Formula 1 tyre supplier Pirelli has revealed its findings into the failures that affected three drivers during the closing laps of the British Grand Prix.
Mercedes duo Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas, along with McLaren driver Carlos Sainz Jr., suffered front-left failures in the final minutes of the race at Silverstone.
Hamilton hung on to secure victory, completing half of the final lap on three operational tyres, but Bottas – who had been second – and Sainz Jr. – previously fifth – dropped out of the points.
All three, along with the majority of the field, had fitted Hard tyres on lap 13 of 52, following Daniil Kvyat’s high-speed off at Maggots, which led to the deployment of the Safety Car.
Red Bull revealed after the race that Max Verstappen’s discarded Hard tyre also had cuts while Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel believed his rubber was similarly affected.
Pirelli carried out an investigation after the race and believes the length of stint teams attempted on the tyres, allied to the stress loads applied at the high-speed Silverstone circuit, resulted in the failures.
“Pirelli has concluded its initial analysis on a number of tyres that were run at the British Grand Prix last weekend,” read a statement issued on Tuesday.
“This allowed to identify the cause of the failures followed by deflations that affected both Mercedes and the McLaren of Carlos Sainz.
“The key reason is down to a set of individual race circumstances that led to an extremely long use of the second set of tyres.
“The second Safety Car period prompted nearly all the teams to anticipate their planned pit stop and so carry out a particularly long final stint: around 40 laps, which is more than three-quarters the total race length on one of the most demanding tracks of the calendar.
“Combined with the notably increased pace of the 2020 Formula 1 cars (pole position was 1.2 seconds faster compared to 2019*) this made the final laps of the British Grand Prix especially tough, as a consequence of the biggest forces ever seen on tyres generated by the fastest Formula 1 cars in history.
“The overall result was the most challenging operating conditions for tyres.
“These led to the front-left tyre (which is well-known for working hardest at Silverstone) being placed under maximum stress after a very high number of laps, with the resulting high wear meaning that it was less protected from the extreme forces in play.”
Pirelli confirmed that it will still bring the C2, C3 and C4 compounds to this weekend’s 70th Anniversary Grand Prix at Silverstone, going one step softer than the British Grand Prix choices.
It is nonetheless set to increase the permitted minimum tyre pressures in order to reduce the stress load on the construction.
It did not comment on the failure that prompted Kvyat’s accident.
*Editor’s Note – This information, cited by Pirelli, is inaccurate; pole position in 2020 was 0.790s faster compared to 2019.