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The tyre row behind Red Bull’s Belgian Grand Prix win
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Posted By: James Allen  |  29 Aug 2011   |  10:19 am GMT  |  171 comments

Sebastian Vettel may have led team mate Mark Webber home in a triumphant 1-2 for Red Bull yesterday, but behind the scenes feelings are running high between the team’s technical chief Adrian Newey and the F1 tyre supplier Pirelli about the safety of what Vettel did yesterday.

Pirelli were unhappy with Red Bull for running extreme camber angles, outside of their recommendations. The reason for doing this is to get better turn in to the corners. But the problem is that with the unique vertical loads every time the car goes through Eau Rouge and then the high wheel rotation speeds on the Kemmel Straight leading to Les Combes, the inside shoulder of the tyre overheats and there is a risk of it coming away, which at 310km/h would be an aircraft accident.

“Around 5pm yesterday evening Pirelli came to us and said that having looked at our tyres from qualifying they were concerned about the safety of the tyres and that they could be suffering structural damage in the junction between the sidewall and the tread,” said Newey. “They felt that failure of the tyre could be imminent on both cars. It was very concerning… We then entered into a lot of debate with Pirelli about what we should do. They recommended that higher front pressures would make the tyre safer, as would reduced camber – but without permission from the FIA, reducing the front camber would be in breach of parc ferme regulations, so we would have to start from the pitlane.”

“We took that risk,” said Vettel after the race. “We had as much confidence as we could get before the race. We had some long discussions straight after qualifying, yesterday night and this morning. Now we are sitting here it all went well and we finished one-two but it wasn’t an easy decision to make and not an easy race especially at the beginning to manage. You are driving into the unknown.”

Pirelli’s point was that they should not have been in this situation in the first place and it was only because of Newey’s push it to the limit attitude to racing that it arose. It must be said that Newey has always pushed design to extremes and as a result has had significant success in his career, such is the way of F1.

But when it comes to safety, it’s a different matter. Newey tackled this head on in an interview post race with the BBC in which he said that they had taken a risk but had got away with it.

“I have to say, it is one of the scariest races I have been involved in ever. It is heart-in-the-mouth stuff, because first and foremost our duty of care is to the drivers’ safety, and you are trying to make that call or making sure the car is safe while not excessively handicapping ourselves from a performance point of view.

“I found it quite a difficult judgement to make, and at the end of the race I was very relieved that both our drivers were safe.”

As the FIA pushes its Make Roads Safe agenda, this kind of thing isn’t what F1 should be projecting. FIA race director Charlie Whiting was across the situation and the stewards agreed to allow 17 new front tyres to be brought into the circuit, should they be required, as a back up for the start of the race.

Hembery had to make a decision; whether to move the goalposts and give Red Bull and other teams who were pushing the limits on set up a get out of jail free card, or make them work around the situation, such as by running the harder tyre, as Mark Webber ended up doing.

Essentially it boils down to Red Bull saying that the Pirellis were bordering on an Indianapolis 2005 situation, where the tyres weren’t safe for the circuit. In that instance the FIA refused to change anything to accommodate the Michelin teams, whose tyres were not safe for one of the high speed turns. This led to all the Michelin teams withdrawing from the race, leaving six Bridgestone cars only to race.

Pirelli, meanwhile, feels that the situation only arose because everyone has been getting more and more edgy on set up, as is the timeless way of racers. Other teams noticed some blistering in qualifying and in the race, but according to Pirelli, only Red Bull went past the recommended set up limit.

“We were in a little bit of a rock and a hard place situation,” said Pirelli’s Paul Hembery, “Because it was a situation that if we had run with some dry conditions on Friday and Saturday, ordinarily it is a situation that would have been minimised. So were left in a situation where one team in particular was stretching the limits of our recommendations and we felt that that in a race situation would create difficulties, and blistering.

“In the end, what do you do? Do you make a change and end up creating a precedent? Do you make a change that would be seen to assisting one team and all the other teams, particularly with the result we had at the end? If we had, I think today you would not be asking me about this, you would be asking me why we helped Red Bull win the race? So it was a very difficult situation to be in.

“We don’t appreciate being put in that position. It is a slightly unfair position to be put in. Of course it could have been avoided.”

This will carry on for a while; it is likely to lead to more cautious set up recommendations from Pirelli, with Monza the next race, where wheel rotation speeds are even higher than Spa.

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171 Comments
  1. Deane says:

    Had Vettel had an airplane crash at ER and, heaven forbid, been killed, it would of been a PR disaster for Pirelli but in reality the fault of Newey, Horner etc.

    I believe that Newey in particular is taking the pee here.

    The FIA should change the rules so that teams that run outside the recommended settings have to change them AND take the penalty, if the tyre supplier feels that the team have inflicted potentially dangerous damage on the tyres by pushing the limits.

    1. kenny5 says:

      Red bull took a very cautious approach to the race… Webber stopped on lap 3, and took on the hard tyres. Vettel stopped on lap 5 and had completed 2 stops by laps 13!!!!!!

      When they analysied the THREE sets of used soft tyres (which they had by lap 13), they were able to manage their strategy through to the end…

      Whats the fuss???

    2. Stuart Harrison says:

      I agree. Look at the situation – before the race, Vettel was 80-ish points clear, and Red Bull about 100 point clear of their next rivals. Newey admitted that it was a risk to run the tyres as they did, but they really really didn’t need to take that risk, did they?

      As it happens, they’ve all but sealed both championships, but if you’re worried about something the safest course of action would be not to do it – really, it’s not like they needed the points desperately!

      By choosing to ignore Pirelli they put both their drivers at risk and the consequences could have been disastrous.

      1. George says:

        Agreed, today they are LUCKY they can almost celebrate Vettel as the most young F1 double champion

        [mod]
        They are self-inflicting their own pain, they are too far ahead in both championship, there was no need to push past Pirelli recommendation.

        [mod]

      2. Glenn says:

        I totally agree Stuart. I’m a huge RBR / Webber fan but believe the risk was not worth considering due to the gap RBR enjoy over their opposition.

        I personally find it shameful but that’s my opinion. Maybe a rule that states that the tyre suppliers recommendations may not be exceeded would prevent it happening again?

      3. OzF says:

        The reason that they were concerned is the state of the tyres following Qualifying. I don’t think Newey realised they would react that way or else he wouldn’t have run such an aggressive setup. After Quali the cars were in Parc Ferme so they couldn’t change the suspension setup.

      4. FastGuy says:

        OzF makes a critical point in a neighboring comment…
        Newey didn’t choose a dangerous setup knowingly. What’s really in question here is what he did between a rock and a hard place; he could send the boys out with that setup or he could start from pit lane. It appears that the drivers were fully involved in all discussions, and went out fully informed and aware and as prepared as possible to get the cars to the finish. But Newey certainly didn’t come to the track with the idea to run a dangerous, borderline (over the line?) camber; the problem surfaces after practice, as OzF points out.
        They all did the best they could with an unusual situation. Some of the criticism here might be a little too harsh.

    3. Quercus says:

      Dead right, Deane.

      A recommendation by a supplier that has implications for safety should have the same weight as a rule and be policed accordingly.

      The max camber angle — like the max and min tyre pressure — as dictated by the supplier, should be the max allowable. If you exceed it you take full responsibility for any outcome.

      If there had been a major accident as a result of tyre failure, Newey would have been to solely to blame. He knew that and yet he gambled with the lives of his drivers. The fact the worst did not happen is simply luck.

      Arguably Red Bull won this race because they were willing to risk safety more than the other teams. What sort of an example is that to set?

  2. Nuno says:

    JA, in the case of an accident who do we blame, RBR or Pirelli? I think everybody agrees that is RBR. My next question is… shouldn’t they be penalized for such decision on the set up (passing the safety guide lines)? Should they only be penalized and investigated if a fatality occurs?

  3. Paul H says:

    I think the decision made was exactly right. The rules state the number of tyres allowed and that you must start on the same tyres you set your fastest qualifying time unless weather conditions interfere. Red Bull were pushing the limits, as is their want, providing tyres would have been like returning to the bad days of Ferrari favouritism. Pirelli should never have been put into this position. They provide the details of safe limits, anyone going outside these does so at their own risk, if it works, they get big gains, if not it could be a catastrophic failure. That’s F1, you roll your dice and hope for the best. Tables turned I can imagine the comments coming from Red Bull ridiculing any other team had they made the same request.

  4. rolf123 says:

    Did you notice Vettel jabbing the Pirelli official in the chest before the race (Hembrey?).

    Pretty sickening stuff from Red Bull all-round. This is a team with no class at all.

    1. Mario says:

      I guess Vettel was not told the truth, otherwise he would not have behaved like this, he would have squared up to Newey.

      Not good from RBR. They may be free to ignore Pirellis recommendations, but so they should take the responsibility.

      What they did instead was not nice, they ignored Pirelli and tried to blame them for putting drivers at risk, while in reality it was RBR themselves who gambled with their drivers safety.

