From the Monaco Grand Prix onwards, the FIA have confirmed that they will be upping their monitoring of tyre pressures, after teams were believed to have found a way around the restrictions put in place by Pirelli.
It is no secret that many teams and drivers are unhappy with the minimum tyre pressure specified by the Italian tyre manufacturer, as the measurements are much higher than they would normally set. Romain Grosjean in particular has voiced his dislike for the limit, speaking after the Chinese Grand Prix where he described his Haas F1 car as undriveable, he called for the restrictions to be changed.
The McLaren F1 team asked for clarification on the subject earlier this month after they became suspicious that other teams were using underhand tactics, such as heating wheels or using double chambers in the rims, to falsify their data. Teams have already been advised by the FIA that double chambered rims will not be permitted, and from the Monaco Grand Prix forwards the sport’s governing body will now be closely monitoring all tyre activity to ensure nothing suspicious is taking place.
Under the new process, teams will now have to send their tyre pressures, in standard psi and an unaltered format from the team’s telemetry, to the FIA’s Standard Data Recorder over standard CAN (Control Area Network) cable system. If any team is found to be operating unauthorised tyre pressures, then following further investigations the FIA are likely to enforce a clampdown, before penalties are finally introduced.
Speaking to motorsport.com, Pirelli Motorsport Director, Paul Hembery confirmed his belief that teams are playing around with the tyre pressures.
“Often when we are being told we have increased the [starting] pressure by 3-4 psi, we don’t see 3-4 psi when the cars are starting. It is probably around half of that. So something is happening.
“Maybe the first signals [of this action] were last year.”
It will be a difficult job for the FIA to accurately police the area of tyre pressure, as although sensors on the car are used to extract the data they are not always reliable, as Technical Director of the Williams Martini Racing team, Pat Symonds, told motorsport.com recently.
“The trouble is that the tyre pressure sensors are good but not perfect, and the electronics that are in them, we actually run them above the temperature that the electronics should run at.
“So consequently we do get failures on them. The reliability is not as good as it should be. If it becomes a regulatory thing: what happens then? Are we going to see a lot more failures? That is quite a cynical view but you might do, mightn’t you?”
It will be interesting to see what kind of activity we get in Monte Carlo, now that teams know they are being watched!