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Monday, December 4, 2023

The important thing questions surrounding F1’s Qatar GP tyre drama

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Small separations in its development, attributable to harm sustained from operating throughout the Losail circuit’s excessive kerbs, had triggered issues about potential failures within the race.

A hastily revised configuration of track limits, allied to an emergency 10-minute follow session to get used to the brand new structure was step one in a weekend that might now have a completely totally different really feel.

So forward of what could possibly be a mandated three-stop Qatar GP, we take a look at the important thing points at stake by way of what has occurred thus far, and the place issues may lead from right here.

What has triggered the tyre drawback?

Pirelli found the issue after routine evaluation of units utilized in FP1 and returned by the groups, which as on each Friday had been reduce up and examined.

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As the corporate’s F1 boss Mario Isola famous, his engineers “noticed a sign that there was – within the development of the tyre on the sidewall – a small separation between the carcass chord and the topping compound.”

Additional investigation indicated that it was attributable to the Losail kerbs, particularly these within the high-speed Flip 12-13 part, the place drivers had been spending a comparatively very long time operating alongside them.

An ideal storm of the time spent on the kerbs, the excessive g-loadings within the nook sequence, the harshness of the kerbs and their edges plus the frequency put by means of the tyres as they bumped throughout them created the issue.

Isola defined: “It isn’t simply the geometry of the kerbs, as a result of these kerbs are utilized in many different circuits. It is the time and the velocity they keep on the kerbs that’s necessary.

“So, right here, through the lap, all of the drivers are spending numerous time at excessive velocity on the kerbs, and that is damaging the development.”

Is that this a brand new phenomenon?

Tyre harm was attributable to the Qatar kerbs in 2021, and what occurred was absolutely investigated by Pirelli after the race weekend, with the outcomes submitted to the FIA.

Pirelli press convention with Mario Isola, Racing Supervisor, Pirelli Motorsport

Picture by: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images

Nonetheless, Isola pressured that the particular drawback found on Friday evening was a brand new one, noting “I can add that we by no means discovered this problem. That is why we knowledgeable the FIA.”

The problem is attributable to the bodily pounding that the sidewalls had been taking.

“On this case, we do not have a problem with the development,” mentioned Isola. “It is simply the truth that you’ve got a repeated influence on the sidewall that affects the resistance of the compound, localised the place you’ve got the chord.

“As a result of the chord is providing you with a sure resistance, and you then push within the path of the chord and the compound is topic to this steady influence and you then break it.”

He added: “For those who proceed to run on the identical tyre, then these small fractures can proceed, after which you possibly can attain a degree the place you’ve got a lack of strain. And when you have a lack of strain, clearly, you run flat.”

Is that this a repeat of the tyre failures from 2021?

Pirelli is eager to level out that 18-inch tyres are in use this yr, with a low-profile sidewall, whereas in 2021 it was nonetheless utilizing 13-inch tyres.

That issue alone signifies that the 2 conditions are totally different, though Isola mentioned the present tyres are usually not inherently extra weak.

“The smaller sidewall for positive isn’t serving to,” mentioned Isola. “As a result of you’ve got much less alternative to soak up the hit.

“However usually, after we made some particular assessments on the 18-inch tyre, we realised that the extent of resistance of the development was in step with the 13 inches. So, we aren’t saying that the 18-inch tyre is weaker in comparison with the earlier tyre.”

The kerbs are additionally ostensibly totally different, though Isola famous that they act like these in use two years in the past.

“The geometry of the kerbs we now have right here is much like the geometry of the kerbs that we had in 2021 [with] the second row of the kerbs,” he mentioned.

“The purpose is that in 2021, this was the second row. And so, after they had been going out the primary row was 25mm, and the second row was 50mm. Now we now have just one row that’s 50mm. So, they bounce over the kerb, they usually go down.”

The new and improved Turn 12 kerb

The brand new and improved Flip 12 kerb

Picture by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

What’s incorrect with the Qatar kerbs and why cannot they be modified?

Losail made its F1 debut in 2021 by advantage of with the ability to organise a race at brief discover through the ongoing COVID-19 disruption.

However this yr marks the primary spherical to be held on the venue as a part of Qatar’s 10-year host contract. As such, the circuit has undergone intensive upgrades. Other than a resurfacing, the kerbs had been revised.

Though these new kerbs have been constructed to FIA specification, their raised 50-millimetre pyramid-style periphery has created high-frequency interference with the tyres.

Drivers are operating over them quicker and for longer in comparison with different tracks, in line with Pirelli. Because the automobiles wash out broad to the permitter, the inside sidewall drops over the kerb edge and takes repeated impacts.

