Pirelli is sending a number of tires to its Milan headquarters to investigate the failures suffered by a number of teams during the Qatar Grand Prix.
Valtteri Bottas was on lap 33 of the race and yet to make a pit stop when he suffered a front left puncture, resulting in him going off track and picking up severe enough damage before eventually having to retire. The same issue struck Nicholas Latifi, while his Williams team-mate George Russell managed to continue after a front left failure. McLaren’s Lando Norris similarly dropped from fourth to ninth after a late pit stop due to a puncture.
Pirelli’s head of car racing Mario Isola says the tires concerned are heading to Italy for analysis, as it appears most failures occurred after the tires had run onto a curb.
“Obviously we have to investigate,” Isola said. “Not the puncture, we know the front left was the most stressed position but in this case most of the punctures were after impacts on the curb, so we need to understand if the loss of pressure was sudden or which kind of issue it was.
“We are sending the tires back to Milan for a quick investigation. What I’m telling you is just a preliminary visual investigation but the tires were working well. As predicted, most of the drivers were on a two-stop strategy.”
Isola also backed up Bottas’ claim that there was no warning for the drivers, as Pirelli saw nothing in the data to suggest an imminent failure either.
“Sometimes we have some indication like vibrations growing, in this case we didn’t see anything. We have found some cuts on the tires, on the sidewall on the tires, that is obviously the weaker part of the tire itself.
“The level of wear was quite high, so we need to investigate, but the tires were still in one piece, just losing pressure. The first suspect is the impact on curbs was quite hard during the race and therefore causing this loss of pressure.”