Lewis Hamilton must brace himself for a harder tire strategy call in the Singapore Grand Prix after a push by his McLaren team to get a replacement super-soft for the one he punctured in qualifying was rejected by the FIA.
The McLaren driver punctured his right rear tire during a run right at the end of Q2, with it being suspected that the damage was caused when he ran over debris following Kamui Kobayashi's accident at the chicane.
With drivers likely to need to call on all their sets of the super-softs in the Singapore Grand Prix, the loss of that set could prove costly to Hamilton's chances of overhauling Red Bull Racing duo Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber and his own teammate Jenson Button, who start ahead of him on the grid.
McLaren held discussions with the FIA on Saturday night to try and get a replacement tire, so Hamilton could have three sets of super-soft for the race, but it was told that there were no justifiable reasons for another tire to be brought into play. With Hamilton now having just two sets of super-softs for the race, it means that he will have to make an earlier switch to the soft prime tire than his rivals and he could be forced to try and make a two-stop strategy work.
Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery said that although it seemed harsh that a driver could lose a set of tires because of circumstances beyond his control, it would be unworkable to replace tires after such events because there would be the possibility of teams trying to exploit the situation.
"If the issue was solely down to a Pirelli fault, then yes tires can be replaced, but for anything else that cannot be done," he said. "Otherwise, you would have a situation where teams could be tempted to engineer deliberate punctures."
Mercedes GP team principal Ross Brawn said that the final decision rested with the FIA, after earlier this year Nico Rosberg got a replacement tire for one that had been punctured on an out-lap.
"It is really at the FIA's discretion," he said. "There is no hard and fast rule. In Nico's case the tire was punctured on the out-lap. He didn't make use of the tire so it was probably a fairly easy decision.
"The other thing you have to try and do is make sure that no one gets an advantage from a situation like that, and in our case the tire was one which was older than the one that Nico lost, so we didn't gain any advantage from it but at least we did not lose a tire.
"It is really at the FIA's discretion, and if they decide the tire can be changed it does depend on why. For a tire that is cut or punctured on an out-lap, it is not that the driver went off the track or abused the tire, he simply picked up some debris on the straight. That is why we were allowed to change it."