      Pirelli has every right to be upset about this.

      RBR needs to go back to school to learn ethics.

    2. For sure says:

      Really? Thats unusual. I am sure it must have been a joke man. You cant literally jab someone and get away with that.

    3. Chris Mellish says:

      All par for the course for the hypocrites at Red Bull. Remember them mouthing off at Ferrari for their use of team orders, and then they do the same thing. Or all the politics and bitching at Silverstone over their off throttle blowing. Or their claiming to be the team that’s all about the fans, whilst posting engineers to stand around the back of their car stopping the fans from seeing the diffuser even though all the teams will have countless photographs. Or their claims about everything being equal for both drivers and yet there has only ever been controversy where Mark has been disadvantaged in favour of Vettel, not once the other way round. Or their whining about engine power and asking for equalisation even though they carry a fuel efficiency advantage worth just as much lap time on track. I’m sure there are many other examples as well.

      They’re the new bad boys of F1 as far as I’m concerned, and no matter how successful they end up being I still disagree and dislike the way they go racing.

      1. Segedunum says:

        You are comparing an awful lot of things there that aren’t comparable in any way as well as an awful lot of assertions.

        Fuel efficiency advantage? Errrr, no. If you have a less powerful engine it consumes less fuel. Simple. If you have a more powerful engine then you can choose when to use that power and choose to save fuel when you want. Whether anyone likes it or not the Renault is at a disadvantage.

    4. Steve says:

      I think what you noticed was Vettel pointing at the Pirelli guy, not jabbing him in the chest! Don’t be so over dramatic.

      1. James Allen says:

        Vettel has an excellent relationship with Pirelli management. In Germany he was with them on Saturday night until 10-30pm and they speak very highly of him.

      2. rolf123 says:

        Here is the footage of the Vettel petulance incident.

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vWkgG1lWkmk

        It doesn’t really look to me like he gets on well with Mario Isola.

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vWkgG1lWkmk

        He’s barracking him, pressuring him to bend to his will. The body language says it all. The pointing, the moving forward when Mario takes a step back, the smarmy “open arms” gesticulation – it all smacks of great disrespect in my view.

        In a live chatroom while myself and several other F1 fans were watching this, several people were shocked by his behaviour and said they would not put up with that themselves. I think Mario Isola is clearly trying to back away from confrontation because he clearly doesn’t want one.

        Sad to see such behaviour from Vettel to an official who is trying not to give an advantage to a team using obviously dangerous tactics and hoping they will see sense and take the parc ferme hit to make the appropriate changes.

      3. James Allen says:

        It was too late for him to do anything at that stage and it’s not Isola’s decision, as far as I’m aware. Top racing drivers have always behaved like this in any case.

      4. Charlie B says:

        Because Vettel’s winning so much, that finger does point involuntarily sometimes.

    5. Michael S says:

      How can you call the team a “no class team” all the teams were having huge wear problems… did you see the Macca and Ferrari tires?

      1. James Allen says:

        Not wear, blistering is different. Other teams were having problems, yes, as you can see from onboard camera shots of front tyres

  5. Ewan Spence says:

    It’s a no-brainer. Pirelli explained exactly what had to be done (change camber) and a workaround (higher pressure) and Red Bull had to decide on safety or speed – which is the fundamental decision of every F1 team and driver since the year dot. And there is scope in the rules abotu how to handle that – which is start in the pitlane.

    They pushed to far on the limits, nobody made them. Unlike Indy, this was a situation they put themselves into, and they were handed a way out. That they didn’t take is not down to the FIA or Pirelli, it’s down to Red Bull.

  6. Tom says:

    Great article as always James! I feel Newey has a lot to answer for here.
    He’s great at what he does, but when he risks drivers lives for a slight edge he needs to brought into question.
    Hopefully in the future this will teach him from putting drivers lives at risk!

    1. Rudy says:

      Vettel’s attitude with the flashy finger when he gets pole or win sicks me. It is childish. Red Bull, as I say, isn’t a racing team, it’s a PR operation to boost their energy drink sales. Without Newey, with a Renault engine they would be around 5th or 6th in the WCC.

      1. lol says:

        So you are saying a childish guy driving for a energy drink PR operation is kicking the butt of your favorite driver/team and writing F1 history as we speak.

        What does that say about them? No wonder you are so annoyed ;)

      2. Rudy says:

        Just what is appearing: RBR goes BEYOND the limits to outperform, even at their drivers risk, so Horner’s and Newey’s statements that security is first is ****t. The same with the flexi-wings last year and many other components that won’t arise now. When the rules don’t suit them they begin to cry and ask for rule twitching. Does it appear to you a serious F-1 operation?? No to me.

      3. Kristiane says:

        “Vettel’s attitude with the flashy finger when he gets pole or win sicks me. It is childish.”
        +1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1++11+1+1+1+1

      4. Phil says:

        Because no other driver has a little thing they do when they win or get pole?

        Your comment is sour Graps, nothing else but that. If it was Hamilton doing the finger there’d be no problem.

      5. Rudy says:

        Wrong Phil, Schu used to jump when stepping up on the podium. Barrichello used to make a choreographed motion like shaking his body. Alonso on the early wins made a gesture with his right hand closing four fingers against his thumb, like the symbol of chating. Then he exposed with his finger his number of victories. Many others just showed the thumbs up or raised their fist. What Vettel does is childish and sometimes it is perceived as rubbing to the others his achieved position. Verstappen has also comented on this issue on a Dutch newspaper.

      6. Mike says:

        Maybe all the other drivers should step up and not allow Vettel to win so much… As far as I’m concerned he’s dominating and can celebrate in whatever way he wants.

      7. Phil says:

        Exactly Rudy, many other drivers have done similar things. Are you not calling those childish as well?
        What Vettel does is no less or more childish than the Schumacher jump, Barrichello shaking and Alonso helmet ears.
        Either you have to call all behaviour childish or admit you’re just sour about Vettel.

    2. vancouver j says:

      If Newey hasn’t learned at this point from past experiences not to put his drivers in danger he never will.

      1. Quercus says:

        Reminds me of a certain team owner, now gone, called Colin. He pushed hard against the rules and often won — but frequently put drivers in danger. And it’s debatable whether some also died as a result.

        Letting one team get away with gambling with safety is not fair on teams who don’t want to risk their drivers’ lives.

        If the facts are as I understand them, Adrian Newey has gone down in my estimation.

  7. Alan Taylor says:

    To take an extreme view, if F1 teams discover that sticking six inch nails into the sidewall of tyres makes cars go faster, that’s what they will do. So whoever makes the tyres had better make sure they are safe. This is F1, its extreme that’s why we love it. Pirelli, welcome to F1 and thanks for your part in the brilliant races this year.

    1. Quercus says:

      That’s a ridiculous statement. A manufacturer can only make a component safe within a set of specifications they are expected to meet.

      If you asked them to produce a tyre that will be safe whatever a team does with it, then the tyre they come up with will, by definition, last an entire race, be bullet proof and weigh a ton — and it will also be useless for racing on.

  8. Jarv027 says:

    I think the tyres will be ok at monza. Not much elevation change at monza its a fairly flat circuit.

  9. Keith says:

    I think there needs to be some new rules put in place urgently to stop teams going outside of Pirelli’s guidelines when safety is involved… what Red Bull did was just plain stupid IMO.

    Imagine if Mark or Seb had been in a high speed accident as a result of something silly like this. I know this is F1 and the risks are high, but I don’t want to see serious accidents that can be avoided.

    1. lol says:

      No, Pirelli needs to acknowledge that RBR was using camber angle within the regulations. If 4.5 degree is allowed then Pirelli should make tyres safe enough to handle that angle.

      If they don’t make a tyre which is safe within the regulations, then they are just screwing around and responsible for whatever happens.

      1. Frans says:

        There are other stuff that aren’t regulated. You know how the teams react to that? following the manufacturer specification.
        The camber angle problem probably more about lack of practice in the dry so RBR couldn’t test the limit so they try to guess what the limit are which apparently a bit to extreme. Probably RBR and other teams already run the tyres beyond the recommended spec, but nothing happen since they already tested it at free practice. Yes, Pirelli probably can do a better job in designing their tyres, but to accuse them for not making tyres that are safe enough within regulation is stretching it a bit too far.
        Next time when they race at a race track which has a high break wear what should they do? blaming the brake that happens to work everywhere else or try to work around the problem?

        The only way that Pirelli could be deemed guilty is when someone having the same problem as RBR had while still be within the Pirelli recommendation.

      2. Rudy says:

        OK I agree in part with you on this. But let’s say you buy a set of tyres and you wish to extract maximum performance. You twitch your suspension, springs, dampers, put on the tyres and… badabang, you end up in a tree for components malfunction.
        Who’s responsible? The tyre manufacturer, the car maker, the performance kit manufacturer or you, assuming you knew, beforehand, the tolerances of all the involved components. Isn’t it the same? FYI: Pirelli didn’t recommend going beyond 4 degrees. If FIA allows 4.5 this is obvious subject for an urgent technical meeting between them. Personally I believe Pirelli isn’t up to F-1 standards, but if they said 4 why RBR risked their drivers safety? Nonsense.

