ERJ staff report (BC)
Milan – Following the spectacular series of tire failures at the British Grand Prix, Silverstone, on 30 June, tire supplier Pirelli issued a press release on 2 July which appeared to place a substantial degree of responsibility on the race teams. Pirelli cited as contributory causes to the failures:
“1) Rear tires that were mounted the wrong way round (the right-hand tire being fitted to the left-hand wheel and vice versa, on the cars that suffered failures. … Swapping the tires round has an effect on how they work in certain conditions. In particular, the external part is designed to cope with the very high loads that are generated while cornering at a circuit as demanding as Silverstone, with its rapid left-hand bends and some kerbs that are particularly aggressive.
“2) The use of tire pressures that were excessively low or in any case lower than those indicated by Pirelli. Under-inflating the tires means that the tire is subjected to more stressful working conditions.
“3) The use of extreme camber angles.
“4) Kerbing that was particularly aggressive on fast corners, such as that on turn four at Silverstone, which was the scene of most of the failures. Consequently it was the left-rear tires that were affected.
“The only problems that had come to light before Silverstone were to do with delamination, which was a completely different phenomenon. To stop these delaminations Pirelli found a solution by suggesting that the teams use the tires that were tried out in Canada from Silverstone onwards.
“When this proposal was not accepted, Pirelli found another solution through laboratory testing, with a different bonding process to attach the tread to the carcass. So the problem of delamination has nothing at all to do with what was seen in Great Britain.”
This press release evidently ruffled some feathers, as a second followed later on the same day. Pirelli’s motorsport director Paul Hembery adopted a distinctly more emollient tone:
“Following today’s earlier press release that explains the tire failures at Silverstone [and] contrary to the impression that some people have formed, I would like to underline the collaboration and support that we are receiving from the teams, drivers, the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) and Formula One Management (FOM).
“In no way are we intending to create arguments or attack anybody. We have taken our responsibilities upon ourselves as our press release indicates. But not having full control over all the elements that impact on the use of the tires, we need everybody’s contribution. With regard to this, we are receiving the full support of all the parties involved, for which we are very grateful.”
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Pirelli’s first press release of 2 July
Pirelli’s second press release of 2 July