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New FIA directive on tyre pressures set to keep teams honest

The FIA will introduce a series of control measures from this weekend’s French Grand Prix to ensure that teams remain in line with Pirelli’s prescriptions regarding tyre pressures.

Formula 1’s tyre supplier released on Tuesday the conclusions of its investigation into the rear-left blowouts suffered by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll in the recent Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

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Pirelli’s investigation established that “there was no production or quality defect on any of the tyres”, adding that the failures were caused by “a circumferential break on the inner sidewall, which can be related to the running conditions of the tyre”.

The manufacturer also acknowledged that both Red Bull and Aston Martin followed the prescribed tyre pressure parameters, which the Milton Keynes-based team confirmed in a separate statement.

Pirelli’s conclusions nevertheless leave everyone with more questions than answers. While they do not explicitly accuse the teams of not following the prescribed parameters, the report inevitably hints at the possibility that Red Bull and Aston Martin may have tampered with the pressures using various ploys and run their tyres below the minimum threshold in order to seek a performance gain.

The FIA has responded to Pirelli’s findings by issuing a technical directive in which it reminds all teams that it is their responsibility to ensure that tyre pressures conform with the manufacturer’s prescriptions.

    Read also: Pirelli reveals cause of tyre failures in Azerbaijan GP

However, with no reliable way for the FIA to control the pressures in “running conditions”, or once a car is on track, new checks will be implemented from this weekend’s race that will focus on controlling tyres after they have been run.

Cold pressure checks will be conducted at random during practice and qualifying, and levels will need to conform with a “cold cooling curve” figure set by Pirelli.

Additional checks will rely on infrared cameras that will monitor tyre temperatures in a team’s garage to ensure that teams do not purposefully overheat their tyres in their blankets to boost pressures ahead of the pre-running checks.

The FIA’s technical directive also clamps down on the practice of delaying a car’s departure from its garage after its tyre blankets have been removed in a bid to lower running condition pressures.

The FIA has warned that any team found to have been running under-inflated tyres, or tyres that are found after the race to be under Pirelli’s prescribed pressure, will be reported to the stewards.

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