Nico Hulkenberg, Renault, Hungaroring, 2018

Renault given suspended €10,000 fine after fitting wrong tyres to Hulkenberg’s car

2018 Hungarian Grand Prix

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Renault has been given a suspended fine of €10,000 after accidentally fitting two front left tyres to Nico Hulkenberg’s car in first practice.

Teams are not permitted to mix tyres from different sets and are required to return two sets of tyres before the end of first practice. As Hulkenberg’s car stopped on the track during the session his tyres were not automatically scanned by the scrutineers and the team’s error was not initially discovered.

The team discovered its mistake in second practice when the remaining three tyres from one set were fitted to Hulkenberg’s car. The stewards took this into account when handing down a suspended fine, which will only have to be paid if the team commits another violation of the tyre rules before the end of the season.

Stewards’ decision

The stewards heard from the team representative, the FIA’s technical assistant responsible for tyres, and examined tyre scan data. The team mixed two left front tyres from two different sets in their garage. As a result, a mixed set was used in FP1. As the car stopped on circuit during the session, the tyres were not scanned back into the pits by the scrutineers. This prevented the error from being discovered in FP1. That first set was returned electronically after FP1. However three of the tyres that were registered in the first set were actually in the second set, which was then used in FP2. The team then realized their error, and reported this to the scrutineer as these were scanned.

As all the tyres were of the same ultra soft specification; no extra tyres were used in either session; the correct number of tyres were returned after FP1, if not the correct tyres; there was no advantaged gained; and because the team reported the error themselves; the Stewards took these matter in mitigation and issued a fine of €10,000 which is suspended for the remainder of the season.

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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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16 comments on “Renault given suspended €10,000 fine after fitting wrong tyres to Hulkenberg’s car”

  1. I’m sure there’s a good reason why people get excited about fitting two front left tyres to a car (assuming they’re of the same type, e.g. soft, ultra-soft, etc), but it does seem a bit pedantic. The only reason I can think of for this rule is the tyre is built to rotate in one direction, so fitting a left tyre to the right hand side of the car could result in some serious condition such as delamination of the tread.

    1. Todd (@braketurnaccelerate)
      27th July 2018, 19:56

      I doubt the tires are different left to right and vice versa. More likely, it’s just done to keep track of the sets (as the article alludes to), to prevent teams from swapping wheels from different sets. Think if they allowed it at Catalunya, where the left side tires are far more abused than the right sides are. If teams were allowed to switch, you could presumably get an extra set or two during practice by swapping on all right-side tires.

      The tire sets are likely to be declared/marked prior to practice, which means Hulk used tires from two different sets which is not allowed.

      1. Did not one team do that recently in a season, and they banned it from happening again.

        I distinctly remember it happening in the recent past and the commentators mentioning it as a tactic.

        1. Are you referring to Williams and Ferrari in 2016, (Germany?) and they exploded as a result … thus the addendum to the tyre regs?

      2. Fitting wrong sided tyres does affect performance as David Coulthards crash in Japan 1999 was caused by a front right tyre being on the left hand side

        1. That was during the tyre wars, each tyre was specifically made then, nowadays there is no difference from left to right.

      3. Current tires (tyres for UK reference) are built specifically for each corner of the car. Staggered or mismatched is a very probable safety hazard at high speed. Thus the penalty for mismatching … I can look up the reg if you need it.

      4. @braketurnaccelerate, normally the tyres are designed to be fitted on one side as, in more modern times, the tyres have been designed with an asymmetric carcass that is intended to be rotated in only one direction.

        There have therefore been instances of tyres failing and causing accidents when they were wrongly fitted on the wrong side of the car. Alex Wurz, for example, had an extremely high speed crash at Paul Ricard in testing when McLaren were sent a set of tyres which had the wrong markings on them, meaning that they mistakenly fitted the rear tyres onto the opposite side of the car they were meant to be fitted to.

        1. uhm … yeah. but thanks for the elaboration.

        2. Anon, My thanks for your comment.

  2. ”are required to return two sets of tyres before the end of first practice”
    – To my knowledge, this rule actually applies to all the practice sessions, i.e., the teams are required to return two sets after each practice session of any given race weekend, so a total of six out of the maximum 13 they’re given for each race weekend to be precise. This means that each driver has got seven sets left for both the qualifying and the race.

    1. 13 sets per car (Drys per weekend) , 1 set replaced per practice, so … use 3 sets in FP1, you still have 11 set new, 2 used. Leaves you 11 new. FP2 -> same … leaving 9 new, FP3 , 7 new, Qually leaves you 4 new for the race. All Ideal conditions. Most teams gamble and leave only 2 or 3 the race.

  3. Is that the same as having two left feet?

    Also, how come putting 2 of the same tyre on a car is 10k fine, but releasing the car without the wheels properly attached and in a dangerous condition is 5k? Because clearly that makes loads of sense…

    1. I guess it is suspended so they may not have to pay it after all, but come on…

      1. won’t have to pay until they do it again.
        see my post above …. Tyres are made specifically for each corner of the car … It is dangerous to have a mismatch at high speed.

    2. @hugh11, in the case of Ericsson, I think that they chose to reduce the penalty because both Ericsson and the team acted to stop the car so quickly (he’d only travelled a few metres down the pit lane), perhaps being a reason for mitigating the fault.

      I suppose that, in theory, a team could use it as a means of getting a slight advantage – the front left tyre is usually the one that limits performance at the Hungaroring, and there are certain sets of tyres that can only be used in the first practise session. It might be possible to organise it such that you ended up with an extra front left tyre that was unused, which could give you a slight advantage if you then ran that in the race (it would mitigate the impact of having to use a scrubbed set if you normally would only have had used tyres left).

      It is also the case that the penalty levied here (a €10,000 fine) is exactly the same as the penalties that Williams received last year for making a similar mistake, so it does look as if the stewards are being fairly consistent with that penalty.

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