FIA could enforce three-stop race in Qatar amid tyre concerns

Concerns over the integrity of Pirelli’s tyres after Friday practice at the Qatar Grand Prix could see the FIA mandate a three-stop pit strategy in Sunday’s race.

Analysis of tyres used for approximately 20 laps during first practice in Qatar revealed a separation in the sidewall between the topping compound and the carcass cords.

Both tyre supplier Pirelli and the sport’s governing body, the FIA, are concerned that continued use of the tyres beyond 20 laps would lead to failures, while those used for fewer laps during practice appear less prone to the issue.

The FIA believes the damage has been caused by the 50mm ‘pyramid’ kerbs used around the Losail circuit and the tendency for drivers to ride those kerbs during a lap.

As a result, track limits are set to become stricter at the high-speed Turns 12 and 13 to keep drivers off the kerbs, with an additional 10-minute free practice scheduled ahead of Saturday’s sprint shootout session to allow drives to familiarise themselves with the new track limits.

The additional practice time means shootout qualifying, which sets the grid for the sprint race, will start 20 minutes later than scheduled at 4:20 p.m. local time.

Further analysis of the tyres will take place after Saturday’s 19-lap sprint race, in which it is not mandatory to make a pit stop.

If the problem is still evident, the FIA will cap tyre age in Sunday’s 57-lap grand prix at 20 laps for new tyres 22 laps for used tyres (to account for the in-lap and out-lap the used tyres have already completed in qualifying).

It will also mandate three tyre changes per car during the race, thereby reducing team’s desire to run the tyres up to their 20-lap maximum stint.

A statement by the FIA added: “Pirelli and the FIA will carry out extensive research and simulations in order to establish with complete confidence the reasons behind this issue, and to work on solutions to avoid it in the future.”

Credit: Source link