Pirelli, the sole tyre supplier to Formula 1, has admitted they will be investigating the untimely punctures suffered by Ferrari drivers Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen in Sunday’s British Grand Prix.
“The reasons behind [the punctures] are currently being looked at together with [Ferrari]” said a Pirelli statement late Sunday afternoon.
Both Ferrari drivers were compromised by the suspicious failures during the Grand Prix.
Raikkonen dropped from a clear second place to third whilst team mate Vettel experienced the worst plight, falling from 4th to 7th by race end.
Both punctures occurred in the front-left tyre and happened within the last three laps of the 51 lap race.
“[M]y front left tire let go with no warning,” Raikkonen told media after the race. His puncture was the first to happen, on lap 49 of the race.
Vettel, who suffered his puncture just seconds later on lap 50, didn’t focus on the issue, choosing to instead comment on his other adventures in the race.
Maurizio Arrivabene, Ferrari’s Team Principal, echoed Vettel’s style, telling media, “complaining about losing a second and a fourth place is not Ferrari’s style.”
Pirelli’s Head of Car Racing, Mario Isola, described the incidents after the race as “a real pity,” admitting, “we’ll obviously now look into exactly why this happened together with the team.”
Although not stated, Arrivabene’s post-race press conferences implicates fault as laying solely with Pirelli instead of the failures being caused by Ferrari pushing the tyre beyond its limits.
Though Ferrari’s stint lengths cannot be ruled out as Isola did state after Saturday’s qualifying session, “Pit strategy tomorrow could range between one and two stops.”
Using the available data, the average stint length for the soft tyre (which was the compound Ferrari suffered their punctures on) in the British Grand Prix was 27.25 laps.
At 25 laps, Raikkonen’s stint was below this average number, which certainly makes his puncture all-the-more suspicious.
On the other hand, Vettel’s tyres had been on for 32 laps when he experienced his puncture. This was 4.75 laps over the average stint length.
But, Vettel’s stint was not even the longest soft tyre stint of the race as Kevin Magnussen successfully took that specific compound 37 laps.
By comparison, Vettel’s stint was the third longest on the soft tyre during the Grand Prix.
Historically, the British Grand Prix has had a run in with tyre failures before. The 2013 iteration saw six drivers suffer incident with the tyres. That day, Autosport reported “kerb design, track layout, internal shockwaves and low pressures” as the causes.
Almost one day after the 2017 race, though, neither Ferrari nor Pirelli have released further details relating to the almost simultaneous punctures.