Pirelli admit they “underestimated” effect of tire swapping

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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.

BREAKING: John Force taken to hospital after Phoenix eliminations crash

Photo courtesy NHRA
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16-time NHRA Funny Car champ John Force has been taken to a local hospital for evaluation and examination following a wicked crash with fellow Funny Car driver Johnnie Lindberg.

The crash occurred during the quarterfinals of Sunday’s final eliminations in the NHRA Arizona Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in suburban Phoenix.

Force was headed for a win when the engine on his Peak Chevrolet Camaro blew up just as it crossed the finish line, destroying the body. Lindberg, meanwhile, lost traction about one-third of the way down-track, but then got back into the gas to try and catch Force.

Force appeared to lose control of the body-less car and went across from the left lane he was in to the right-hand lane, where he hit the retaining wall in front of Lindberg.

Lindberg tried to avoid Force, but couldn’t. To make matters worse, the body on Lindberg’s car then came off and Force’s and Lindberg’s cars got tangled up in Lindberg’s parachute, sending both chassis’ into the left retaining wall.

Lindberg emerged from his Funny Car under his own power and was checked at the medical center before heading back to his pit.

Force, meanwhile, was helped out of his mangled wreck by the NHRA Safety Safari and was transported by ambulance to the hospital due to the severity of the impact.

Even though Force will be credited with the round win, he obviously will not be able to continue for the remainder of the eliminations.

To add insult to injury, NHRA officials charged Force with oiling down the racetrack, his third of the season in just the first two races. That will cost him 15 points in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series standings and a fine of $4,000.

Here are several posts from social media, including video of the incident from NHRA:

This is the second time Force has had an engine explode and the body blew off in the last two weeks. He also wrecked during the qualifying Feb. 9 for the season-opening Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals in Pomona, California. Here’s the video of that wreck:

MORE: John Force taken to hospital as a precaution after Funny Car motor explodes.

Force’s daughter, Top Fuel driver Brittany Force, suffered a hard wreck at Pomona, but recovered in time to race this weekend in Phoenix.

We’ll update Force’s condition when it becomes available.

Follow @JerryBonkowski