The 'stupid' F1 tyre conspiracy theory that can finally die

The completion of Formula 1's triple-header last weekend should kill off a "stupid" conspiracy theory that was surviving despite mounting evidence it was nonsense

The 'stupid' F1 tyre conspiracy theory that can finally die

When Pirelli announced it would make tyres with a 0.4mm thinner tread for the races in Spain, France and Britain to avoid blistering, some considered it was to help Mercedes after the champion team experienced problems during pre-season testing.

Suggestions of favouritism emerged particularly prominently during the Spanish GP weekend and returned in France and Britain, with Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton on pole for all three races and winning two of them.

But Pirelli's modified tyre was introduced after "all the teams" were affected during pre-season, according to its F1 boss Mario Isola.

Barcelona and Silverstone were resurfaced over the winter, and those tracks would now generate a lot of grip that put a lot of energy through the tyres.

This would not wear the tyres physically but would drive surface temperature up, causing blistering, and Pirelli considered that Paul Ricard's smooth, high-speed circuit would also leave it subject to the same problem.

"I'm sure we were not far from blistering at Silverstone," says Isola of last weekend's British Grand Prix. "With standard tread we probably had blistering.

"With this reduced gauge, it was possible to have a real race, looking at the real performance of the car, without any external effect that was changing the balance."

Sebastian Vettel tried the normal Pirelli tyres in the post-Spanish GP test in May and admitted Ferrari would have been worse off in the race without the modified rubber.

While France was not a problematic race for tyres, in Britain Vettel struggled with his front-left and fell vulnerable to Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas at the end of the first stint and again as the second wore on.

Ferrari's vulnerability at Silverstone could be linked to its car's upgrade floor and diffuser, which boosted overall performance but may have also stressed the tyres more.

Car set-up has a significant impact on how teams prevent or trigger blistering and Vettel experiencing some difficulty at Silverstone is similar to Barcelona, where Ferrari trialled its new rear suspension for the first time.

"In Barcelona it was very important to have the test after the race to show that we didn't make this [change] to give an advantage to anybody," Isola says.

"Sorry to say, it's stupid. We are supplying everybody, any team that is winning a race is on a Pirelli tyre.

"There is no real advantage for us to give support to one or another."

The bottom line is teams that are supposedly kinder on the tyres than Mercedes should not have suffered problems when the tyres were tweaked to handle that better.

Evidently, this was not the case.

Pirelli's modified tyres were only planned to be used for those three races, so the non-issue should finally be over.

If they do return, this year or next, the conspiracy theory should not re-emerge with them.

shares
comments
When Alfa Romeo went unbeaten in F1
Previous article

When Alfa Romeo went unbeaten in F1

Next article

Other factors masking Williams' F1 gains in 2018 - Sergey Sirotkin

Other factors masking Williams' F1 gains in 2018 - Sergey Sirotkin
The pioneering pair who brought a new glory era to an F1 heavyweight  Plus

The pioneering pair who brought a new glory era to an F1 heavyweight 

With the team’s founder now retired and a new boss at the helm, change was coming to Brabham – change that would shape the future of Formula 1. In the third part of our four-part history of Brabham, DAMIEN SMITH examines the effect Bernie Ecclestone had on the team

The combination behind the Silverstone racing battles Hamilton called "F1 at its best" Plus

The combination behind the Silverstone racing battles Hamilton called "F1 at its best"

OPINION: The late battling in the British Grand Prix wowed Formula 1 fans and surely represents the best racing action of the season so far. And there was a cocktail of factors that created the action, from which Carlos Sainz emerged as a popular new winner

How Ferrari’s Monaco headache became its Silverstone migraine Plus

How Ferrari’s Monaco headache became its Silverstone migraine

OPINION: Ferrari won the British Grand Prix with Carlos Sainz, but it ultimately cost Charles Leclerc a chance to make a bigger dent in Max Verstappen's title lead by leaving the Monegasque out on old tyres towards the end. Like Monaco, indecision over strategy proved to be the Scuderia's biggest issue - and if the team doesn't reflect, the headache can only intensify

Formula 1
Jul 5, 2022
The five factors behind Sainz winning a British GP he’d twice lost Plus

The five factors behind Sainz winning a British GP he’d twice lost

Formula 1 has a newest race winner, in a grand prix the victor appeared to have lost twice, only to charge back to headline a sensational and dramatic British Grand Prix. From a massive start crash to a late sprint finish, here’s how five factors saw Carlos Sainz take his maiden grand prix win

Formula 1
Jul 4, 2022
Why there was no case to answer in Aston’s latest F1 copycat saga Plus

Why there was no case to answer in Aston’s latest F1 copycat saga

The appearance of a revised Aston Martin in Spain caused controversy but PAT SYMONDS explains why the FIA investigation found the Silverstone team had no case to answer

Formula 1
Jul 3, 2022
Why it's Red Bull that really leads a three-way fight so far at Silverstone Plus

Why it's Red Bull that really leads a three-way fight so far at Silverstone

After a slow start to Friday at Silverstone, all the Formula 1 teams had to effectively cram in a day’s worth of practice into one hour. But there was still plenty to learn and while Ferrari topped the times, a three-way battle is brewing ahead of the British Grand Prix

Formula 1
Jul 2, 2022
Why the future is bright for the British GP Plus

Why the future is bright for the British GP

It wasn’t so long ago the situation looked bleak at Silverstone with the future of the British Grand Prix under threat. But a transformation has seen it restored to one of the most important races on the Formula 1 calendar, with bigger and better to come

Formula 1
Jul 1, 2022
Could mixed fortunes for F1's leading Brits turn around at Silverstone? Plus

Could mixed fortunes for F1's leading Brits turn around at Silverstone?

For the first time in many years, none of the local racers starts among the favourites for the British Grand Prix. But George Russell, Lewis Hamilton and Lando Norris could have reasons for optimism

Formula 1
Jun 30, 2022