Pirelli unveils short and long term fixes for tyre failures
Posted By: James Allen  |  02 Jul 2013   |  7:18 pm GMT  |  338 comments

[Updated] Pirelli has announced a package of measures ahead of tomorrow’s meeting of the FIA Sporting Working Group in Germany, aimed at addressing the tyre failures witnessed at Silverstone at the weekend.

The press release from the Italian company, issued this evening, is likely to cause waves among teams as it essentially accuses them of misusing the tyres, claiming that the tyres are safe if used correctly. However the change of specification has been unilaterally put through by the FIA on the grounds of safety. FIA president Jean Todt described it on Sunday night as “a safety problem”.

Pirelli also calls on the FIA to give it much greater powers to control and police the use of tyres by teams.

There is a strengthened rear tyre for the German Grand Prix weekend – the kevlar belted rear development tyre which was tested briefly in Montreal last month – where the soft and medium compounds will be used and then a revised tyre, based on 2012 construction with a kevlar belt will be tested at the Young Drivers Test at Silverstone 17-19 July, which will feature race drivers too.

If these tyres pass muster, the new range will be made available from the Hungarian Grand Prix at the end of July onwards.

Pirelli has analysed the causes of the failures in Silverstone and believes them to be as follows:

1) Rear tyres that were mounted the wrong way round: in other words, the right hand tyre being placed where the left hand one should be and vice versa, on the cars that suffered failures. The tyres supplied this year have an asymmetric structure, which means that they are not designed to be interchangeable. The sidewalls are designed in such a way to deal with specific loads on the internal and external sides of the tyre. So swapping the tyres round has an effect on how they work in certain conditions. In particular, the external part is designed to cope with the very high loads that are generated while cornering at a circuit as demanding as Silverstone, with its rapid left-hand bends and some kerbs that are particularly aggressive.

2) The use of tyre pressures that were excessively low or in any case lower than those indicated by Pirelli. Under-inflating the tyres means that the tyre is subjected to more stressful working conditions.

3) The use of extreme camber angles.

4) Kerbing that was particularly aggressive on fast corners, such as that on turn four at Silverstone, which was the scene of most of the failures. Consequently it was the left-rear tyres that were affected.

On the subject of teams running lower tyre pressures, Pirelli has asked the FIA for this to be subject to “accurate and future examinations”. Pirelli has also asked for compliance with these rules to be checked by a dedicated delegate.

Clearly unwilling to be made to look bad any more, Pirelli wants some control over the way the teams are allowed to use the tyres. As this will require regulatory change, it may take time but what the company has in mind is, “real-time data from the teams regarding fundamental parameters such as pressure, temperature and camber angles.”

As for the new range of tyres to be tested at Silvertsone prior to debut in Hungary, Pirelli says,

“The new tyres will have a symmetrical structure, designed to guarantee maximum safety even without access to tyre data – which however is essential for the optimal function of the more sophisticated 2013 tyres. The tyres that will be used for the Hungarian Grand Prix onwards will combine the characteristics of the 2012 tyres with the performance of the 2013 compounds. Essentially, the new tyres will have a structure, construction and belt identical to that of 2012, which ensured maximum performance and safety. The compounds will be the same as those used throughout 2013, which guaranteed faster lap times and a wider working range.”

It remains to be seen how the new range of tyres will affect the balance of the world championship battle. They will clearly behave in a different way from the 2013 tyres used so far, so there will be winners and losers.

It’s too simplistic to say at this stage that competitive teams who were disadvantaged by the 2013 tyres, such as Mercedes and Red Bull, will gain from the change or that teams who were on top of them, like Lotus, Ferrari and Force India, will lose out.

It may work out that way, but until we have seen the new tyres in action at Budapest and particularly Spa we will not know for sure how the rest of the championship will shape up.

* Late last night Pirelli motorsport boss Paul Hembery issued a second statement, denying that the original was aimed at pinning blame for the Silverstone problems on the teams,

“Contrary to the impression that some people have formed, I would like to underline the collaboration and support that we are receiving from the teams, drivers, FIA and FOM. In no way are we intending to create arguments or attack anybody. We have taken our responsibilities upon ourselves as our press release indicates. But not having full control over all the elements that impact on the use of the tyres, we need everybody’s contribution. With regard to this, we are receiving the full support of all the parties involved, for which we are very grateful.”

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Apologies if this has been covered elsewhere on your site. If the FIA are mandating part of the Silverstone test will be dedicated to tyre testing, in which race drivers will be allowed to drive, and that this test will be completed on safety grounds surely Mercedes have to participate. Any solution / resolution found from the test has to work on all cars in order to ensure driver safety. for Mercedes not to take part would negate the purpose of the test.