      3. Richard Mee says:

        I’d love you to qualify your reasons for why Pirelli are not up to F1 standards. Personally I think they are doing an oustanding job. I’m quite sure that if they wanted to they could develop a tyre that would outlast the Bridgestone – i’m sure they have the tech and kjnowledge to do that – but they don’t because they understand the role of the tyre in the race complexity. I applaud them personally.

      4. jeff says:

        Are there any regulations governing maximum camber angles?

        If not, what do Pirelli need to design their tyres to? 10 degrees, 20, more?

        Given that everyone gets the same tyres, perhaps a rule should be initiated that Pirelli’s installation limits must be followed. It’s the same for everyone. As long as the playing field is level, then nobody should need to argue against that.

        All GP teams will push the design limits, though it’s arguable that perhaps Adrian has historically pushed more than most. The rules need to be constantly evolved to prevent competitive pressures placing the drivers in danger.

  10. terryshep says:

    Isn’t this more a situation of Pirelli pushing the limits, rather than the teams? After all, this is Formula One, spectators have been aware that racing cars travel fast for quite a while now, haven’t Pirelli noticed?

    Surely they should take a look at the formula they are supplying tyres for and design them to suit the cars, not expect the cars to be built to their specifications?

    As you have pointed out, James, we are going to Monza next…..

    1. Tim Parry says:

      Very good point. Also remember Pirelli designed the tire to specs from the F1 powers-that-be, who wanted more pit stops to create excitement and drama and less processional racing. By-products of drama and excitement are uncertainty, risk and danger. So let’s stop wringing our hands about the the EVIL Red Bull. There’s plenty of blame to go around here.

    2. Lee says:

      If 22 cars didn’t have a safety issue, but 2 Red Bull cars were desperate to change their setup/tyes, I can’t see why it’s Pirelli’s fault.

      Trying not to stretch the analogy too far for you here, so here goes.

      If Pirelli or any other tyre manufacturer say “these tyres can be inflated up to XX pressure”, who is in the wrong if they are inflated to XX + 10%. Your post suggests it would be Pirelli as the cars are supposed to go fast, rather than the team who went beyond what the tyres were rated for.

      “Racing cars travel fast” and going outside of the published camber angle limits don’t have to happen at the same time – the point of the article and 99% of the posts is that the other teams didn’t – or are you talking from a position of knowing the old Bridgestone tyres could handle twice the camber angle?

      From what I could see, Red Bull took a risk and Vettel would have been caught out except for the safety car which gave him a free pit stop – they probably realised after qualifying that it was a bigger risk than they thought and wanted a “get out of jail free card”, but given the choice of “you can have your grid positions or you can have your setup changes” they took the risk again….

      1. devilsadvocate says:

        Your logic is flawed, Pirelli needs to make tires that hold up to all possible setup configurations permitted by the rules. The rules should be the limiting factor not the tires. Using your example of pressures, if pirelli says youcan only inflate to XX psi but the rules say you can inflate to XX+20% and there is performance to be gained by inflating to XX+10% pirelli needs to male a tires that at a minimum can operate at the XX+20% stipulated by the rules not the teams backing off pressure to meet pirellis shortcomings… full stop

        The problem has far more to do with who everyone wishes had won the race instead and almost nothing to do with how safe/unsafe or hypocritical Redbull is, people admitting to that is an entirely different point. If Seb had speared into the barrier it would be 99% pirellis fault fr making a tire that could not handle an aggressive setup fully allowed by the rules and 1% RBR/fia’s fault for bot doing something about it

      2. Lee says:

        I think your last point is possibly tarring people with a brush that you could be tarred with.

        Even before the race, which kind of makes it moot about who won (past tense) the race, this was being raised as a concern, not just by other teams and commentators, but also by Vettel who appeared to be having a chest prod at the Pirelli guy.

        With regards to meeting what the rules permit – have a look:

        http://www.formula1.com/inside_f1/rules_and_regulations/technical_regulations/8712/fia.html

        All possible would appear to allow 35+ degree camber based on there being no limit?

        Perhaps the FIA need to expand the rules in that area so that your point about Pirelli producing fit for purpose tyres makes sense – otherwise, Pirelli’s approach is the right one.

      3. Aaron95 says:

        That’s crazy. The suppliers who make the brake pads/discs make them at various thickneses because some tracks wear out the brakes more than others. Yet the regulations don’t specify a different minimum thickness for each track.

        Taking your argument, the teams should be able to take the brakes used at Monaco, expect to be able to run them in Canada without them wearing out. That’s clearly not going to happen because Canada is more demanding on brakes.

    3. Stuart says:

      With all due respect sir, your sarcasm is misplaced. It was the teams that gave Pirelli the EXACT specification for the tyres that they wanted when they arrived in the sport. You can’t blame Pirelli for supplying exactly what was asked of them.

      This isssue has only arisen because the team(s) used the tyre outside its designed operating parameters, and they know it and admit it.

      The cars do not need to be “rebuilt” to Pirellis specifications. A camber change is an easy setup adjustment to do, but is just not permitted under parc ferme.

      Monza is less likely to have this issue simply because it does not have all the high speed turns; its mostly start/stop chicanes. For that same reason one would expect less camber is desireable anyway to have the tyres present themselves to the track surface flatter for better braking performance.

      1. terryshep says:

        Thank you, Stuart, for your response. However, I hold to my view that the tyre supplier should supply a product suitable for purpose. If the drivers find that they need a certain setting to give them confidence, they should be able to use that setting without deferring to outside suppliers.

        After all, Pirelli have proved that they can vary the characteristics of their tyres, as has been requested of them, to provide predictable levels of degradation to improve the racing (if you believe that to be the case). Not too difficult, therefore, to provide a bigger safety margin, I wouldn’t have thought.

        In fact, there’s little point in you & I chewing this over, we have no influence in the matter, it’s just our opinion, signifying very little.

  11. granada says:

    Newey is contradicting himself a lot. First he says something like the most important thing is the safety of the drivers and then he says that they had taken some risks. I don’t think Newey thinks a lot about safety. Kimi once lost the rear wing (iirc in Bahrain), what would it be if it had happened e.g. at Eau Rouge.

    On the other hand Newey is absolutely one of the best car designers.

  12. Mark J says:

    While I am sure Red Bull were very happy with the win. It would of also brought about many emotions because of the dangers they were facing, but for me this risk taking was not required. They knew very well the extremes they were putting on the tires if what Pirelli claims is true and if they were that concerned then change the settings and start from pit lane. They got away with it but I shudder to think what would of happened if a tyre blew out, this then brings dangers not only to the drivers but marshalls and spectators. This is a bigger concern what happens if a marshall is injured and its found Red Bull were pushing these limits knowing these risks? Who is at fault, these are serious questions and at what point do you ask yourself what is the worth of a win?

    1. Michael P says:

      I agree. They are miles ahead in both Championships… why put the safety of their drivers in harms way when they didn’t need too.

  13. michael grievson says:

    Its quite clear to me. Redbull were at fault.

    “I found it quite a difficult judgement to make, and at the end of the race I was very relieved that both our drivers were safe.” But not so concerned about your drivers safety that you would change the setup.

  14. Peter C says:

    Red Bull can be quite unpleasant sometimes, saying it was similar to an Indianapolis ’05 situation where the tyres were unsafe.

    That is just not true. The reason for Pirelli giving them advice about their extreme camber angles was for everyone’s safety.

    But because Red Bull want to explore what they think is an advantage over other teams (fair enough) & are given advice on how dangerous it could be, then don’t start blaming the tyres.

    They chose not to alter their camber angle because this meant starting from the pitlane. So the safety concerns only go as far as winning or not winning a race?

    I feel that there is economy of the actualite here.

    1. Andy says:

      I agree, to even suggest that this was similar to Indianapolis is ridiculous.
      Pirelli have done a fantastic job this year and now they have received bad publicity because of Red Bull’s irresponsible attitude.
      If Red Bull had genuine concerns, they had options: change tyres, camber angle, pressures etc but they wanted special dispensation from the FIA despite exceeding Pirelli’s recommended tolerances. In the end they did absolutely nothing, apart from tarnishing Pirelli’s reputation.
      Pirelli should request compensation from the FIA due to bad publicity caused by Red Bull.
      Red Bull should face a charge of bringing the sport into disrepute for making such allegations.

  15. Nigel says:

    James I don’t understand how red bull were able to overcome this issue given parc ferme rules. When after one lap they blistered the tyre and yet they managed to race on it with very few problems. It seems from what you are saying it was a judgement call and they got lucky. You would have to ask the question should a team put their drivers in this position when the reponsible thing to do would be to start from the pit lane. And given red bulls advantage they still would have scored goods points. If I was vettel or webber I would be slightly nervous of the managements decision making.

