Multiple factors caused Silverstone punctures – Pirelli

2013 British Grand Prix

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Pirelli say a combination of different factors caused a series of high-speed tyre blowouts during the British Grand Prix.

F1’s official tyre supplier said the failures were caused by teams using tyre pressures that were too low, swapping the tyres between the left and right sides of the car and using severe camber angles.

They added the severity of the kerbs at some high-speed corners such as turn four also precipitated the failures.

Pirelli admitted it had not previously discouraged teams from swapping the tyres across the car. It has asked the FIA to prevent teams from continuing the practice as well as setting limits for tyre pressure and camber.

“Under-inflation of the tyres and extreme camber settings, over which Pirelli has no control, are choices that can be dangerous under certain circumstances,” the company added in a statement.

“Because of this, Pirelli has asked the FIA for these parameters will be a topic of accurate and future examinations. Pirelli has also asked for compliance with these rules to be checked by a dedicated delegate.”

Aggressive camber angles were also blamed for tyre blistering at the Belgian Grand Prix in 2011, the first year of Pirelli’s current tenure in the sport. From the following race they stipulated a maximum camber limit teams had to adhere to.

Pirelli denied the punctures seen at Silverstone were related to the tyre delaminations which occurred earlier in the season.

In order to prevent a repeat of the Silverstone failures Pirelli says it needs access to “real-time data from the teams regarding fundamental parameters such as pressure, temperature and camber angles” in future.

The company asserted that “the 2013 tyre range does not compromise driver safety in any way if used in the correct manner, and that it meets all the safety standards requested by the FIA”.

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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...

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49 comments on “Multiple factors caused Silverstone punctures – Pirelli”

  1. Believe or not to believe, that´s the question?

    Certanly I don´t think teams should be changing the side of the tyres, they were designed to one side because os reason. But I don´t buy these tyres are safe, 5 cars in a race is too much.

    1. Yep, and i dont buy this ‘under inflation and extreme camber settings’ argument. As far as i know, the teams are running at the same pressures and camber angles that they have since Pirelli have supplied tyres in F1.

      If it was just teams running agressive tyre setups, then there would be no big problem here, we wouldnt be scrambling around tryin to find solutions to the tyre constructions before the next race, the FIA/Pirelli could simply say right ok, since its your setups casuing this problem, you cant go beyond x camber/toe, and x pressures. Sorted?

      The problem is Pirelli went to agressive with this years tyres, thats what all this mess comes down to.

      1. “the teams are running at the same pressures and camber angles that they have since Pirelli have supplied tyres in F1.”

        While i don’t totally believe Pirelli, that statement above is wrong! Pressures and cambers change on all circuits

        1. Yes they do change circuit by circuit, but on the whole, the min/max settings will be the same ballpark.

          The point im getting at is teams wont be doing anything they havnt already done in previous years running on their tyres, so its disinenguous of Pirelli to blame car setups.

          There was nothing wrong with keeping last years tyres for 2013, but Pirelli took it upon themselves to push the boundries even further with their design (probably to stay in the media spot light, rather than fading into the background when teams get used to the tyres and they no longer become the talking point), and its gone wrong, thats the bottom line.

          1. So your a tyre expert then?
            Even on your road car, they give a maximum and minimum pressure as well as the car manufacturer providing maximum and minimum limitations for safe operation of the vehicle. Using the vehicle and tyres outside of those limitations would likely void your insurance and any claim against them is something failed or you lost control.
            In this case like every year the Tyre manufacturer has provided guidelines for safe use of the tyres. If the teams are flouting those guidelines then they have to take a fair portion of the blame. The tyres change every year so surely its not hard to understand so will the operating limitations for pressure and camber.

            This ALL comes back to the lack of ability for Pirelli to able to test properly with a representative car. That is NOT Pirellis fault. As less real world testing on representative cars means that the usage guidelines would more critical to keep within.

