Wolff: Tyre pressures were ‘not a level playing field’ for teams
Toto Wolff says an outfit’s ability to lower its car’s tyre pressures while on track may have deprived F1 teams of a level playing field.
The FIA has implemented several new procedures to ensure that teams run their tyres in conformity to Pirelli’s prescriptions in terms of temperatures and pressures in the wake of the failures suffered by Red Bull and Aston Martin in Baku.
Pirelli’s subsequent investigation into the blowouts confirmed the integrity of the tyre manufacturer’s product and pointed to “running conditions” as a cause for the failures, which in turn suggested that Red Bull and Aston Martin had not run their tyres to the minimum pressure levels.
Wolff welcomed the FIA’s increased scrutiny on tyre pressures from this weekend French Grand Prix, suggesting that teams were perhaps not previously on a level playing field.
“I think we just want to have a level playing field,” said the Mercedes team principal.
“Whether it’s up and down, that’s not the point. But if somebody is capable of extracting two or three pounds out of a tyre while it’s running, there’s obviously not a level playing field.”
Wolff ensured that Mercedes has always scrupulously followed Pirelli’s prescriptions and procedures.
“We have always operated to the limits that were given to us by Pirelli,” said Wolff. “And the logic is if we start with the prescriptions, there’s only one direction and that is up, in terms of tyre pressures.
“There is no way of going down. So we were always on the right side of the of the legality question.”
Read also: McLaren disappointed with lack of ‘transparency’ over tyre blowouts
Red Bull’s Christian Horner downplayed the FIA’s new control measures, viewing the changes from this weekend as an “administrative thing” rather than an operational change.
“They don’t really change the way we’re operating, but it’s the same for everybody,” said the Briton.
“There are lots of words that don’t say a great deal, but it’s more an administrative thing than anything else. And, I think, we’ve always adhered to Pirelli’s guidelines and the FIA rules. That’s what we’ll continue to do.”
McLaren’s Zak Brown still sees a significant lack of clarity surrounding the root cause of the Baku failures.
“I think we’re all left kind of guessing at what we think happened,” he said. “And of course, you’ve seen the other teams kind of contradict, if you like, what’s been stated.
“So I think the reality is we don’t know, in a very black and white manner, exactly what happened.
“We kind of have a general idea, but then you have Pirelli and the two teams, they certainly don’t seem to be aligned in what happened, and therefore I think we need to understand what happened.”
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