Why new Abu Dhabi F1 kerbs had Pirelli fearing Qatar repeat

Formula 1 tyre supplier Pirelli's concerns have led to changes to some "aggressive" new kerbs that were installed on the revised Abu Dhabi circuit.
Why new Abu Dhabi F1 kerbs had Pirelli fearing Qatar repeat

Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina Circuit has been extensively modified for this season’s F1 finale in a bid to improve the spectacle following repeated complaints about the circuit layout over the years.

Some of the redesigned corners featured new pyramid-style kerbs that are similar to the ones at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar. 

Last month’s Qatar Grand Prix was overshadowed by several late tyre failures that Pirelli put down to excessive kerb use. Having assessed the new kerbs in Abu Dhabi, the Italian manufacturer was left worried about a potential repeat. 

Pirelli’s head of motorsport Mario Isola raised the issue with the FIA on Thursday and again on Friday, leading to some overnight grinding taking place at the most "aggressive" kerbs at Turn 5 and Turn 9.

“They are very similar, they are not exactly the same,” Isola explained after practice on Friday. “Especially they are quite aggressive at the exit of Turn 5 and Turn 9.

“Clearly we have a different situation compared to Qatar. It’s a different speed, it’s a different time [spent] on the kerb, but it is something that we have to consider and pay attention to.

“As usual after free practice, we collected the tyres used in the sessions and we are analysing the tyres.

“The problem is, we don’t have tyres with the number of laps comparable to the length of a stint during the race.

“We can increase the number of checks that we do but sometimes, like it was in Qatar, it’s not possible to predict what happens to the construction of the tyre because it happened after several laps and [there’s] not enough running in free practice to understand that.”

Tyre degradation is expected to play a factor in this weekend’s season-ending Abu Dhabi GP, with a two-stop race seeming likely given Pirelli has brought its softest range of tyre compounds to Yas Marina. 

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