    2. I don’t buy the under-inflation and extreme cambers argument purely because it is fully Pirelli’s responsibility to establish what their minimum tolerances are in each respect. If they didn’t recognise the fact F1 teams will always push the limits then they shouldn’t be in F1. That’s not an alleyway for blame.

      1. But when Pirelli where asked to build a tire that wasn’t bombproof, there was always going to be a limit, it appears that the teams may have just reached it.

    3. They can easily govern what the teams do with the tyres just like Michelin did at Indy…. they just confirm the parameters outside of which they do not guarantee their safety ie you can do XYZ with the tyres at your own risk, we (Pirelli only guarantee them up to ABC settings/usage).

    4. @celeste – The teams have access to the same data as Pirelli. We would know about it pretty quickly if they were making up stories to protect themselves.

  2. Sure, but why did these tyres fail in such a spectacular fashion, instead of simply deflating?

    1. This looks more likely a kerb/tyre combo issue to me… there have been cases in the past of a damaged kerb cutting tyres and a cut tyre is more likely to explode than one that simply punctures.

      1. i don’t even think they exploded, i think they just let go when the tire was spinning so fast that the momentum slung themselves apart. if they had been stationary, i think they would have just deflated, the slow moving cars that were pitting as theirs let go didn’t have explosions

  3. lower tire pressure offer more traction

    1. ‘lower tire pressure offer more traction’ – Sorry mate, but that’s absolutely wrong statement. Try to reduce the tyre pressure on your car and tell me how the car reacts at turning into the corner or changin direction. You need more steering lock to turn into the corner, right!? It’s due to stronger distorsion of tyre’s side walls.
      Try to draw a line – in your imagination of course ;-) – on the center of tyre’s belt and put numbered dots on it ( no camber, because it complicates explaination… ) When you rotate the tyre on a straight line, these dots are – sort of speak – copied to the line on the floor with no divergence. They remain on the straight line. However, under lateral force dot 1 is copied into 1′, 2 into 2′ etc… You have an angle between imaginary dots on the tyre 1,2,3… and the line drawn by tyre’s rotation denoted as 1′, 2′, 3’… Lower the tyre pressure, bigger the divergence angle.
      However, lowering tyre pressure as a consequence increases the flow of energy trough the tyre. It should help warming them up as quickly as possible. As temperature increases, increases the tyre pressure to the nominal level. That should be the whole story behind the low tyre pressures, or maybe isn’t. You never know with Pirellis ;-)

      1. I’m not saying that you are wrong, with temperature getting high if the tyre has a low pressure. But this not means that low tyre pressure does not create more grip, or traction…. “try to imagine” that if the surface of the contact between the tyre and the road is bigger than you have more friction…

        1. “Lower tire pressure means more grip.” – Sir Jackie Stewart explained it in his book as one of the first misconceptions he encountered as racing driver. You should buy “Jackie Stewart’s principles of performance driving” and read it. However, I’m an Engineer and I can prove Mr. Stewart is right with simple laws of Physics and basic Math.

      2. Lower pressure does create more grip and traction – you increase the contact area with the ground. Simple as that. It has drawbacks though: the car becomes less responsive to changes in direction (as you mentioned) and tyre degradation increases.

  4. It makes sense! Teams pushed the limit of the tyres and then the tyres get changed, not limits changed – kinda weird, but what to do…

  5. while browsing pirelli’s facebook fan page I came across a sentence that sums up this whole situation: “please don’t make condoms”

    1. They are being bashed on Facebook… some comments are funny like the one you posted but other no so much… People are saying that they are trying really hard to kill a F1 driver…

      Is certanly on the best interest of Pirelli not to have anymore trouble…

    2. @johnmilk I’ve heard that one at least a dozen times now!

  6. i highly doubt this is the real problem,
    If this was the case, wouldn’t it have happened much more often in the past seasons?

    If they were wrong they should admit it.

