Horner not certain higher tyre pressures will prevent further failures at French GP

2021 French Grand Prix

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Red Bull team principal Christian Horner is unsure whether the higher tyres pressures which have been imposed for this weekend’s race will prevent a repeat of the failures which forced one of his cars out of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

Max Verstappen crashed out while leading the race at Baku City Circuit when his left-rear tyre failed with five laps to go.

F1’s official tyre supplier Pirelli stipulates minimum starting tyre pressures for each race weekend. This is done to prevent teams trying to gain a lap time advantage by running lower pressures than the tyres can withstand.

However Pirelli believes some teams have found ways of running their tyres at lower pressures than it expected during sessions. An updated technical directive has come into force for this weekend which is intended to prevent that.

Pirelli has also increased the minimum starting pressures for its rear tyres by 2psi. But Horner is unsure whether they have gone far enough.

“Firstly, we were just pleased that no driver was injured the week before last because obviously accidents on that straight with walls in close proximity are never good to see,” he told Sky.

“We worked fully with Pirelli and the FIA to for them to try and understand what’s gone on because we have worked within the guidelines and prescriptions that Pirelli and so on come up with.

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“So then you’ve got to ask yourself, why did it happen? So the result is that obviously pressures have been increased. Is 2psi enough to prevent [that] something might happen again? I don’t know.

“We obviously need to rely on Pirelli and their technical expertise. But hopefully we won’t see incidents like we’ve seen obviously in Azerbaijan.”

Pirelli’s head of motor sport Mario Isola said they always set their tyre prescriptions with a view to preventing failures, but Baku showed they needed to go further.

“We always take a margin in our prescriptions to be sure that nothing happens,” he said. “Now we have learned that this margin can be probably not enough.

“It was the case even in Baku, but it was not the case for everybody. That’s important to underline because we checked several tyres from different cars and we didn’t find anything strange on the tyres or any initiation of the failure or any other element to tell us that we were really at the limit.

“So we have always to balance between this margin and a prescription that is in line with the performance of the tyres. We had to react to what happened in Baku, and this is exactly what we have done, that’s all.”

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2021 French Grand Prix

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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...
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...

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20 comments on “Horner not certain higher tyre pressures will prevent further failures at French GP”

  1. “We obviously need to rely on Pirelli and their technical expertise.”.

    Pun (not) intended.

  2. Well, I guess it certainly was a new wake up call of sorts that despite the changes to the cars, they are still running incredible amount so downforce and in pushing every small bit to extract performance are quite close to the limits of the materials.

    Off course we can never really be certain. But the changes should at least give Pirelli and the FIA somewhat more info to go on for decisions about tyres to keep it safe.

  3. f1osaurus is gonna have a field day…

    1. Not sure if there are tires in his dimension.

    2. Unpopularity Ranking: NUMBER ONE!

    3. @randommallard Lol yeah like whatever Horner says ever rang true.

  4. I don’t know what to think about all this… Should you give new directives on tyre pressures if you already stated a minimum tyre pressure and the teams are not following it? I mean, that’s the limit Pirelli recommends, and you go over it, you’re putting yourself at risk.

    On the other hand, I don’t understand what’s different to other eras when teams also pushed the boundaries of what was possible in every single way and the tyres resisted. I mean, imagine now someone coming up with a BT46B which raises cornering speeds ten-fold… They managed to race it back then. Gordon Murray said they didn’t have the time to come up with tyre developments or anything so they just increased tyre pressure, and they didn’t explode to bits. It’s hard for me to believe that with modern technologies and so much information (even with restricted testing) Pirelli cannot make a tyre that’s as good as the Bridgestones, Michelins (Indianapolis aside), Goodyears, Avons or whatever we had in the past…

    1. @fer-no65 I think the root cause of many of the tyre related problems we have seen over the past 10 years is the mandate/target letter from F1/FIA which have seen Pirelli having to produce tyres geared towards those targets rather than simply been the best racing tyre they could come up with.

