Pirelli have responded to criticisms of their 2013 Formula 1 tyres, stating that the tyres do not compromise safety if used in the correct way.
However, the strengthened kevlar rear belt tyres that were tested in Canada will be used at the German Grand Prix, and will be running a new range of tyres from the Hungarian Grand Prix onwards, combining the 2012 structures with the 2013 compounds.
The Italian tyre analysed the tyres used at the British Grand Prix, which saw six drivers suffer tyre failures during the race, and found a combination of factors which accounted for the failures.
These factors included teams mounting the rear tyres the wrong way round, with the right tyre being placed where the left tyre should be and vice versa. The tyres were designed in such a way to deal with specific loads on the internal and external sides of the tyre, meaning that swapping the tyres round will have an effect on how the tyres react in certain conditions. The external part of the tyre, for example, is designed to deal with the very high loads generated in high-speed corners, as seen at Silverstone.
The failures at Silverstone were also put down to excessively low tyre pressures, extreme camber angles and aggressive kerbs on the fast corners, particularly turn four, where many of the failures were seen.
In conclusion to the findings of the analysis, Pirelli have underlined that mounting the tyres the wrong way round was underestimated by everyone, most of all themselves for not forbidding the act, as is also the case with under-inflation and extreme camber settings on the tyre.
As a result, Pirelli will now use the evolution of the current tyre, as tested in Canada, at this weekend’s German Grand Prix, which has a kevlar construction, replacing the current steel structure and re-introduction of the 2012 belt to ensure maximum stability and roadholding. These tyres are also asymmetric and the act of swapping them round will be strictly forbidden. Front tyres will remain unaltered.
The Hungarian Grand Prix will see the introduction of a new range of tyres which will have a symmetrical structure designed to guarantee maximum safety without access to tyre data, which is essential for the optimal function of the more sophisticated 2013 tyres. These tyres will combine the characteristics of the 2012 tyres but retaining the performance of the 2013 compounds, optimising safety.
The new specification will be tested on-track with teams and their 2013 cars at Silverstone on 17-19 July at the Young Driver Test where teams will also be allowed to carry out appropriate set-up work on their cars for the new tyres.
“What happened at Silverstone was completely unexpected and it was the first time that anything like this has ever occurred in more than a century of Pirelli in motorsport,” said Pirelli Motorsport Director, Paul Hemburey. “These incidents, which have upset us greatly, have stressed the urgency of the changes that we already suggested – which will be introduced during for free practice in Germany on Friday. We would like to acknowledge the willingness of the FIA, FOM teams, and drivers to act quickly to find an immediate solution to the problem. In particular, the adoption of winter tests, arranged with the FIA, that are more suitable for tyre development and the possibility of carrying out in-season testing will contribute to the realisation of tyres with increasingly improved standards of safety and performance. I’d like to re-emphasise the fact that the 2013 range of tyres, used in the correct way, is completely safe. While we wait for a change in the rules, we will introduce tyres that are easier to manage.”