Tyres, Losail International Circuit, 2023

F1 tyre fears lead FIA to schedule extra practice session and change timetable

Formula 1

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Fears over possible tyre failures at the Qatar Grand Prix have led the FIA to schedule an extra practice session on Saturday.

New rules on track limits will be imposed at turns 12 and 13. Drivers will have their first opportunity to assess them during a special, 10-minute practice familiarisation session which will be held at 4pm local time, the original starting time for today’s sprint race qualifying session.

The FIA has therefore announced qualifying for today’s sprint race will be delayed by 20 minutes and take place at 4:20pm local time.

The revised track limits will be imposed by a repositioning of the white line one the outside of turns 12 and 13. It will be moved towards the inside of the track by 80 centimetres.

The change has been announced after F1’s official tyre supplier Pirelli discovered problems on many tyres used by drivers during the sole hour of practice at the Losail International Circuit yesterday. “A separation in the sidewall between the topping compound and the carcass cords on many of tyres that were checked was discovered,” said the FIA in a statement.

Drivers will run longer stints on their tyres in the sprint race and grand prix than they did in practice. That has raised fears of potential tyre failures.

“It is the view of the FIA and Pirelli that a significant number of additional laps on these tyres could result in circumferential damage of the tyres with subsequent air loss, and tyres analysed with lower lap numbers showed a much-reduced extent of the issue,” said the FIA in a statement.

The FIA pinpointed new kerbs installed at the circuit this year for contributing to the problem. “This issue has likely been caused by the high-frequency interference between the tyre sidewall and the 50mm ‘pyramid’ kerbs used extensively at this circuit, aggravated by the propensity to ride those kerbs.”

Further analysis of the tyres will take place following today’s 19-lap sprint race. The FIA says it is prepared to introduce further restrictions if needed, including potentially forbidding drivers from running more than 20 laps on a new set of tyres, or requiring them to change tyres at least three times during the race.

F1’s sporting regulations state the sprint race qualifying session must begin “no less than four and a half (4.5) hours before the scheduled start of the sprint” race. However the FIA has confirmed the sprint race will start at its original scheduled time, four hours and 10 minutes after the start of qualifying.

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Keith Collantine
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61 comments on “F1 tyre fears lead FIA to schedule extra practice session and change timetable”

  1. Pirelly simply need more time and processing power. 12 seasons of experience in the sport and computer simulations that Michelin or Bridgestone could have only dreamt of 20 years ago aren’t enough to develop good slicks or wet tyres. Just give them another contract, 5 or 10 years, they will get it right!

    1. I hope Bridgestone get the next contract as much as anyone but to be fair to Pirelli here, this has been caused by kerbs that are not used anywhere else on the calendar and were only installed recently.

      Back in 2005 however, Michelin had far more oppurtunity to learn about the different asphalt (which had already been raced on) that was being used at Indy and take action, as Bridgestone did at the time. But chose not to.

    2. The problem is that they didn’t ask Pirelli to make the best tires they can make, but they have to be made bad on purpose, degrading in a specific way. I think that the biggest problem is in FIA actually. Bridgestone and Michelin don’t want to operate this way, because it’s damaging manufacturer’s reputation. Pirelli’s got the silliest task possible, being prevented from trying to improve the tires the way we’d expect them to, but having to comply with some crazy spec to allow for “more interesting” strategy games during races. If they had complete freedom, we’d probably have races without pit stops to begin with. Why do you think no other manufacturers shows serious interest in F1? Who knows, maybe Pirelli does a bad job, but they don’t have a team mate as a reference, like the drivers do.

      1. It would be good if this mantra would stop being advocated as if it is the truth, and as if it absolves Pirelli from making faulty tyres.

        First of all, they are not being asked to make “bad” tyres that degrade “in a specific way”. Yes, they are asked to make tyres that don’t last entire races, yes, they have to degrade in some way, but no, the FIA doesn’t mandate a specific way to degrade.

        Secondly, Pirelli should have the knowledge and expertise to work with that. They should be able to make non-everlasting tyres that are still safe to race with. The fact FIA ask them to have degradable tyres does not suddenly mean that when they are unsafe, it’s the FIA’s fault.

        TL;DR: the FIA writes out a tender, Pirelli said “we can do that”, there are no further excuses. If they didn’t deem it possible, they shouldn’t have responded to the tender.

      2. Coventry Climax
        7th October 2023, 17:09

        Dex, explain the relation between degrading fast on one side, and weak tyrewalls and delamination on the other, please.
        Even if you manage to come up with some sort of an explanation, it’s still a more lousy product than the FiA could ever ask for. And badly tested and/or simulated on top of that.

  2. Even more incentive to stay off the kerbs.
    And obey track limits.

  3. This is potentially the most insane thing I have ever seen from F1.

    1. It’s not even close to the most insane thing in F1.

    2. 2021 AD?

      1. Not happy that Ricciardo wasn’t allowed to unlap himself?

        Still not as ridiculous as USA 2005.

