2017 British Grand Prix

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Pirelli review says Raikkonen tire not faulty at Silverstone

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BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) Formula One tiremaker Pirelli has concluded that Kimi Raikkonen’s tire damage late in the British Grand Prix was likely caused by external contact.

Raikkonen was set for second place in the July 16 race but his tire problem allowed Valtteri Bottas to complete a Mercedes one-two with Lewis Hamilton. The Finnish driver even looked set to lose his podium spot to his own teammate Sebastian Vettel, but in a bizarre twist he ended up third after Vettel’s own tire shredded.

The sight of two Ferraris capitulating within moments of each other led Pirelli to conduct extensive post-race tests on both cars. Raikkonen’s problem, Pirelli said in a statement Wednesday, did not come from the tire itself.

“The possible initial cause of this damage is consistent with contact against an external body, leading to a partial separation of the belt from the carcass in the two affected areas,” Pirelli said. “On no occasion was there any sign of fatigue, detachment or laceration -or even the beginning of such problems – that affected the structure of the tire. In conclusion, Pirelli can confirm that no issues have emerged connected with the tire itself.”

Last week, Pirelli said that Vettel’s shredded tire at Silverstone was caused by a slow puncture.

Vettel appeared to be heading for third place at Silverstone until his front left tire suddenly blew apart two laps from the finish. The four-time F1 champion managed to steer his Ferrari back to the pits for a tire change, and secured seventh place to cling onto his championship lead. Raikkonen’s pit stop to change his tire came just before Vettel’s.

Hamilton won to cut Vettel’s championship lead to one point. Raikkonen, who has three podium finishes this season, is fifth overall.

The championship continues at the Hungarian GP this weekend before a month-long summer break.

Pirelli: Slow puncture caused Vettel’s British GP tire failure

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Pirelli has determined that a slow puncture was the cause of Sebastian Vettel’s Formula 1 tire failure towards the end of last Sunday’s British Grand Prix.

Vettel suffered a failure on his front-left tire on the penultimate lap of the race at Silverstone while running third, forcing him into a late pit stop that ultimately left him P7 at the checkered flag.

The incident was just minutes after Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen had also hit trouble with his front-left tire, although Pirelli stressed after the race that the incidents were unrelated.

Pirelli announced on Friday that, after conducting extensive analysis of the tire, it could confirm that its initial belief that Vettel had suffered a puncture was indeed correct.

“As appeared clear since Sunday afternoon, a full investigation has now confirmed that the original cause of the failure was a slow puncture,” Pirelli said.

“The consequent driving back to the pits on an underinflated and then flat tire led to the final failure.

“Kimi Raikkonen’s damaged tire shows less evidence of what occurred, so further tests and analysis are still ongoing in Pirelli’s laboratories and indoor testing facilities.

“It will take a few more days to reach a definitive conclusion.”

Horner: Red Bull would consider ‘significant’ offers for Sainz

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Red Bull would consider releasing Carlos Sainz Jr. from his Formula 1 contract if the price was right as speculation about the Spaniard’s future continues to circulate the paddock.

Sainz said over the Austrian Grand Prix weekend that a fourth year with Toro Rosso in 2018, Red Bull’s B-team in F1, was unlikely, only for his bosses to snap back and confirm he remained under contract for next season.

With Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen locked in at Red Bull for the foreseeable future, Sainz appears to be stuck at Toro Rosso, leading to suggestions he could be set for a move up the grid.

A report in the German media over the Silverstone weekend even suggested he could be in line to replace Jolyon Palmer at Renault for the Hungarian Grand Prix at the end of the month, but Horner was quick to rebuff this.

“I don’t know where these rumors come from, but I cannot believe that these rumors are out there for the Hungarian race,” Horner said, as quoted by Reuters.

“Carlos Sainz has a contract with Red Bull Racing. There are two years left on that contract.

“If somebody was prepared to make an offer, of course, we’d consider it.”

However, Horner stressed that it would need to be an impressive offer given Red Bull’s investment in Sainz, having funded his career from Formula BMW right the way up to F1.

“It would have to have a significant value attached to it because we’ve invested in Carlos significantly,” Horner said.

“You’re not just going to give an asset away.”