The FIA assessed modifying the kerbs on Friday evening because the crucial tyre issues had been recognized. It was thought of whether or not they may be floor down, however the governing physique’s single-seater director Nikolas Tombazis reckoned there have been too many who had been too strong.

In its place, the white strains defining observe limits have been introduced in by 80cm to attract drivers away from the kerb edge.

Tombazis informed Sky Sports activities: “Security is completely our primary precedence right here. We did contemplate modifying the kerbs however within the time we had from final evening, very late at evening, till in the present day, that will not have been attainable. It was not one or two single kerbs. It was fairly an extent.

“They might have all needed to be filed off and that is very onerous concrete. That will not have been attainable. So, on that foundation, the subsequent factor we acquired was to really get the automobiles to remain a bit additional away from the kerbs, which is what we have performed by the change to the white line.”

Why probably make the Qatar GP a three-stop and never a two-stopper?

With Pirelli and the FIA concluding {that a} secure tyre life for the Qatar Grand Prix observe is 20 laps, it will be logical to recommend that Sunday’s 57-lap race could possibly be made a compulsory two-stop to make sure all drivers fell in line.

Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB19

Sergio Perez, Crimson Bull Racing RB19

Picture by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Nonetheless, ought to F1 go forward with forcing a most 20-lap tyre life, then it’ll additionally impose a three-stop race. It might appear unusual to want to place each actions in place, however Isola says there’s logic behind it.

“It is 57 laps and in the event you impose a two-stop, the chance is to have all of the automobiles on the identical lap coming in,” he mentioned.

“That makes confusion. So, in the event you impose a most variety of laps at 20, however three stops, you’ve got the flexibleness to mess around this.”

Will the groups get any additional units for the GP?

The potential for a compulsory three-stop race signifies that some drivers could discover themselves in need of the very best compound for the race if they’re compelled to cycle by means of them.

Issues additionally won’t have been helped by the truth that groups needed to conduct an additional 10-minute follow session on Saturday morning.

However Isola has mentioned there is no such thing as a scope for any additional tyres to be handed out, even on security grounds, as a result of there are usually not sufficient spare units on the bottom in Qatar.

“We do not have a variety of tyres that may give us the chance to suit a further set of any compound,” he mentioned.

“We’ve spare tyres, however we can not give one medium to you, one comfortable to him and one onerous to a different one.

“However I imagine that, with the present format, they’ve loads of tyres of their allocation. And do not forget they begin with 12 units, they usually have solely to return two.”

What course of will Pirelli undergo forward of the grand prix?

A ultimate resolution on whether or not or not additional security measures can be imposed for the Qatar GP can be made on Saturday evening.

George Russell, Mercedes F1 W14

George Russell, Mercedes F1 W14

Picture by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images

With the difficulty of tyre separation solely being noticeable as soon as tyres have been reduce open and examined underneath the microscope, there’s little additional evaluation that may be carried out earlier than the tip of the dash race.

“After qualifying there’s nothing we will do as a result of the groups are usually not going to return any tyres,” Isola mentioned.

“After the dash they’re obliged to return a set of tyres with the very best variety of laps. So in all probability we may have 20 units of tyres with 19 laps and clearly we’ll reduce them and we’ll run the identical evaluation we did yesterday so as to perceive how is the harm.

“[We will also see] if there are variations throughout the automobiles, if these new observe limits are working nicely and so forth, after which we’ll give the knowledge to the FIA so as to take the choice for tomorrow.”

What’s going to occur after this weekend?

The brief reply is investigations will proceed. The FIA and Pirelli ran simulations at Losail in 2021 however this information is now outdated since F1 wheel rims have grown from 13 to 18 inches to scale back the profile of the sidewall. The kerb design has additionally modified.

Subsequently, as soon as this weekend is full and the fast firefighting completed, contemporary analysis should be accomplished. These will assist set up with confidence the explanations behind the tyre problem, and to work on everlasting options.

Isola mentioned: “After this weekend, we’ll proceed to analyse the tyres: often as a traditional process. On prime of the evaluation we do right here on observe, we ship again to Milan and to our indoor take a look at division a great variety of tyres for added evaluation that clearly we can not do right here.

“As quickly as we now have the consequence, we’ll inform, we’ll put together a report to tell the FIA of any further findings after the race.”

The FIA can also be assessing the way it can finish the difficulty of observe limits, which stays excessive on the agenda, for good. Gravel traps and modifications to circuit infrastructure are excessive on the listing.

Concurrently, preliminary investigations are underneath technique to assess what position know-how would possibly play in rushing up how observe limits are monitored and enforced to keep away from delays in lap instances being deleted.

By Adam Cooper, Matt Kew and Jonathan Noble

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