        1. Still not as ridiculous as USA 2005.

          That was actually the better way to handle this. If a competitor shows up and makes a half baked product, they have to withdraw their cars. Unfortunately, F1 has stopped being a competition on many fronts so now everyone has to suffer the same deficient products.

    3. Guess you’re not familiar with the 2005 US GP debacle then?

      1. Admittedly I am familiar with it, and it was the first thing that came to mind when I saw this news, although I was not an F1 fan at the time, and more meant “in my time following F1”, which is my bad, I should have made that clearer in my comment.

      2. 2005 US GP was the first thing that came to mind after reading this for me too! Thankfully this is a little different as there’s only one tire supplier and stubborn Bernie is no longer in charge…

        1. From memory, Bernie was quite keen to get them racing at Indy. It was Mosley who threatened to refuse to sanction the race and prevent F1 from ever racing in the USA again if they made any track modifications during the weekend.

          1. And he was 100% right to do so. The idea that F1 should change a track because a competitor shows up with a bad product is ridiculous. What’s next? Extra chicanes at Monza because Renault’s engine is bad?

    4. OK maybe this comment was a slight over-exageration. But the point still stands. There is so many levels of severe incompetence from so many parties just to reach this point.

      1. Coventry Climax
        7th October 2023, 17:18

        I don’t think it’s over-exagerated at all, given the amount of time Pirelli has been supplier already.
        Michelin was in its fifth year, the track hadn’t hosted F1 before. But yes, it was a huge failure from Michelin.
        Pirelli is in its 13th year(!), the track hosted F1 before, where they experienced similar problems, and apparently, the Losail curbs are used at other tracks as well. This is beyond stupid. Way beyond.

        1. This is wrong: indianapolis came in f1 in 2000, so that was the 5th year michelin had for that track.

          If anything, it’s qatar that has been in f1 less, giving pirelli less time than michelin had back then to solve any track specific issues with indianapolis.

    5. Would be quite amusing if they had to cancel the race, which would make Verstappen world champion. Even more farcical than crowning him after a sprint race…

      1. @red-andy
        You know what, that would be hilarious. And since I’m not sure we would be missing out on a spectacular GP anyway… I hope it happens

    6. This isn’t even the most insane thing which has happened with F1 tyres before. Don’t you remember the 2005 US GP?

    7. Did you just start watching? 😉

  4. oof.. That all looks pretty clumsy..
    Maybe the let’s not let them practice and go into a race blind so it maybe can lead to some interesting results is now leading to some interesting results… but not the intended kind

    Who’da thunk

    1. This is about kerbs and their overuse – not practice time.

    2. Oh god. All the whining over the sprint sessions is nauseating. This WOULD STILL have happened with multiple practice sessions. They would have had to either do this Mickey Mouse no running on the curbs in corners XYZ or limited the maximum laps. Really there should be neither. The over the top safety measures are already ridiculous.

      1. It would have still happened on a normal weekend but they would have more practice time to evaluate and test things.

        Due to the silly sprint format they only got 1 hour of practice where due to going straight into qualifying nobody was really doing any long run. And then 2 qualifying sessions where it’s all about 1 lap before going into 2 races.

        On a normal weekend the issue would have been found in FP1, They could have changed things and gathered more data in FP2 and had a better idea of where they stood going into FP3 to run some final checks before qualifying.

        Having to try and make changes and only have 10 minutes to test before going into the sprint sessions and GP is a problem of Liberty’s show over sport mentality and they deserve any chaos and negative PR that results from this.

        The sport needs to start been put before the show again!!!!!

      2. @Nick T.
        It’s not a whine about the sprint per se. It’s about limiting testing so it’s as much a whine about the proposed 2 day GP weekend. My whine was therefore more aimed at two and therefore a quite efficient whine.

        A whine, sure, but I feel I have a point. With more and proper testing these findings would surface sooner and no ad hoc extra session would have to be added. But I agree that bad tires will be bad in both scenario’s and therefore a problem in both

        1. As long as you’re not whining about the Spring Sessions in favor of more practice sessions. All more practice does is reward less talented drivers, lead to more Noah’s Ark effect and less of a mixed up grid. And there’s nothing artificial about a more mixed up grid due to less practice. I don’t favor a two-day GP weekend, but I do favor less practice.

          1. @Nick T.
            I could actually, because I think it is the wrong solution to the not-mixed-up-enough-grid-problem*
            *) assuming for a moment it is an actual problem

            Because which teams will trip up most often with limited testing? The weaker teams with less staff, less resources, less data. If anything, most of the time it will only just increase the performance gap making things worse.

            I think the cause of this problem* is in the strict design and engine regulations. It’s so restrictive that within the rules there is only 1 optimum car design. And 1 team will just be the best at it. With more relaxing of the rules more options will become available. Some teams could do more with the power unit, while some go for aero. Or even more extreme, an I4 hybrid or maybe a team completely ditching hybrid. They’ll have a light car but down on power. With very different cars we’ll see different characteristics yield different results on various tracks. That would mix things right up.