    1. Nigel (USA) says:

      Don’t kid yourself, the drivers could have made the call. There’s no way “management” could have forced the drivers to go out on unsafe tires.

      1. Nigel says:

        Fair point, although newey’s reaction after the race seemed to suggest otherwise.

      2. edmillington says:

        We will wait for Lauda’s comment.

  16. well says:

    Again proof Pirelli is using gimmicks to enhance the ‘show’ while disadvantaging 1 team to maximize their car’s performance so ithers catch up.

    Well done to REd Bull for showing them the middle finger. Maybe now Pirelli will clean up their act.

    1. Pyrope says:

      Eh? So if I tell you that a toaster is dangerous when used in the bath and you still decide that host, crispy bread is what you want when you bathe and you subsequently electrocute yourself, this would be my fault?

      Every mechanical component has a safe operation envelope. If you decide, knowingly, to operate outside this envelope then the manufacturer is in no way to blame when the component fails. If someone dies in the resulting accident then you, not the manufacturer, will be the one doing time for manslaughter.

      Red Bull and Newey are completely in the wrong here.

    2. HansB says:

      Ehhh…. what did you say ? Maybe just read this post of JA once again.

    3. DonSimón says:

      You seem to have gotten the wrong end of the stick….

  17. Damiano says:

    We want bleeding edge racing, but we don’t want to see teams pushing equipment past its margin of safety. If anyone needs a sobering reminder of how the race to the top can skew the perception of safety, you don’t need to look further than the brilliant documentary available currently on iPlayer:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00z8v18/Grand_Prix_The_Killer_Years/ !

    1. Rubinho's Keyfob says:

      That documentary was just repeated on BBC2 a week or so ago. I just watched it again. I think everyone currently at the sharp end of F1 should be forced to watch it before every race weekend :)

      It’s particularly relevant given the recent MAL/HAM spat and the risks RBR appear to have taken this weekend. A quote from a couple of minutes in: “You knew that if you crashed, you burned”.

      Watching this, it became shockingly clear that even in say the last 5 seasons, without the safety advances pioneered in that era we would have almost certainly lost KUB, MAS, WEB, HAM, PER, VET, BUT, and a few others.

      I wonder if things have now become so safe that people are becoming a bit blase with regards to safety (the driver is so well protected that maybe more risks can be taken which might cause a crash, because the consequences of a crash are just points these days).

  18. Sweetf1 says:

    Fascinatiing article. Really brilliant stuff. Thanks for uncovering this.

  19. Chris says:

    Obviously a recommendation is not a requirement and Red Bull had options to avoid the situation and chose to ride it out. It is their team and their decision and neither Pirelli nor the FIA should be persecuted for Newey’s risk although I’m quite sure this is going to yield further spec series type rules and further nanny, hand holding, sissyfication of F1. Please don’t box them in anymore and stifle the creativity of the engineers and designers. Let the teams make decisions in design that might fail or be different ie: take a risk that could win or lose the race…

    1. Pyrope says:

      The problem with your argument here is that it was Red Bull who were seeing the rule changes. Pirelli told them that what they were doing was dangerous, yet rather than change Newey & Co. demanded that rules be altered. That just isn’t on. I agree that “sissification” is to be avoided at all costs, but when a team makes a marginal safety call then they have to live with the consequences of their actions.

    2. stoikee says:

      Every team is aware of the effects of camber angle. Other teams noticed the blistering and didn’t go to the extreme setup yet redbull is the only one that persisted even though they were given a warning. Had there been an accident they have nobody to blame but themselves.

    3. Robert S says:

      i agree. they took a chance that’s all. i hope nothing more comes of this! also i was disappointed to see penalties handed out for the 1st corner collisions. mistakes such as out braking yourself on the 1st corner of the 1st lap shouldn’t be punished, particually for senna who is in his first race!

      1. ian says:

        and what of the innocent people that Senna took out despite his engineer warning him.
        There have to be consequences and Senna had a big wake up call.
        I am surprised he got off so lightly.

  20. Sue Fletcher says:

    If Red Bull set their car up outside Pirelli’s specifications knowing that there may be safety implications, they should be penalised.

    All this hand-wringing is a bit lame given that Pirelli spent a shed-load of money developing their tyres with certain limits on how they should be used.

    It would be a bit like one of the teams mounting a suspension arm 90 degrees out of line, then wondering why it broke.

    If safety is of such paramount importance, teams that use materials/parts outside manufacturing tolerances should be made to suffer some kind of penalty.

    I want to say strip them of the constructor’s points but this would not be suitable if they had had a catastrophic failure and not scored any, so perhaps a fiscal one would be more appropriate, or a 2-3 race ban.

  21. Thank you James, a fascinating article.

    It sounds like red bull were pushing the envelope, and then asking to be bailed out from it. I understand the safety aspect but they created it, the Michelin USA thins was due to the part of the circuit where the infield met the oval wasn’t it? therefore affecting everybody on that tyre……not design choice from within a team!!

    I love Adrian Newey and his design ethos, but not every choice is the right one I guess.

  22. DanielS says:

    I have to say Red Bull were clearly in the wrong here. Fernando Alonso made a set of softs last 17 laps (admittedly with a safety car thrown in).

    The issue here is that Red Bull seem to want all the performance that comes with running a car on the limit, but absolutely none of the negative consequences. Of course nobody wants to see a crash, but it was RBR’s set up call that was risking the tyres – not Pirelli. Red Bull had options: they could have made parc ferme changes to their cars to put them back within the recommended limits. The fact is you could argue they only had such a good qualifying precisely because they ran the cars more extreme than everyone else – why should they then be allowed to keep the quali gain and suffer no consequences?

    I am glad the FIA put their foot down on this. It’s very easy to exploit F1′s general (and obviously correct) concern with safety to get out of jail free – which it seems to me RBR were hoping for here.

    Newey is infamous for not compromising – think of KERs this year. He is a great designer, but he has frequently made fragile cars (think last year’s Red Bull, the McLaren that never was in 2003). People often forget that between 98 and 2010 his cars didn’t win a Constructor’s title, and he won his last Driver’s title prior to last year in ’99. I think he should learn that compromise can sometimes be a good thing; and sometimes failing to compromise – and then expecting someone else just to give way to you – is never going to get you the outcome you desire.

  23. Adam says:

    Newey was foolish and played with his driver’s life’s. If it went pear shaped he has to live with that! It didn’t, he got lucky and that will only encourage him in the future and make the drivers more likely to go along with it.

    Well that is in the end the FIA and marshals are there to stop this and if maximum camber angles are currently recommended by a supplier make them part of the formula.

    I am sure he pushes MANY other parts beyond what the supplier recommends every day. Reinforcing his behavior this weekend. Put in the realm of the tire, a failure can be highly significant; much more so then say the drive train failing which brings the car to a sudden halt but with much lower risk to the driver. He can’t do this as easily with body parts because the rules are already carefully crafted for minimum loads and crash resistance.

    It was like Schumacher in qualifying, he got lucky the wheel nut came off when he was in a straight line and not in a corner. Newey got lucky!

  24. Anton says:

    Newy took a huge gamble with the drivers safety and fortunately got away with it. If I recall correctly newy was also the technical director at Williams when senna had his fateful crash. Obviously I don’t have the hard facts but it makes you wonder.

    1. Trent says:

      Yes I must admit the same thought occured to me when I read this article, though I’m not sure if we know whose decision it was to modify the steering column. I suspect f1 engineering frequently involves pushing the limits, though as James mentions Newey seems to push further than many.

  25. Red5 says:

    Surprised that the Pirelli design does not factor in higher than normal camber, surely the full range of adjustment is known.

    Also understand why RB were not willing to compromise on performance. Credit to both the drivers, balls of steel.

    Do I guess correctly that rules do not limit amount of camber? I thought suspension geometry is defined in technical regulations. At extremes would also affect overall width of car?

  26. Michael S says:

    I saw extreme blistering on the McLarens, and the Ferrari’s as well… in fact it was most likely on all cars, but we only see the top cars during races. I for one am tired of Pirelli and their fall apart tires. I know in a way this is what fans wanted for more action, but I prefer my action on track not in the form of tons of pit stops this year.

    1. docjkm says:

      Agree. Manufactured race conditions, the Pirelli tires and DRS, are the equivalent of Bernie’s sprinklers. The results have been lauded, but it nevertheless has a cheap carnival aspect.

      1. Constantijn Blondel says:

        Yes, sure, let’s go back to how it was before, and have no overtaking at all, because the nature of the cars didn’t allow it.

        Oh wait, no, it was Tilke who is to blame for everything (disregarding the fact, that V8 Supercars ran some thrillers in Abu Dabhi and Bahrain – but of course it’s Tilke, so it must be the circuit that’s bad).

