“Highly unusual number of cuts” blamed for Spa tyre failures

2015 Italian Grand Prix

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The tyre failures seen during the Belgian Grand Prix weekend were related to a “highly unusual number of cuts” observed in the tyres, according to the FIA.

A potential cause for the damage was not identified in a statement issued by Formula One’s governing body. However the FIA has accepted Pirelli’s explanation for the failures experienced by Sebastian Vettel and Nico Rosberg.

Following inspection of Vettel’s right-rear tyre Pirelli concluded that the heightened wear level contributed to the failure. “The remaining tread thickness on Sebastian Vettel’s rear tyres was approximately 30% at the time of the failure making the tyre more susceptible to damage from even small pieces of debris”,” said the FIA statement.

The FIA said it will “consider any safety recommendations made by the tyre supplier for the Italian GP and for the remainder of the season”. A Pirelli spokesperson told F1 Fanatic there will be “no changes whatsoever to any tyre regulations for this weekend”.

According to the FIA none of the tyres inspected during the race weekend showed signs of “internal delamination (hence fatigue)”. A selection of tyres from different teams were examined by cutting them open and by running others on a test rig to simulate race conditions.

“Microscopic examination was conducted on sections taken through some of the cuts found in tyres used by different teams in the race, the results showing one other case where the cut had reached the belt but without causing failure”.

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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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    29 comments on ““Highly unusual number of cuts” blamed for Spa tyre failures”

    1. well, well, that tells us a lot does it? In effect it means that little ridges and rough parts on the edge of the track/kerbing and / or tiny parts of debris from all running at Spa made the tyres go? So will we see seemingly unnecessary SC periods for “sweeping the track” being introduced to Monza like they have them over in the US?

      Not quite sure how the proposed measure to have higher minimum pressures will in reality prevent something from happening. And the FIA is not willing to police track limits either (to keep the cars from constantly being on those dirtier, rougher potentialy sharper pieces of tarmac). Hm …

      1. I think the problem was specific to Spa as it didn’t happen before. It must be something with the kerbs and their aggressive usage. Spa has a lot on its hands to resolve the issue before next season…

        On the other hands, the proof that Vettel had 30% tyre life left with two laps to go pretty much validates what he said, i. e. that he deserved third place as their strategy would have worked out well without the unexpected blow-out.

        1. yeah, well it would have maybe been fine had he not taken the car outside the track limits on every other lap (being carefull not to do it ALL the time so as not to alert the stewards) @atticus.

          Then again had he done that he might have had more classic wear on the tyres and they wouldn’t have lasted anyway.

          Off course most other drivers were also taking that kind of lines more often than not, but they compensated with more stops.

          1. I don’t know if you can really compensate this. I mean obviously now both tyre failures (VET and ROS) have officially the same cause which is debris. And Rosbergs was after a short stint. I rather guess it is basically a matter of luck what or when something happens.

            Also it is pure speculation that the cuts happened at Eau Rouge. You can get the cut at any stage of the lap, but the high load at Eau Rouge finally is just the trigger that pushes the structurally weakened tyre from the cuts finally over the “edge”.

            Additionally if Eau Rouge was to blame than driving within the limits (left tyres at the place where the right tyres were when he was off track) might just have exposed the left tyre for the cuts, wouldn’t it?

            1. *Additionally if Eau Rouge was to blame *then* driving…*

          2. Pirelli said

            an anomalous amount of detritus on the track in Spa

            which they put down to

            numerous incidents that took place during the support races

            we don’t know if it had anything to with drivers exceeding track limits, kerbs are not mentioned at all, just debris

            a small piece of debris – made of carbon or any other particularly sharp material

            1. Hm. Solid argument. Perhaps debris got stuck in the kerbs?

            2. I have seen races at Spa some years ago, where there were incidents in support races and they just sent a single truck (1/3 of the track wide) which did a single pass to clean the track and that was all. I was really surprised that they didn’t do much more …
              (2 punctures occured during that F1 race)

              Has anyone else seen how they clean track between races ? (Indeed they can’t do much during the race without very long SC period).

          3. Had he NOT cut the corners (pun intended) … he wouldn’t’ have been in 3rd anyways.

        2. @atticus-2

          the proof that Vettel had 30% tyre life left

          Where is the proof? The quote says there was 30% of the tread thickness remaining, this need not mean there was 30% tyre life left.

