Pirelli: Tire failures caused by outside factors

Leave a comment

Pirelli’s motorsport director Paul Hembery has explained that the tire failures which occurred towards the end of Free Practice 2 today at Spa-Francorchamps were due to “outside factors” besides the tires themselves.

Sebastian Vettel suffered a tire delamination with around twenty minutes remaining in FP2, forcing him to crawl back to the pits and costing him the final part of the session. Although the Red Bull driver still finished P1, the cause of the puncture was not identified by the team. Just after the session, Fernando Alonso revealed that he too suffered from a slow puncture during his final lap. However, Hembery has been quick to clear Pirelli’s name.

“Towards the end of the afternoon session, both Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso had a puncture on their right-rear tire around turn 14 and we are currently investigating the cause,” he said in a statement from Pirelli. “From initial analysis it appears that both were caused by an outside factor, probably debris on the track.”

The incident involving Vettel harked back to the tire blowout fiasco that ensued at the British Grand Prix earlier this year, where five tire failures risked the safety of the drivers and caused the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association to threaten to boycott the German Grand Prix.

However, Pirelli have since introduced a new construction of tire – matching the one used in 2012 – to prevent such occurrences.

IndyCar 2017 driver review: Ed Carpenter

Getty Images
Leave a comment

MotorSportsTalk continues its annual review of the Verizon IndyCar Series drivers that raced in 2017. The 2017 season behind the wheel was better for Ed Carpenter than either of the last two years, but still wasn’t ideal results-wise in his six oval starts.

Ed Carpenter, No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet

  • 2016: 25th Place (5 Starts), Best Finish 18th, Best Start 5th, 0 Top-5, 0 Top-10, 1 Lap Led, 11.2 Avg. Start, 21.8 Avg. Finish
  • 2017: 22nd Place (6 Starts), Best Finish 7th, Best Start 2nd, 0 Top-5, 1 Top-10, 5 Laps Led, 11.3 Avg. Start, 12.3 Avg. Finish

Ed Carpenter’s 2017 season was largely one of frustration, both behind the wheel and as a team owner.

While a respectable turnaround in results occurred – Carpenter finished between seventh and 12th in five of his six oval races after a nightmare season of ending 18th or worse in each of his 2016 starts – this is still not what he sets out to strive for in the races he does. Lost opportunities loomed larger than any official result he or the Ed Carpenter Racing team achieved.

Carpenter and new teammate JR Hildebrand, in for the departed Josef Newgarden, dominated preseason testing in Phoenix but Hildebrand could only muster third in the race, Carpenter a season-best seventh. Then at Indianapolis, Carpenter (second) and Hildebrand (sixth) flew the flag for Chevrolet in qualifying and practice pace, but they fell to 11th and 16th on race day owing to a front-wing change and late-race penalty for passing before a restart.

Both drivers got collected in incidents at Texas. Hildebrand qualified and finished a season-best second in Iowa but that result came only after the ECR crew rebuilt his car from a crash in practice. Then Carpenter had a practice crash in Pocono and despite a rapid rebuild, they missed the clock to qualify by mere minutes and were unable to do so. Carpenter’s spin on a slick Gateway track at the start of the race sent him over Will Power’s nose assembly in one of the scarier looking incidents of the year, although fortunately he was OK.

In a similar refrain as we often write, it’s not that Carpenter’s lost his ability to drive and he remains one of the series’ savviest and smartest people in the paddock. There have been a lot of extenuating circumstances of late, and it almost felt as though this team had “empty nest” components. Since September, Carpenter has had to secure his team’s future with a move away from its Speedway, Ind. shop, line up Spencer Pigot for a full-time drive replacing Hildebrand in the No. 21 car, find a new road/street course driver in the No. 20 car, and manage both driving and owning himself.