Every car on the grid on Sunday will have identical tyre pressure for the particular tyre they are running. No one is saying Red Bull or Aston Martin were cheating at Baku, but they were bending the rules.
This weekend is the French Grand Prix which after the tyre debacle in Baku two weeks ago there are some obvious and crucial changes. The FIA issued a new set of rules regarding tyres which will impact not only Formula One, but all track racing around the world. Pirelli have received a lot of negative press around this topic which is rather unfair and had to get the facts out and make some drastic rule changes.
Just to cover this quickly for those that don't know is that the tyres have to have x amount of air pressure (PSI) to perform correctly. Teams have tyre blankets that heat the tyres up so they are not starting a race with cold tyres as a lack of temperature affects the grip and performance. A lower pressured tyre will give your more grip as the tyre sits on more road surface, but will never have the same performance over a longer period of time. Formula One teams push the boundaries all the time and in this particular case should listen to the experts.
Pirelli have starting paramaters and running parameters which is where the teams have been dancing between the grey area. Pirelli as the manufacturer has the right to dictate the conditions such as the maximum temperature of the tyre blankets and the starting pressure of the tyres. These numbers are here for safety reasons and as the tyre manufacturer and supplier teams should be listening as it is for their own good and not random numbers sucked up from somewhere. Like the Formula One teams Pirelli works on data to guarantee performance and more importantly safety.
As the race starts these numbers will change as the pressure rises in the tyres because they are now at race temperature. According to the data from Baku two teams never experienced any increase in racing tyre pressure and those were Red Bull and Aston Martin. not surprisingly these tyres failed at some point.
The standing wave is intensified the faster the tyre travels which will result in tyre failure at some point.
By not having the correct pressure whilst racing something called a standing wave occurs. This wave is bought on by high speed when the pressure is insufficient to support the tyre allowing for too much internal movement. Over the Baku race the tyres experience slow and very fast sections which would result in a breaking down effect due to air pressure moving around which will result in tyre failure. Both the Red Bull and Aston Martin had tyre failure on the main straight whilst exceeding 200 mph as the air pressure reaches it's imbalance inside the tyre.
All tyre manufacturers do the standing wave tests so they can assure their reliability and safety. This is why once the tyre failures happened at Baku Pirelli were quick to say it had been caused by debris. They know what the tyres can do as they had tested them coming up with the correct PSI readings for that race. Every race will be different as the circuits have different requirements and layouts thus will have different external forces on the tyres requiring different tyre pressure.
The only way to stop this is to guarantee teams adhere to the strict guidelines. Pirelli have now increased the starting pressure for all races by 2 PSI ensuring that this will never be an issue again. All tyres will now be tested 3 hours after the race once the tyres have cooled down making sure all teams are complying with these new regulations.
Next season the new 18 inch tyres will have sensors feeding information directly to the FIA and Pirelli. Teams can control everything on their cars but the days of playing with the tyres has officially ended which is a good thing really.