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.

(Autosprint) .


  1. Steve Matchett, a commentator for SpeedTV said a possibility was that one of the suspension arms failed and caused the tire to contact the floor close to the tire. Makes sense because it was loaded in that direction, and they retired the car because of suspension damage on that side. I can see how a small upright failure could collapse the rear enough for it to contact something and immediately deflate the tire. Damn shame though!

  2. That's the other possibility, but it's just as likely the flailing tire broke the suspension on the way back to the pits...

  3. how cool, they use the exhaust to heat the tires!

  4. Hmmmm... having rear tires that are warmer than everyone else's would partially explain how Vettel always opens up a 2 second gap in the first two laps of the race so that 2nd place can't use the DRS against him.

  5. Having a source very close to the main protagonist in this matter, I can tell that those hypothesis are pretty much all BS. RBR synched the onboard footage with telemetry and the pressure drop in the tyre occured exactly when it went over a the draining groove in the middle of the curb. Probably some lonely carbon fiber remaining from GP2 or Porsche Cup sliced the Pirelli.

  6. SO much more fun to think RBR heve come up with something clever and devious just to give Sebastian a chance to beat Schumi's record! :)

  7. Assuming pressures were low due to it being the first lap, my guess is the tyre was ripped off the rim by the outside of the kerb/drain. Nobody else seemed to go as wide.


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