      3. Coventry Climax
        7th October 2023, 17:22

        If you’re ok with the championship being decided by the outcome of something other than a Grand Prix, namely a small prix, then why not award points for free practice and be over with it.

        1. If you award points to free practice, then it’s no longer that, it becomes a 90s-2000s qualifying session.

  5. Wonder what they’d have done in the two day weekend some people want to implement…

    1. The same.

      It’s good practice to check the tyres after every session and if necessary take appropriate measures for safety reasons.

      1. There’s less time to act. This would have happened after qualifying so you’d have to make changes just before the Grand Prix on Sunday with no margin for error.

      2. Coventry Climax
        7th October 2023, 17:30

        And it’s even better practice to make sure you come up with an at least somewhat decent product when you enter F1. Even more so when you’ve been the supplier for the last 13 years, and still manage to procrastinate-up big time.
        Who was it again, that recently said that in F1 teams should only be allowed to enter F1 if they bring quality?
        Well, if you consider Pirelli to be quality, than all new applicants would be just fine, up to granny Beth in her old Citroën 2CV.

  6. Give all the used tires to Red Bull

  7. If we can’t have rain then I will accept exploding tyres as a variable I suppose.

    Let’s all just hope that no one actually gets hurt due to Pirelli’s shoddy products.

    1. It’s all but impossible to get hurt in F1 cars these days. They’d have to try and hurt themselves.

      1. They’d have to try and hurt themselves.

        Please don’t give Liberty Media any new ideas for making more money Nick ;)

  8. The FIA and F1 get a lot of stick sometimes (sometimes rightfully so) but its good to see that they’ve been extremely proactive on a solution to this issue and there seems to be no arguements or unnecessary politicking about it.

    New tracklimit, familiarisation session to bring the drivers up to speed, and clear contingencies in case further action needs to be taken, bish bash bosh, job done. Exactly what should have happened at Indy all those years ago.

    1. Fully agreed. If they’re seen as boring for doing this, then they’re doing their job properly.

  9. I guess it’s better than just letting the tyres explode, as per several Silverstone races in the past.

    1. At least there was good racing.

    2. And what’s the problem with tyres exploding? It’s a nice variable added to otherwise boring and predictable races.

      1. A spec part should not be a performance differentiator.

        1. However – how the teams approach, understand and operate that part should be a differentiator….

  10. lets pretend its the old sunday morning warm up session

    1. F1 should get Bernie back to emcee on Sunday morning. I wonder what his joke about Danica Patrick would result in these days? lol. I think some people’s heads might literally explode.

  11. What tyre failure concerns? No more than on any actual new circuit, so zero logic in this sudden non-competitive running, not to mention why do it in a way that affects session timing when 15:40 to 15:50 would equally work.
    Totally nonsensical.

    1. The ones mentioned in the article: “A significant number of additional laps on these tyres could result in circumferential damage of the tyres with subsequent air loss” because of “the high-frequency interference between the tyre sidewall and the 50mm ‘pyramid’ kerbs used extensively at this circuit”.

      They wouldn’t do this if they didn’t expect it to be really bad. Because the optics are horrible.

      Better to do this now when only a few people are paying attention, than to have to explain a dozen or more serious incidents after Sunday’s race.

  12. Has anyone realised that the maximum laps = 20/22 that Pirelli have put forward will have Domenicali in fits of ecstasy at fitting in multiple sprints in one weekend and bundling most of them end to end?

    You can’t call this a farce, as a farce has to have a semi-believable plot.

  13. F1 since Pirelli came along …

    Can’t run in the rain.
    Can’t run where there’s kerbs.
    Can’t run where there are high lateral G’s
    Can’t adjust tyre pressures for performance – the most basic tool in any motorsport.
    Can’t do a prep lap for qualy without turning the circuit into a car park / dodgems track.
    Can’t follow within 2sec of the car ahead without losing performance.

    Remember the old days when all these problems were just never a thing …

    1. And they don’t even degrade in the way they were meant to. They have thermal degradation. The sole excuse for how crappy they are.

    2. Coventry Climax
      7th October 2023, 17:39

      Can’t run more than 20 laps before needing to change tyres.

    3. Yes, pirelli needs to go indeed, they were running fine in the rain before then, as long as many other points you mentioned.

  14. Would have been fun if they came up with a mandatory pitstop for the sprint to add to the stuipidity.

    1. Would have been fun if they came up with a mandatory pitstop for the sprint to add to the stuipidity.

      Then you could pick your pit stop lap by drawing numbers from a hat as the cherry on the cake.
      BTW. Which sprint? The stand alone, or one of the end-to-end ones labelled as the race?

  15. A Grand Prix too far, in so many ways.
    Hope everyone gets home unharmed. Couldn’t care less about the race result, let alone the sprint.

    1. If you couldn’t care less, why are you here commenting on it?

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