Formula 1: Pirelli to trial new tyre at Austrian Grand Prix

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Pirelli is to trial a new design of rear tyre at next weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix following the two high-speed failures in Azerbaijan this month.

Pirelli has come in for criticism from the Formula 1 drivers after the left-rear tyres of Max Verstappen and Lance Stroll failed at close to 200mph.

The new design, which has a more robust construction, will be tried in practice at the Red Bull Ring on 2 July.

Each driver will have two sets to use in either practice session.

The tyre is aimed at resolving a vulnerability in the shoulder of the tyre which Pirelli has protected so far by mandating higher tyre pressures than the F1 teams would like.

The company said: “If the test is successful, the new rear specification will be introduced from the British Grand Prix onwards, replacing the current specification.

“The new rear construction incorporates some elements that have been developed for use in the latest 18-inch Formula 1 tyres from 2022.

“With this new structure Pirelli provides a tyre that can guarantee even greater levels of integrity under the extreme conditions that can be generated by the current cars.”

The existence of the development tyre was revealed by BBC Sport last week.

The failures in Baku were the latest in a series of tyre-related incidents over Pirelli’s decade-long tenure in F1.

Last weekend at the French Grand Prix, four-time champion Sebastian Vettel criticised the tyres in a private meeting between the drivers and Pirelli, leading to an angry response from Pirelli motorsport director Mario Isola.

And Verstappen, who lost the race victory in Baku as a result of his failure, said he was “not happy with the explanation of what happened in Baku because I don’t think it’s fully clear, at least for people outside, fans”.

Pirelli blamed the incidents on the conditions in which the tyres were being run. It said that Red Bull and Aston Martin had complied with the minimum starting pressures but had found a way to have the tyres running at lower pressures out on track than Pirelli expected.

As a result, Pirelli has increased the minimum starting pressures to guarantee the integrity of the tyres.

Pirelli has no way of monitoring the tyre pressures live out on track this year but will in 2022.

The teams may not all be in favour of the the new design being introduced this because it could potentially lead them to having to make changes to their cars to optimise performance with it.

But if necessary governing body the FIA has the right to impose the tyre on safety grounds.

Pirelli’s tyres have long been a cause for complaint by the F1 drivers because they are sensitive to heat and require careful management in races.

This means drivers cannot push hard on the tyre for any length of time or race closely behind another car otherwise the tyre overheats and loses grip.

The new tyre design being introduced for 2018 is aimed at improving these characteristics and significantly reducing thermal sensitivity so the cars can be pushed to the limit throughout races.

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