Pirelli Motorsport’s Mario Isola admitted it seeing tyres blistering during the Austrian Grand Prix on Sunday was somewhat unexpected, despite a few drivers suffering with the same problem twelve months ago at the same circuit.
Heading into the race there were not any concerns about blistering but higher temperatures on race day saw a number of high-profile drivers forced to pit for an unscheduled second pit stop, including both Daniel Ricciardo and Lewis Hamilton.
Race winner Max Verstappen did not suffer the same kind of issues, and neither did either Kimi Räikkönen or Sebastian Vettel who completed the podium, and Isola, the Head of Car Racing at Pirelli, said that whilst blisters should not be a regular occurrence, it is important not to jump to the wrong conclusion and bring harder compounds to circuits.
“On this track last year we had some blisters, so we consider this track has potential for blistering,” said Isola to Motorsport.com. “Blistering and graining are two effects that are well known by the teams, and they know how to manage them.
“Obviously we don’t want to have a situation in which we have blisters everywhere, because then it’s not a real race. People have just to manage blistering or change tyres because of the blistering, but not massive blistering that is affecting the result of the race.
“We can have blisters in Monza if it’s very hot, especially on the front, because you have the camber, and you have a lot of braking and traction. There are circuits where we can experience this. On the other side we don’t want to select too hard tyres because of the blistering.”
Isola believes the higher temperatures seen on Sunday compared to the rest of the weekend meant teams found themselves running with set-ups that left them prone to the blistering, particularly on the Soft compound that was heralded earlier in the weekend as a great tyre for race conditions.
“Sunday was completely different conditions to Friday,” said Isola. “A lot hotter, so different that it was really difficult to predict this situation. And during practice you never run as long as you do during the race.
“We saw for example on Friday and Saturday that the main issue was the graining on the ultrasofts, not blisters. We saw graining was a lot set-up related, some cars with graining on the front, some cars with graining on the rear.
“The blisters today was a similar situation, because I believe Verstappen had some blisters on the front, some other cars had blisters on the rear, so it was probably set-up related as well.
“The blisters we saw on the soft I believe was mainly due to the fact that without wear you keep a lot of temperature in the bulk. I’m saying that because the soft had a lot more blisters than the supersoft.
“It’s important to assess how deep, and whether they were surface blisters or not.”