This weekend's Italian Grand Prix in Monza has a lingering safety concern--the blistering and camber settings the teams choose are being closely monitored. You'll recall that Red Bull were deemed to have exceeded the recommended camber settings for their Pirelli tires at the Spa Francorchamps circuit leading to a "blistering" effect on the tires and causing safety concerns.
This weekend, Pirelli have renewed their recommended camber settings with a lower allowance and are now patrolling pit lane to assess the tire wear and presence of any potential blistering or safety concerns. Pirelli are very serious about their brand and the negative comments that arose from the Ardennes Forest two weeks ago have left them militant on making sure their product is not being misused at their expense. Pirelli's boss, Paul Hembery told AUTOSPORT:
"We will look into it after FP3.
"The problem we have is it is a recommendation we have, and you need to have running time to see if we have been too cautious or too aggressive. We don't know yet. And it is not just camber it is all the parameters we advise on.
"We feel it would be better to review how things are following practice. If we don't have problems them fine, but if we do then we can reserve judgment."
Pirelli have asked the FIA to help enforce the camber settings to ensure that they are being followed. The Italian tire maker will inspect the cars after Free Practice 3 and call on the FIA to inspect any issues they discover.
The first free practice today seems to have gone off without incident with Hembery saying:
"Conditions were particularly tough today because of the heat at Monza as well as the usual high speeds, so we didn't see much evolution of the track from the morning to the afternoon," said Pirelli's Motorsport Director Paul Hembery. "Despite this heavy punishment, the tires performed well - especially the medium, with Lewis Hamilton making the most of the cooler conditions in the morning.
We're analyzing the data throughout the afternoon, but there appears to be no blistering outside the usual parameters for this circuit. From a company point of view, it's an amazing feeling to be racing here on our home territory and we've enjoyed some fantastic support from all the fans here so far. With six drivers within half a second of Sebastian Vettel this afternoon and two extensive DRS zones, it's going to be a very fast and closely-fought qualifying session tomorrow."
Intriguingly, Pirelli have spent a lot of time testing at Monza, the home of the Italian Grand Prix, and tire wear shouldn't be that elusive to the company. Having a plethora of data in hand, Pirelli should be able to determine any serious infringements or tire performance issues with ease.
Pirelli have done exactly what Formula One had asked of them in 2011. Build a tire that degrades much faster than what they are capable of creating. This was asked for in the hopes it would provide a more exciting racing series as tire wear would be critical and the need for tire conservation, as well as the disparity between fresh and old tires, would add an element to the tactical outcome of the races.
To those ends, Pirelli have done an impeccable job and it is understandable that they take their reputation seriously when teams suggest the tires were "blistering" in Belgium. Having already made a tire that is inferior to what they could make, they certainly aren't willing to allow for teams to exceed recommended camber settings, destroy their tires because of it and then lay the blame on Pirelli's front door step.
This weekend is the first of a critical inspection process that Pirelli is initiating to prevent teams from the misuse of their tires and they are pulling out all the stops to make sure this doesn't happen again.