Were Silverstone punctures linked to Becketts kerb change?

2020 British Grand Prix

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Alterations to a kerb at one of Silverstone’s fastest corners may be linked to the spate of punctures which occured at the end of Sunday’s British Grand Prix.

Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas and Carlos Sainz Jnr all suffered front-left tyre failures during the final four laps of the race.

Renault noticed more problems with their tyres than usual prior to the grand prix, according to Esteban Ocon. “We have seen a lot of cuts and a lot of stuff that we normally don’t see in practice,” he said. “It’s true that Silverstone is probably the toughest circuit for tyres with the high speed, the kerbs.”

He suggested a kerb change at the exit of turn 13, Becketts, may have contributed to the failures.

“There is a new thing as well out of turn 13, Maggotts, Becketts, Chapel, this combination of corners, the right-hander turn 13 exit. Now there is no kerb anymore, which there was before. So you run in the dirt and then you go on to the kerb and that could also make damage to your tyres.

“I don’t know if it came from the carbon debris or just the track being very hard with the tyres or the holes or the new cars. We are running wider than I was used to in ’18, that’s for sure. But we’ve seen more damage and more cuts to the tyres than we have ever seen.”

F1’s official tyre supplier Pirelli and the FIA are investigating the cause of the punctures. Several tyre failures also occured on multiple cars during the 2013 race at the track. In 2017 both of Ferrari’s car also suffered late-race punctures.

Pirelli’s head of motorsport Mario Isola said the Ferrari punctures three years ago may provide a pointer as to what happened on Sunday.

“I will have a look in detail to this one because obviously what happened in the past can be very useful. Especially if it is from 2017, because we were using the same size. If we go back in time, with the smaller size and so on, it’s less relevant. But with the same size, the same type of tyre, it can be useful.”

Becketts exit kerb: 2019 and 2020

Becketts exit kerb was longer in 2019...
Becketts exit kerb was longer in 2019…
...than in 2020
…than in 2020

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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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28 comments on “Were Silverstone punctures linked to Becketts kerb change?”

  1. No other series had so many tire failures, IT IS NOT THE CURBS, IT IS THE TERRIBLE PIRELLI TIRES.

    F2, F3 and Porsche supervup were fine. Pirelli are incapable of making tires suitable for F1.

    1. 1. Those other races are slower, the cars don’t necessarily follow the same line, and the race distance is shorter. Not a like for like comparison.

      B. The tyres are the same construction as last years, and they didn’t puncture last year. So, if the tyres are the same but the track is different, then the problem seems likely to be the track.

      III. Now, if Pirelli had a manufacturing or QC issue, then sure, you could put the blame there, but absent that being confirmed, it seems that comparing like to like and looking for differences year over year would be the logical thing to do.

    2. @megatron did they use the same kerbs for those series as in the F1 race?

      I’ve seen it suggested that at least some of those series (the Porsche Supercup race) used a modified version of that kerb that had been extended slightly. You might see, if you look closely at the picture of the 2020 layout, an area of discoloured grass that extends a few metres further back up the track – I have been told that is the extent of the kerbs that were laid out for the Porsche Supercup race, so in that case it wouldn’t be quite the same layout.

  2. Electroball76
    4th August 2020, 12:40

    As the kerbs are essentially part of the track limits, why can’t the kerbs be smooth? Is there a good reason for such jaggedness?

    1. A greater risk of spinning, I suppose.

    2. Well, actually they’re not. The sporting regs say: “for the avoidance of doubt, any white lines defining the track edges are considered to be part of the track but the kerbs are not.”

      Although, as of late, officials have certainly been treating them as if they are. So much for avoiding that doubt…

      1. This is one of my pet peeves… I don’t know of any other sport where they say “These are the limits, but we’ll let you go over a little bit without penalising you”.

        These are some of the best drivers in the world. They would not leave the track unless either a mistake was made or they were gaining an advantage in doing so. In either case, a penalty is potentially deserved.

        Tell them “stick to the track limits in all cases or you’ll get a penalty” and, you know what? They’ll stick to the limits! If you want the limits to be wider, paint the white lines further over.

        1. @drmouse Completely share this pet peeve with you. It really makes a mockery of the whole stewarding process when they ignore their rule book at will.

