British Grand Prix: Drivers threaten boycott as tyre fears explode

Felipe Massa calls for action over safety issues caused by shredded wheels at Silverstone

In the first flush of disappointment, Lewis Hamilton was cursing his luck after an exploding tyre cost him his shot at victory when leading the British Grand Prix. In the end the win claimed by Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg was almost irrelevant. Hamilton was as relieved as the rest of the field that Formula One was not engulfed in an altogether bleaker tale.

After a race obliterated by disintegrating rubber at perilously high speeds - six in total, four attached to rear left wheels - relief turned to anger with Felipe Massa, one of the six to suffer a failure, calling on the drivers to consider a boycott of next week's German Grand Prix at Nurburgring if a solution to the crisis is not found.

"What happened today was very dangerous for us. We were lucky that all the places it happened the driver was able to carry on and not to crash. For sure there are places here where if it had happened maybe it can be much more dangerous. It is unacceptable really. For sure we are going to discuss about that [boycott]. I am 100 per cent sure that every driver is complaining about today. When I changed the tyres I was thinking 'maybe this will happen again' but I said 'God will protect me'."

Red Bull's celebrated designer Adrian Newey spelled out how lucky we were not to be discussing serious injury or even loss of life. "Safety-wise there are potentially two issues: the car that has the failure but also suddenly you have three kilos of tread flying around. If that hits the following car in the helmet it doesn't bear thinking about. That has to be a risk, and as such there is a lesson that should be learned from today and I will be very surprised if it isn't," Newey said.

Don't hold your breath. Tyre manufacturer Pirelli has been called to a crisis meeting by the ruling body, the FIA, in Paris on Wednesday, but this is Formula One, remember. Concerns about the integrity of the tyres have been at the centre of the narrative all season. The Italian manufacturer, under instruction to produce a "sporting" tyre that would spice up the action, delivered with rubber that on some cars, Hamilton's in particular, falls apart alarmingly quickly. Pirelli responded to criticism by offering an improved compound at a meeting during the Monaco Grand Prix, but when the issue was put to a vote the teams could not agree.

 

Get Adobe Flash player

 



"From what I understand, had we gone for a new construction we would not have had the catastrophic failures we had today," Newey said. "The nature of the circuit aggravates the combination of kerbs and high-speed corners. Whether that is a problem at the Nurburgring I wouldn't like to say, but ultimately Pirelli appear to have a solution. That needs to be rolled out as soon as possible. Whether it is possible to do so for the Nurburgring or not is clearly a matter for Pirelli.

"They have a different construction on offer. It was initially going to be the tyre for Montreal. Two or three teams voted against that in Monaco because they felt it would not suit the characteristic of their cars. But that is Formula One. I imagine the FIA will become involved. The teams are never going to agree. It is a concern for the whole paddock - both from a safety point of view and if the championship is decided by car failures, which would not be satisfactory." 

What a mess. And all this on a day Silverstone was blessed with the weather so often denied it. The old place looked a picture, the sun shone, flags fluttered in the breeze, cottonwool clouds floated decoratively across an azure sky and Hamilton was taking it to Vettel. Wake me up, I must be dreaming. If only. The happy ending promised went ker-boom, rubber everywhere as Hamilton's tyre was torn from its rim, his car suddenly a limping carcass. Hamilton made it back to the pits but his chance of a second Silverstone triumph had gone.

Nevertheless he set about demonstrating what might have been, exemplified by his cut and thrust with Paul Di Resta after emerging behind the Force India following his second stop. Hamilton attacked, passed, was attacked himself as the pendulum swung, passed and then, when the momentum careered back his way, dealt conclusively with the Scot. And all this for 11th spot.

Hamilton wasn't counting places at this point, just racing. Disaster had removed the chains of responsibility from his day. He was free to have a crack rather than manage a race. The subsequent failure of others ultimately lifted him to fourth and left him with mixed emotions - frustration at a victory he felt would have been his but optimism after fighting his way back from the brink of catastrophe on a day when the championship leader Sebastian Vettel retired.

"At the time I was just thinking, 'Jeez, I'm going to lose the race'. I was just thinking how quickly I could get back to the pits. That's the first time in my whole career that I've felt the danger. You are just trying to drive and do your best to look after the tyres. But I don't think this is about looking after tyres. It's a much bigger problem. The car becomes very loose and out of control; you have to fight to keep it in a straight line. You become a passenger when the tyre goes; the rear drops, the left front comes up. You only have two tyres on the track at any one time, which at that speed in not the best place to be."

As the debris of a dramatic day was finally being swept away Hamilton's boss Ross Brawn appealed for calm in the coming 48 hours. "Pirelli need to analyse what went wrong," he said. "It is important they don't jump to conclusions. They might be the wrong ones. We need to know what went wrong. That's the important thing."

Getting tyre-d: Silverstone slip-ups

Lap 8 Race leader Lewis Hamilton's hopes of a home win are all but ended as he suffers a puncture to his rear left coming on to the Wellington straight.

Lap 10 Fernando Alonso's right rear fails before his first pit stop.

Lap 11 Felipe Massa also falls victim to turn four as his Ferrari suffers the same tyre failure.

Lap 14 Jean-Eric Vergne is forced to pit after his rear left also loses its structure, leaving debris on the track.

Lap 28 Esteban Gutierrez's Sauber suffers a left-front tyre mishap.

Lap 46 Sergio Perez suffers his second tyre failure of the weekend, forcing him to retire from 18th position.

ROSS GREGORY

Sport
Australia vs New Zealand live
cricket Follow over-by-over coverage as rivals New Zealand and Australia face off
News
Zayn has become the first member to leave One Direction. 'I have to do what feels right in my heart,' he said
peopleWe wince at anguish of fans, but his 1D departure shows the perils of fame in the social media age
Life and Style
Researchers found that just 10 one-minute swill-and-spit sessions are enough to soften tooth enamel and make teeth vulnerable to erosion
health
News
i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The Regent Street Cinema’s projection room in the 1920s
film
News
Leah Devine is only the ninth female to have made the Young Magician of the Year final since the contest began more than 50 years
peopleMeet the 16-year-old who has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year
News
Jonathan Anderson was born in Northern Ireland but now based between London, where he presents a line named JW Anderson
peopleBritish designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
News
Andy Davidhazy at the beginning (left) and end (right) of his hike
video
News
Taylor Swift is applying to trademark song lyrics from 1989
people
Voices
The popularity of TV shows such as The Liver Birds encouraged Liverpudlians to exaggerate their Scouse accent
voicesWe exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

How to make your own Easter egg

Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

Cricket World Cup 2015

Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing