand Prix

Browse all 2013 British Grand Prix articles

Image © McLaren/Hoch Zwei

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

63 comments on “Tyre explosions caused by “something new” – Pirelli”

  1. This happens when you change the tyres in the middle of the seasson, without testing it.

    1. Except they didn’t change the tires because the teams vetoed it. If they would’ve changed the tires to the stronger construction ones that they used last year it’s very likely that this wouldn’t have happened.

      1. They *did* tweak/change the tyres to stop them delamenating like had been happening earlier in the season. They wanted to go further and change from steel belt to kevlar, but some of the teams wouldn’t allow it, so you’re both right.

        1. Changing the way the tyre is produced isn’t the same as changing the tyre itself. The tyres are still the same as in the beginning of the season but the recipe is different.

      2. @fisha695 I understand why you are a bit confused, they haven’t been very clear about the situation, tv pundits haven’t helped to clear the situation either, the fact is that the tyres were changed. As Gary Anderson suggested Pirelli strengthen their tyre bonding by using a revised glue, this had to be the only solution after some teams claimed they would veto the new kevlar belted tyre.
        In my opinion this is a just a different showing of the same weakness. This new 2013 compound needed more testing, in particular the new tyre side-walls that seem to be causing all sorts of anomalies.

      3. And the teams vetoed it because Pirelli insisted it wasn’t a safety issue. Had they’ fessed up previously, they could’ve forced through a change without needing consent.

        The debris story has never made sense to me. It was just Pirelli trying to protect its brand. Admitting your tires are unsafe is not great for PR. Doubly so when there is no tire war, and the problem is simply that you’ve been supplying overripe tomatoes as tires.

        By sticking to it’s cover story though, Pirelli has done itself, the teams, and the sport a great disservice — and we’re lucky indeed that nobody has been physically injured.

        1. @gweilo8888

          I think the suggestion that Pirrelli has knowingly provided unsafe tyres is silly.

          Pirrelli are in for a lot of criticism, and rightly so. But don’t muddy the issue by adding things in that, are really not going to be true.

  2. Traverse (@)
    30th June 2013, 15:46

    Tyre explosions caused by “something new”

    Now all we need is something old (Nurburgring), something blue (clear blue sky over the Nurburgring on race day next weekend) and something borrowed (Some Bridgestones would be nice!).

    1. An easy candidate for COTD, for sure!

    2. We need rain for rest of the season so.

      1. Traverse (@)
        30th June 2013, 17:36

        We need more races like today’s, where drivers are actually pushing from start to finish. The last thing I want to see is rain addled races with drivers tentatively coasting. Today’s race once again proves that the majority of the time, dry races are more quality laden (and incident filled) than wet races. People just assume that a wet race will be entwined with more excitement and so the anticipation is higher, and as a result people enjoy it more because their already both anxious and optimistic before the race has even begun.

        1. @hellotraverse I was not talking about show but about safety. The race was good but scandalous

    3. “something new”? like maybe sunshine!

    4. Nice one ;)

    5. Perfectly put. Remember 2005 at Indianapolis when Michelin had to admit its tires couldn’t handle turn 13 and subsequently seven teams failed to race? What would Pirelli have done? Maybe, it depends on what Pirelli’s definition of the word KABLAMO is?

  3. The critique on Pirelli isn’t justified in my opinion: they have tried to improve the situation, but their attempts have been shot down by the teams on multiple occasions. The critique should be focussed on the FIA: they let the driver race for 40 laps knowing the tyres were effectively a ticking time bomb. Disgraceful.

    1. @andae23 I agree with this completely.

    2. I think it’s unfair to blame just Pirelli, but they’ve clearly got a problem so it’s also justified to an extent to blame them. However I agree with you. They wanted to change the structure, but they didn’t change it due to it being shot down. There’s blame on both parts.

    3. @andae23 Right ! I guess some teams (Lotus, ferrari ) have got to realize that it is after all what Red Bull said ” a safety hazard “. Alonso and kimi were close to getting their eyes rubbered ! Well FIA has always been that way I think . Bernie , trying to improve the show might actually be just wrecking it .

