News Wrap, Week 27

It’s been decidedly quiet on the news front this week. There’s been some blathering from Pirelli about the misuse of their tyres, from Ross Brawn about Pirelli’s current tyre allocation and from the GDPA on Pirelli’s future tyre allocation. It’s all very tyre-y this week, and hasn’t made for much quality content. But then you’re hardly listening to Box Of Neutrals for its hard-hitting journalistic integrity. It seems Peter McGinley’s incessant sleaziness is a bigger drawcard for our show than our Formula One content – not that we’re complaining. We’re only disappointed that the camera broke for this week’s podcast. Next week. There’s always next week. Meanwhile…
Pirelli to seek camber limit regulation from the FIA
It seems all that blathering was, in fact, not blathering – but serious action. Who’d have thought Ricky Gervais was capable of it? Pirelli motorsport boss Paul Hembery wants the FIA to enforce the company’s recommended camber limit as regulation in order to avoid the tricky situation encountered last time out in Belgium.

Camber on the Red Bull front-left

Cambering is the angling of a tyre in relation to the surface of the track. If you take a look at a Formula One car from the front, you’ll notice that the bottom of the tyre is tilted outwards and is further away from the car than the top of the tyre. This is camber, and is set up to ensure that the maximum amount of tread is in contact with the road once the car’s aerodynamics force them into the tarmac. What happened in Belgium was that, thanks to the lack of pre-qualifying dry running, many team (but particularly Red Bull) ran with excessive camber limits for the conditions. Thus, the wear pattern was focussed on the shoulder of the tyre – where the tyre wall meets the treadface. Thus, when the tyres began to blister – caused by the disparity in inner and outer tyre temperature, causing bits of rubber to latterly tear off the tyres – it created structural weaknesses in the most vulnerable part of the compound, dramatically reducing their life span. The discovery of this at Spa led to the entire dilemma Pirelli faced with Red Bull – who ended up stopping for fresh rubber early to avoid a potentially catastrophic tyre failure.
Now, in Italy, Pirelli have reduced the camber limit from 4 to 3.25 degrees, and are asking the FIA to make it mandatory for all teams to stay within the prescribed maximum. They’re also bringing soft tyres with reduced tread thickness in an attempt to curb the temperature disparity in the tyre itself. This is, of course, for safety – but also because every single tyre has a great big PIRELLI written on either side of it. A dramatic failure of a PIRELLI tyre isn’t exactly great from a marketing and PR point of view. It’s brand management as much as it is for the good of the sport, be assured. Were it not, I’m sure the response would be far less frantic.
Though several teams were seen to be breaching the camber limit already on Friday, The FIA has confirmed that a mandatory camber limit will be enforced this weekend.
Pirelli seek changes to tyre allocations from the FIA
It’s Pirelli again, this time looking to change the weekend tyre allocation for teams from 2012. Currently, each driver gets six sets of the meeting’s prime compound, and five sets of the option. Teams, you’ve no doubt noticed, have been playing conservative with their allocations, minimising runs in practice and qualifying to save rubber for the race – but Pirelli have noticed that there are always tyres left over come Sunday night. The reason, it transpires, is because teams have been so adverse to running the prime compound that they’ve simply not used their full quota.
Paul Hembery is lobbying the FIA to change the tyre allocation for next year to allow them to bring five prime sets for each driver, while increasing the number of option sets to six. His proposal has already received support from the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association, but is yet to find favour with either the FIA, nor many of the teams – all of whom have remained largely silent and apparently indifferent on the matter.

Ross Brawn explains tyre limits

Ross Brawn is the exception, who said over the week that the tyres will always be left over as teams keep them as backups – should events in the race transpire, resulting in an extra set being needed by a driver. His alternative suggestion is to create a system whereby the unused tyres can be used within the allocation for subsequent races, rather than current system which sees Pirelli destroy unused rubber and manufacturer entire new sets each race meeting.
Pirelli are also in the middle of sounding out support for the return of qualifying tyres for next season. This too would require FIA approval, and is yet to be decided.
The return of Robert Kubica
Some good news from the Robert Kubica camp this week, with the Pole’s manager confirming that he’s aiming to be back in either a car or simulator sometime in October.

‘In October we consider that Robert can put a helmet on his head just to give a message of what he will be capable to do.’

-Daniele Morelli, Kubica’s manager

Kubica underwent his final operation on the weekend of the Belgian Grand Prix, and is still aiming to be racing in motorsport’s top tier come the start of the 2012 season.  His rehabilitation is reportedly on track, and surgeons are hopeful that he’ll regain enough strength in his arm to race in Formula One again.
Kubica’s 2011 season was cut short after a rally crash in Italy left him with life-threatening injuries, amongst which was an almost totally severed right arm thanks to the intrusion of an Armco barrier into the cockpit. He is currently undergoing extensive rehabilitation to restore as much functionality in his arm and hand as possible.

 You can follow me on Twitter, if you have nothing better to do: @MichaelLamonato 


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