There were many theories as to why three cars suffered front-left tyre failures in the closing laps of the British GP: was it the kerbs? The result of debris from Kimi Raikkonen’s broken front wing? A structural issue with the tyre construction itself?
Well, Pirelli has now had some time to analyse exactly what went wrong, with the apparent conclusion being simply that the teams pushed them too hard for too long. Pirelli’s statement reads:
“The key reason is down to a set of individual race circumstances that led to an extremely long use of the second set of tyres. The second safety car period prompted nearly all the teams to anticipate their planned pit stop and so carry out a particularly long final stint: around 40 laps, which is more than three-quarters the total race length on one of the most demanding tracks of the calendar.
“Combined with the notably increased pace of the 2020 Formula 1 cars (pole position was 1.2 seconds faster compared to 2019) this made the final laps of the British Grand Prix especially tough, as a consequence of the biggest forces ever seen on tyres generated by the fastest Formula 1 cars in history.
“The overall result was the most challenging operating conditions for tyres. These led to the front-left tyre (which is well-known for working hardest at Silverstone) being placed under maximum stress after a very high number of laps, with the resulting high wear meaning that it was less protected from the extreme forces in play.”
There was some concern that the plan to bring softer compounds for this weekend’s 70th Anniversary Grand Prix at the same circuit would have to be cancelled, but that’s not the case. Pirelli confirmed that the tyre compounds would still be one step softer (so what was the soft at the last race will now be the medium this weekend), but that there would be an increase in the minimum allowed tyre pressures in an event to prevent the same thing happening again.
This is good news – not just from a safety point of view, but because chances are it’ll push teams towards using two (or maybe even three)- stop strategies, rather than doing the usual thing of trying to eke out a one-stopper.