Mercedes seek urgent tyre blistering fix to avoid “looking silly” in Spain

2020 70th Anniversary Grand Prix

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Mercedes’ trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin says the team will work urgently on the tyre problems it discovered yesterday to avoid a repeat in this weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix.

Shovlin expects conditions at the Circuit de Catalunya could be as challenging for tyre management as they were at Silverstone.

“There’s an element of urgency here because we’re flying out [to Spain] on Tuesday, running on Friday. It’s forecast to be 30C, the track will be a bit like this, it’s a high-energy circuit.

“So we’re well aware that if we don’t get on top of it we’ve got another Sunday looking silly.”

The blisters Mercedes suffered during yesterday’s race cost them a potential win. Rivals Red Bull were much less seriously affected, and Max Verstappen was able to overhaul both Mercedes drivers to win.

Shovlin said there appears to be several reasons why Mercedes’ performance was “not good enough” last weekend. “It’s fair to say that on the hottest days we’ve looked less competitive,” he said.

“We knew that blistering was an issue. We knew that last week, we were talking to the drivers about it [on Sunday] morning. We know the sort of temperatures that will occur at. So that wasn’t news to us.

“What was news to us this [in the race] was we are kind of at the very, very worst end of that problem and Red Bull appear to be at the very best end of that spectrum.

“That’s the thing that we need to understand because there’s been other races where everyone’s been in the same boat. Why are we an outlier? Right now we haven’t got the answer.”

Pirelli has nominated harder tyres for the next round of the championship which may allow Mercedes to “hide from” their problem, said Shovlin.

“If we don’t solve it, you can probably hide from it a little bit on that C1 tyre,” he said. “But we’ve still got to run the tyre that was causing us grief [as Silverstone]. That wasn’t solving the problem for us.

“We’ve seen Red Bull, they’re not that far off us in races even when we’re looking at our best. So I think, to be honest, if we don’t make progress, we’ll be in trouble there as well. So that’s kind of where this urgency to get a bit of a grip on it comes from.”

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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
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30 comments on “Mercedes seek urgent tyre blistering fix to avoid “looking silly” in Spain”

  1. This Mercedes problem has to provide clues to rival smart engineers IRO their chassis and power management up to now.

  2. Yes, low-30s forecasted for the Spanish GP weekend, although the compound combination in the hardest end of the range should lessen the impact of high-ish ambient temps.

  3. Some Bluff talk?

    If Pirelli doesn’t bring pressures to balloon levels again, I can’t see this being a particularly big problem.
    Mercedes ran medium tyre 8 days ago in Silverstone without any problems, yesterday (when it was called hard and had increased pressure) it behaved differently.

    Anyway, I think they already get clues, and by the weekend they will know what to do. This how they work

    BUT…
    #F1DitchPirelli

    1. You seem to be forgetting about the temperature difference between the two Silverstone races.
      The weather and surface temperatures were not even close.

      You also seem to forget that Red Bull made them work quite well, as did some others, including Leclerc. It’s not just about the tyres, it’s how they are used, and that comes down to each team and driver, not Pirelli.
      Your diatribe is tiresome.

      1. @S

        you seem to be forgetting mercedes always struggled in extreme heat but could keep up, and they were ok in normal pressure levels… Pirelli’s approach was a bit weird… I can understand they cant improve the tyre structure over a weekend but they could revise the expected lap life of the tyres to reflect. One wonders if tyre issue was due to ne curb layout ridings? Because it is not unreasonable to expect that pirelli can simulate temps and tyre loads under speed in corners etc for the duration of the race/life expectancy and figure out whether tyres’ lap expectancy was on target or over stated?

  4. My short answer from my armchair on this is that the Mercedes cars, which the Sky guys keep describing as ‘on rails,’ have the most downforce and therefore are applying the most force on the tires than the other teams. Added force, which is what has been cited by Pirelli as the issue, is coming from the downforce all the teams gained this year over last, but I think particularly the Mercedes cars. They have the best pu still, which means they can add downforce without it harming their speed, and it means they can corner ‘on rails’ and it also means they are stressing their tires the most. Methinks for Spain they need to take out some wing and consider more of a setup that slows them in the corners a bit but that they can make up for in top end speed. They need to push the cars down onto the track less. At least, when it is hot particularly.

    1. Exactly my thougts. Blistering comes from heat buildup in the tire. So they must put the most energy into the tires. If it’s cooler it is a well engineered bonus to have optimal tire temperature. But if it’s hot that will turn against you.

      Less wing wil solve it partially. More sliding is more tire degradation.