  7. Understandable factors. Switching the tyres from one side to the other seemed a bit odd, specially if the tyres have been designed exclusively for being used on one corner of the car… Teams should admit they took risks in that decisions too, running low pressures and stuff.

    Not letting Pirelli free of charge, though… there have been problems, and they should’ve reacted quicker. Low pressure, extreme camber angles, swapping tyres… we’ve seen that for a while now.

    To be honest, I realize that what Pirelli are facing is just hard to swallow. They are being the centre of attention, but they are also locked into a position when changes are hard to make, and the FIA isn’t cooperative let alone being a governing body with clear decisions.

    Pirelli cannot test with a current car. Pirelli are not allowed to change compounds because teams don’t want to. Pirelli are asked to bring tyres that degrade, but not so much.

    1. Pirelli cannot test with a current car. Pirelli are not allowed to change compounds because teams don’t want to. Pirelli are asked to bring tyres that degrade, but not so much.


    2. to continue, I think it’s impossible to point the finger to one party. Pirelli DID suggest going back to previous specifications, but the teams refused, and no wonder. Changing the conditions midway through the season is wrong.

      But it’s also wrong to provide tyres that don’t last. And that was what Pirelli was entitled to do. And they failed.

      But if the situation is extreme (like we saw at Silverstone), then the whole parties should realize: enough is enough. It’s impossible to race like this.

      And that’s where the FIA comes into. They are the ones that failed the most. In the first place, they failed to react, pushing the boundaries of the ridicule again and again. The extreme degradation, the artificial racing, the delaminations, the Mercedes tests… and now Silverstone, halfway into the season, FINALLY, they tightened their belts and went for it.

      Secondly, they failed to make a decision. They let Pirelli and the teams blame one another endlessly until we got to this point.

      There’s a lot of issues in this. Teams exploiting everything available to the extreme (as they are entitled to do… if there’s not a clear rule or policing). Pirelly being asked to do something that’s hard to do in itself, being penalized in doing so (it’s not good for the brand at all) and being locked into a position where changes are criticized aswell and they cannot test the changes on a real situation. And FIA, for failing to control it all in time.

      It’s time to stop the nonsense, stop the crossed accusations, admit what went wrong and move on quickly. And after that, everyone involved should be careful not to bring stupid accusations again if things are not going their way…

      Because this is getting seriously annoying.

      1. +1

        The FIA had their blinders on, with short-sighted regulation changes and inadequate regulation. The teams care only about their performance, even at the cost of bringing the sport to its knees. Pirelli meanwhile take all the blame. What a mess.

      2. Politics.
        Bernie is/seems weak, so FIA now tries to take control. Had they moved too soon, it wouldn’t have worked.

  8. swapping left to right sides…… so we are to assume that tyres are woven to take into consideration the direction of rotation, and putting them on the wrong side will cause them to unravel.
    extreme camber angles.. I would have thoght that thee was an FIA regulation as to the maximum angle and Pirelli should be aware of that.
    Too low pressures.. personally I would ahve thought high pressures cause a tyre to explode , low pressures to shred the wall out.
    Sharp kerbs at Silverstone which may be due to overnight rabbits chewing on the concrete. Or other motor classes using a superior grade of tyre to chomp at the kerbs prior to the F1 GP.
    Strangely enough, having read a lot of history about Pirelli tyres over the last 3 yrs, I understand this:

    Pirelli changed from Kevlar to steel for this year.. but that can’t be the reason.
    Pirelli chose a new bonding compound for British GP, but that can’t be the reason.
    Pirelli have had to do mid season testing due to delamination concerns, but that can’t be the reason.

    Conclusion: The tyres are designed to do their job but the end user is taking the tyre beyond its designed limits therefore it is the end user error, not the design limits that is the problem.

    Can’t we go back to Goodyear or Bridgestone and at least get a traight answer form a supplier not another load of coverup boloney.
    Are Pirelli part of the FIAT group… ?

