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Robert Cianflon

FIA announce decision regarding tyres for the Qatar Grand Prix

Pirelli announced their concerns about the tyres on Friday and the FIA have now confirmed their verdict for the Qatar Grand Prix.

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After discussions were held, it was announced that the Qatar Grand Prix would be a mandatory three-stop race after safety concerns.

Drivers will need to have a three-stop race at Luseli. Photo credits: Mohammed Dabbous/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
Drivers will now need to have a three-stop race at Lusali. Photo credits: Mohammed Dabbous/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Throughout the weekend, several discussions have taken place regarding the tyre rules for the Qatar Grand Prix.

On Friday, Pirelli first noticed issues with their tyres after the practice session. During their usual analysis of their tyres, Pirelli saw evidence suggesting a sidewall separation between the topping compound and the carcass cords – this could cause air loss in the tyres if they are used too much.

After informing the FIA about their concern, some new adjustments were made to Turn 12/13. The concerns suggested that the new pyramid kerbs put in place for the Qatar Grand Prix could be what is affecting the tyres.

Revised track limits were put in place and Turns 12/13 were then adjusted by 80 centimetres, this was hoped to deter drivers from using the 50mm kerbs as part of their racing line.

The FIA put out a statement yesterday regarding the kerbs and gave a little more insight:

“This issue has likely been caused by the high-frequency interference between the tyre sidewall and the 50mm ‘pyramid’ kerbs used extensively at this circuit, aggravated by the propensity to ride those kerbs,”

What will happen on Sunday?

It was confirmed that Sunday’s race would be a mandatory three-stop race. After Pirelli’s analysis, the tyre suppliers still had their concerns.

It now means that tyres will only be allowed to be used for 18 laps. In regards to tyres that were used for in/out laps in Qualifying an additional two laps will be added.

However, if any driver exceeds the limit, he will be issued with a black flag. This is to make sure drivers are safe and to avoid any potential accidents.

The FIA’s official statement regarding the change to the race:

“Due to the frequency of Safety Car interventions in yesterday’s Sprint, the tyre data available for analysis by Pirelli was insufficient to add to that already undertaken following previous track sessions.

As was the case in Free Practice 1, this issue has likely been caused by the high-frequency interference between the tyre sidewall and the 50mm ‘pyramid’ kerbs used extensively at this circuit, aggravated by the propensity to ride those kerbs.”

The governing body has outlined this change and goes through how the race will be running:

“As a consequence, it has been decided by the FIA and Pirelli and after consultation with the teams on safety grounds, the following measures will be implemented for today’s Qatar Grand Prix: 

  • A mandatory limit of 18 laps of total tyre life per set will be imposed.

  • The life of already used tyres will be taken into consideration.

  • The FIA and Pirelli will communicate to the teams the remaining available laps for each set of used tyres at their disposal for the race and the criteria used to calculate that number.

  • There is no direct mandate for at least three tyre-change pitstops during the race, however this will be a consequence of the above guidelines should the race run its entire race distance.

  • Any car deemed to have exceeded the tyre life lap limit will be reported to the Stewards as being run in an unsafe condition.

  • This information will be formally communicated to the teams in the Race Directors’ notes and further updates issued as required.”

So, with this announcement how many tyres have drivers got left? Here is a little look:

This unusual change to the race will be intriguing to see as the race progresses. How will teams try to strategise with 57 laps ahead?

Featured image credits: Robert Cianflon via Getty Images

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