Pirelli to Debut Revised Tires for German GP Following Silverstone Fiasco
After the utter insanity of the British Grand Prix last week, F1 tire supplier Pirelli, facing a possible driver boycott of the German GP, has announced that a revised tire will be ready for Sunday’s race at the legendary Nürburgring. While the front tires will remain as they are now, the new rears will use Kevlar belts, as in 2012, instead of the steel ones that debuted this season. The tires are not symmetrical, so switching the right and left tires will be prohibited. A completely new tire will be ready for the Hungarian GP on July 28.
The catalyst for the quick tire construction was last weekend’s GP at Silverstone, which saw multiple crippling tire explosions that caused Lewis Hamilton to lose an early lead and forced Sebastian Vettel’s first retirement of the season. Other racers who limped back to pit lane on three tires and a wheel: Felipe Massa and Jean-Éric Vergne, who both eventually made it back onto the field, while Sergio Pérez’s blown tire forced him off the track for good. The Mercedes SLS AMG safety car got a workout that weekend, being deployed twice to allow trackside workers to clear off rubber and carbon fiber shards that littered the track.
Subsequent analysis has shown that the blowouts were likely caused by the perfect storm of circumstances. In a press release, Pirelli seemed to have shifted some of the blame onto the team, noting that the asymmetrical tires are not meant to be switched around as they were on the damaged cars; the sidewalls are designed differently to handle different loads. Aggressive curbing also led to severe punctures, as RACER notes, due to serrated curbs at critical points like Aintree. The article also notes that low tire pressures that maximize performance come race time move contact patches toward the softer middle of the tire.
From Hungary onward, Pirelli will be supplying a new, symmetrical tire that utilizes the 2012 structure and 2013 compounds. Pirelli also wants access to streaming real-time data on all tires, as well as FIA rules regulating tire pressure and camber.