Toto Wolff asks for clarification on tyre rules
Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff has called for a clarification of the controversial rules surrounding tyre pressures and temperatures in the wake of Lewis Hamilton`s commanding victory in Sunday`s Italian Grand Prix.
Monza: Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff has called for a clarification of the controversial rules surrounding tyre pressures and temperatures in the wake of Lewis Hamilton`s commanding victory in Sunday`s Italian Grand Prix.
Hamilton`s win, which hoisted him 53 points clear at the top of the drivers` title race after team-mate and title rival Nico Rosberg retired following an engine failure, had to remain provisional for nearly three hours after the race while the stewards reviewed claims that he had started on a tyre set below the specified pressure limit for the race.
Wolff, who also dismissed suggestions that Mercedes had deliberately taken advantage of the imprecise regulations, said the whole procedure needed an overhaul.
His suggestion comes after two successive races in which Pirelli`s tyres came under scrutiny for entirely different reasons.
In Belgium, two high-speed punctures raised alarms about safety, but on Sunday afternoon the focus was on the technical performance.
Both Hamilton and Rosberg`s cars were deemed to have started with tyres found to have pressures below the specified minimum when they were checked on the grid before the race.
A report by the technical delegate Jo Bauer resulted in a lengthy stewards investigation before the race result was upheld, the stewards declaring that Mercedes had followed procedures as supervised by Pirelli for the safe use of the tyres.
Rival teams said the infringement was so clear that Hamilton should have been disqualified.
Wolff said the problems were created through lack of precision, notably about when tyres are checked on the grid before a race begins.
"The question is about the procedure," said Wolff. "We check them when we put them on the car. You could say when is the moment you should actually check them?
"Five minutes or eight minutes before? It is about defining the procedure on when the tyres are checked in the future, so it`s the same for everybody."
Wolff denied that his team deliberately set pressures to meet the requirements at the time of testing, but to drop below them - possibly to gain a performance advantage -- by the start of the race.
"I can absolutely rule that out," he said. "We have worked the whole week after Spa with Pirelli in order to make the tyres safe.
"We are very much part of trying to guide them on minimum tyre pressures and minimum camber, which we already had on our cars in Spa.
"So I can rule out that we would try to gain an advantage in a way that is unscientific and uncontrollable.
"How do you measure how much a tyre pressure drops when you disconnect it? And why would you only have it on one tyre -- and with discrepancies between two cars?"
He confirmed that the team had asked Hamilton to push hard in the final laps to open a bigger lead in case of penalties.
"When we got the message that there was an investigation into tyre pressures, we didn`t understand what was going on so in order to gain a little bit of a margin we asked him to push," he said.