Vettel’s first-corner tyre failure at Abu Dhabi 2011

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    In episode 68 of The Flying Lap, Peter Windsor asked Paul Hembery if he knew anything more about Vettel’s first-corner tyre failure that led him to retire from the Grand Prix.

    Hembery answered that he couldn’t deviate from their original statement, but that people should look at Jenson Button’s onboard footage from the start and draw their own conclusions. Can anyone with access to that footage please find out what he means?


    I think it was Autosport suggested a few things that Red Bull used last year to keep up tyre temperature on the parade lap. One of which I think was perhaps using exhaust gasses to heat the tyres. I think this caused the tyres to over-heat on the grid? Not 100% sure of the full story though


    There was quite some smoke coming out on that part, that’s what I saw. I guess they were running things on the very edge for the whole season, and they just stepped over it there, in those circumstances.


    The onboard channel that was on the BBC showed the start from Perez’s perspective. The lap three start replays on the main feed shows nothing from Button’s camera.

    I haven’t got a copy of last year’s season review to hand, perhaps it’s on there?


    Uploading now.


    @adrianmorse Here you go:


    Looks like some little explosions from the exhausts are used to heat the tyres (or something!) and I guess they, as @Enigma says, stepped over the edge with it a bit.


    Thanks @damonsmedley. I have to admit it’s difficult for me to see much in detail. Puffs of white smoke, though, isn’t that the sort of thing conspiracy theories are made of? ;-)


    @damonsmedley Great stuff, thanks very much.

    Does lend credence to the theory put about at the time that the tyre overheated, perhaps because of exhaust gasses being blown on or near it to bring it up to temperature. Would certainly explain a lot about Vettel’s first-lap pace last year.


    I don’t know why people are so blind about this. It’s obvious that Lewis shot Vettel’s tyre with a titanium dart off the start. :P

    /end sarcasm


    Thanks @damonsmedley, I guess it means Red Bull really were a bit too adventurous in heating up their tyres there.


    I have another theory! What if this was a technical glitch — and it was only actually meant to fire the exhaust onto the tyres when he was doing the formation lap — but on this occasion it kept going as he waited on the grid. If this was the case, it would only be heating a single patch of the tyre, which would surely melt a hole in it or at least damage it pretty badly.


    Another conspiracy would be that Vettel couldn’t win any more records that race so they purposefully killed the tire to make everyone else feel better about themselves :(


    If the video is blown up to full screen, you can see two tiny flashes down by the diffuser. First on the left and then just before take off, on the right. Is this what we are talking about here. I would have thought it might have been a more constant and even flow of “warming” gasses as the wheel is turning for even distribution of heat, not a pinpoint explosion or the like.

    hmmm… curiouser and curiouser…

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