Lewis Hamilton has continued a war of implication between the Formula 1 teams regarding the latest technical directive around the mandated Pirelli tyre pressures.
With the tyre failures suffered by Red Bull and Aston Martin in Baku, those two teams in particular have come under scrutiny about whether the tyres are run at or above the dictated minimum at all times by all teams.
Given Pirelli’s statement about the outcome of its investigation into the failures, the implication was some teams may have been running under-pressure for a performance advantage, “in spite of the prescribed starting parameters (minimum pressure and maximum blanket temperature) having been followed”.
That implication – that a way may have been found outside of the existing prescribed parameters to find an advantage – was made stronger by the fact the Pirelli investigation “established that there was no production or quality defect on any of the tyres; nor was there any sign of fatigue or delamination”.
Asked if he approved of how F1 and Pirelli were handling the situation, Hamilton replied: “Safety is always the priority. For me and my team there have been clear rules and guidelines as to where we have to operate.
“So I was very surprised to see that they had to clarify those [protocols]. Obviously you can take what you want from that but I’m happy that they have acknowledged that they need to clarify it.
“And I think what’s really, really important from now is how they police it. Because they’ve not been policing how the tyres are being used – tyre pressures, tyre temperatures – and we need to do better.
“So, it’s great that they’ve done a TD, but it’s the action now, we need to see them really follow through and be really vigilant to make sure that it’s equal across the field.
“The integrity of the tyres, every weekend whenever we have a failure they always put the pressures up. So that tells you something. More often than not the tyres are not running at the pressures that are being asked. We didn’t have a problem with our tyres.
“And I think [Pirelli] has done a great job with the tyres this year; they are more robust than before. And I think, for this particular instance, I don’t think Pirelli are at fault.”
This is a tense and sensitive subject, given the safety concerns, and could have a direct impact on the outcome of the world championship. Those involved are dancing around it in public, but reading between the words of Pirelli’s statements and those of the teams and their respective drivers is slowly revealing the intensity of this issue behind the scenes.