    Sorr if anyone is offended by my comments but their statement stinks.

    1. I was under the impression, prior to this, that the tyres are not handed, and that’s why they were able to switch them from side to side. I think this was simply a tactic to share wear (and stresses), and should in theory lengthen its life.

      Low pressures will cause more movement in the rubber and generate more heat. This could affect the glues, causing failure.

      Camber angles are not regulated: See Pirelli asking for for it now. But rear tyres are not particularly highly cambered, especially without traction-control, because it creates too much wheelspin.

      As for kerbs, it has been noted elsewhere that other series running on the same circuit have not had these issues. Indeed, I believe when the WEC ran, there was only one puncture in 6hrs of racing, and it was caused by contact. Tyre loading isn’t as high, but is still comparable.

      Overall, I can see some of this might be true. But lets face it, the responsibility should be shared between the teams, the FIA and Pirelli. This was avoidable. There were options that could have been taken, if people hadn’t blocked them for selfish reasons. Which is a shame, because it makes the people of this sport look like they don’t care about the other people in the sport.

      1. Overall, I can see some of this might be true. But lets face it, the responsibility should be shared between the teams, the FIA and Pirelli. This was avoidable. There were options that could have been taken, if people hadn’t blocked them for selfish reasons. Which is a shame, because it makes the people of this sport look like they don’t care about the other people in the sport.

        And endangered the entire sport including people’s lives.

      2. @splittimes I believe this year’s tyres are handed and some teams figured as far back as the test at the end of last year that they could gain an advantage by swapping them around. Apparently Merc were very late to this party although were spotted doing it at Montreal I think if not earlier.

  9. Disappointing, pure blame shifting. Not very constructive.

    1. This. From start to finish, Pirelli has always insisted it has no problem and there is no safety issue. It appears hell-bent on continuing to do so.

      Pirelli could have fixed the problem *without* the teams’ consent by admitting there was a safety problem. It also could easily have persuaded teams to agree to a tire test simply by agreeing to make that test open to *every* team, not just one. And if teams were not following its recommendations re: tyre usage, it could have come out and said so. It chose to do none of the above, pulled a “poor little me” act, and chose to let the obvious problems continue while spouting nonsense about magical, invisible debris.

      Pirelli is squarely to blame for this, and it’s high time they stood up and admitted as much, rather than trying to pass the buck.

  10. I for one believe the spate of failures was accentuated by the high-speed corners where drivers were flat out on the kerbs. However, an F1 car should be designed to do just that (and has been doing that year after year), so Pirelli has to shoulder the blame.

    All the other points raised (i.e. side-swapping, chamber etc) have been going on for many years now so Pirelli is alrealy well aware of that. And previous tyres never met the same fate so this can be solely down to this years tyres.

  11. It figures Perelli would blame it on the teams. I mean it’s not like they have had tire problems before right? I wish Perelli would put the blame where it belongs…On the FIA and good ‘ol Bernie! It’s almost like Kindergarten where everyone should be equal and everyone should get a chance to win. What’s next? Do we stop keeping score? Quit giving out trophies? I say give ’em tires that last and let ’em race!

  12. It’s obvious the teams and drivers knew what the problem was.
    The TV feeds showed mechanics increasing tyre pressures and radio messages telling the drivers not to be so aggressive over the curbs.

    The F1 teams jobs are to push limits, which they did, then they turned up at Silverstone and found a sharp curb. All the factors added together and caused the problems.

    If this had been the first race of the season it probably wouldn’t have happened as the teams wouldn’t have been so far past the limit.

  13. Guess who I am:

    “Our tyres are ridiculously dangerous but because we are perfect and nothing is ever our fault we will blame the teams for trying to go quickly. Trying to go faster at a race is ludicrous behaviour. Limit their ability to setup the car until they all have the same setup, which is HRT mode. Then the tyres will not be under as much stress and won’t try to kill the drivers.”

