Pirelli chief Paul Hembery '100%' sure debris caused cuts to tyres in Belgian GP practice
Tyremaker says incidents "completely different" to British GP
By James Galloway at Spa. Last Updated: 24/08/13 7:57am
Pirelli will closely inspect the Spa-Francorchamps circuit on Friday night after Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso both suffered punctures during Friday's second practice session - but the tyremaker is "100 per cent" sure they were caused by debris.
On the opening day at one of the fastest and most demanding tracks on the calendar, World Champion Vettel was the first to suffer a puncture when the right-rear tyre on his Red Bull deflated coming out of the 245kph Curve Paul Frere, the German backing off before arriving at the fearsome Blanchimont. At the end of the session Alonso's Ferrari also picked up a slow-puncture on the same tyre and on the same part of the track.
Formula 1 has been on a heightened state of alert in regards to tyre safety ever since June's British GP was marred by multiple blow-outs, a situation which prompted Pirelli to revert to 2012 constructions at the last race in Hungary.
Appearing at a briefing with journalists several hours after the end of P2, Hembery showed pictures of both the deflated tyres on Vettel's and Alonso's respective cars and explained that the cuts had come in different forms.
Belgian GP - Friday practice review
"It looks on the Red Bull as if something's been rubbing on the surface and then cut straight through the surface," the Pirelli Motorsport Director said.
"On the Ferrari there are two quite clear holes through the top of the tread. So we've got to go and look on the track later to see what's between turns 13 and 15."
Hembery also revealed that Pirelli's immediate post-session analysis had shown that tyres on other drivers' cars had also experienced signs of cuts although he stressed that the situation was "completely different" to the one which engulfed the sport at Silverstone.
Speaking to Sky Sports F1 later, Hembery was even more adamant as to the cause of the problem: "It's 100 per cent debris, there's no doubt about it."
Nonetheless, speaking on The F1 Show, Anthony Davidson suggested the fact the tyres were still being pierced despite being beefed up since Silverstone was an undoubted concern.
"Quite a bit has been done technically to the tyre - remember we started the year with a steel belt which has been replaced by the Kevlar - so we have pretty much gone full circle to the tyre that we had at Spa last year and we are seeing a similar failure to what we saw at certain points last year which was down to 'debris on the circuit,'" the Sky F1 expert said.
He added: "Either way - whether it is fatigue of the tyre or something out there on the circuit - it is a worry and I hope they find debris on the track, but it hasn't affected other categories. There are GP3 cars on track at the moment and it hasn't been affecting them."
With Hembery confident an external factor on the track was causing the problems, Pirelli will now conduct more detailed investigations into what exactly was cutting the tyres.
"That's what we've got to find out now," Hembery said. "To be honest it's the sort of thing that you see throughout the weekend. We've seen a lot of signs on other tyres as well with some surface cuts, so there's clearly something, but I can't tell you what it is yet."
Asked if something on the 7.004km track was damaging the tyres, such as a kerb, Hembery replied: "To be honest it could be anything. In the case of Alonso, you've got two holes through the top [of the tyre] - what on earth can cause that?
"You've got to go and find it and that's obviously what we want to do."
He acknowledged the incidents were a concern but said Pirelli would do all they could to get to the bottom of the issue before Saturday's Practice Three session.
"It's a worry for the sport because we've got to go and find out what it is. It's not a lot we can do. We can try our very best to identify it and give indications of what could be causing it," Hembery added.