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.

Sage Karam, Tony Kanaan fastest in Monday’s practice for Indy 500

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In the second-to-last practice session of the week, Sage Karam paced the 33 drivers qualified for Sunday’s Indianapolis 500 on Monday.

Karam had a field-best speed of 226.461 mph, followed by Tony Kanan (225.123 mph), Ryan Hunter-Reay (224.820), Charlie Kimball (224.582) and Alexander Rossi (224.507).

Sixth through 10th fastest were Will Power (224.445), Helio Castroneves (224.368), Marco Andretti (224.148) and rookie Zachary Claman Demelo (224.91) and Scott Dixon (223.966).

Power and Castroneves ran the most laps of all drivers at 120 and 118, respectively.

Two other Team Penske drivers struggled to get speed out of their cars. Defending Verizon IndyCar Series champion Josef Newgarden was 28th-fastest (221.982 mph) and Simon Pagenaud, who was the slowest (220.902 mph) of the 33 cars on-track.

Pole sitter Ed Carpenter was 14th-fastest with a best speed of 223.573 mph in a 100-lap effort.

Most drivers were in race trim or were testing things for Sunday’s Greatest Spectacle In Racing such as fuel mileage, chassis setup and more.

Rookie Matheus Leist missed most of the session with an apparent electrical problem that kept him to just 19 laps.

There was one incident of note during the 3 ½ hour session: IndyCar rookie Robert Wickens crashed coming out of Turn 2 during the first hour of practice.

Wickens appeared to skim the outside SAFER Barrier, went left and then violently turned hard back into the outside retaining wall.

MORE: Wickens wrecks during Indy 500 practice

The Honda-powered machine for the Canadian driver suffered heavy damage to the right side, particularly the right front tire and the right side of the front end.

There will be no further on-track activity for the Indy cars until Friday’s final practice to fine tune things for Sunday’s 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500.

We’ll have the full practice speed chart, as well as What Drivers Said, shortly. Please check back soon.

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