FIA put 18-lap limit on tyre compounds for F1 Qatar Grand Prix

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The FIA announced additional tyre limits due to concerns about potential failures in advance of this evening’s Qatar Grand Prix. Tyre sets will now be limited to 18 laps of use, including two extra laps in the case of used qualifying tyres, effectively mandating a three-stop race. Additionally, any drivers who exceed these tyre life limits will be deemed, per the FIA release, “as being run in an unsafe condition”, and subject to a black-flag penalty.

Photo credit: Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team

Pirelli motorsport chief Mario Isola attributed the issue to kerb impacts, resulting in “a small separation between the carcass core and the topping compound.[…] we went deeper into the analysis and this is due to strong impact against or repeated impact against something.

“It’s not just the geometry of the kerb, because these kerbs are used in many other circuits. It is the time and the speed they stay on the kerbs that is important. So here, during the lap, all the drivers are spending quite a lot of time at the high speed on the kerbs, and this is damaging the construction.”

Track limits revisions had already been made at turns 13 and 14 following Pirelli’s concerns, but the safety car periods throughout Saturday’s sprint meant that insufficient analysis could be undertaken leading up to the feature race.

Photo credit: Pirelli Motorsport

To say this will complicate this race may be an understatement. Owing to the aforementioned severe tyre wear factors, none of the top ten cars on the grid have four fresh tyre sets available.

In the second half of the field, the big winners could be Yuki Tsunoda and Alex Albon. Both drivers have two new sets of mediums and hards available to them, and they will not be required to put on a used set of tyres. With their starting positions of P11 and P13, it could be a big day for them to get into the points.

In spite of a shocking weekend so far, Lance Stroll could be another beneficiary in P16 as he has four fresh sets of tyres available to him.