Pirelli: Debris to blame for Belgian GP tire failures

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Pirelli has concluded that the tire failures in last month’s Belgian Grand Prix were caused by debris and not the result of structural issues with its compounds.

Sizeable blowouts for Nico Rosberg in practice and Sebastian Vettel during the race at the Circuit de Spa Francorchamps raised concerns among the drivers about the safety of Pirelli’s tires.

Vettel launched into an irate tirade against Pirelli in the aftermath of the race, claiming that it was “unacceptable” that his tire had failed at high speed.

Pirelli initially blamed Ferrari for only changing Vettel’s tires once during the race, but vowed to launch a full investigation that has now been completed.

“The tests carried out by Pirelli on the tires used at Spa have confirmed the absence of any structural problems,” a statement from the Italian tire supplier reads.

“Pirelli has undertaken in-depth analysis on the materials and production processes used, utilising two different methods of tests and checks.

“Since the start of 2015, 13,748 slick tires have been used: including on especially severe tracks like Sepang, Barcelona and Silverstone. No problems have ever been discovered, underlining the fundamental solidity of the product.

“The events of Spa can therefore be put down to external factors, linked with the prolonged use of the tires on one of the most severe tracks of the championship.

“The external factors are demonstrated by a total of 63 cuts found in the tread of the Formula One tires used over the course of the Spa weekend, following numerous incidents that took place during the support races before the Formula One grand prix.

“In the previous 15 events (10 races and five test sessions) an average of only 1.2 cuts per event were noted. All this indicates an anomalous amount of detritus on the track in Spa, with a consequent increased risk of encountering a foreign object.

“At the end of qualifying on Saturday at Spa, following the exceptional number of cuts noted to the tires, Pirelli pointed out the condition of the circuit to the FIA and asked for it to be cleaned, as well as for the teams to be told.

“The FIA reacted promptly in arranging for the track to be cleaned and advising the teams. Together with the FIA, Pirelli proposes a study to evaluate the way in which circuits can be cleaned most effectively.”

The FIA has also issued a statement expressing its support for Pirelli’s investigation and findings.

Perhaps the most interesting part of that statement is the final bullet point, which does lay some of the blame with Ferrari for overworking the tire and making it more susceptible to the impact of debris.

Although the investigation has now concluded, all eyes will undoubtedly be on Pirelli’s tires over the course of the Italian Grand Prix weekend to see if any further issues arise.

Starting lineup grid for IMSA Petit Le Mans: Tom Blomqvist puts MSR on pole position

Petit Le Mans lineup
IMSA
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IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship contender Tom Blomqvist put the Meyer Shank Racing Acura at the front of the starting lineup for the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta.

Blomqvist turned a 1-minute, 8.55-second lap on the 2.54-mile circuit Friday to capture his third pole position for MSR this season. Earl Bamber qualified second in the No. 02 Cadillac for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Ricky Taylor was third in the No. 10 Acura of Wayne Taylor Racing, which enters Saturday’s season finale with a 19-point lead over the No. 60 of Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves) for the 10-hour race.

PETIT LE MANS STARTING GRID: Click here for the starting lineup l Lineup by car number

PETIT LE MANS: Info on how to watch

With the pole, MSR sliced the deficit to 14 points behind WTR, which will field the trio of Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and Brendon Hartley in Saturday’s race.

“We really needed to put the car in this kind of position,” Blomqvist said. “It makes our life a little less stressful tomorrow. It would have given the No. 10 a bit more breathing space. It’s going to be a proper dogfight tomorrow. The guys gave me such a great car. It’s been fantastic this week so far, and it really came alive. I’m hugely thankful to the boys and girls at MSR for giving me the wagon today to execute my job.

“That was a big effort from me. I knew how important it was. It’s just awesome for the guys to give them some sort of reward as well. It’s always nice to be quick. If you do the pole, you know you’ve got a quick car.”

Though WTR has a series-leading four victories with the No. 10, MSR won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and has five runner-up finishes along with its three poles.

The strong performances of the ARX-05s ensure that an Acura will win the final championship in IMSA’s premier Daytona Prototype international (DPi) division, which is being rebranded as Grand Touring Prototype in the move to LMDh cars next season.

Taylor qualified third despite sliding into the Turn 5 gravel during the closing minutes of qualifying while pushing to gain points.

“Qualifying was important for points,” Taylor said. “Going into it, if we outqualified the No. 60 Meyer Shank Acura, they had a lot to lose in terms of championship points. So, we were trying to increase the gap over 20 points which would’ve made a big difference for tomorrow. We would have loved to get the pole and qualify ahead of the No. 60, but in the scheme of the points, it didn’t change a whole lot. I’m feeling good since it’s such a long race, and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura team does such a good job strategizing and putting us in a good position.

“I’m very confident in our lineup and our team compared to them over the course of 10 hours. I’d put my two teammates up against those guys any day. I think we are all feeling optimistic and strong for tomorrow.”

In other divisions, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports (LMP2), Riley Motorsports (LMP3), VasserSullivan (GTD Pro) and Paul Miller Racing (GTD) captured pole positions.

The broadcast of the 10-hour race will begin Saturday at 12:10-3 p.m. ET on NBC, moving at 7 p.m. to USA Network. Peacock will have flag-to-flag coverage.


QUALIFYING

Results

Results by class

Fastest lap by driver

Fastest lap by driver after qualifying

Fastest lap by driver and class after qualifying

Fastest lap sequence in qualifying

Best sector times in qualifying

Time cards in qualifying

PRACTICE RESULTS: Session I l Session II l Session III