        Ah, now I see it – we need to go back to the cars of yore, when people DIED in F1. And of course, back to all those wonderful circuits, where losing control over a bump has a 50/50 percent chance of resulting in breaking some vital body part. But hey, at least we had action!

        Oh, wait, I forgot … aside from the battles we all know and love, and have seen repeated ad nauseam, the action was not necessarily more exciting than it was in the 90s and early ’00s … But hey, we had a couple of fights between Senna and Prost in a season, so who cares that not much more was going on, or that the midfield and backmarkers didn’t even bother trying … it’s called confirmation bias.

        Technology advances, especially something moving as frantically as F1. You don’t run Windows on an 8086. You don’t put your TV dinner on a gas-burning stove.

        In other news: you don’t drive modern F1 cars the same way that you drove the old cars. Let’s be happy, that we have action on track, and fights all throught the pack.

        Oh wait, I forgot: Webber’s overtake in Eau Rouge, Button’s wins, Alonso’s defensive and sly overtaking skills, Kamui’s fierceless attacking, Lewis’ hero-or-zero actions, Kovy consistently outperforming his car, podium- and points surprises on pure speed and skill of course have never to do with the drivers, because we all know that Pirelli, Kers and DRS fake the show. How naive of me. I forgot that only Senna, Prost, Villeneuve Sr., Stewart, Moss, etc. etc. knew how to drive a GP car.

        Back to manual stick shift, I say, and F1 will be rescued foh evah!

      2. Spinodontosaurus says:

        Whether other series can have good races or not is irrelevant. For F1, Tilkedromes on the whole are poor for passing.

        What they need is not silly push-the-button auto pass gimmicks, but to lower the downforce levels significantlty, and increase power to make up the lap time defeceit, as well as make an effort to improve tracks to encourage passing. Not only would this increase race action without sterilising any sort of competition and uncertainty, but would put more emphasis on driver skill.
        We HAVE had genuine racing this year in abundance, but the self-destructive tires and DRS ‘passes’ (might as well radio the driver and give them a “driver x is faster than you” such was the DRS’ effectiveness at Spa and Turkey) habe some-what/significantly reduced the value of this.

  27. Nelson says:

    Red Bull have no one to blame but themselves. They decided to exceed Pirelli’s camber set-up recommendations so they should deal with the consequences.

    If RB were *that* worried about driver safety then they should have started their drivers from the pit lane with fresh rubber. Is it just me or do you see a bit of Colin Chapman in Adrian Newey’s approach to this incident?

    1. lol says:

      RBR used the FIA allowed camber angle. Pirelli brought unsafe tyres that could not handle the camber angle allowed within the regulations.

      1. Flakey says:

        Since there no limit on camber, you want Pirelli to design a tire to survive being run at a 89 degree camber then.

      2. Constantijn Blondel says:

        The law allows me to take a dose of paracetamol that ruins my liver, and kills me. The manufacturer sells an unsafe product that is not safe for usages allowed within the law.

    2. Peter C says:

      Yes. Colin Chapman was way ahead of anyone in his era, but the cars (not just F1) were known to be fragile but with amazing handling & aerodynamics.

      Wasn’t his idea that ideally a car should be the quickest thing out there, but fall apart just after the finish line? Not much margin for safety. ‘Add lightness’.

      JA’s Dad would know with his first-hand knowledge.

      Adrian Newey’s technique seems to be similar, but where would we be without designers like these men?

  28. tokyo nambu says:

    Red Bull were bang out of order. Firstly, they were shroud-waving to try to win an advantage: the high camber set up was ideal for qualifying on a drying track, so they wanted to breach park ferme and put on a better dry-weather set up without paying the price for it. Secondly, their shroud-waving was nonsense, as both cars finished (and finished well). And thirdly, if Newey had his heart in his mouth and was worried about safety, he could either have withdrawn the cars or started them from the pitlane on a new setup (which, to judge from Button’s or Schumacher’s races, wouldn’t have been the end of the world).

    Instead, either Newey is spinning a safety tale for tactical advantage, which has “boy who cried wolf” issues, or he really is prepared to send drivers out in cars he believes to be unsafe in order to get a few more points, in which case he should perhaps think about his priorities a bit. Indy 2005 was a shambles totally of the teams’ making (they should simply have put on a high-drag setup, set the gear ratios or other limited their drivers’ speed to a safe level) and this one reflects badly on Newey for the same reasons.

  29. Gary Corby says:

    Surely this is Pirelli’s issue for making a substandard product? I imagine if they were last year’s Bridgestones we wouldn’t be having this discussion.

    1. stoikee says:

      They were requested by the FIA (and some fans) to have tyres to the limit. The keyword there is LIMIT which red bull went over.

      1. devilsadvocate says:

        You are wrong, if the rules allow for more than 4.5deg of camber (or whatever the pirelli max is) the Pirelli is at fault an needs to rework their tires or the FIA need to change the rules to limit camber. As it is now other teams are being given an unfair advantage if redbull cannot fully exploit their car because of some arbitrary limiting factor not outlined in the rules.

      2. James Allen says:

        Tyre companies have always made recommendations. Bridgestone got upset with McLaren for running low tyre pressures for a while. that ended when Hakkinen had a huge shunt at Hockenheim, as I recall

  30. Gene says:

    To me, it looks like we’ve learned nothing from Indianapolis ’05. With the limited running of any of the slick tire compounds in any practice session leading up to the race, how are the teams supposed to know exactly where the limits are in regards to setting up the cars to perform on the soft tires? Yes, they get recommendations from Pirelli, but those are NOT regulations, those are recommendations. The teams are going to take their setup to the limits of safety wherever possible to gain time. I think this is an area where ‘force majeure’ should have gone into effect due to the limited dry running, allowing the teams to change their camber settings appropriately. I say ‘teams’ too… lets not forget that others were experiencing this blistering as well. From the limited on-board footage we got, we at least know that Mclaren were suffereing from this, in a similar timeframe as Red Bull as well.

    I know that Charlie may say “Well, you’ve gone past the recommendations from Pirelli, therefore it’s your problem now”. And normally I’d say, the right decision was made here, and Red Bull and the other teams have made their own bed… But when you’ve got multiple teams experiencing this, and there isn’t enough dry weather data available, it sounds a bit like an echo from Indianapolis. (“Michelin, you didn’t bring the right tire compounds to race here, it’s your problem.”)

  31. John Jameson says:

    In Indianapolis in 2005 didn’t the FIA suggest a solution to make the track safe using cones, but some of the teams running Bridgestone tyres (notably Ferrari as I recall) refuse?

      1. Alan says:

        Hi James,

        Was it the other way around – the teams made suggestions such as artificial chicanes or cones so they could race, but FIA refused to yield? If I remember correctly the teams wanted to race with track modifications given the issues with tyres, but FIA refused to change the track, cited last-minute changes were not allowed in that particular situation.

        Anyway, RBR is definitely in the wrong, no doubt about it!!

        Al from Toronto, Canada

      2. Peter C says:

        Surely John Jameson & Alan can’t both be right. One says that the FIA wanted to use cones, the other that the teams wanted to.

        To one, JA has replied ‘Exactly’ & to the other JA says ‘That’s right’. Which is it?

        I’m confused.

      3. James Allen says:

        Bridgestone teams wanted to use cones.

      4. Brukay says:

        And why would’nt they (Ferari) Michelin were pushing the limits to gain an advantage after all the year before at Indy they had a wake up call with Ralf Schumacher. Michelin knew they stuffed up not enough safety built in there tyres unfortunately all other teams apart from back of grid teams went with Michelin because rightly or wrongly the perception was Bridgestone favoured Ferari

    1. Neil says:

      But Indy was also a bit of positioning.

      The tyres would have been OK if the Michelin runners had taken the corner at a slower pace. However, the drivers were deemed not trustworthy to do this!

      Ultimatly, all the Michelin teams pulled out because they wanted to make a point.

      I think Bridgestone were exactly right – they built a tyre that met the conditions so they deserved to win. Why should they accept a compromise to allow a competitor that had built an unsuitable tyre?

      To go to extremes, the FIA could have installed an optional chicane, and then told all the Michelin teams to use it!

      Neil.

    2. rolf123 says:

      Yes but there was also the proposal that the Michelin runners simply run via the pits every lap.

      In their attempt to bluff en masse and hope the Bridgestone runners would back down, they rejected this offer.

      They basically said “do it our way or we won’t race”, trying to make the Bridgestone runners look like bad guys for rejecting their proposal, even though another option was on the table.

      And before someone says that running through the pitlane every lap would have been ridiculous, I honestly do not agree with this. I think it would have made for a very interesting race, albeit a dual one (one for the Michelin runners and a separate one for the Bridgestone runners).

  32. pitlane paul says:

    Looks to me that Redbull were silly to push the boundrys this far especialy when they are in such a dominent position, nobody likes to be beaten but surely the team have a commitment to there drivers to ensure they are as safe as motor racing allows, not forgeting the effect an uneccisary accident would have on the others racing.

