• Both Mercedes drivers suffered left front tyre failures at the 2020 British GP.
• Mercedes raced 40 laps on a tyre that could only handle 35.
• Pirelli is receiving flack for teams' inadequacies.
• For more motoring stories, go to www.Wheels24.co.za
Anyone who watched this past Sunday's Formula 1 British Grand Prix, would have been on the edge of their seats after both Mercedes drivers suffered left front tyre failures.
The double blowout happened during the final two laps of the race while both drivers were comfortably leading the race.
McLaren's Carlos Sainz Jr. suffered the same fate round about the same time, and critics were quick to hit out at Pirelli for bringing poor quality tyres to races. To be honest, it's unfair to hit out at Pirelli for the tyre blowouts because it is not their fault.
Some years ago, when Pirelli just came on board as tyre supplier, teams, drivers, and fans asked that tyre compounds should allow for more than one pit stop to be executed during a race.
When Pirelli heeded the call, the tyres were suddenly too soft, and the tyre supplier was asked to make the products harder. When they did so, one-stop races ensued, and suddenly it was a problem again. Teams and drivers are quick to point the finger at Pirelli, but they forget that three others are pointing back at them.
Lewis Hamilton following the end of the 2020 British GP (Bryn Lennon / Getty Images)
Coming to blows
At the start of the second last lap, Valtteri Bottas' Mercedes suffered its tyre failure, followed by Lewis Hamilton a lap later. Bottas was the big loser in all of this - finishing 11th after running in second place - while Hamilton managed to win the race. When questions were asked on what the heck happened, the fingers quickly began pointing towards Pirelli.
It was followed by claims and calls that the tyres weren't durable enough, that it was an inferior product, and that the blowouts should never have happened.
Uhm… No, Mercedes: You should never have pushed your luck!
Each tyre has a lifespan. Whether it's the Soft, Medium, or Hard - regardless of the grade of the compound - each tyre has been produced to complete a maximum number of laps. A maximum, mind you, that teams are aware of. To race 40 laps on a tyre that could handle a maximum of 35 is asking for trouble. Mercedes pushed the envelope, but it's refusing to take the blame for their actions.
Valtteri Bottas after his left front tyre blew (Will Oliver / Getty Images)
What about this weekend
Pirelli's F1 tyres are ranked according to grades: C1 to C5; rated from hardest to softest. The tyres are then named Soft, Medium, and Hard based on the code for any specific race weekend. This weekend, at the very Silverstone track where the blowouts occurred, Pirelli will again bring the C2 and C3 tyres, but will replace the C1, the hardest tyre, with the C4 compound - the second-softest tyre.
This was Pirelli's initial plan, and teams knew going into the next three races that it would be the case. But in light of the blowouts, Pirelli might reconsider its options and avert from replacing the C1. That, in my opinion, would be a massive mistake.
F1 teams have data to their disposal and can see, in real-time, how their race cars are behaving on-track, as well as what the remaining life on each tyre is. In Mercedes' case, they saw, at on point, that the remaining life on Hamilton's left front is 10%, yet they opted to keep him out and taunt fate.
Pirelli did nothing wrong, except for continually listening to whims and cries of teams who can't take responsibility for their own inadequacies.