Should Sainz depart Toro Rosso at the end of the season, 2016 GP2 champion Pierre Gasly, who currently races in Japan’s Super Formula series, is next in line on Red Bull’s junior program to get a shot in F1.

Bottas perfects strategy, gets lucky in charge to P2 at Silverstone

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Valtteri Bottas edged closer to the summit of the Formula 1 drivers’ championship on Sunday by charging from ninth to second in the British Grand Prix, having perfected his strategy and enjoyed a slice of luck along the way.

Bottas qualified fourth, but was forced to drop back five places after receiving a gearbox change penalty earlier in the weekend, denting the Finn’s podium hopes.

Bottas was able to make up a number of places in the early stages before running deep into the race on the soft tire, making the switch to the super-soft late in order to go on a charge.

After emerging back on-track in fourth place, Bottas overtook Sebastian Vettel before then rising to second when Kimi Raikkonen suffered a tire issue.

With teammate Lewis Hamilton going wire-to-wire for victory, Bottas helped complete a perfect weekend for Mercedes that saw it top every session and leave with maximum points.

“For us, as a team, really perfect weekend given the circumstances, how we started today, me in ninth place. It’s just amazing what we’ve done today,” Bottas said.

“The car was so good to drive today. It was really quick and the team did a perfect strategy for both of us, I think, me and Lewis.

“I did start the race on the soft tire and had to run really long and we actually had to extend the first stint quite a bit because everything was still looking good. Towards the end, when I went to the supersoft, the pace was quick with the fresh tire.

“Sebastian was closing on Kimi. I think realistically he would have been a bit too far away, definitely, for me to get P2 but then I got lucky, on the other hand, he got unlucky to lose his second place.

“But 1-2 is perfect.”

Bottas is now just 23 points shy of Vettel at the top of the F1 drivers’ championship with half of the races run this season, and has scored more points than anyone over the last five rounds.

Pirelli believes Ferrari suffered different failures in British GP

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Pirelli hasn’t been in the crosshairs much of late – a testament to improved reliability, tire life and performance – but was a talking point in the final minutes of Sunday’s British Grand Prix as three different drivers pitted in the final few laps with left front tire issues.

But with both Ferraris pitting with left front issues, Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel both falling back in the final laps, it was worth exploring what happened and updating the media on what did. Raikkonen ended third, in a surprise recovery after both Vettel and Max Verstappen also needed to pit for repairs.

“The British Grand Prix contained a sting in the tail for the two Ferrari drivers, with Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen both unfortunately experiencing a tire issue close to the hard-fought finish; that’s a real pity and we’ll obviously now look into exactly why this happened together with the team,” Pirelli racing head Mario Isola said in Pirelli’s post-race release.

“The race was run at an incredible pace this year, with the fastest lap being nearly five seconds faster than the 2016 equivalent.”

Isola expanded on the issues in a post-race media scrum at Silverstone.

“We believe – although it has to be proven – that the mode of failure of the two tires is different, so we need to investigate,” Isola told reporters.

“What we can exclude is that we had any carcass failure on Kimi’s tire because the tire was still inflated. There is a part of the tire that is damaged and we will investigate deeply on all the tires, not just this tire.

“Sebastian had a different issue with a loss of air, so we have to understand and we will provide a report.”

Raikkonen was more blunt about his tire issue when speaking to NBCSN’s Will Buxton after the race in the media bullpen.

“All was fine. Then it suddenly exploded. The air wasn’t in the tire. A part came off and it was flapping around. It was sudden,” he told NBCSN. “It was only a few laps to go. We should have been OK.”

Red Bull’s Verstappen, who also pitted late in the race with left front issues, just blamed the strain of the high-speed right-hand corners at Silverstone, which Isola mentioned about the pace as key to the delamination and ultimate punctures.

“All the fast corners are the too right so it’s quite normal it wears out the left,” Verstappen told NBCSN. “We pitted early so struggled with that. There’s a bigger risk with punctures.”

Pirelli noted that Silverstone is one of the most demanding circuits of the year in terms of energy loads, with cars subjected to forces in excess of 5g.

This track could not be more different than the next race at the Hungaroring in Budapest in two weeks, one of F1’s tighter and more slower circuits.