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Wolff rejects suggestion Mercedes forced controversial tyre change

Written by  May 13, 2018

Motorsport boss Toto Wolff has vehemently denied suggestions Mercedes forced through a controversial tweak to the tyres for the Spanish Grand Prix.

After pre-season testing at the same Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya track, Pirelli agreed it would use a thinner tread on the tyres at races where the venue had been newly resurfaced, with Spain, Silverstone and Paul Ricard in France all coming under that category.

That was after several teams, but most notably Mercedes, struggled with severe blistering which sees the compound literally explode from overheating which can lead to punctures in extreme cases.

The thinner tread prevents that and it has worked with no such problems this weekend but the coincidence between that change and the German manufacturer all of a sudden now back fastest on the grid isn't lost on many.

“Is bollocks a bad word in English?” Wolff told Motorsport.com when asked if Mercedes had been the main parties pushing for the change.

“Rubbish. All teams had blistering, very heavy blistering at the test in Barcelona. Red Bull, Ferrari, ourselves. McLaren have seen it I think also. The tyres wouldn’t have lasted in the race.

“So, I don’t know where suddenly this rumour comes out that we have been influencing Pirelli and the FIA to change any tyres."

The Austrian also insisted his team would not resort to such tactics to try and overcome an issue.

“When we haven’t performed well in the past we have taken ourselves by the nose and have looked for performance to be found on our car, not go on the default mode, turn around and say ‘what are the others doing that is wrong?'” he claimed.

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However, Sebastian Vettel, who earlier conceded Mercedes had been the faster car in Saturday's qualifying session, later seemed to lay the blame on the tyres for the turnaround in their pace.

"I think it's pretty straightforward, the tyres are different. They're different for everyone so everyone needs to cope with that," he was quoted by ESPN.

"I think it was exceptional that Mercedes was struggling in the last events as much as they were but thinner thread, basically the tyres are harder so we still have the same tyres if you look at the colours but they're harder than they're used to be. As I said, it's the same for all of us."

 

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