A three-stop F1 Qatar GP? Tyre failure concerns prompt changes for the rest of the event

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On Sprint Saturday ahead of tomorrow’s Qatar Grand Prix, the FIA has issued a statement stating that tyre concerns could play a major part over the remainder of this weekend.

An extra practice session will take place at 4pm local, and that has delayed the sprint shootout by 20 minutes.

A deep analysis of the tyres will take place after the sprint race. Should the problem still be clear, every single driver who covers the full distance will have to make three stops during the race.

In the statement, the FIA say: “Following the standard analysis of tyres used during Free Practice 1 yesterday, in which tyres that have been used for approximately 20 laps are examined by Pirelli to check various safety parameters, a separation in the sidewall between the topping compound and the carcass cords on many of tyres that were checked was discovered.

“It is the view of the FIA and Pirelli that a significant number of additional laps on these tyres could result in circumferential damage of the tyres with subsequent air loss, and tyres analysed with lower lap numbers showed a much-reduced extent of the issue.”

“This issue has likely been caused by the high-frequency interference between the tyre sidewall and the 50mm ‘pyramid’ kerbs used extensively at this circuit, aggravated by the propensity to ride those kerbs.”

The following changes will apply:

1. Track limits at Turns 12-13 will be revised. The white line will be moved by 80 centimeters to the inside at Turns 12-13 to prevent drivers from driving too far over the kerbs.

2. There will be a 10-minute Practice Familiarisation Session, scheduled to start at 16:00 local time, following the revision of the track limits, to allow drivers to adjust to the changes. The Sprint Shootout will therefore start 20 minutes later than scheduled (16:20 local time).

3. There will extensive tyre analysis following the Sprint (19 laps), to decide whether further action needs to be taken ahead of the Grand Prix.

4. In the event the problem is still evident, we will be issuing the following directive for Sunday’s Grand Prix, on safety grounds:

4a. The tyre life parameter must not exceed 20 for new tyres used in the race. This number would rise to 22 for any used tyres fitted in the race, to account for in-out laps in qualifying.

4b. All drivers will be obliged to perform at least three tyre-change pitstops during the race.

It’s not the first time there has been tyre problems for the Italian manufacturer. Tyre blowouts at Silverstone in 2013 for Hamilton, Massa, Vergne and Perez saw Pirelli bring a new specification of tyre to Hungary.

At the Lusail International Circuit in 2021, Latifi, Russell and Bottas all suffered punctures/blowouts in the race as the high-speed circuit and kerbs proved too much for them to handle.

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