    1. James Unfunnie?

    2. You’re the robotic talking-head for Pirelli that is Paul Hembery?!? LOL

      1. AND THE ANSWER IS… : robotic talking-head for Pirelli that is Paul Hembery!!!

  14. I don´t understand Pirelli stubborness in claiming that tyres are safe and blaming everyone apart from them.

    If faults are because of kerbs or team decisions (pressures /camber/ invert. mounting) and tyres are safe. Why do they need to change them?

    Besides, teams have been running with these kinds of setups in 2012 and 2011 and tyres didn´t blowout. In addition, Silverstone kerbs have been there other years and many other racing competitions are held there without problems (even this year).

    I don´t buy Pirelli statement.

  15. Then why bring new tires to Germany and why have a four day tire test if all that’s needed is to make the teams use the tires properly? I think this is just Pirelli shifting the blame in a case where no one can really refute their findings as they have all the tire parts.

    1. I think it’s understandable for them to explore all possible avenues to stop a repeat of what happened at Silverstone, whoever is at fault.

  16. Swapping tires purpose because there was a performance advantage when doing so, low pressure and aggressive camber are also pure performance issues, so people should look at teams, before blaming Pirelli.

    Everything the teams did, they did on their own and in pursuit of performance. They have clearly overstepped the line, but all those failures were simply the result of pushing the performance envelop too far, just like with engines, weight reduction in parts that turn out too weak and similar.

    It would be interesting if Pirelli had all the realtime data for all the failures this year. I can bet that all of them happened on the cars that were running outside of safe perimeters.

    But I do not have a problem with that. Teams always push their cars and sometimes cars fail, but that is all part of F1 and it has always been. Good F1 cars are usually fast, but fragile.

    Remember how Red Bull kept suffering engine failures while they were perfecting the cold blowing for their engine blown diffuser?

    Situation with the tires this year is the same, but F1 world is so lost at the moment that it can’t even tie it’s own shoes and is going for a nuclear option because they are in such a chaos that overreaction is taking over in every situation.

  17. As if the teams have not done all those things in the past. Pirelli has manufactured substandard tyres. Admit it.

  18. I think far too many people are being far too quick to judge Pirelli, and they’re doing it on the basis of the complaints from earlier in the year. Nobody here has access to any of the data that Pirelli and the teams do, so I’m bemused that so many people are claiming that this is all Pirelli’s fault, even after Pirelli went out of their way to improve tyre safety and were rejected by the teams, changed their tyre allocations to address the teams’ complaints, and altered the bonding agents to prevent delaminations.

    It’s been said before: Pirelli have done everything that was asked of then by the teams and the FIA, and people are still looking to crucify them.

  19. If Pirelli knew beforehand that the parameters mentioned by it could cause such issues, should they not have asked the FIA to strictly enforce them at every race.

    1. Teams have every right to push their own car to the limit (and beyond). Like if they’d tell them that they should tune down their engine because it might fail – that’s completely up to the team. The problem is, teams were keeping silent when tire failures were occurring because they didn’t want to unveil their little secrets by revealing what caused the failures. So all the blame was being shifted directly onto Pirelli by an uniformed and jumping-into-conclusions “experts”, who were further feeding the “fans”.

      I personally can’t see why are they even changing the tires. Have them run a 3 or 4 days test at Silverstone with pressures and cambers within perimeters and with no tire swapping. If not tire failis, then FIA can tell the teams to do whatever the hell they want for the rest of the season and if any tire fails while being outside of prescribed perimeters and/or swapped sides, it’s team’s responsibility, not Pirellis.

      It’s just so absurd that they are changing the tires, when it’s actually the teams who should change what they are doing.

  20. “Pirelli has stated that there were no defects in the tires. The problem arose from actually putting them on CARS. Pirelli never specifically told the teams not to put them on cars but are now going to recommend that.”

    -imaginary quote from my wife, whom I love very much.

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