Pirelli denies 2021 downforce cut done for ‘safety reasons’

Pirelli boss Mario Isola welcomes Formula 1’s decision to cut downforce levels for 2021, but insists the change was not decided on the grounds of tyre safety.

F1 has extended into a third year the use of Pirelli’s current tyres while also deciding to reduce downforce levels for 2021 by introducing revised floor specifications.

However, following the failures encountered by Pirelli’s tyres at Silverstone recently, the FIA will implement an additional reduction in downforce.

But Isola denies the move is destined to protect the integrity of Pirelli’s rubber, the Italian insisting that any increase in downforce could be dealt with by increasing tyre pressures, although such a solution has its limits according to the Italian engineer.

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“The FIA decided to do that, and I cannot say that I’m not in agreement,” Isola explained quoted by Motorsport.com.

“But I don’t want the message to be that it’s for safety reasons, because we can use the pressure to compensate for the level of load.

“Obviously, if we consider that from now to the end of 2021 the ability of the teams to develop the cars is huge.

“We can end up at the end of 2021 with a level of load that is really very high. And therefore we are obliged to increase the pressure to where we have again degradation overheating or blistering at the level that we don’t want, so it’s the right move to do for next year.”

The dramatic tyre delamination that almost cost Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton a win at the British Grand Prix led to higher pressures for F1’s second round of racing at Silverstone a week later.

Drivers were spared any spectacular failures but both Hamilton and Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas suffered on race day from severe tyre blistering, a setback partly induced by the higher pressures.

“It is also clear that increasing the pressure means that you have side effects like for example, degradation or overheating, because the compound is more stressed, and therefore, you have these side effects, in some cases it can be also blistering,” Isola added.

“And drivers don’t want that, and we don’t want that. So if the idea is that limiting the downforce with a small step in the direction of reducing the downforce for next year, they are helping the situation, they’re helping the tyres, because we can use a lower pressure.

“And considering that we are using the same product since last year and this product has to be used for this year and next year that is clearly helping the behaviour of the tyres, reducing the overheating, reducing the degradation and giving that to the possibility for the drivers to push a little bit more.”

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