          I’d rather they just drop the whole pretense that the white line is the track limit and simply have the regs say, “the track is whatever we say it is at any given event” — and then actually define it and enforce it consistently during the weekend. I don’t mind kerbs being exploited — if you make them inviting of course drivers will do so — and I think the detection loops they’ve started to implement are doing a reasonable job. But at least have the will to enforce your own rule book, or update it accordingly.

          1. @markzastrow the thing is, hasn’t both that rule about the “white lines defining the track” and the use of kerbs by drivers to optimise their racing line both been in place for decades? Are we effectively saying that what the drivers have been doing for the best part of 60 years is wrong?

  3. Don’t put your wheels of the track then… Or do, but know you ate taking a risk.

    1. totally agree

      of track is taking a risk…. your choice

  4. If this is the reason, then there’s a quick fix: stay on the track.

  5. May as well just extend the kerb and take that out of the equation regardless but is there enough time now?
    I do appreciate what people say about not leaving the track but why not just remove all kerbs then if that’s the solution. It’ll massively affect lap times everywhere as drivers will not be able to leverage the exit of corners. They’ve previously had a kerb there on the exit so just seems a poor oversight that previous works have not kept the design in tact.

    1. Would definitely be exciting to have a race without kerbs

    2. @slowmo rather than remove the kerbs, I’d like to see properly high kerbs back almost everywhere. Leaving the track either accidently, or by choice as you’d carried in too much speed should carry an inherent risk.

    3. The current situation of smooth run off areas with little cost for mistakes is definitely something I think that should be addressed in the future. I don’t understand exactly why we have kerbs as they maybe there for track integrity to stop the tarmac separating as loads are pushed laterally on the edges of the track. It’s something that would be interesting to hear from a track developers perspective in all honesty why we have these flat very wide kerbs that drivers abuse constantly. It’s easy to just say remove them but they maybe essential for some motorsports or for track integrity or safety.

  6. Onboard video of Kvyat also shows he had a tyre failure out of nowhere.

    1. Which was his right rear – meaning his issue didn’t occur as a result of running wide at that part of the circuit.

    2. Most probably a wheel failure

  7. They’re not really shorter kerbs on the exit of Becketts, but no kerbs. I would simply call what little is remaining the Chapel inside kerb.

    I say make no changes and force the drivers to change their line (ie: stay on the track) or risk the same happening.

    I’m glad there were no tyre blow outs in practice / quali as it would have been the only thing people would have banged on about all race! Or they would have done some trigger happy move like max laps / mandatory 2 stops, etc.
    Hopefully the softer compounds for the next race will simply force them to do 2 stops and make repeat blow outs less likely.

  8. If you look at Google Earth images of Becketts, you can see the grass worn away where cars have been running wide. In my opinion, that shows that the kerbs should extend much further than they currently do.

    1. To enable drivers to run even wider; carrying yet more speed?

    2. AJ (@asleepatthewheel)
      5th August 2020, 3:59

      @gardenfella72 Correct me if I’m wrong, but never have I seen as many cars in a single event go over on the dirt/grass on a normal timed lap. Saw Vettel alone do it around a dozen times, and other drivers too. The shortened kerb did really bother the drivers on the corner exit.

  9. I’m confused. The two photos look nothing like each other. The course has not changed that much in one year surely? Looking at a map of Silverstone – Becketts is a left hander and the area shown in the 2020 photo seems to be Chapel. Can someone explain this to me.

    1. The only thing that’s changed is the length of the kerb on the outside.
      The photos are just taken from different places, that’s all.

    2. I was confused initially too as the angle, zoom and some paint has changed.

      Look at the short kerb to the right of the front car in 2020. That kerb is at the very top of the picture in 2019.
      Then compare the kerb on the other side of the track. In the 2019 picture it comes back to about the point where the rear car is in 2020.

  10. Well if Pirelli are to be at fault for this then I extend my hand to say thanks for creating the most exciting finish in the past 20 years anywhere F1 has raced.

    Can’t recall when the driver of such a DOMINANT RACECAR effectively ran the entire final lap on a completely destroyed tire against a fast closing Max. Not racing speeds but fast enough to frightened the adults Watching at home.

    So thanks Pirelli and designers of the Gran Prix de Englishmen Curb Builders for one hell of a unexpected Grand Prix finish.

  11. Neil (@neilosjames)
    4th August 2020, 22:07

    Slightly off-topic, but… whether the kerb’s long enough or not, that run-off style is exactly what’s needed on a lot of other circuits to eliminate track limits issues. Kerb, little strip of grass, tarmac – safe and a good deterrent against running too wide.

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