Pirelli mistified by tyre problems

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Belgium, Circuit de Spa-Francorchampsbe

Nico Rosberg suffered a horrific incident in the dying minutes of the second practice session for the Belgian GP after one of his Pirelli tyres blowed up during his race simulation run.

The German driver was driving at 306 km/h when his tyre failed. Onboard videos showed that a part of the tyre carcass had already started to detach on the Kemmel straight. However, the Mercedes-driver did not feel anything strange or a drop in pressure at that point.

Pirelli conducted an intense inspection after the second practice. The Italian company’s sporting director Paul Hembery even cancelled his usual Friday afternoon conference as he took part in the investigation process.

„We did not find any indications about a structural weakness,” reported Formula 1’s sole tyre supplier Pirelli.

“Video footage shows a tyre problem on Rosberg’s car which is consistent with an external cut into the tyre structure.”

Pirelli tried to find the potential places where the damage could have been caused. Therefore the company sent a team to the track to inspect hazardous places. However, it did not find any hazard for the tyres.

On Saturday morning, Merecedes' technical chief Paddy Lowe commented that the failure was difficult to investigate with X-rays, as the tyre was so badly damaged. Still, all evidence seems to point to a puncture.

"It appears like a foreign object punctured the tyre. The thing is that it must have been a very special puncture, as it has allowed some long fibres of the tyre carcass to come out of the tyre, ending up in the catastrophic failure about half a lap later."

Asked by the BBC if it may have had anything to do with tyre loading, Lowe was adamant that Merecedes are running their Pirelli tyres within the allowed limits of tyre presssure and camber, saying the failure in any case had nothing to do with its loading.