  33. gerard says:

    another case of red bull wanting the rules changed to suit them. newey has always pushed set up and car development to the limit…..which is fine but when it starts being a danger to the driver then you would have to back off.

  34. Lau says:

    It seems to me that although they put in the Red Bull truck wheels, they will follow up in the standings. They have a more advanced car and make the difficult to easy.

    Let’s see if I see easy to win 2 tickets to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, look that
    http://www.youtube.com/formulasantander

  35. mark says:

    Well if red bull was so concerned with safety and really considered it dangerous they should have started from the pit lane. At the end of the day if they run their tyres outside of pirelli’s guidelines why should they be given a get out of jail free card. what would red bull have said if it had been ferrari or mclaren and not them.Talk about wanting your cake and eating it. And to have the cheek after the race to try and make it look like they were hard done by is ridiculous

  36. jonrob says:

    Very interesting, so the safest thing was not done, ie reducing the camber to the tyre manufacturer’s spec and then starting from the pit lane. Had a tyre failed, then the clamour would have been that “these tyres are not safe”; however when a customer uses your product outside the spec the manufacturer ceases to be responsible and liability passes to the user.

    It seems to me that our Aide was skating on thin moral ice here and gambling with driver’s lives. Again however it seemed that the drivers knew the situation beforehand because we saw Vettel having a very serious conversation with the Pirelli guy some time before the race so he could have said “change it, it’s not safe”

    Technically it is very interesting, I would have thought that loading the tyre evenly would give best grip whereas it is pretty obvious that high camber rates effectively place all the stress on the inner shoulder when in a straight line and a flat setup would give more grip, but then I suppose that grip increases the rolling friction.

    One would have thought that a compound system could have been designed by now to give the best of both worlds.

    1. Mario says:

      Not quite, flat set up does not give optimal grip, you get that increasing the camber rate or angle. The grip is needed in corners not on straits. As the car enters the corner the cambered outside tyre goes flat increasing grip. Thats why they do it.
      On straits you get reduced rolling resistance, but more stress on the inside edge of tyres.

  37. DiegoP says:

    I’m very upset to read things like “… at the end of the race I was very relieved that both our drivers were safe.” It looks like there is a chance to put human safety at a risk in order to win. Outrageous.

    FIA shouldn’t allowed to go outside Pirelli’s recommendations nor even to start cars with damaged tyres. If RBR damaged the tyres during Q3 because their extreme setup, they should be forced to change the tyres, setup and start from pitlane. The same for the others with blistered tyres (LH, JA). That should be a sensible call regarding safety.

    I’m very very upset with Newey’s approach. I don’t want to see any other heart-touching documentary about another ill-fated racer.

    1. Curro says:

      I totally agree with this.

      1. mark says:

        me too the way red bull tried to make themselves look hard done by after the race is ridiculous

    2. Alex W says:

      Teams can’t say it for PC reasons but the drivers are at risk of being killed every time they go out (even to the shops).
      Pirelli did not say – it’s unsafe to run those tyres (like michelin did at indy) so rbr were within their rights to decide it should be ok.

  38. Rudy says:

    Security here is paramount. Every tyre manufacturer should know F-1 teams go to the limit in search for performance. What Red Bull did adjusting the camber beyond 4 degrees is pushing the limit to dangerous zone. Now it is clear why Red Bull are where they are, maybe legal, maybe not, maybe you like it or not.
    All in all it seems Pirelli is edged to the unknown almost every race! In Hungary it was slippery at the start of the race, cars going sideways at corner entry and slipping in exit. The first races were completed with 3-4 stops. Then they changed compunds. Then they announce maybe the hardest tyre will be eliminated for next year. In Spa they bring in 17 additional tyres!! So the question is, what is Pirelli’s operation? Where it goes? I understand they had very little chance to test and this year’s season is in fact their test bed. They have the 2009 Toyota which is obsolete. So, answering these it all goes down to FIA, again. They knew Bridgestone was leaving the sport and they spent long time deciding who was the replacement. It’s all down to allow testing. Now we see rookie drivers enter without proper testing or leaving the official drivers aside on Fridays, affecting them in their set-up program. It’s all about testing, testing, testing!!
    Bottom line here: the FIA sucks big time.

    1. Peter C says:

      Bring back in-season testing!!

  39. muller says:

    For goodness sake, its RACING!!! It is by definition a dangerous sport. Red Bull was compromised by the lack of dry running on Friday otherwise the problems with blistering would have been seen earlier allowing them to change setup. As it was they were not reckless in the race but took a calculated gamble. They pitted Vettel very early for each of his pit stops and put Webber onto the harder compound very early.

    They request for additional tyres was out of line and eas rightfully turned down, but you cant blame them for asking!

  40. Matthew says:

    Makes you wonder how many other design decisions Red Bull has made that sacrifice driver safety for speed.

  41. Nando says:

    Lets not forget it was Red Bull who pushed the recommendations. Sure this would never of happened with Bridgestone but then we’d just have sanitized racing.
    Newey’s philosophy is that ok to push the limits, flexing front-wing causing crashes etc, so long as it’s only his team getting an advantage.
    Keep it up Pirelli, great racing is far more important than the cars going round a corner as quickly as possible.

    Red Bull lost any moral ground as soon as they let their drivers race.

  42. Jose Portilla says:

    RB is far away in points, I think they can afford to be conservative, so in not doing so they are Irresponsible at least, they should be investigated. they are not walking the talk in regard to Driver safety and letting the drivers race. Desperate people do desperate things but they are not desperate so why?

  43. Adrien says:

    It makes me view at Newey’s comments around Senna’s death in a different light.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/2011/may/17/adrian-newey-red-bull-ayrton-senna

    Newsy was quoted as saying “the little hair I had all fell out in the aftermath. So it changed me physically. It was dreadful. Both Patrick Head [the Williams technical director] and myself separately asked ourselves whether we wanted to continue in racing. Did we want to be involved in a sport where people can die in something we’ve created? ”

    Given his life experiences, his choice this weekend gives a clear indication of how the risk of life versus winning is weighed in at least one garage. I sure hope Vettle and Webber has all the facts and a strong say in the decision.

    From my seat this seemed an unnecessary risk especially given their lead in the championships.

    1. Mosq says:

      agree absolutely. seems like the guy’s idol is Chapman. Which is not bad unless you think of Jim Clark.

    2. Kristiane says:

      Glad you found that quote!

  44. Ayron says:

    There’s a few things which I think should be pointed out with regards to this.

    1. Most of the practice was done in wet conditions with different tyres than the race and so the effect of the camber was not well known to red Bull while they were setting up their cars. As Pirelli said, if there had been more dry time this situation would have been minimised… Don’t forget that the teams do not get the benefits of extensive testing in a wide range of conditions anymore. The must make best guestimates and adjust from there.

    2. Pirelli set guidelines, but these are not requirements. What if Red Bull had gone the other way and had less camber than Pirelli suggested and the outside of the tyre was suffering, or the lack of grip caused dangerous issues through the high speed turns. In this case, those who are arguing for an instant penalty for Red Bull are suggesting that the camber etc should be exactly as per the tyre manufacturers recommendations, no matter the particular nuances of their car setup and characteristics.

    3. Red Bull made the adjustment with Webber and ran him – much to my confusion at the time – for virtually the whole race on the medium compound and monitored and managed Vettel’s tyres in a way that allowed him to complete the race with no discernable tyre-related issues.

    I think that the real issue here is the effect of limited testing which can create situations – particularly this year with a new tyre manufacturer – where the cars are starting a race with very little information on how the cars, their tyres and even fuel loads are going to hold up due to the practice sessions being held in different conditions to the race itself. I realise that Pirelli, themselves do a fair bit of testing, but this is with older cars that have quite different characteristics to the current cars making the data somewhat inconclusive in a sport measured by thousandths of a second.

    1. Gene says:

      Couldn’t agree more. I believe that this was a very unique set of circumstances leading to this situation. Once the teams have dry running data from each track in this new generation of tires, these potential problems will go away.

  45. MH says:

    Red Bull did respond to the concerns about safety — their drivers pitted on lap 3 and 4.

  46. Charles says:

    I don’t see what the fuss was about.

    Red Bull knew they had a problem, so they increased the tyre pressure, pitted early to discard the tyres damaged in quali.

    They managed to situation to come to a win.

    I’m sure all other teams have developed components are quite close to the limit (not tyres) that would endanger the lives of the drivers that are not disclosed to the public. So I don’t see a huge problem really.

  47. Dom says:

    Who dares, wins.

  48. Dazzler says:

    If a few of the other teams had blistering tyres then surely this is a tyre quality issue ?

    1. mark says:

      It was only red bull’s that were considered dangerous due to the way they had set their car up ( outside of the recommendations )

  49. Paul Mc says:

    [mod] I’m absolutely shocked that the safety of the drivers was not put ahead of grid position on one of the fastest and challenging circuits in F1.

