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.