Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Circuit de Catalunya, 2018

Claims Pirelli changed tyres to help Mercedes are “rubbish” – Wolff

2018 Spanish Grand Prix

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Mercedes executive director Toto Wolff has rubbished claims they instigated changes to Pirelli’s tyres for the Spanish Grand Prix.

F1’s official tyre supplier has reduced the tread depth on its tyres for this weekend. Sebastian Vettel said on Thursday the change had been made “because Pirelli reacted to the issues Mercedes had and Red Bull had in testing.”

Wolff dismissed the claims as “rubbish” when asked about them on Saturday and said Ferrari had experienced the same problems with the tyres in testing.

“All teams have blistering, very heavy blistering at the test in Barcelona. Red Bull, Ferrari, ourselves. McLaren I think I have seen also.

“The tyres wouldn’t have lasted in the race. And the ambient and track temperatures [in testing] was Arctic. Baltic. For that reason Pirelli changes the thickness of the tyre to prevent the blistering. And they’ve been successful to prevent the blistering because we haven’t seen any one any car today.

“So I don’t know where suddenly this rumour comes out that we’ve been influencing Pirelli and the FIA to change any tyres. I have never seen anything work like that. Why should they do it?”

Mercedes swept the front row of the grid for the first time this year in qualifying for the race. Wolff said the team’s improved performance was down to them understanding the car and tyres better, rather than because of the new parts they’d added to the car.

“Every team brought upgrades but in Formula One there is no such thing as you put an upgrade on the car and it goes half a second quicker. If somebody says that they have no clue. It’s about adding marginal gains onto the car that make them work. I don’t think we have made a step change that suddenly the car is transformed.

“We just had the car and the tyres in the right window today and we need to replicate that for the next races. It’s not about bolting aero parts on the car and suddenly changing the behaviour.”

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
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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Posted on Categories 2018 F1 season, 2018 Spanish Grand Prix, F1 news

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  • 32 comments on “Claims Pirelli changed tyres to help Mercedes are “rubbish” – Wolff”

    1. You can see Niki Lauda shaking hands with a pirelli worker right after qualifying

      1. If you ever bother to take your conspiracy goggles off, you’ll notice there’s Perelli reps in every teams garage. There to make sure the teams aren’t doing anything iffy to tyres like over or under inflating the etc.

        The guy was clearly just congratulating on the win. Much as you may occasionally see a perelli guy shake Horner’s hand or Arrivibiene’s when one of their cars gets the win.

        To all the tinfoil hat brigade, ask yourself this. Why would Perelli jepordise their F1 contract by blatently favoring one team over the rest? Especially, as in the warmer temps on friday, the Merc’s were actually the third quickest on the mediums behind Red Bull and Ferrari.

        Or did Mercedes lobby God for the cooler temps today too?

        Face it, people wouldn’t be posting this conspiracy crap had Vettel won. But some people apparently can’t accept that Vettel wasn’t quick enough and Ferrari gambled and lost with the VSC.

      2. It’s so obvious that wolff should just avoid the tie in. You don’t change the tyres mid season. In pre season only Mercedes complained of blistering, even then vettel said maybe aome rivals were already lobbying and he implied some teams might be ruining the tyres on purpose. For 1 team Pirelli changed the championship, the same happened in 2011 2012 2013 a couple teams make a pact to lobby, they ran the tyres till destruction it was then that pirelli started to introduce mandatory camber and pressure levels. In all races up to this no tyre failed or anything, no excuses.

        1. I agree. Somehow Pirelli changed the tyres construction in the middle of the season with no safety concerns whatsoever and it *seems* like the top teams are now reversed, with Ferrari struggling to get the tyres to work and Mercedes to turn them on from the go.

          Even though I struggle to see why Pirelli would want to do this, if this isn’t track specific I expect Ferrari to be more vocal about it, and maybe ask for a FIA investigation.

          1. @afonic
            isnt it obvious? pirelli works for the top paying team… first races ferrari were paying them well, and mercedes and red bulls took notice and joint forces for a bigger budget for pirelli guys… /s

            1. Whew, I am glad to now understand the shift in power. I wonder why no one else picked up on this :)

      3. @bukester

        i just talked to airport controllers and they confirmed nikki and lewis took each half of the pirelli crew on their private jets to hawaii to party mode :)

        it is very obvious, that pirelli is paid to make special tyres for mercedes and red bulls… but i cant name my sources or air traffic controllers will have problem /s

    2. Mercedes gained 1 second on the rest of the field on these tyres. It’s a joke really. We can gift Hamilton the French and British GP too while we’re at it.

