Aggressive kerbs return at Yas Marina after Qatar GP tyre failures


The same kerbs that caused several tyre failures during the Qatar GP have been used for the redeveloped Yas Marina Circuit


Drivers are already leaning heavily on kerbs that caused punctures in Qatar

Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

The same kerbs used in Qatar that caused several tyre failures have been used at the newly redeveloped Yas Marina Circuit for the 2021 race.

Yas Marina will look a bit different compared to how it was on F1’s last visit to Abu Dhabi in 2020 after extensive work to rework the circuit layout.

Several corners of the Yas Marina circuit have been redesigned for this year in an effort to bring closer racing. The changes have involved adding the same style of “aggressive” double-width kerbs used in Losail to stop drivers pushing the track limits.

The kerbs have raised, pointed sections and Mrk1 Consulting, the British company responsible for the track’s reworking said: “Drivers won’t want to drive on them”.

However, cars did run over the raised sections to gain time last month in Qatar, resulting in a spate of tyre failures.

Valtteri Bottas, George Russell and Nicholas Latifi each suffered late-race punctures due to the stresses placed on their Pirelli tyres by the kerbs.

“The origin of the problem is mainly due to the amount of time these tyres were run on the kerbs, at high speed and with considerable lateral and vertical loads: a situation unique to the Losail circuit,” a statement from Pirelli said after the Qatar race.

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“The heavy demand caused by running over these kerbs, which isn’t possible to measure from the data available before the race, damaged the tyre construction and led to a loss of pressure in the internal sidewall, which consequently caused the structure to collapse after several seconds.”

Asked by Motor Sport whether the tyre manufacturer would have future input over the use of such kerbs at venues, a Pirelli spokesperson said that it could only make recommendations based on its data but any changes would be solely down to the FIA.

Mark Hughes, managing director for the company tasked with building and redeveloping the circuit, told Motor Sport that the aggressive kerbs will serve as a deterrent to drivers.

“We are putting in relatively aggressive double-width kerbs, which have started to appear on circuits.

“If you go beyond those then you’re outside of track limits anyway. I think it’s a combination is 50mm kerb followed by 75mm kerb. The whole point of those kerbs is that it deters drivers from running wide in those corners and keeping them within track limits. They should achieve that.”

Pirelli has brought the softest C3, C4 and C5 compounds available in its range to Abu Dhabi for this weekend’s race. It’s the opposite end of the range to the tyres used in Qatar, when Pirelli opted to bring the C1, C2 and C3 tyres instead.

“This a unique situation for Qatar so in the analysis we shared with the FIA and the teams we set out our conclusions as stated,” the Pirelli spokesperson told Motor Sport.

“As we said the analysis is not over yet, once we have a full picture we will share our final conclusions with FIA and teams and then we’ll agree together with the FIA what can be done to prevent the situation from recurring on this track in future.”