Formula 1 tyre supplier Pirelli has explained the issue it has encountered at the Qatar Grand Prix amid the threat of a stint limit during Sunday’s race.
The FIA announced on Saturday that Pirelli had discovered cuts in the tyres after the conclusion of Friday’s running.
The track limit was brought in by 80 centimetres at Turns 12 and 13 – where the worst of the damage was being sustained – ahead of Saturday’s Sprint Shootout, in a bid to prevent drivers from running over the kerbs.
Pirelli will carry out an evaluation of the tyres after the Sprint Race to determine if the situation has been replicated, and if there is a safety concern heading into Sunday’s race then there will be a mandatory three-stop strategy for drivers, and a stint limit of 20 laps.
“We saw an indication that there was in the construction of the tire on the sidewall, a small, small separation between the carcass cord and the topping compound,” said Pirelli boss Mario Isola.
“Obviously then we went deeper into the analysis, and this is due to strong impact against, or repeated impact against something. We believe that it is an impact against a kerb.
“Maybe it’s because yesterday in free practice, all the drivers were running wide, they had low grip, and it was difficult to find the rear line on the track. But our duty is to inform immediately if there is a potential issue.
“Probably the corners that are stressing the tyre the most are Turns 12, 13 or 14. We have to spend a lot of time on the kerbs. It’s not just the geometry of the kerbs, because these kerbs are used in many other circuits. It’s the time and the speed of staying on the kerbs that is important. So here, during the lap, all the drivers are spending quite a lot of time at high speed on the kerbs, and this is damaging the construction.
“We are going to cut the tyres again [after Sprint], analyse the tire, find the results of the investigation, and inform the FIA. If the problem is still there, the solution for tomorrow is to impose a maximum number of laps for each set of tyres.”
Isola outlined that the front-left tyre is the one most at risk, followed by the rear-left, front-right and rear-right. The issue is arising on all compounds.
“Just to be completely clear, if I cut a tyre and I show you the section, you cannot see any damage,” said Isola. “It’s so small, that obviously we can find the damage with a microscope. [But] it’s an indication, and obviously we cannot ignore it.”