Haas driver Romain Grosjean feared his soft tyres would “explode” in the final twenty laps of Sunday’s Austrian Grand Prix, as many teams struggled with the Red Bull Ring’s hotter-than-normal temperatures.
“The last 20 laps were not fun – there were blisters on the rears,” Grosjean revealed post-race, after coming home in P4 and recording his first points finish of 2018.
As he entered the pit-lane at the end of the race, he told his engineer the tyres were “blistered like you’ve never seen.”
Blistering occurs when the surface of a tyre becomes too hot from the loads and the rubber begins to melt into pools, similar in structure to a human blister.
“We were struggling with blistering on the tires the whole of the soft stint,” Haas team-mate Kevin Magnussen revealed.
Grosjean raced with soft tyres throughout the majority of the Grand Prix after pitting during lap 15’s Virtual-Safety-car.
Multiple teams, including the front-running Mercedes and Red Bull’s, struggled to keep their tyres under control as the race produced track temperatures 20 degrees hotter than that of FP2.
The blistering was made worse by the soft tyre’s use because it can retain more heat than other compounds.
Pirelli said as a consequence, soft tyre runners were more “susceptible” to blistering.
Some drivers, including Daniel Ricciardo, Lewis Hamilton and Carlos Sainz, had to change from the softs and revert to a slower two-stop due to the extremity of the blistering.
Ricciardo said he saw his rear tyre “getting torn apart” whilst Mercedes engineer Andrew Shovlin felt the Silver Arrows “didn’t manage the tyres as well as we could have.”