Written by Owen Bradley, Edited by Vyas Ponnuri
Well, once again, it is Pirelli’s tyres being the centre of attention. Eight punctures in the 24 Hours of Spa - Three for the Audi cars, Two for the Lamborghinis, One each for Porsche, Aston Martin and Rowe Racing’s BMW.
At the six hours of Le Castellet in June, Pirelli faced heavy backlash due to loads of punctures to the cars, at the GT World Challenge. Most notably affected were the Audi’s, Ferraris and McLarens. Mercedes fared somewhat better.
However, things got even worse at Spa. The 24-Hour race saw even more punctures. Granted, the 24 Hours of Spa has a 66-Car grid, but nonetheless, there were yet more tyre failures.
Sandy Mitchell was the first victim of the Pirelli tyres, with a puncture just 35 minutes into the race. Ricardo Feller’s Audi would be the next, yet another puncture - only nine minutes after the first, just 44 minutes into the race.
And only a lap later, Mirko Bortolotti’s Lamborghini suffered a puncture as well. A minute later, yet another Audi would get a puncture. This meant four punctures, within the first hour of a 24-hour race.
About 30 Minutes later, Audi Sainteloc Junior team’s Cesar Gazeau suffered a puncture, heading around one of the quickest corners on the track, Blanchimont, and ended up crashing into the barrier at high speed. This took the tally up to five, with three of them being Audi’s.
About 45 minutes after the last one, it was a Porsche that picked up a puncture, and what made this even more dangerous was that the race had just been restarted, which meant there was a very slow car limping down a straight, followed by about 50 other cars.
It would be hours before we got our next puncture, as the other punctures were due to crashes. The Aston Martin of Danish Nicki Thiim was involved in a spin at the top of Radillon, resulting in yet another puncture.
Two hours later, and the BMW of Nick Yelloly for Rowe Racing got a puncture too, as a result of the increasing track temperatures, which is something we will touch on now.
Most of these punctures came at a time when the track was at its hottest, and with the ongoing European heatwave during the race, these could be reasons for the punctures, apart from Pirelli’s compounds being too weak.
However, we must say - To have eight punctures, three within the first hour itself, and affecting: BMW, Audi, Aston Martin and Porsche - surely, there must be something that Pirelli needs to change.
Therefore, while Pirelli might not be entirely to blame for the punctures, the fact that they have spoken very little about the issues with punctures in the endurance races this year, might go on to speak volumes about the tyre manufacturer.
Pirelli’s tyres falter under heat, and it seems that the company themselves do too, as they have found themselves taking heat for punctures in Formula 1 as well.
Another factor to consider here is how much kerb each car was taking - More the oscillations (vibrations) you get, worse is the tyre wear.
But what do you think? Are we being harsh on Pirelli? Or do Pirelli need to change their tyres to suit better conditions, because as we saw with the slow Porsche, it could result in something very dangerous.