Whilst Mercedes will not take part in the young driver element of the test, this is separate to the tyre test and should surely be treated as such.

What do you think?


Dont worry about Pirelli

‘Any press is good press’


Teams have been doing tyre swapping since the beginning of time.

There are no new kerbs at Silverstone.

Pirelli should just improve tyre safety and let go of the excuses.


Did any of the teams who have reguarly been switching the rears around NOT switch them at the final pit stop? We already know Red Bull decided to use specified pressures for the final stint, if the teams also placed the rears on the correct side, then this would suggest the teams knew full well that they were running a risk with the tires. In that case they should come clean and stop blaming Pirelli.


This is exactly what I thought, the teams have been ignoring guides and doing as they please. Why is Pirelli taking a beating then? This is the same garbage. In my opinion teams tyre usage should be monitored and if they break the guidelines they should be heavily punished. This is all just abuse of the system in a way. They ignore guidelines then cry about it when they push too far. Now we’ve got an absurd turn to the world championship. Oh we’ll.


The BBC are reporting Toto Wolff saying:

Mercedes director of motorsport Toto Wolff refused to be drawn on the subject.

“I don’t think you can expect any tyre supplier in the world to say their tyres are not safe,” he added.

Erm, isn’t that exactly what Michelin did at Indianapolis? They told the teams that running their tyres through the final turn would result in tyre failure so advised them not to run!! Short memory??

Tornillo Amarillo

Has somebody made some statistics about Pirellis failures? I think we have, only in 7 races, something like:

6 blow-ups (5 left rear, 1 left front)

5 delaminations maybe?

Also some “almost” blow-ups or delaminations in Silverstone

And now, how many of them in average in previous seasons?

Ps: maybe Goferet can help!


Saw some figures on Monday saying that there’s been a total of 20 failures so far in 2013 & an additional 28 cut tyres that could have failed.


The effect of the reversion to a 2012 tyre construction with 2013 compounds will become apparent with time, but its likely to be detrimental to those teams who struggle to get their tyres up into the working temperature range. 10°C cooler temperatures with the kevlar constructed tyres could do terrible damage to Ferrari and Lotus championships. The 2012 tyres also have a different aerodynamic profile, so all the teams will have to revise their aero packages which won’t be popular at a time when they’re all trying to ramp down 2013 developments to concentrate on next year’s car.

The better solution would have been for Pirelli to stick to the 2013 tyres and mandate their correct fitting and minimum pressures, but looks like this option has been closed off.


Looks to me like ‘a shopping list of excuses’.



I do think Pirelli hold some responsibility because I think its pretty clear that the changes they made to the tyres for this year contributed to a lot of the problems we have seen through 2013.

The low PSI, High camber, Tyre swapping & driving over kurbs may well have all helped cause the problems at Silverstone, However these are all things that teams have been doing for years without serious issue so the tyres surely should be designed with tolerances to withstand these things.

Its been clear all season that Pirelli were too aggressive with the 2013 tyres in the pursuit of ‘spicing up the show’ (Which I don’t blame Pirelli for BTW since they were asked to do this).

Something I do however blame Pirelli for is not doing what was necessary to sort the tyres out sooner. If they had just admitted there were safety concerns with the tyres they could have made the changes already without needing the teams agreement.

They put company PR above the good of the sport in that instance & this prolonged the problems.

Something else I want to put out there is where this leaves the High-Deg tyre mandate.

When your constantly having to change tyre compound/construction to challenge the teams & ‘artificially’ spice up the show there was always the risk of eventually going too far.

The question now is do we continue down that path & risk repeating in the future, Or do we go back to better tyres that are not totally changed every year?

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I kind of feel sorry for Pirelli though, they have tried to keep everyone happy but obviously the teams are always going to squabble.

They are damned if they do and damned if they dont,

I wonder if there’s deeper political fallings out regarding several parties?


If all of this is true, then despite Hembery’s statement, the teams are at fault. Granted the Pirelli may have some limitations and working boundaries, but if the teams are told this yet deliberately ignore them, then it is their fault.

Either the tyre should have flexibility to allow the teams to mess around, or the FIA should apply regulations to ensure the tyres are used within the safe limits.


Is it really the component manufacturer’s responsibility if a purchaser uses the component incorrectly?

The best that Pirelli could do (and probably should have done) was advise all of the teams and the FIA that the tyres were being used outside of their design parameters in some cases and this was inadvisable. Currently there are no rules which penalise inappropriate use of tyres.

Red Bull amongst others are known for doing this, anyone remember the nail biting going on at the RB prat perch during Spa 2011 when Red Bull deliberately against Pirelli’s advice ran the tyres out of spec?

