Clear the air on pressure: Wolff

Lewis Hamilton, making a pit stop at Monza, won but the result was kept provisional until stewards decided an under-inflated tyre was permissible.
Lewis Hamilton, making a pit stop at Monza, won but the result was kept provisional until stewards decided an under-inflated tyre was permissible.PHOTO: REUTERS
Hamilton celebrating his Italian Grand Prix win, which puts him 53 points clear of Nico Rosberg at the top of the drivers' standings.
Hamilton celebrating his Italian Grand Prix win, which puts him 53 points clear of Nico Rosberg at the top of the drivers' standings. PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

Mercedes chief asks for overhaul of process to pinpoint when tyre pressure is checked

MONZA (Italy) • Mercedes Formula One team boss Toto Wolff has called for a clarification of the controversial rules surrounding tyre pressure and temperature in the wake of Lewis Hamilton's commanding victory in Sunday's Italian Grand Prix.

The Briton'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. 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.

In Belgium, two high-speed punctures raised alarms about safety.

BE PRECISE

When is the moment you should actually check (the tyres)? 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.

TOTO WOLFF, Mercedes Formula One team principal

On Sunday, the focus was on the technical performance.

Both Hamilton and Rosberg's cars were deemed to have started with tyres with pressure below the specified minimum when they were checked on the grid before the race.

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 the tyres are checked on the grid before a race.

"The question is about the procedure," he noted. "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 pressure 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 (Belgian Grand Prix) with Pirelli in order to make the tyres safe.

"We are very much part of trying to guide them on minimum tyre pressure 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," he added.

"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 pressure, 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.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 08, 2015, with the headline 'Clear the air on pressure: Wolff'. Print Edition | Subscribe