Pirelli alters its tyres following Mercedes request

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Formula 1 tyre supplier Pirelli decided to alter its tyres for some race tracks following Mercedes blistering issues during the pre-season testing in Barcelona. Rival teams do not understand the Italian manufacturer's decision.

Pirelli’s 2018 tyres suffered blistering on some cars during winter testing in Barcelona. Of the compounds, mainly the soft was affected and of the teams, it was Mercedes that seemed to suffer most.

Pirelli was not concerned over the issue because it thought the newly resurfaced Barcelona track was the cause of the blistering and it won’t reappear at other venues.

“It is black and stores the heat. Since the bumps were evened out, cars can travel lower, and produce more grip than usual. Due to the constant loading and low wear, it can lead to overheating in fast corners,” said Pirelli chief Mario Isola.

After the longer stints of the second test week in Barcelona, Mercedes found itself in dilemma over the soft compound which constantly suffered from serious blistering. The team did not find a cure for the tyre problems and advised Pirelli to alter the rubber surface of the compounds which could reduce the overheating problem.

Pirelli has now followed Mercedes’ request and will supply the teams with modified products at three venues. The rubber surface will be reduced by 0.4mm in the British, Spanish and French Grand Prix. The decreased surface also means that the tyres will weigh a kg less which teams have to balance out with ballast weights.

Most of the rival teams did not think the change was needed, but Pirelli insists the changes were made on safety grounds.