November 16, 2011
Was Vettel's tire melted by his exhaust in Abu Dhabi?
That is the scenario raised by Italy's Autosprint. Autosprint is Italy's premiere motorsport magazine, published since 1961 and in my experience almost always on target.
If a manufacturing defect can be ruled out since the tire was used for qualifying and no debris or shards were found by anyone in turn 1 at Yas Marina, the cause had to be something else.
"Launch Start Cycle" would be the culprit, a procedure that takes advantage of the hot exhaust blowing on the rear tires sidewalls to bring them up to temperature better. In Abu Dhabi something went wrong and the sidewalls became overheated. A wrong sequence, incorrect engine map, external circumstances, that is not known but one thing is certain, Red Bull was quite cagey about the cause and especially about showing its removed floor pan to TV cameras.
This scenario is given more credibility with today's announcement by Pirelli that no structural failure was found on the Red Bull's tire.
It's ironic, Autosprint points out, that those same exhausts which have been the key to Red Bull's advantage this season were also the cause of their of their first retirement.