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The FIA responsible for Mercedes' Austin tyre problems?

Written by  Oct 22, 2018

A report in Italy suggests Mercedes' problems with the tyres during the United States GP were caused by the FIA requesting a major change to the car before the start of the race.

Since Belgium, the German manufacturer has been running a new rear wheel rim design which featured holes to allow heat to escape and thus stop what was a traditional weakness of the team with rear tyre wear.

Ferrari asked for clarification of the design, with any aerodynamic benefit being in breach of the regulations, but the governing body permitted the continued use of the rims because their illegality was "limited".

On Sunday, however, according to Motorsport.it, the FIA told Mercedes to fill the holes in the rims with silicone and that, combined with a 1.5psi rise in the minimum pressures set by Pirelli, seemingly resulted in both Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas suffering from increased degradation.

Hamilton would be the only front-running driver to complete two stops after pitting early and then suffering blisters on his rear tyres, later admitting it was a big problem.

“Today an outlier was that we didn’t have great pace and we had worse tyre usage than everyone else which is rarely ever the case,” he was quoted by PlanetF1.

“I think we were forced into a two-stop race for certain things that we had that weren’t ideal with the car.

“We didn’t know that was going to be the case when we got into the race. It was a real struggle. The car was a real handful today.

“Ultimately we wanted to win the race today and I think going backwards two steps is not a good result but…you can’t win them all, you can’t always get them perfect.”

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On the charge for a fifth world title after his second stop, the Briton also expressed caution when approaching Max Verstappen in the closing laps.

“I gave him way too much space just to be sure that I didn’t get clipped, for example, didn’t get taken out because I didn’t know if you would understeer into me or could be aggressive,” he said, explaining their battle.

“The key was that I at least finished ahead of Seb [Vettel] and for me it doesn’t matter when you win the championship as long as you get it done.”

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