          1. …But very likely does so. It makes sense.

            1. @atticus-2 that’s total guesswork. the surface temperatures rise in a non-linear way as the tread depth reduces. this happens in all racing tyres, but especially so in the current pirellis (the so-called cliff). 30% could be right near the end of the tyre’s life, or not – it’s hugely dependent on the track characteristics, the overall construction of the tyre, driving style, track/air temperature, compound etc.

        3. There’s nothing wrong with Spa. Other championships (WEC) have had no problems whatsoever.

          The problem is that the Pirelli tyres are a lot more sensitive to debris than tyres from other manufacturers.

      2. I went to Spa this year, and unlike last year I walked along the Raidillon up to the end of the Kemmel straight. I must say that the kerbs are really really rough all along. At the time I wondered how the cars can ride on it without destructing the tyres. They can’t, as we all saw.

    2. Pirelli have issued their own statement with more details and have said tracks need to be cleaned more thoroughly.

      1. I would call for the fia to look at the safety aspect of things, realise that its impossible/nonsense to keep every off track area swept all the time and start using safety as a good argument to introduce an explanation that means drivers get penalized for taking it off track for no good reason repeatedly.

        1. You are assuming that the cuts happened in an off track area and couldn’t have happened on track. Both Rosberg and Vettels tyre are now said to have failed because of debris, and other tyres also had cuts, it seems more like bad luck whether a cut led to a tyre failure or didn’t.

          1. Those pieces of debris from support races would have been sweeped off track before the race and certainly wouldn’t have been lying around on the racing line. Then again, almost all drivers regularly cut over the track limits at various spots along the track.
            And as @somersf1 showed, some pieces of the kerbing etc themselves could well have put untested stresses on specific parts of the tyres, because unlike the official racing surface, they are not flat and without gaps, ridges etc.

            1. perhaps if track limits were enforced naturally by, I don’t know, maybe a gravel trap??? then we wouldn’t have debris on tarmac.

      2. Hmmm…I sense good opportunity for sponsors such as Dyson and Hoover to get involved…….

        Mabybe even a “Vacuum Car” period…….

        Sshhhh don’t mention this to bernie….

    3. The FIA said it will “consider any safety recommendations made by the tyre supplier for the Italian GP and for the remainder of the season”. A Pirelli spokesperson told F1 Fanatic there will be “no changes whatsoever to any tyre regulations for this weekend”.

      This worries me deeply. The last thing we need is even more regulations to limit even more the amount of possible strategies. The current compound rules (Pirelli chooses the race’s compounds, mandatory use of both) are already bad enough.

      Tyres shouldn’t be that susceptible to cuts and small pieces of debris. If Pirelli can’t make a tyre that can resists cuts they should leave the sport and leave room for somebody who can.

    4. I noticed:

      A Pirelli spokesperson told F1 Fanatic ….

      well done Keith!

    5. Why was the sausage kerb from Friday at the top f Eau Rouge not there on Sunday? I missed this explanation.

      1. Because of an incident in the gp3 practice where a car got airborn over it & had the floor ripped off when it landed on the additional strips behind it.

        1. It was that combined with F1 drivers been unhappy with it in the Friday drivers briefing with the FIA & requesting it be removed.

          Its fine to say that if a driver hit it & got launched its there fault for cutting the track, However as you saw in that GP3 incident drivers running over it are not always simply cutting the track as the GP3 car only hit it because it got sideways in the middle of eau rouge & ran wide as a result.

          1. I don’t agree. Drivers should get penalised for errors they make, whether it is cutting the corner or taking the weirdest possible line through Eau Rouge / Raidillon.

            I’m tired of the ‘dumbing down’ of that corner.

        2. Well that incident alone left a whole load of debris in the kerb at the top of Eau Rouge. I doubt road sweepers are so effective when the debris is tucked in those serrated kerbs, so it would not surprise me if it was still there in the F1 race. The F1 drivers loved cutting that corner and I am amazed there were not more punctures there.

    6. Is it not possible to formulate a carbon fibre material that breaks without creating sharp edges? After all, it’s been done with glass for windscreens. If less of the debris created by incidents had sharp edges, then cuts to tyres would surely be less likely.

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