If this situation is not resolved quickly I will not be suprised if Pirelli ignore any contract and walk away from F1 at the end of the year.

I would like the rules changed now for the rest of this season so the tyres have to be run in spec – then we may see which teams suddenly get a drop in performance.


“It remains to be seen how the new range of tyres will affect the balance of the world championship battle.”

This is going to be interesting! Just as the teams were getting on top of the tires they’re changed. This probably means softer compounds for the rest of the season also.

As the King sang, “A little less conservation and little more action please” 😉


If teams were running cars with tyres on the wrong wheels then they should be charged with fielding unsafe cars. I don’t think it needs Pirelli to spell it out that tyres shouldn’t be put on the wrong side of the car, that should be blindingly obvious for the so called top brains running F1 teams.

F1 (The FIA, FOM and the teams and drivers) have done a really shonky job these last 3 years of protecting Pirelli. They wanted tyres that wear out and spice up the action but then continually moan about the rubber and then run the tyres on the wrong side of the car on purpose which ends up creating a PR nightmare for Pirelli.

You really couldn’t make this stuff up. Pirelli’s main mistake seems to be not standing up to the FIA and the teams early enough. Questions have to be asked of Jean Todt’s leadership here. I haven’t seen anything as dangerous as this in motorsport in quite some time, sticking safety on the backburner is not the F1 way.


Wonder of the changes will tilt the title race towards Red Bull and Mercedes? I think Lotus and Ferrari i think will be the big losers in this. My question is does other team who had their blow outs are running the recomended psi? Red Bull couple years ago did thier own thing and ignored Pirelli’s suggested tyre pressure, infact if i am not mistaken it was at Spa 2011.

Thread the Needle

This isn’t anything new what the teams are doing with the tyres, I remember Gary Anderson said he switched the tyres round the other way during the Jordan days so they would work better

Christian Horner also said on a interview around monaco that mercedes had learnt about switching the rear tyres around from the test, maybe that’s why he was so annoyed about it

The fact is Pirelli knew all along what the teams were doing with the tyre cambers, pressures, switching them round and should have advised if they felt their would be a problem, maybe they did and the teams didn’t listen I don’t know

I’m not hear to bash Pirelli as they have been working under difficult circumstances, but it’s all turning into one big blame game

The FIA have finally acted on this, but need to asked themselves questions about how this season has been such a mess regarding tyres


Turn four (The Loop) is not a fast corner; turn five (Aintree) is.


James, I heard commentary during the race that suggested Pirelli have a tyre guru working with each team. If this is the case then Pirelli would be aware of the way the teams were using/abusing the tyres. Why is it that we are only hearing their objections now? Is it the case that Pirelli themselves were unaware of the consequences of this abuse and if they did not know how would the teams know. I believe the teams have been fitting the tyres the wrong way for some time, why is this now an issue?

Is the minimum tyre pressure a recommendation or an absolute minimum? Again did Pirelli inform the teams that if they run with lower pressure than the minimum the tyre was likely to disintegrate?

I think this response is Pirelli trying to save face. While all the points they have made may be valid they knew what the teams were doing and did nothing to prevent it.


Not si much a “guru” but they have a technician in each garage, as Bridgestone and Michelin always did

Pirelli accepts that they knew about the swapping and didn’t act


‘Pirelli acepts that they knew about the swapping and didn’t act’

Which is why with all due respects, Pirellis entire statement is a pointless and entirely self serving act, which brings ridicule upon the entire sport.

I wonder if they would be so smug if a driver had been injured due to tyre failure last weekend.

On a separate note, it seems to me that many of my fellow contributors to this great site really do not like F1 teams, at all !!

roberto marquez

James I would like to know several things and I think you are the person to teach me : 1 I see that different scuderias have differnet colours in their metallic wheels , I assume they have some measurements that are dictated by the tyre manufacturer like diameter, width , height of the borders, etc,if so would they be interchangeable between lets say a Ferrari and a Sauber ? Are the 4 wheels identical ? or at least are front and rear equal ? 2 Is the nut or whatever you call, the fastsening nut the same for all cars ? 3 if the left rear tyre was the one with the problem it means there were more right turns than left, so if some driver were going over the pianos it was with the right tyres, am I wrong ?so Pirelli is not right on this ? I will be looking forward to your answers and thanks for your time.


The wheels are made by a third party generally like Oz. The wheel nuts tend to be something a team will develop themselves for faster stops etc


I think point four,kerbing; is not justifiable for Pirelli to be claiming as inappropriate use of tyres. Kerbing is a fundamental part of racing in Formula One and while the white lines on track do indicate the boundaries of the race track; it has become common practice(for forty odd years now)to use kerbs to help push the maximum performance of the cars. Perhaps the track boundaries should be amended to reflect this so Pirelli and other, future tyre manufacturers can produce a suitable, competitive, durable tyre for racing.

