Pirelli boss Mario Isola has explained after the Grand Prix of Qatar about the punctures that four drivers suffered. According to him, the tires were already ‘quite worn’ at the time of impact and driving aggressively over the kerbstones would not have helped.
No fewer than four drivers suffered a flat tire in the Qatar Grand Prix: Valtteri Bottas, Lando Norris, George Russell and Nicholas Latifi. Coincidentally, all four drivers also had the left front tire. Of course, this requires clarification from tire supplier Pirelli.
“The left front tire was hit because it was taking the most pressure, but I wouldn’t say it was caused by excessive pressure or anything like that,” Pirelli boss Mario Isola told Sky Sports, after the initial findings. “I can already share that the tires were quite worn, close to one hundred percent. We have cuts in the tires. We need to investigate whether these arose before or after the loss of pressure.”
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“We are waiting for the telemetry from the teams,” the Italian continues. “That’s a very important element for us to understand if pressure loss was sudden and when it happened. The drivers were able to return to the pits, so they lost pressure but it was good enough to control the car and drive to the pits,” said Isola, forgetting that Latifi parked his Williams along the track.
Pirelli is going to investigate
Possibly, Isola suggests, the loss of pressure has to do with the driving style of the drivers and in particular how they drove over the somewhat aggressive curbstones of the Losail International Circuit. “We saw a lot of high-speed impacts with those kerbstones. It’s no secret that many teams also had damage to the chassis, floor and wings. When a tire is worn, it is less resistant to curbs and heavy impacts. Then they may lose pressure. Then you have to change the tire or you will get a flat tire.”
Before the start of the race, Pirelli announced that the two-stop would be the best option for the race. A few drivers still took the risk of the more aggressive one-stop, including Lando Norris and Valtteri Bottas, who suffered a flat tire. “We saw a few teams trying a one-stop because it’s difficult to overtake here. So they didn’t want to lose too much time in the pits,” explains Isola. “But we predicted a two-stop based on the data we gathered on Friday. The wear on the left front was quite severe. Today the left front and rear tires were worn to one hundred percent. But the reason why we only had a flat tire at the front left needs to be investigated,” concludes the Pirelli boss.