Analysis: British Grand Prix Pirelli tyre failure causes

A perfect storm of kerb design, track layout, internal shockwaves and low pressures is likely to have caused the British Grand Prix tyre dramas, according to leading Formula 1 engineers

Analysis: British Grand Prix Pirelli tyre failure causes

A perfect storm of kerb design, track layout, internal shockwaves and low pressures is likely to have caused the British Grand Prix tyre dramas, according to leading Formula 1 engineers.

As Pirelli continues analysis of the remains of the tyre blow-outs at its Milan headquarters, preliminary investigations have pointed towards a combination of factors being to blame.

Much of the focus during the race was on the kerb layout at Silverstone; with drivers being advised to stay clear of them during the race once it emerged that damage was being done to the tyres.

Following feedback from drivers and a first look at the tyres, a closer inspection of the kerbs after the race indicated that there were two areas of the track that were of particular concern.

The first was an area inside the kerb at the Aintree kink (pictured right) that drivers appeared to be short-cutting at times with their inside left wheels to get a better entry onto the Wellington straight.

The serrated surface there is likely to have put increased strain on the inside edge of the left rear tyre, especially with tyre pressures being run as low as possible for performance reasons.

Running pressures low is good for durability, but it means the contact patch of the tyre moves towards the inside shoulder - the very area that was being punished by the kerbs.

As Red Bull technical chief Adrian Newey said: "The tyre failures appeared to have been from the inside shoulder of the rear tyre. By raising the pressure then you move the contact pressure [patch] more to the centre of the tyre and less onto the edge."

TYRE SHOCKWAVES

Allied to potential cuts being caused by running across the kerbs - as drivers were also doing at The Loop - the Aintree shortcut may also have set off what one engineer suggested was a 'shockwave' inside the tyre.

This shockwave is something that can be exacerbated with the kind of steel belt design that has been introduced for this year, which is why the kerb factors were not a problem in 2012 when Pirelli's tyres featured a Kevlar belt.

With the steel-belt tyres running around 10-degrees centigrade hotter than last year's Kevlar version, any temperature increase caused by the shockwaves will have put the rubber closer to the danger zone.

The other area of the track that is being singled out as a factor is the kerb on the exit of Becketts where drivers prepare for the left hander at Chapel curve onto Hangar straight.

Behind the red and white kerbs on the exit is an area of old and now rough concrete blocks (pictured) - exactly where some drivers had been placing their left rear tyre.

This will have likely put tremendous forces on to the inside shoulder of the tyre which, allied to the internal shockwaves caused by the rough area, helped trigger the failures that occurred on the Hangar straight.

Pirelli's forensic investigations are expected to deliver a definitive answer on the causes of the problem in the next 48 hours.

If the combination of kerb design, tyre specification and pressures is proven as the cause, then it will only increase the need for Pirelli to take action prior to the next race in Germany where similar factors could also come into play.

shares
comments
Ferrari, Lotus, Force India ready to relent over Pirelli tyre fix

Previous article

Ferrari, Lotus, Force India ready to relent over Pirelli tyre fix

Next article

Lewis Hamilton now hopeful on Formula 1 title chances

Lewis Hamilton now hopeful on Formula 1 title chances
Load comments

About this article

Series Formula 1
Author Jonathan Noble
How long can F1 2021's brewing title battle stay clean? Plus

How long can F1 2021's brewing title battle stay clean?

Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen have been evenly matched so far in the 2021 Formula 1 title race. Neither has been afraid to get aggressive against each other on track, teeing up an enthralling contest as the year unwinds. But is their rivalry destined to end in broken shards of carbon fibre?

What the Spain result tells F1 about the next phase of the Mercedes/Red Bull title fight Plus

What the Spain result tells F1 about the next phase of the Mercedes/Red Bull title fight

OPINION: Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes have recovered from their pre-season woes to take three wins from the opening four races of 2021. But each time Red Bull and Max Verstappen have pushed them hard. So, what clues did the latest round of that battle – the Spanish Grand Prix – tease about the next stage of the season?

Formula 1
May 12, 2021
How Brabham’s one-hit wonder was boxed into a corner Plus

How Brabham’s one-hit wonder was boxed into a corner

The Brabham BT46B raced once, won once, then vanished – or did it? STUART CODLING reveals the story of the car which was never actually banned…

Formula 1
May 11, 2021
The changes Barcelona needs to provide a modern-day F1 spectacle Plus

The changes Barcelona needs to provide a modern-day F1 spectacle

Formula 1’s visits to Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya over recent years have been met with familiar criticisms despite tweaks here and there to the track to improve racing. With the 2021 Spanish Grand Prix largely going the same way, proper solutions need to be followed to achieve F1’s wider targets

Formula 1
May 10, 2021
Spanish Grand Prix Driver Ratings Plus

Spanish Grand Prix Driver Ratings

Often described as Formula 1's laboratory, the Circuit de Catalunya-Barcelona gave the clearest demonstration yet of the pecking order in 2021. And it's the key discrepancies from that order which illuminate who is excelling, and who needs to hit the reset button

Formula 1
May 10, 2021
How Red Bull’s deja vu set Hamilton on the winning path in Spain Plus

How Red Bull’s deja vu set Hamilton on the winning path in Spain

An aggressive first corner move from Max Verstappen appeared to have set the Red Bull driver on course for victory in the Spanish Grand Prix. But canny strategy from Mercedes - combined with the absence of Red Bull's number two from the lead group - allowed Lewis Hamilton to pull off a demoralising reversal

Formula 1
May 10, 2021
The toe-in-water origins of Lotus’s groundbreaking F1 journey Plus

The toe-in-water origins of Lotus’s groundbreaking F1 journey

In the first part of our history of Lotus, DAMIEN SMITH recalls how Formula 1 wasn’t an immediate priority for team founder Colin Chapman – but once he got a taste for it he just couldn’t stop…

Formula 1
May 9, 2021
How Hamilton’s qualifying record compares to Senna and Schumacher Plus

How Hamilton’s qualifying record compares to Senna and Schumacher

Lewis Hamilton has just become the first driver to record 100 world championship Formula 1 pole positions. Time to revisit a debate we discussed when he reached 150 front row starts in 2020.

Formula 1
May 8, 2021