    We heard Newey saying he was delighted to see the drivers after the race i was appauled by his comments to be honest.

    Teams should not be allowed to change their setup outside of Pirelli’s recommendations on grounds of optimal performance. Lets say Seb or Mark had a huge accident it endangers the driver, the stewards and the fans in the crowd. Its completely insane.

  50. mo kahn says:

    Dangerous.

    These practices must be brought under regulatory control.. The sooner they are brought under Penal Offence List the better it would be for Formula one.

    Newey is a far better designer than having to resort to ways that would endanger a driver’s life.

    Wonder if that is what happened to Ayrton Senna? Did Newey do something similar on that fateful day at Imola?

    We would never know. I am sitting here in utmost shock reading this… And at the same time I must say Hats off to Both Vetel and Webber for racing and Standing Ovation for them to finish 1 and 2. Now, the move on Alonso by Webber through Eau Rouge makes even more outstanding.

    My appeal to the FIA. BAN ANY PRACTICES THAT WOULD ENDANGER ANYONE’S LIFE.

    Really am shocked :(

    1. Adrien says:

      Taken to the extreme this means banning F1.

      What is at question is the tam’s judgement. We don’t have all the facts but based on what Newey said it seems the judgement was lacking from a safety perspective and spot on from a race result perspective.

      1. mo kahn says:

        by all means taking things to extreme is a part of F1. But practices of extremities which deliberately endangers anyone’s safety or life must be where the line must be drawn.. Its like opening up Tambarello and deliberately bringing forward the wall to the edge of the track, or provide no run off areas on 130R, or taking out all the run off areas out of flat out corners. That would be classified as a deliberate effort to compromise safety and in turn endanger someone’s life.

    2. Charlie B says:

      “BAN ANY PRACTICES THAT WOULD ENDANGER ANYONE’S LIFE”

      Let’s all stop racing then, in fact why don’t we just sit in a bubble forever, only venturing outside for food and water.

      1. mo kahn says:

        I stand corrected, what I meant was Ban Any practices that would DELIBERATELY endanger anyone’s life :)

  51. DH says:

    Vettel’s distressed talk and gesturing to the Pirelli man on TV before the race was perhaps because he did not dare be that way with Newey…

  52. devilsadvocate says:

    [mod] Pirelli needs to to make tires that as someone said earlier, “could handle 6 inch nails being driven through the sidewalls if it made the car faster and was allowed by the rules” there are strict rules for the formula but within those rules the sky is the limit and because the “sky” for one team is more aggressive than the “sky” for another they shouldn’t be punished for it… frankly I don’t care if a team runs such extreme camber that the wheels look like freaking hovercraft rotors if thats what works for them and is allowed within the rules of the formula the tire supplier better be prepared with a product that will hold up to the use it will be subjected to. Otherwise whats to stop them from making a tire that can only hold up to 250KPH sustained speeds? The current formula rules allow for cars capable of 300+ but we now have a speed limited series because of toy car tires, do we punish the teams because the RULES of the sport allow for a setup that cant be handled by the tires?
    The FIA told them to make tires that were degraded more over a race, that has to deal with the contact surface not the carcass/structure of the tire which is what was failing on almost all of the front running cars not just Redbull. Hamilton and Alonso had bad blistering too and they supposedly complied with the camber specs, so yes this was like Michelin at Indy ’05 because the tires they brought didn’t work within the conditions and limitations outlined by the sport.
    I had been a fan of Pirelli up until now because they do reward the complete driver not just a thrash and burn race to the end but trying to blame the teams because the product they brought to the track didnt function within the limits of the rules of the formula. Unless the rules say no camber greater than 4.5 degrees the teams shouldnt be arbitrarily punished for going beyond that.
    And stop with all the sob stories about how Newey killed Ayrton, and stop with all the self righteousness about Redbull being careless and irresponsible, they built a car within the rules, and they are faster than everyone, get over it and stop whining just because your team was more conservative and isnt on top right now.
    Yeah Im a Redbull fan, but regardless Pirelli got caught with their pants down on this one with tires that cant fullfill the needs and limitations of the sport and they’d better make sure this doesnt happen in Monza.
    Also heres a question I have for James or the other technical minds on here, NASCAR many years ago mandated a tire with a sort of dual inner liner/ inner tube tyoe structure almost like military runflat tires that basically in the event of tread separation/main carcass failure the tire didnt immediately go down to the rim but allowed the driver a split second to slow and pull off the racing line before all the air escaped, this was implemented after a couple high speed blowouts ended the lives of a several racers. Why does this not exist in F1?

  53. Jonathan says:

    Is there a biography of Adrian Newey? He seems a fascinating character.

    As with Schumacher, his unparalleled talent and raging hunger for success sometimes leads him to the edge of dark places.

  54. Phil R says:

    When Mika Hakinnen had his tyre blow out at Hockenheim 1999, wasn’t it due to McLaren running the Bridgestones at below the recommended tyre pressures?

    Is there a reason that the tyre manufacturers only offer recommendations rather than mandatory specifications to the teams? When an engine manufacturer supplies equipment I am sure the procedures and operational requirements (oils, coolants used etc) are set out in the contract?

  55. AlexD says:

    REASON RED BULL IS DOMINANT.
    The more I ready or hear anything related to the way Newey is handling situations and how is he religiously focusing of finding every bit of speed, I realize that other teams simply have no chance.
    As long there will be limited resources, as long as Newey will be a free many at Red Bull….no other team is going to win.

  56. Mosq says:

    It was Newey himself who said in a recent interview that he suspects it was a puncture in Senna’s case. That interview was published here on JAonF1.
    Who comes to my mind is Mr. Chapman who didn’t really care of safety when designing his cars. The result is well known…

  57. Adam says:

    Adding to the insanity of the Newey decision making is RBR only really needed to come home in the points as they have such a long lead in the championship! They could even have sat the race out for that matter! IE nothing required Newey to take that level of risk that it concerned him as much as he has expressed. Problem is no one but the FIA can instill discipline into him or RBR as no one above him cares except about winning!

  58. Sharp_Saw says:

    We can look at this situation from another perspective. Pirelli–for whatever reason–discontinued the hardest specification for this year (the P ZERO silver). Had the option tyre for this race been the Medium and the prime tyre the Hard tyre, this entire debate may not even have existed as the Medium tyre didn’t seem to suffer from graining on the left front.

    Of course, I cannot help but be cynical as a decision to run the P ZERO silver in conjunction with the P ZERO white for this race could have been disastrous for a certain Italian team.

    If the decision by Red Bull was a circumspect and well thought out “risk,” then I say well done Newey, Vettel and Red Bull! You thoroughly deserved this victory!

    1. jeff says:

      Surely you’re not suggesting that decisions in F1 occasionally deliberately favour a certain red team?

      Heavens. That would NEVER happen

  59. James b says:

    It is a really tricky one. I like others immediately thought of senna. But for me the drivers were fully aware of the risks and had a choice as well as the red bull management.

    Motor sport has always been about pushing limits but it is finding the line that matters and it’s clear that they took things over the recommended line from pirellis perspective. I think because of this it was correct that they wern’t allowed to adjust there car outside of parc ferme.

    Is newey a bad boy though? Possibly, but I’m pretty sure he isn’t the only one pushing boundaries.

  60. BurgerF1 says:

    I guess Newey’s tears at the end of the race were those of relief…

    Overall, though, I don’t see the fuss. Pirelli made Red Bull aware of the situation and gave them recommendations for set-up changes. Red Bull decided to not incur the penalty of changing set-up in parc ferme and instead managed the tires with strategy instead.

    One can argue about the lack of testing, or parc ferme rules, but those are the same conditions for all the teams.

    Purely a Red Bull matter I think. There are many decisions made by teams which potentially are “less safe” for a driver (e.g. leaving a car out when the other one has a failure).

  61. jmv says:

    It’s interesting how many readers thought of Senna’s accident when reading this. I read about Newey’s emotional rollercoaster ride after the death of Senna and it made me to sympathize with him.

    But after reading this… how Pirelli really instructed them to camber-down for the sake of safety and they didn’t choose to. Now for the first time I am able to feel some slight sympathy for those who felt it was just to prosecute Newey in the aftermath of Imola 94.

    Would it maybe be a good thing if official suppliers like in this case Pirelli can have a final word in this on the grounds of safety? And inform the FIA to act?

    Team not following safety guidelines, they get overruled by the FIA.

    Here are some precedents:

    Benetton didn’t follow the safety guidelines when it came to the refueling installations in 94. Look what it brought… explosion in the pitlane.

    What happened then: they got punished.

    So we have a precedent.

    -
    Same thing would be true if a team doesn’t respect of having these cables/chords on the tires to prevent them from flying into the crowd.
    -
    Same thing would be true if a team would modify those plugs or pens that they put in the wheel for safety during pit stop. Modify it and you have a faster pit stop.
    -
    Same thing would be true for many more examples…

    But bottom line is: these guidelines are there for SAFETY. If Red Bull chooses to runs unsafe.. (which is what they did) and it is allowed.. it will encourage other teams to follow.