      1. Don’t forget to blame Mosley and Schumacher too.

        These issues need to be investigated, the FIA, the teams and Pirelli need to find a joint solution, they are all responsible in my view.

    4. It is more than justified. We’ve been having these tyre failures since the beginning of the season, but Pirelli never ever owned up to them. Every time a delamination happened, their response was always consisting of three points:
      a) it was a puncture, its not our fault that there was debree on the track;
      b) our tyres are safer than ever, with old tyres you’d have had an explosive blow up, delamination allows you to safely return without losing tyre pressure;
      c) there is nothing wrong with the tyre construction.

      Yesterday, when another tyre blew up, they once again said it was a puncture. After today it is clear for everyone that the very construction of their tyres is faulty, it is just not up to par and cannot bear the stresses of continuous racing. It doesn’t matter if their tyres delaminates or blows up, they should do neither. And it is not the glue that holds the cord that is the problem, it is the very fact that their tyres are simply too fragile. And instead of covering that up and quietly trying to do some tests while publicly denying that the problem even exists, they should have openly investigated it and, if necessary, reverted to the last year’s construction. If the safety is involved, no unanimous agreement from the teams is needed.

      1. ^This. Blaming every aspect of this tyre fiasco on imaginary debris and how did that help. Someone could have got killed today. As Hamilton said they won’t care till someone gets hurt. And that’s the sad truth.

        On a completely unrelated note :[url=http://postimage.org/][img=http://s10.postimg.org/xpbygzmi1/Something_New.png][/url]

    5. So did Pirelli, who insisted there was no safety issue, and that there wasn’t even a problem. Over and over, they insisted each failure was debris-caused when that was clearly nonsense.

      At the end of the day, this problem and the shameful response to it sit at Pirelli’s doorstep.

  4. Let the tyres like how they were before!!! Don’t change it for Red Bull and Mercedes!!

  5. when they are investigating it ..how can they say its something new …I think its bull$^^!* PR to calm down the british fans

    1. he he I thought the same thing too…….

  6. Something “old”, something “new”. At this rate they will be solving a problem and bumping into another one every other race this season.

    The simple fact that these new tyres have developed so many issues over the course of this season should be enough of an argument to bring back the 2012 specs that were raced in the last part of the season.

  7. Note – only happened to some teams, faster teams! No tyre issues on Marussia, Caterham, Sauber. So this might be caused by pushing the limits. Maybe lowest possible tyre pressure + maximum heat to get the maximum grip etc. The problem might be fixed just by Pirelli requesting higher pressures on the tyres, just like it was with camber when teams were running massive negative cambers leading to blistering.

    PS. Adrian Newey was very nervous on the pit wall. It usually is when they have pushed the limit of the car and drivers might be in danger. I’ve seen similar nervousness from him when they ran too much negative camber and when they ran flexi-wings which led to series of accidents – car lost traction and slid off track when following anther car (rembember Vettel hitting Button in sidepod? – there were couple of those!).

    1. I think its quite possible that at least part of it is about running different pressures than advised etc yeah, @f1lauri

      1. @bascb,It’s all about the temperature, higher pressure will reduce the size of the contact area so less friction will equal less heat but also lessgrip/speed.
        Imagine the result if the “soft tyres only” brigade had got their way.

        1. It does prove a lot that Pirelli were not going conservative with their tyre choice but accurately reacted to the data when they brought the hards here.

  8. Interesting thinking about the tyre issue: http://t.co/jrUzVMx4Oi

  9. I wont blame Pierlli here . their were trying their best. the last thing they want to do is create contreversey for themselves.

    2 people are responsible for this

    1) FIA creating these tires to improve the show and stop red bull

    2) Team principals with their non cooperation stopped pirelli from fixing this issue.

