Pirelli admit they “underestimated” effect of tire swapping


Pirelli’s motorsport director Paul Hembery has admitted that the Italian tire supplier underestimated the effect of allowing teams to undertake ‘tire swapping’ at the last race, believing that this was the biggest factor in causing the multiple failures at the British Grand Prix.

Lewis Hamilton, Felipe Massa, Jean-Eric Vergne, Sergio Perez and Esteban Gutierrez all suffered from blowouts during the race at Silverstone, triggering Pirelli to make changes for this weekend’s race. Hembery has admitted that it was a mistake by Pirelli which caused the madness to ensue.

“Just to recap, at Silverstone we’d underestimated the impact of swapping the tires,” Hembery said in the Friday press conference. “The cars were two, maybe three seconds quicker this year. Whilst we’d allowed the teams to do that, we’d underestimated the impact on the tire.”

Teams have been permitted to switch which side of the car they run the Pirelli tires on – i.e. using the front-left tire on the front-right of the car – and it has aided tire management, reducing wear in places. However, Hembery explained how this has caused a weakness in the tire which was evident at Silverstone.

“When you swap them around that creates a point with the metallic belt that we have on it, on the left hand side, the camber side, and that created the weakness.We got that wrong and we needed to get it right going forward.”

As a result, Pirelli have changed the structure of the tire, using a kevlar belt in the tire before reverting to the 2012 constructions for the Hungarian Grand Prix at the end of this month. The process of tire swapping has been banned for this weekend by the FIA following guidance from Pirelli.

NHRA: John Force-like motor explosions get contagious during Sunday’s Gatornationals

Photo and video courtesy NHRA
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John Force is rubbing off on others – but probably not the way they or he would like.

The 16-time NHRA Funny Car champion has had spectacular motor explosions in each of the first three races of the new NHRA season, including during Friday’s qualifying for this weekend’s Gatornationals.

During Sunday’s quarterfinals of eliminations, Force’s teammate (and son-in-law and president of John Force Racing) Robert Hight squared off with fellow Funny Car driver Matt Hagan.

As the duo closed in on the finish line, both cars experienced spectacular motor explosions of their own – virtually side-by-side and nearly at the same time.

Hight’s car was the first to explode, tossing its body high in the air. A split-second later, Hagan’s car exploded, also sending the body flying.

Check out the NHRA video:

Hight wound up losing the race.

Hagan, meanwhile, and his crack pit crew rolled their backup car off the hauler, put in a new motor and went on to race through the semifinals and into the finals, losing to race winner “Fast Jack” Beckman.

“We had a pretty great race day, to be honest,” Hagan said. “I’ve never been to the finals in Gainesville.

“We obviously had a huge blow up in the second round, then to watch these guys pull the other car back out and put it together in the amount of time they had, then turn a win light on against Capps (Don Schumacher Racing teammate Ron Capps in the semifinals), then to be able to go to a final, it was huge and it speaks for itself.”

As for Hight, here’s his take on what happened with the motor explosion:

“I couldn’t see (Hagan) over there and it wasn’t like it was hazing the tires or anything else. As it turns out it wasn’t spinning at all. It kicked two rods out when it blacked the bearings in the crank then it hit the valves and blew up.

“The thing gave me no indication at all before that. What really scared me was once I got it under control and I look over and see his body is off his car. I am thinking ‘Oh man, he got gathered up in me.’ Then I stood up and looked and his injector was sideways so I realized he had an explosion as well. We are just lucky we didn’t get into each other.”

As for the guy who has had so much trouble in the motor department, John Force, he lost in the first round of Sunday’s eliminations to daughter Courtney Force.

John Force planned on shutting the motor off on his car at around the 700-foot mark of the 1,000-foot dragstrip, not wanting to risk another motor explosion – even though it meant a likely loss to his daughter.

Now John Force and his entire four-car team, including Courtney Force, Robert Hight and daughter and Top Fuel driver Brittany Force, will be off for extensive testing to try and determine what’s been causing the motor explosions.

“We have to evaluate it and go test,” Force said. “We’ll figure it out.”

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