Pirelli motorsport chief Mario Isola has insisted that the Italian tyre manufacturer did not try to “penalise” any teams in particular when designing their 2021 tyres.
Isola made the remarks off the back of Aston Martin team principal Otmar Szafnauer calling for a discussion between the teams and the FIA to see if the 2021 regulations could be tweaked in-season to help his team and Mercedes claw back performance.
Aston Martin and Mercedes’ cars both follow a low-rake aero design philosophy, and since last month Szafnauer has argued that the 2021 rule changes have hurt such cars considerably more than their high-rake rivals, like Red Bull.
Commenting on Pirelli’s role in the matter, Szafnauer said this week: “I don’t know, I’m not the expert on that so I don’t know what Pirelli was saying about the tyres but right after the changes were made, Pirelli announced that they’re also bring a new construction [for 2021].”
Responding to this, Isola said that while he understands that some teams aren’t happy with Pirelli’s 2021 tyres, any suggestion that they tried to penalise certain teams in particular is untrue.
“I can understand that when there is a change, it is not making everybody happy,” Isola said.
“But the point is, which was the flaw in this process, nobody was expecting a pandemic, nobody was expecting to have the world stopped by a situation like that.
“We had many discussions and also sensible solutions, but when the FIA introduced the changes in technical regulations, we couldn’t give them the guarantee that we had a tyre for this year with different characteristics.
“Our factories were closed, we had to stay at home, we couldn’t do anything. So how can we say ‘OK, don’t worry, guys, in September, October, November, we have a different tyre with different characteristics, more robust and so on?’ It was impossible.
“As soon as we could start to develop something, we did it and we made the physical prototypes. Then we had to test the physical prototypes indoors to double check that the integrity was confirmed to be better.
“And then finally, we had to test the tyre on track. That happened in Portugal, in Portimao, in October.
“All that was done very quickly with very limited testing. And in parallel, the FIA was working on the technical regulations to reduce the downforce.
“So we had no possibility to give any guarantee to anybody that we had a different tyre for 2021 until Portimao. That’s why we decided to go in parallel.
“Obviously, the intention was absolutely not to penalise anybody, it was a change made for all the cars, all the teams and that was, in my opinion, obviously a sensible decision,” he concluded.