      1. Indeed. It hardly seems like just a coincidence…

        1. Where’s this 1 second figure coming from exactly ?

          1. That was the rate at which Hamilton extended the lead at the beginning of the first stint, to which neither Ferrari had an answer. And as soon as Bottas was in free air he immediately started to lap at Hamilton’s pace. So even if the difference wasn’t precisely 1s, the difference in performance was huge, especially considering how tight things were in the previous 4 races.

            1. But in Baku Vettel was pulling out a simmilar gap at the front…

            2. I wasn’t aware of that, but it actually further helps my point, since it shows that the swing in performance was even bigger than I had thought.

            3. How does it ?

              In Austrailia Mercedes had better pace. So what’s you’re argument there then ?

              Could it be that the Mercedes was just the better car this weekend. Just like the Ferrari was in Baku.

              If Mercedes have been the quickest car on both tyre constructions how can this be such a swing in performance ? You’re acting like Williams just won the race.

            4. But in Baku Vettel was pulling out a simmilar gap at the front…

              No he wasn’t, not even close actually.

            5. But still no answer for Australia…

            6. You mean the race where Ferrari were running a faulty diffuser and floor, and still won (albeit with luck)?

          2. Tim, I am one of the conspiracy theorists, cause in australia I watched hamilton pull away from raikkonen at 150 thousands per lap, not 1 sec!

            Don’t forget in qualifying this race ferrari were only 1,5 tenths behind, as people say, but in the previous ones they had a huge qualifying advantage, like half a sec, in the race things were closer.

            Which says mercedes is generally better in races this year, so the fact they managed to beat ferrari in qualifying apparently meant race domination.

    3. Ferrari had best tyre life and could switch tyres on the best, Merc struggled, tyre change only Merc wanted and they coast to a win. Fuherer Wolf is a liar.

    4. Seb pointed out after the testing that Merc and Red Bull had run their tyres in a way to purposefully create the blisters, so when this change happened it was obvious who it was meant to benefit.

      FIA needs to look into the continued Merc manipulation of things to do with tyres …

    5. “So I don’t know where suddenly this rumour comes out that we’ve been influencing Pirelli and the FIA to change any tyres. I have never seen anything work like that. Why should they do it?”

      Geez. I wonder where?

    6. It’s really funny because it was actually Ferrari who pushed for the change.

      1. Wrong, it was Mercedes.

        1. Wrong, it was Ferrari

          1. Now now kiddies, play nice!! :)

            1. wrong, it was the kiddies’ dad!

    7. Alex McFarlane
      13th May 2018, 16:53

      Interesting that a 0.4mm change in tread depth would have such a drastic impact.

      If Ferrari were good on tyres that had a design issue, but bad on tyres that were supposed to be improved in terms of overheating and blistering, maybe Ferrari bought some changes to the car Spain that simply didn’t work.

      1. Everyone is speaking about the 0,4 mm tread reduction, but is there a report saying which is the total tread thickness? Just to better understand the relevance of the reduction…

    8. @Alex McFarlane
      how can you suggest Ferrari made mistakes and bodged their race/cars? Didnt you know they never make mistakes! It is obvious pirelli caused them problems and made mercs and reds faster! it is obvious! /s

      1. yeah @mysticus it is always FIA-Ferrari International Assistance, Merc and Lewis are monks who don’t manipulate to win. Give me a break. You don’t change tyres mid season unless it is a safety concern due to the tyre itself, not because of suspension geometry. Merc also had a private test a few seasons earlier with driver helmets being changed IIRC

      2. Alex McFarlane
        13th May 2018, 19:45

        Oh of course! Silly me!

        Yes it could only be that Pirelli designed, engineered and constructed special tyres 3 days before the race weekend that would guarantee Merc a 1s/lap advantage.

        Of course, Pirelli are so good that they didn’t need to do any testing whatsoever with Merc’s Spanish car updates or configuration to achieve this, nor will they need to know anything about how the car will be in France or England to guarantee Merc success!

        I think we’ve been cheated /s.

        :-)

    9. This is the same Mercedes F1 and the same Pirelli who conducted a secret and illegal tyre test in 2013. F1 is rigged.

    Comments are closed.