Head scratching ”tyre swapping” technique

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    As you know some teams have been switching the sides of their Pirelli’s, especially the rear tyres. Pirelli’s current 2013 allocation has a metal belt in the inside, bonding the compound to the tyre structure. The change from an aramid (know commercially as kevlar) belt to a metal one, meant that the tyres are now handed due to the characteristics of the metal band. Nevertheless some teams possibly all, have tried fitting their rights on the wrong rear side.

    Unfortunately because Pirellis markings are the same for each side, only the team’s markings can aid to visualize if the tyres are on the “right” corner.
    McLaren, Lotus, Sauber, Toro Rosso, all have visible cues albeit Toro rosso markings are S and D. Red Bull, Ferrari, Force India and Williams don’t carry huge visible characters associated with the side of the tyre, so it’s tough to know what they are doing this is if unless someone has some info about it, if so please reply.

    Although all the above teams have markings on their tyres these are not Pirelli’s, so who knows if the markings are related to the natural side of the tyre or what the teams prefer to use at any given moment.

    Chalk or paint markings aside, there’s always a small bar-code from Pirelli that assure the correct side of the tyre, unfortunately only a close-up shot can reveal the letter on the tag .

    Anyhow this shot from the Mercedes at Albert Park shows not only the Pirelli bar-code but also a blue directional arrow that Mercedes tend to often use therefore Mercedes have been “swapping” since Melbourne but not for the whole weekend
    Mercedes haven’t swapped the sides at all at Sepang either on inters medium or hard, curiously all were brand new when fitted on the car.

    In China, Bahrain and Spain I found no signs of the tyre swapping technique, if you did, fell free to reply.

    At Monaco Mercedes were again spotted using the swapping tyre technique but as in Melbourne not at all times another example here

    Following the complaints that most teams aren’t capable of using the full tyre surface, swapping the “fragile” rear tyres, should take advantage from the fact that the patch they had been wearing out, gets swapped around as the rear tyres are swapped from left to right, giving Mercedes a fresher compound surface, well this is just a theory.

    If this is in fact what Mercedes and other teams are doing they should benefit with less degradation and more consistent wear, especially helpful for the set used in qualifying and therefore for the race start, and whenever they resort to used tyres possibly here. As in the Malaysian weekend there were lots of new tyres for the race we didn’t see any switched tyres there.

    To add up the delaminations may have occurred on rear tyres that were at some point fitted on the wrong side. I think the delaminations could be a result of the inverted rotation forced into the tyre structure, causing uncosidered stress on the metal mesh inside the tyre.

    If Pirelli re-introduces an aramid construction on their new spec tyres the tyres won’t have to have sides therefore possibly no markings so we wouldn’t know if they are getting swapped around or not. The new tyres are going to be sampled by all teams in FP1 of the Canadian GP hopefully to be introduced by the British GP.


    The “S” and “D” markings on the Toro Rossos probably stand for “sinistra” and “destra”, which is Italian for “left” and “right”.

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