No sign of tyre problems at Mercedes - Pirelli

Pirelli Motorsport

29 July 2013 by Ryan Wood

Pirelli's motorsport director Paul Hembery has confirmed that Mercedes didn't suffer from overheating of the rear tyres in Hungary.

The problem has plagued the outfit since the start of the season and even before. Despite having the fastest car over a single lap, having scored seven pole positions, the outfit has just three race wins to show for it - only one of them coming from pole.

That was their most recent win, one which surprised Lewis Hamilton who admitted on Saturday that he'd need a miracle to win because of the high track temperature which has been the outfit's achilles heel.

The new tyres seem to be working for the team, despite the fact they weren't able to test them during the young driver test as part of their punishment for an earlier tyre test.

Pirelli's Hembery believes they have now overcome the problems and they could very well be a dominant force in the championship battle.

"We saw a dominant race from start to finish from Lewis Hamilton," he said. "The big difference here was that they didn’t have the overheating problems that we’ve seen throughout the last 18 months on the rear tyres.

"Maybe they've overcome those problems; if they have then Mercedes are going to be strong going into the end of this season."

Why is Hamilton's win so significant?

A win for Mercedes might not seem so important, they're already won two this season so they clearly have a quick car. However, those two wins came in Monaco and Britain, where the track temperature was 38ºC and 30ºC respectively.

The W04 reportedly works its rear tyres far harder than its rivals and therefore the rear tyres operate at around 10ºC to 15ºC hotter than Red Bull, Lotus and Ferrari. That leads to them wearing out much quicker.

Therefore a hotter track temperature puts Mercedes well above the optimum operating window and their tyres wear far quicker - which isn't such a problem over a single lap, but it is when they're attempting a 20-lap stint.

Whilst Monaco was fairly warm, Nico Rosberg was helped by the very limited opportunities to be overtaken and he managed to fend off Sebastian Vettel who finished just 3.8 seconds down the road.

Britain meanwhile was much cooler and the conditions favoured Mercedes.

What was so surprising about Hamilton's win at the weekend, was because not only did he post competitive lap times consistently throughout the race, he managed to pull a gap to Vettel in the opening stint and, despite pitting first, showed signs that his tyres would have lasted just as long as his rivals. All this came when the track temperature never dipped below 49ºC and even hit a high of 51ºC - a reading which even worried Pirelli on Sunday morning.

There is no doubt Mercedes have been making improvements to its car, but the real factor in their sudden upturn is that of the new tyres. The kevlar belted tyres (instead of steel) warm up slower and dissipate the heat far better, therefore operating at around 10ºC lower than the steel tyres in similar conditions.

This will be welcome news for Mercedes and it looks like Red Bull might finally have a real fight on its hands, especially when it comes to cooler races where Mercedes will truly have the upper hand.