      With Bridgestone, Michelin, Good Year & even Pirelli’s of past era’s the only target was to produce the best race tyre possible & of course in periods of tyre competition you had the added incentive of trying to beat the other suppliers which naturally lead you towards having to continually improve your product.

      1. @stefmeister true, but they don’t degrade as much now. And we had blown diffusers and all and tyres didn’t explode… maybe because the delta was so great that teams replaced the tyres every 10 laps anyways so they never got to the point of failure.

    2. Funny you pic the fan car as an example, the car that didn’t rely much on tires for grip. Anyway at the time the one thing the tire weren’t required to do is entertain . They could be Hard as rocks and twice the weight nobody cared, yet once in a while they did fail.

      1. Didn’t rely much on tyres for grip? how did it steer then?

        Downforce was increased at all times, while cornering much faster… Unless I’m very much mistaken, that puts extra effort on a tyre going around a corner 30 mph faster than they’d normally go. Where that downforce was created is meaningless from a tyre perspective

        1. @fer-no65 Carbonized does have a point in the second part of his statement. The tires did fail used to fail, such as Mansell losing the championship in 1986, or Hunt nearly losing the championship in 1976, both after suffering punctures in the final race of the season.

          1. @randommallard that’s true, and it’s hard not to see this with rose tinted glassed. However, I don’t recall those failures being this frequent.

          2. @fer-no65 You’ve hit the nail on the head with the rose tinted glasses. There were quite a few punctures that people have forgotten in the past, usually because they just occurred to the smaller and insignificant teams. But they have definitely increased slightly under Pirelli, but I can still only think of 6 occasions in the 10 years of Pirelli where something like Baku happened:

            Silverstone 2013
            Spa 2015
            Austria 2016
            Silverstone 2017 (Ferrari were probably going too long on those stints though)
            Silverstone 2020
            Baku 2021

            A lot of these seemed to be put down to the a similar root cause at each event though (the T5 kerbs at Silverstone in 2013, the Chapel kerb drop last year etc)

            I didn’t follow F1 for many of these years though so everyone please feel free to add more.

  5. “we checked several tyres from different cars and we didn’t find anything strange on the tyres or any initiation of the failure or any other element to tell us that we were really at the limit.”

    And nor did AM or RBR detect anything strange nor have any initiation of failure ahead of their blowups. Everything looked absolutely fine with their tires before their incidents. There was nothing going on that had them radioing their drivers to conserve nor to pit. So I find it hard to believe that having followed Pirelli’s parameters, and even if they took it to the limit of the parameters, and were fine by all checks, AM or RBR were doing anything somehow out of range to cause this. One would think that if they were so out of range the tire would have shown some signs of distress, some warning to the team through their telemetry.

    So in that sense I can see Horner’s concern over a 2psi increase making much difference. Will they now have at least some warning via their telemetry so that they can take a safe measure for their drivers because of this pressure increase?

    1. Even my simple car gives me the tire pressure and tire temp with 10sec intervals.
      It’s even possible to graph the results in an third party app I belive.
      I think it’s the absolute minimum info the teams get with shorter intervals.
      A drop in tire pressure is something you will see at once.

      1. erikje Indeed Red Bull was fine that the running pressure staid below the advised minimum.

  6. Iam sure there be fine Christian as long as you don’t monkey around with them ;-)

  7. “we checked several tyres from different cars and we didn’t find anything strange on the tyres or any initiation of the failure or any other element to tell us that we were really at the limit.”

    So did they also check Vet and Per tyres? Did they show sign of fatigue or developing issues? If yes, say so, if not, the theory and thinly veiled Insinuation against RB and AM is just deflection from own failings. Either the tyres were substandard or operating conditions not thoroughly understood to recommend appropriate parameters. Either way this is being kept intentionally vague because it comes back to the tyre supplier.

    Reply moderated
  8. Imagine if strategy didn’t mean pitting 15 laps from the start and then making the tyres last. Either pit later giving tyres less laps to cover or pit twice.

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