Pirelli informed ‘quite late’ of Istanbul resurfacing

Pirelli says it was informed “quite late” of Istanbul Park’s resurfacing but admits it would have opted for a softer tyre choice had it known of the changes earlier.

Pirelli selected the three hardest compounds in its range for this weekend’s Turkish GP, based on its extensive knowledge of the venue’s original tarmac.

Unfortunately, manufacturing and logistic constraints prevented the company from changing its selection once it was informed of the circuit’s resurfacing plans.

Friday’s opening day of running at Istanbul highlighted the new tarmac’s massive lack of grip, with reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton labeling the track “terrifying”.

“Obviously we had the information about the resurfacing of the track quite late,” explained Pirelli F1 boss Mario Isola. “And we didn’t know about the characteristics of the tarmac.

“And we have a tyre choice that is quite conservative considering the condition of the tarmac, and the type of tarmac we have now.

“I was expecting a tarmac that was more similar to Portimao, where we had smooth tarmac, with bitumen on top, and tyres were able to develop some grip.

“Instead here we had no grip, probably a combination of the temperature, the fact that it was damp, the type of tarmac, and the selection that is quite hard, the hardest that we can have.”

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Pirelli is typically kept closely informed by the FIA of ongoing or unexpected developments, but Isola says the call to resurface Istanbul Park by the local promoter came quite late.

“We are well connected with the FIA in a normal situation, and on tracks where we used to go we have the information in advance. This year, it was a bit more difficult,” added the Italian.

“New local promoters, and maybe the information was not so clear. But the result is that I got the information that the plan was to have a new tarmac I believe four weeks ago, just before the start of the works at the track.

“It’s not a drama, in my opinion, because it’s an additional challenge for drivers. And it’s a bit of unpredictability for the engineers. So when you have this kind of situation, sometimes you have even better racing.”

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Isola shed some light on the manufacturing and technical deadlines that were involved in the tyre selection process.

“Four weeks were not enough for us to change the allocation, basically we already produced the tyres, and the tyres were travelling to Turkey. The tyres are made in Romania, and then we have to go to Didcot for what we call the grading, because the allocation is made by the FIA.

“So even if we have the factory that is very close, half an hour from here, we didn’t get the information.

“What we did is our colleagues from the Turkish factory helped us to measure the tarmac, as soon as they finished the resurfacing of the circuit. We have a tarmac that is very smooth, both macro roughness, and micro roughness.

“We measured it again yesterday, slightly different numbers, but again, not an aggressive asphalt, like we used to know in Istanbul. Basically, our decision on the allocation was based on the circuit layout, the severity, Turn 8 and blah, blah, blah, but also on the type of tarmac.

“So, it is clear that now the selection is a bit too hard for this circuit.”

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