April 12, 2011
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This year, heavily degrading Pirelli tyres have brought an extra spice to Formula 1. However, Force India driver Paul di Resta has pointed out that “marbles” – pieces of discarded rubber – were striking him throughout the entire weekend.
These “marbles” are littered off the racing line, as a by-product of tyre wear. In the past, this was not such a major concern, but with the heavily wearing Pirelli tyres, these marbles have been dubbed by some as “rubber bullets”, as they are picked up and flicked at the driver.
Di Resta claims that this was a problem all race weekend:
"There are a lot of marbles out there, maybe too many. Come the end of the race, it
gets difficult to overtake.
The other big thing is that they kept coming up and hitting me in the hands. In the
middle of a fast corner, these lumps of rubber would be smacking into my hands as I
turned the wheel.
Rubber is not the softest material and if it got you in the right place, it could
hurt. It happened quite a few times over the weekend and as you go into the corner,
the rubber runs across the tyre and flicks up."
The amount of discarded rubber off the racing line is so copious this year that it is clearly visible for TV viewers in the second half of the race.
Pirelli’s director of motorsport, Paul Hembery, has defended his company’s approach, saying:
"I have not had those comments from the top three but if it’s an issue, we will have
to confront it. There was a lot of overtaking though. We will have to analyse all the
overtaking manoeuvres but the marbles have to go somewhere and that is a difficulty