Also, I do understand Pirelli’s frustration with teams varying camber angles, some of which are extreme; but, the FIA and Pirelli must supply a product which can withstand these variances. This is the pinnacle of all motorsport, every car is a prototype and Pirelli must realize this if they wish to continue in F1: boundaries are meant to be pushed and rules will be broken.

Finally, I think that the problems experienced with the tyres is quite ridiculous. It’s 2013 and F1 has been around for a very long time now. We shouldn’t have these issues anymore. The cause, I think, is the FIA. They ordered Pirelli to make the tyres a certain way after all.


Now i watch F1 and enjoy it about 60 % of the time, yes i like to see respectful battles and overtaking and NO team orders.

So ok one tire supplier with a remit to help create excitement(yeah Mr E) so often on a hiding to nothing right.

Surely there is no question that Pirelli are extremely aware that every team will use any possible advantage possible as far as the tires are concerned……Is it not kinda dumb to make tires that will react badly if they are misused???

Now like most here i am just an average driver jeez i may hit 75 a time or two right!

Now the teams pay driver a lot of money and it comes down to fractions of a second, i mean you can drive within 2 seconds of the top guys and your a crap driver, or at least the armchair experts say so.

So i wonder WHY would an F1 team risk the lives of their drivers by doing things that they know are totally unsafe as far as the tires are concerned??

Yeah of course F1 is dangerous, people go for the excitement right! But totally needless risk THAT CAN be avoided with real transparency from the F1 suppliers, promoters and the teams. I think its the teams that bear the brunt of dumb decisions and the drivers who just want to race. HAY lets put the manipulators in a race car with free underpants supplied! In two seaters of course!! Chuckle


addendum to #53

James – any info on whether the teams reverted to putting the tyres on the correct side when they changed them after the blowouts? Hence – no driver had 2 blowouts. 😉


Maybe Pirelli can save some headaches by colour coding the tyres so that the public can see what’s been bolted on where. Not only defining hard/medium/etc, but also front/rear and left/right. That’ll stop the teams messing with them.

Pirelli’s road tyres were always more delicate compared to Michelin, etc. It seems to be their design philosophy – probably to keep the weight down as much as possible.

I’m still promoting F1 on lo-profile tyres so that the teams can do more with suspension.


They already do code the tyres. Look at the photo in the link below. You can clearly see the blue arrow indicating the direction of rotation. Mercedes have put it on the wrong side of the car.



Thanks for that Aaron 🙂 So Pirelli have known about this habit for some time and have not objected until it caused a failure. They should have been more prepared for the consequences. 😉


Fully with Pirelli on this one. Once Pirelli mount their tyres on to a team’s rims, they have no further control over how they are used. There is no question that the tyres have been operated outside of their recommended criteria at the behest of safety to obtain a competitive advantage. This will always go on but at least have the decency to admit this instead of trying to blame the tyre supplier for a “faulty” or “unsafe” product.

It was interesting to note Ross Brawn’s comments when interviewed by the BBC on air shortly after the finish…he certainly didn’t jump to apportioning blame on Pirelli for the tyre “failure” as there is no doubt he knew what tricks teams had been up to with rotating rubber!


Read this quote very carefully (if possible, re-read):

“The sidewalls are designed in such a way to deal with specific loads on the internal and external sides of the tyre. So swapping the tyres round has an effect on how they work in certain conditions. In particular, the external part is designed to cope with the very high loads that are generated while cornering at a circuit as demanding as Silverstone, with its rapid left-hand bends and some kerbs that are particularly aggressive.”

-Paul Hembery

Who fits the tyres to the rims again? Cos its only that outfit that can fit the inside on the outside. That would be Pirelli. No?


You clearly don’t understand what is actually happening here…the TEAMS are swopping WHEELS from side to side i.e. taking right rear wheel and refitting to left rear..with the same tyre still attached..so a tyre that had been running clockwise (on the rhs) will now effectively run anti-clockwise…this changes the way the tyre works due to the bias of the carcass belting and is where teams are gaining but this then places reverse stresses within the tyre which has lead to the failures…against the advise of Pirelli..


Correction –

“Switching the wheels around cannot alter the inner AND outer sidewalls. Simples.”


I quoted Pirelli talking about internal and external sidewalls. Stop being blinded by what your assumptions, and re-read the quote from Pirelli again with fresh eyes. It makes them out as either thoroughly confused or telling porkies.

Read what Pirelli said, not what you think.

Switching the wheels around cannot alter the inner to the outer sidewalls. Simples.

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