      1. Okay so kinda stupid comment but …
        DAS ?
        Isn’t that what it’s ment for ?????

      2. Good stuff @asleepatthewheel thanks for the reference.

    2. @robbie I’m not sure it’s that simple as the two design philosophies are very different. The Mercs runs a very flat platform while the RBs are quite aggressively nose down. So they are approaching things from a different perspective. So simply winding off or reducing the front/rear wings may do little or make things overall worse. Looking back at last yr Merc had issues with tyres at some circuits but across the season they had the faster car while RB seem faster at fewer circuits. I think we are looking at a similar script this yr.
      Also didn’t Marko say at the end of last season that Honda would be on par with the Mercs this yr as far as power goes? As I said prior the race the ‘The strategists are going to really have their thinking caps on’ and it as it turned out RBs Will Courtenay certainly earned his salary last Sunday.

  5. Maybe it’s time for Liberty to give Mercedes a private tyre testing again.

    1. Somebody had to show their bitterness I guess, may as well be you.

      1. Bitter or not it’s a perfectly fair comment

    2. Or change the tread depth again to suit the Mercedes…

      Toto starts kicking and screaming when he doesn’t have one second over the field.

  6. I would say the reason for their issues is that they have a car that is very heavy handed on its tyres, in the normal conditions the Merc can get the tyre into its operating window well but the hotter temps mean they over work it. Ferrari managed 4th place on a 1 stop and didn’t seem to have the issues of running a 1 stop strategy. I wonder if Ferrari have got a car very kind to its tyres but because they cant get it in the normal operating window they struggle.

    1. If Mercedes were as slow as Ferrari they could have made a one stop work. Not sure if that’s the answer Toto is looking for.

  7. Pirelli kept the minimum tire pressures at a level which has always been favourable for Mercedes package. Now that Pirelli changed those values we see how almost all other teams had no issues but Mercedes did.

    It this clear proof that Pirelli and Mercedes work close together on this matter to keep the tire behaviour working in favour of the Silver Arrows? I don’t know, just saying.

    1. Not Pirelli and Mercedes working together. That’s just silly. It was Mercedes and RB working together. Hence why RB told Max to take it easy.
      Still at the end of the day the right driver took the trophy.

      https://www.facebook.com/MercedesAMGF1/videos/2677824555808153/?v=2677824555808153

      1. Pirelli and Merc have a history.
        https://www.motorsport.com/f1/news/what-was-behind-mercedes-and-pirelli-secret-f1-tyre-test/3219584/

        But looking at the tires it seems Merc put in a lower pressure hence the midtire blisters and probably the reason for Hams accusation.
        https://youtu.be/ySO2Az0eUfs?t=74

  8. I have no doubt they’ll be absolutely fine in Spain. This loss I think was due to the Mercedes not liking the higher tyre pressures coupled with the softer compounds. Spain will have harder tyres, and lower pressures. So they’ll be cruising out front to the tune of a second over the nearest rival again.

  9. Looks like excessive tyre pressure. Those babies are blistering right in the middle.

    Also not enough rear downforce.

    Not sure about that though as they seem to have more than everyone else.

    Best we can hope for is more tires like this. It is the only way to make racing atleast a little bit less predictable.

  10. Both cars have different design philosophies.

  11. Degrading in Spain stays mainly in their frame…

  12. So any race where Mercedes don’t get a one-two and completely dominate means they look silly. Okay.

  13. I’m not sure the issues Mercedes were having was down to the compounds as they were struggling with compounds they were fine with the week before. I think it was simply down to higher track temperature & the raising of tyre pressures that was done in response to the failures the weekend before.

    With what knowledge they gained from this weekend & with temperatures getting lower as the season goes on through Europe into Autumn/Winter they may well be fine whatever is done with the tyres given how they seem to be even more competitive in cooler temps.

  14. Pirelli is the weakest link in the success of Formula One 2020 so far. The success of the RedBull with ZERO tire problems is suspicious. It’s not a natural sequence of events and reeks of manipulating tire pressures. How else can the discrepancy be explain. So much more RB performance and then the others have tire troubles common in both races for most.
    Maybe the RB result is just tire luck. This crap has to stop. Pirelli it’s time for improvements.

  15. Mercedes are the only team that runs “DAS”, the Dual Axis Steering system. They are also the only team that has such an extreme problem with their tyres. Maybe removing DAS and putting in a conventional steering system would alleviate the problem.

    1. So how did DAS cause blistered rear tyres exactly, enlighten us with your engineering genius.

  16. The ‘problem’ of Mercedes generating too much heat in the tyres in the summer might very well turn into an advantage when we’re having races in October and November

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