    1. I disagree with the team principle one. By what they knew Pirelli considered there tyres safe, therefore they didn’t want them to be changed to to block any advantage towards Red Bull and Mercedes. Given what has happened today I think they might change there stance.

  10. Seriously, will you be buying new Pirellis for your car anytime soon?
    Maybe too much degradation was requested from them, but AFAIK nobody requested delaminations and blowouts. Bridgestones anyone?

    1. I bought Pirelli tires for my car and bike. So far they have been the best tires I’ve owned.
      Better not touch any curbs on my way to work tomorrow…

    2. Bridgestone owns Firestone, Firestone had more problems just as a street tire then Pirelli has had as street & race tires combined l0l

    3. Now that you mention it – I have Pirellis on my car! Although they came with the car, and I didn’t buy them separately. Will make sure not to use any kerbs!

      1. And increase tyre pressure otherwise “something new” will happen.

  11. I have been a firm believer that the tyres were safe and no change was necessary but from what I have seen today I can no longer stand behind this. We need new and better tyres for safety reasons and somehow I think so do Lotus and Ferrari. I don’t think they mind giving Red Bull an small advantage as long as there drivers can finish the race in one piece.

  12. The FIA and teams keen on keeping the current tyres for a perceived performance advantage should
    bear in mind that Williams engineers [including Newey] ended up in Italian court with the possibility personal responsibility for homicide after Senna’s crash. The collective decision making process could be gone over in painstaking detail in future if action is not taken in a manner consistent with minimising risk to drivers.

    “So, Mr Boullier, since the director of public prosecutions has a nice new Ferrari, I’m afraid it will have to be *you* who explains to the jury why you chose to block Pirelli’s safety updates when you knew the tyres to be unsafe.”


    Peter (@boylep6) said on 28th May 2013, 1:18
    Three cheers for Pirelli and Mercedes for doing the right thing.
    Does the world really think building such advanced tech with stringently limited testing is wise and sustainable?

    F1 has increasingly degenerate and contrived rules (options+primes, single tyre supplier,
    gearbox rules, engine rules, limited testing). These at times run counter
    to safety (limited rookie running, don’t change that part and run until it breaks in race, can’t
    find out why tyres are failing, can’t even change tyre supplier).

    They’ve been living on borrowed time until a situation such as this arose.
    It is a safety issue, and the rules have been getting in the way of addressing the delamination.

    I can’t imagine the FIA seriously imposing anything other than a token huff-fine, because this has been
    clearly a safety issue with the Mercedes 2013 car the standout tyre shredder. Even a huff-fine is dumb —
    the FIA should also consider the legal implications of preventing teams and or tyre suppliers for addressing safety issues, since what if someone were to get hurt in an avoidable way in future?

  13. It’s sad that inevitably this whole affair today is going to lead to quite a hefty and detrimental impact on Pirelli’s image, your casual viewer isn’t going to be to interested in the ins and outs of the whole situation. To them Pirelli tyres are Pirelli tyres, and witnessing that rubber explode on several dramatic occasions isn’t going to install brand confidence from the consumers point of view the next time they go for a tyre change. In fact it probably couldn’t have been worse for Pirelli today, after all the headlines of the last few weeks, the tribunal, the bickering and ineptitude of the Governing body; for the first failure to be Hamilton, one of the drivers in ‘that’ test, whilst leading his home race is a PR nightmare.

    Of course to my mind while Pirelli are responsible for bringing a safe tyre to the race weekend, as others have pointed out the real blame must lay with the FIA for asking for these made-to-degrade tyres in the first place and the lack of cooperation between teams to agree on the potential solution their was to this problem. I just can’t understand why the teams have a say in this in the first place, I get the purpose of the technical working group in designing the concept and formula in which they race, but it’s perplexing that the competitors have a say on such a matter especially when safety is of such a concern.

  14. “Hello Bridgestone, this FOM calling, we are reaaaaaallyyyyy sorry, will you take us back?”

    This race was awful… four cars with puntures… I felt awful for Hamilton and Massa..