    I do not think Red Bull were taking a calculated risk her. Sebastian said: we were in the unknown.

    I saw Newey’s body language when the cars crossed the finish line.. I thought we was emotional because they fought back and finally won after a drought. But it was rather the body language of immense relief.

    This is going the wrong way, James…

  62. Tim says:

    This incident shows a loophole in the regulations that allows safety to be sacrificed for speed. I place that blame on the FIA. Was it ethical for RBR to risk their driver’s lives? No. But teams are always looking to gain an advantage and the line at which things become risky is blurry. To a much lesser extent, placing the mirrors so far away from the driver as to make them essentially useless was an example of trading safety for speed, and it took a regulation to fix that. The FIA needs to enforce safety, not worry about limiting cylinders in an engine (but that’s a completely differnt issue).

  63. Brian says:

    Surely teams should simply be banned from exceeding the tyre manufacturer’s recommended maximum camber…
    In no way was this Pirelli’s fault, teams trying to shunt the blame onto them is frankly outrageous

    1. James Allen says:

      They are recommendations from Pirelli, not rules

      1. jeff says:

        James.

        I have a couple of clarification questions.

        When were RBR made aware of the issue, and the recommendations for the operating envelope?

        If they were told before qualifying that there was a safety issue with running extreme camber and they still went against this, then I’m very concerned about RBR’s apparently cavalier attitude to safety.

        If, on the other hand, the issue came to light after qualifying, then to expect them to give up 1 and 3 on the grid for a start from pit lane is plainly a bit extreme. They did make changes to their strategy in the race to limit that risk, so what we have in that case is a bit of a tempest in a tea cup, IMHO

        At what point during the weekend did they have knowledge that they were risking failure of the tyres? Your article suggests that they had already qualified the car by that point, and were stuck between a rock and a hard place by then. Did they know before qualifying that they were pushing the safety limits, and have they a history of doing this with the Pirelli tyres this season?

        Also. do you have any info on how much more extreme RBR’s camber angles were than the other top teams? Are we talking a 10% difference, 50%, more?

      2. James Allen says:

        As far as I know teams have been running more camber as a general trend recently, so it’s been going on for a while. This was the inevitable result of racers pushing the envelope. Because of all the wet running through the weekend the only time anyone got a real clue what the tyres would do at Spa over 6 laps or so was after Q3, because there everyone did a number of laps on them as the track improved. It was only after post quali analysis that the extent of the issue was brought up by Pirelli. But as I said, it’s something they’ve seen as a trend lately and I think they wanted to stop it.

  64. jazp says:

    No one should be crying about this: Neither RBR nor Pirelli. If the camber angles were legal, the tires should be OK. In the end, running only a few laps on them proved to be a good strategy. This is why F1 is interesting!

  65. Phil says:

    This is motorsport. Usually the winner is the guy who managed the compromise best. If you ask redbull /SV/MW, they would be fairly happy with the outcome. I think they’d be pretty satisfied. Every weekend these guys make compromises and balance risk. There needs to be fewer rules, not more!

  66. Andy Rat says:

    Frankly this astonishes me.
    Not only is it grossly irresponsible, but from a tactical standpoint it makes no sense.
    Red Bull are miles ahead in both championships.
    One of the few ways they could possibly be beaten is for Vettel to have an injury and be forced to miss several races… and then they deliberately send him out in a car set-up to deliver such a scenario… that’s just plain dumb!
    [mod]

  67. cbvena says:

    The tires are junk, maybe better next year, but worst of all for me is kers and the wing and their respective rules.

  68. CGM says:

    Agreed. Vettel should be disqualified for remainder of the year for knowingly driving an unsafe car. Webber was in a safe car so he’s okay to race for remainder of the year. Button should be banned too as there is no way that he or McLaren could be 100% sure that his rear-wing was truly safe after it was damaged. I mean, a piece could’ve flown right off and hit a bird or something ! They should also go to jail with Newey for this horrendous situation. And I saw a sauber (i think) with a bent front wing : ban him too for pushing the recommended limits, he should’ve pitted for a new wing.

    Now, in all seriousness, RBR did not break any rules and, after hearing from Pirelli, they then took proactive action to mitigate any possible risks. Really can’t see what the fuss is about.

    1. Brukay says:

      For goodness sake Adrien read the articles properly . Because they had no dry running and this was Pirelli first race at Spa there was no data about those tyres in the dry . It was only after Q3 when Newey noticed the blisters he asked Pirelli about it and they told him that their camber setting was too much for the track. Newey went to stewards but they told him his options were start from pit lane or take risk. The team (Red Bull)had meetings that night and next morning involving both drivers and decided on a managed risk strategy.

  69. Cee says:

    The blame lies with Pirelli in my opinion, RBR cars were tuned within the FIA’s regulations in terms of camber so why aren’t the tyres able to take the stress of all configurations?

    James if Pirelli wanted the teams to stop running so much camber wouldn’t they have told all teams about it, RBR have said if they knew about it they wouldn’t have done so, so it seems to me Pirelli cocked up.

    1. Rebecca says:

      Erm, Pirelli DID tell the teams! They made recommendations to say what the limits of the tyres’ performance were. Red Bull exceeded them, and they did it knowingly. Then they were upset when it left their tyres in a potentially dangerous state.

  70. AdrianP says:

    It does seem a very strange decision by Red Bull to take the risk of a tyre failure at a track where the consequences of a crash are likely to be extremely serious.

    Pirelli are obviously not at fault – if teams exceed their recommendations then that is their business; although by calling it a recommendation they are not making it mandatory. Equally the FIA rules do not specify a maximum camber angle. So it is up to the teams as to whether they decide to exceed a recommendation. It’s also in the nature of things at the level of F1 that if a recommendation can be exceeded for performance, then it’s likely to happen.

    My impression is that the majority of the drivers are happy to risk life and limb for performance, especially when they’re in the car. Every driver has had a numerous big shunts; it is more or less inevitable that another big one will be round the corner sooner or later. And the drivers routinely take such risks when overtaking – witness graphically Webber v Alonso which could have been a huge accident.
    [mod]

    And I would also point out that it’s by no means clear that the decision to start the race on those tyres was Newey’s (on the contrary, I seemed to get the impression that although the risk analysis was ultimately Newey’s responsibility, that he was not necessarily happy with the decision taken).

    1. AdrianP says:

      For clarification, the moderators have deleted part of this post. Although I understand the reasons for doing so and have no complaint about that, it has completely reversed the point which I intended to make.

  71. pallys says:

    Adrian Newey is a very lucky man. I can’t believe they took this risk after looking at the tyres after only a handful of laps after Saturday qualifying. Especially at a high speed track such as Spa. Moreso they disregarded Pirelli’s advice before the race.

  72. John Seno says:

    Redbull management needs to be pulled aside by the FIA, they endangered the lives of their drivers and that is totally unacceptable. It is a sport not war.

  73. Johnny Talia says:

    It’s common knowledge that all season long, Pirelli have been supplying tires that fall apart after a given period of time, because they were asked to do exactly that. Now, when the setups some teams need to use for Spa cause the tires to be unsafe, Pirelli cries innocent and blames the greedy teams.

    Excuse me, Pirelli – I don’t ever remember Bridgestone telling teams what setups they could or could not use. In a single supplier environment as we have with Pirelli, it’s the tire manufacturer’s responsibility to ensure that the tires being supplied can withstand the forces being applied to them by all teams in all races and do so safely and with a reasonable wear rate.

    It’s just bad form to point a finger at one team (and even go so far as to imply that Pirelli was defamed by them) because Pirelli’s tires started flying apart faster then even Pirelli anticipated.

    1. Michal says:

      Well.

      As far as I remember Bridgstone has “suggested” three pit stop strategy for Hamilton in Turkey 2008 because they were afraid a tire could explode otherwise. I think this is pretty similar to the situation from last weekend.

      The quick web search gave me this link (among others): http://www.manipef1.com/news/articles/6882/

  74. Lockster says:

    The “rights and wrongs” have already been heavily discussed already so I won’t go into that debate, but I will raise a hypothetical situation:
    What if Vettel, who is leading the championship by almost 4 race wins, had an enormous accident and broken his leg like Schumi did in 99 or had his arm crushed in a rollover accident?
    Red Bull would be remembered as the team that threw away an “unloseable” championship and would be the laughing stock of the F1 world.
    Wouldn’t do their PR machine any favors either, would it?

  75. JohnBt says:

    Loved the clip on Vettel speaking to Pirelli personel. There were concerns from Sebastian’s finger gestures, brilliant.

  76. Adrian Newey Jnr says:

    I wonder what the legal or occupational health and safety issues would have been raised if the RBR management had knowingly placed their driver in danger and an accident had happened?

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