Pirelli’s investigation into Qatar tyre failures indicates kerbs caused punctures

2021 Qatar Grand Prix

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Pirelli has revealed the initial findings of its investigation into the punctures which four drivers suffered during the Qatar Grand Prix 12 days ago.

Valtteri Bottas, Lando Norris and Williams drivers George Russell and Nicholas Latifi all suffered failures of their front-left tyres during the race.

Pirelli said its investigation into the failures is “ongoing” but that its preliminary findings “exclude any production defects” in their tyres.

It believes the failures occurred due to the severity of the load they experienced when running on kerbs at some points on the Losail International Circuit. F1 had not previously raced at the venue and Pirelli said they had not been able to judge the impact the kerbs would have before the race.

“Based on the findings obtained so far, the origin of the problem is mainly due to the amount of time these tyres were run on the kerbs, at high speed and with considerable lateral and vertical loads,” said Pirelli in a statement. It described the circumstances as “unique to the Losail circuit”.

“The heavy demand caused by running over these kerbs, which isn’t possible to measure from the data available before the race, damaged the tyre construction and led to a loss of pressure in the internal sidewall, which consequently caused the structure to collapse after several seconds,” it added.

The manufacturer will continue its investigation into the failures and “has shared all the technical details of the analysis carried out so far with the FIA and the teams”.

Following the race, Norris said the failures were “quite dangerous” and “just shouldn’t happen”.

“If we just can’t drive a Formula 1 car around the circuit, then what can you do?” the McLaren driver added. “I didn’t even do a very long stint – 20 laps, 25 laps, whatever – I should still be able to drive the circuit.”

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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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8 comments on “Pirelli’s investigation into Qatar tyre failures indicates kerbs caused punctures”

  1. No debries as the cause… maybe just tyre wear… as it should but a cliff is beter then a instant blowout.

    1. @macleod I cannot understand why people keep defending Pirelli. According to @gt-racer Pirelli is no longer required to make tires that degrade. Even if the tires don’t last very long (cannot even handle a full quali lap without overheating by the last sector). It is unacceptable to keep having the tire failures. Max’s failure on the straight was dangerous & this stuff keeps happening. Kerbs, debris whatever excuse they use is unacceptable. They tires should continue to loose grip & eventually have no grip. They should never randomly explode. 2007 China, Lewis’ tires went down right to the canvas & he kept driving. If it were Pirelli’s there would have been a “delamination” caused by kerbs or debris which are all normal things on a track.

      Never did we have this ridiculous amount of tire failures with Bridgestone or Michelin. How many times have front wing punctured a tire since Pirelli? I honestly don’t remember seeing that all the time with the 2 previous manufacturers.

      1. @s2g-unit I agree you on that Pirelli doesn’t a good job (even with the silly requirement of the FIA)

        I remember a lot of Michelin/Bridgestone failures on Silverstone (indi2007 for example) which the tyres failed also. Also The front wings were not wider then the span of the front tyres that is later so they didn’t had not problems with cutting into tyres.

  2. This seems like a shared problem between Pirelli and F1 at this point. Pirelli in that while it may not be a manufacturing defect, it is clearly a design failure that their tyres can’t cope with a FIA approved track without running a race at that track first to understand the loads on the tyres. And it is a F1 failure that they approve tracks at the last minute (see this week) without giving teams or suppliers time to understand what the conditions really are like for running incredibly complex cars that push everything to their absolute limits.

  3. Coventry Climax
    4th December 2021, 1:30

    Pirelli has a very, very serious problem with their R&D, if they are unable to properly estimate the loads that the sidewall structure of their tyres must be able to endure – on any circuit.
    If they -even before their investigations are completed- “exclude any production defects”, then that means the tyres were produced according to design, which is an implicit admission that that design can be qualified as the brown stuff that comes out of the back end of livestock.
    Furthermore, it is utterly unforgivable that the FIA keeps allowing Pirelli to investigate on the failures of their own product – with the predictable ‘It wasn’t me’ mantra as the outcome. That’s the same FIA that advocates safety on the road.
    You’ld laugh if it weren’t so sad.

  4. “Debris or kerbs?” “Let’s go with kerbs this time.”

    No production defects, except you can’t run these tyres on this track. That does sound like the tyres are unsuited for certain conditions.

  5. Simply put Pirelli is not fit for purpose.

  6. I think it was using the tyre that caused it. If it would have been safe in the garage, the only place where these tires belong, nothing like this would happened ;)

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