The blistering of tyres had started becoming a chink in Pirelli’s armour as they started affecting race outcomes. The company claims to have solved the issue by using tread rubber of lesser thickness.
Last few years saw Pirelli conducting extensive research, tests and subsequent improvements to produce tyres that could suit the new Formula One race cars. These tyres received much criticism for their performance over wet surfaces ( remember Kimi spinning on standing water in Brazil ? ) but that was not all. In last few races we saw the problem of tyre-blistering altering race outcomes. But after much research and in-depth analysis, Pirelli claims to have solved the issue.
The solution now lies in using thinner-tread rubber which would drastically reduce the blistering problem. Mario Isola, Motorsport Racing Manager for Pirelli Tyres, commented on the issue of tyres developing blisters.
Citing the example of Kimi Raikkonen at the Italian Grand Prix, he said that the tyres being used were more prone to developing blisters due to their low-wear characteristics. This, plus the fact that Kimi pushed hard on the tyres right after the pit stop and that his car suffered down-force losses while trailing Valtteri Bottas, exacerbated the situation.
Pirelli has addressed this issue by deciding to reduce the tread thickness of rubber on the tyres. This has delivered positive results in pre-season testing.
Mario commented, “If I compare just the reduction in tread thickness, that is one of the new characteristics that we decided to implement in the new tyres. This [reduced] the blisters massively at Barcelona, Paul Ricard and Silverstone.”
“And in Barcelona we had a clear comparison made by all the teams because they had a pre-season test but in Silverstone, for example, we were there for our tyre development test we compare the normal version with the reduced one and it was clear that the normal one was going to blister a lot but the reduced one was a lot better.”, he added.
Although this solves the blistering problem for now, it is yet to be seen how quickly these tyres wear-out during the races. While familiarising themselves with tyres at the pre-season testing, some drivers reported that unlike the ones introduced in 2017, the new tyres didn’t bring about a radical change in vehicle’s performance. This should be seen as a positive sign for Pirelli.