Monza speeds prompt tyre fears

The high-speed Monza circuit, the fastest on the Grand Prix calendar, has heightened concerns over recent tyre failures in Formula 1

Monza speeds prompt tyre fears

Michelin-shod cars suffered three failures a fortnight ago at Spa (to David Coulthard, Jenson Button and Juan Pablo Montoya), and then Michael Schumacher's Bridgestone-shod Ferrari had a high-speed accident when its left rear tyre punctured and exploded on Monza's main straight, the second longest in F1, in last week's test.

Schumacher said at Monza: "There was not much of the tyre left to examine but as far as I know, I had a puncture although we don't know exactly where. I'm not worried about what happened at Monza but more worried about Spa and believe, from the GPDA (Grand Prix Drivers' Association) point of view, it is clear what we want to ask, although it is nothing to discuss publicly. It is up to the FIA to look at the consequences."

Schumacher is believed to be referring to the aggressiveness of some of the kerbs at certain circuits, which can inflict damage to tyre sidewalls and possibly even to tyre construction itself.

Michelin has conducted its own investigation into the Belgian GP failures but failed to come to a specific conclusion, other than that circuit debris or circuit kerbing was a likely factor. None of the Spa tyres showed any fatigue marks or quality issues and the failures all occurred at different mileages (two, eight and 10 laps respectively). All the other Michelins in the race completed between 15 and 21 laps without problem.

For Monza, therefore, Michelin decided to accelerate a tyre 'speed limit improvement' programme that it had planned for next year and a new rear internal shoulder profile was successfully evaluated during last week's Monza test. The company also recommended raising the minimum rear tyre pressures and limiting rear camber.

Renault's Jarno Trulli said: "There is no reason to be especially worried about Monza, except that it is high-speed and we spend a lot of time doing 230mph."

Following the accidents at Indianapolis and Hockenheim, the FIA is in favour of coating the carbon fibre used in chassis construction with Kevlar, to limit the sharp shards of material that can be left on the circuit after an accident.

Another suggestion is that races should be stopped after accidents rather than run behind a Safety Car, to afford a better opportunity of clearing debris. That, however, throws worldwide TV schedules into confusion and does not necessarily mean that any clean-up operation will be any more effective.

"We have to be careful." Schumacher said at Monza, "Responding too quickly to something without proper thought can introduce other issues, which we have seen in the past in F1, and it is better not to have knee-jerk reaction."

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