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
Load comments
The ‘screaming’ F1 engine future that may not be out of reach Plus

The ‘screaming’ F1 engine future that may not be out of reach

OPINION: It wasn't just the Verstappen/Hamilton clash that had the Red Bull and Mercedes bosses at loggerheads at Silverstone, with the nature of Formula 1's 2025 engines also subject for disagreement. But hopes to have loud, emotive engines that are also environmentally friendly don't have to be opposed

Formula 1
Jul 29, 2021
The drivers that need to strike gold before F1's summer break Plus

The drivers that need to strike gold before F1's summer break

OPINION: Formula 1 is about to break up for summer 2021, with the title battles finely poised. But it’s not just the latest round of Max Verstappen vs Lewis Hamilton that will be worth watching this weekend in Hungary, as plenty of drivers are eying big results to change the stories of their seasons so far

Formula 1
Jul 28, 2021
How Lotus F1 uncovered, then squandered its last ‘unfair advantage’ Plus

How Lotus F1 uncovered, then squandered its last ‘unfair advantage’

Cast in the mould of its founder Colin Chapman, Lotus was powerful and daring but 
flawed – as it proved through further soaring peaks and painful troughs into the 1980s. DAMIEN SMITH examines a game-changing era

Formula 1
Jul 27, 2021
The core problems Yas Marina’s long-awaited tweaks won't address Plus

The core problems Yas Marina’s long-awaited tweaks won't address

OPINION: Changes to the layout of Abu Dhabi’s circuit aim to reverse the trend of insipid Formula 1 races there - the promoter has even described one of the new corners as “iconic”. And that, argues STUART CODLING, is one of this venue’s abiding failings

Formula 1
Jul 26, 2021
How Ferrari offered Britain's next F1 prospect what Red Bull couldn't Plus

How Ferrari offered Britain's next F1 prospect what Red Bull couldn't

Last year's Formula 2 runner-up Callum Ilott could be on his way to becoming the first Briton to contest a grand prix in an Alfa Romeo since Reg Parnell in 1950. But, says OLEG KARPOV, the Ferrari Driver Academy protege is having to temper his ambition at the moment – outwardly at least…

Formula 1
Jul 25, 2021
The signs that point to F1's rude health Plus

The signs that point to F1's rude health

OPINION: Formula 1's calendar might still be facing disruption as the pandemic affects travel but, says MARK GALLAGHER, the business itself is fundamentally strong thanks to the epic rivalry taking place on track and the consistent arrival of new sponsors

Formula 1
Jul 24, 2021
The unexpected benefit of F1’s sprint race repeat Plus

The unexpected benefit of F1’s sprint race repeat

OPINION: Formula 1's sprint race trial at Silverstone drew mixed feedback on Saturday, but there remained the true test of how it would impact Sunday's Grand Prix. While fans were busy marvelling at Fernando Alonso's progress, a key lesson was being learned that would directly contribute to the dramatic lap one clash at Copse the following day

Formula 1
Jul 22, 2021
The off-track considerations that led to F1’s Hamilton/Verstappen Silverstone shunt Plus

The off-track considerations that led to F1’s Hamilton/Verstappen Silverstone shunt

OPINION: Formula 1’s 2021 title fight turned ugly last weekend when Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton collided at the start of the British Grand Prix. Verstappen thankfully walked away unharmed, but this had been a clash long-since coming

Formula 1
Jul 21, 2021