The Qatar Grand Prix certainly kept viewers on their toes at the Losail Circuit with three drivers enduring punctures “with no warning” and our title favourites – Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton – battling it out to the final laps.
After much specualtion, Pirelli released early information around the incident last weekend but have yet to publish findings from an in-depth investigation which is currently underway.
Speaking last week, Pirelli boss Mario Isola said; “The first elements that I can share with you are all the tyres were quite worn, close to 100%. We have cuts on the tyres that we have to understand if they were caused before the loss of pressure or after the loss of pressure.
“We are waiting for telemetry data from the teams, that is really important to understand if the loss of pressure was sudden. We have seen a lot of impact and high speed on the kerbs here it’s not a secret that there was also damage to the chassis, to the floor, to the wings.
“When a tyre is worn, it’s less protected from kerbs, from big and high energy impact, then it can happen that they start losing pressure and at this point you either have to change the tyre or they are flat.”
Since the race, all three drivers affected by the punctures have echoed the same tune – which was that none of them felt any of the vital warning signs usually associated with this type of error.
Valtteri Bottas was the first to endure the front-left puncture on the day and admitted if they had pitted just laps earlier, he would have made the podium.
“It was without any vibration before without any loss of grip, so it was quite strange,” Bottas said.
“We knew we were pushing it to the limit, but there was no vibration and we felt comfortable. That was the best opportunity for us to get to the podium and I think if we stopped one or two laps later we would have got it.”
Toto Wolff then gave his opinion on the matter and said: “Valtteri’s puncture came out of nowhere. We tried to reconstruct it, and there was literally no indication… just a tiny vibration, never enough to pit a car.”
Both Williams drivers, George Russell and Nicholas Latifi suffered punctures a number of laps on from Valtteri’s, and both described it as a “surprise” and “without warning.”
“It’s something that the team spoke about prior to the race, that from within the car it might feel fine but it could just go at any point,” said Russell.
“It was a bit of a surprise, but we were never really in the fight for anything meaningful.”
Latifi then said: “To be honest there was no warning, and that was the confusing part for me.
“A year ago in Silverstone, you start to feel a massive vibration, but here – it was obviously a consideration – but once George’s tyre went I was like OK I feel fine, I don’t feel limited from that tyre.
“Then it went a lap later!”