    1. Traverse (@)
      30th June 2013, 18:06

      Hold the press!! @celeste actually feels some sympathy for Hamillton! I thought this day would never come…it must be full moon. :)

      1. @hellotraverse haha funny… I actually felt bad for him back in Barcelona too… but no so much after Mercedes test… scrap it I just remembered I´m mad with Mercedes, I no longer feel bad for Hamilton… :P

        Needless to said that when Vettel retired i almost broke the remote control of my tv….

        1. Traverse (@)
          30th June 2013, 18:17

          I know how you feel. My two favourite drivers were deprived of a race win :'(

        2. @celeste

          Needless to said that when Vettel retired i almost broke the remote control of my tv….

          and I just pointed my finger the TV in style :P .. I guess we all have our favorites at the end of the day

          1. @hamilfan the middle one?

  15. All these ridiculous failure are just outrageous. I don’t understand how a tyre can fail if the problem is high loads on the left rear, a tyre should be designed to cope with that or sharp ridges on kerbs. They did the test at Barcelona and nothing changed I don’t really understand the mess F1 has got itself in with the silly designed to wear tyres.

  16. “We’re currently performing as ever our analysis. We’ve got to go away […]” yes you do Pirelli, you’ve got to go away indeed.

  17. this should give some ideas to mario kart designers. something like a “yellow pirelli” shell for blowing your rivals left rear tyre.

  18. I think people who are just thoughtlessly shouting that tires must be changed ASAP don’t actually realize that what we saw today was in fact a result of changing tires without properly testing them first. If Pirelli had 3 day test with all 12 teams in the warm temperatures, they would have discovered this thing in the test, after running pretty much just couple of dozen of laps. And if this kind of thing wouldn’t appear in testing, that would mean that teams are intentionally going over the border with the way they are setting up their tires for quali and race.

  19. Michael Brown (@)
    30th June 2013, 17:48

    I remember people speculating that the jagged kerbs were to blame when Vettel’s tire deflated rapidly in Abu Dhabi 2011. I’ve never understood why these modern kerbs have this jagged edge on the outside but even then they couldn’t figure out why the tire failed in the first place.

  20. Poor Esteban Gutiérrez, he even misses the tyre failure count list for some reasons both in the article and in the Pirelli quote. :D

    Also, Alonso, Rosberg and Vettel were all very lucky as their left rears began to develop the problem just as they were pitting to change them. So that’s eight in total.

    1. His tyre didn’t fail, he hit a sign

      1. I stand corrected, his left rear didn’t fail, his left front did causing him to hit the sign

  21. Thank goodness for these conservative tire choices, now finally we can get on talking about the racing and the cars instead of Pirelli!


  22. Anyone remember Michelin/Indianapolis? A very different manufacturer’s decision from what happened today. I am seriously thinking that this is truly a technical error by Pirelli — until now, their tyres have lost the tread leaving the carcass intact; so they came up with a new bonding technique (curing the tread more integrally to the carcass.) The side walls are now taking more punishment and failing. Shards of carbon fibre and riding the kerbs has been an integral part of F1 for many a long year, and maybe some teams were going as low as possible on pressures to increase heat, but it remains that these Pirellis are just plain fragile.

    When was the last time that there were five terminal tyre failures in one GP? I can’t remember a single time that this has happened in the 60 odd years that I’ve been following F1.

  23. For comparison we’re 113 laps (170miles) into the NASCAR race today and there have been atleast 2, maybe 3 or 4 Goodyear tires that have just randomly failed and had the tread come off.

  24. (Back at Enstone as they clean Kimi’s cockpit): “One diffuser fragment, ha ha ha. Two diffuser fragments, ha ha ha…”

    They’ll be counting all night.

  25. Vettelfanboy
    30th June 2013, 20:23

    I will definetly be removing the Pirelli tyres on my truck just in case they blow up .

  26. Enough with this farce, bring back last year’s tyres and let’s get on with it… It’s not exclusively Pirelli’s fault but the tyres have to change full stop.

Comments are closed.