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

Voices
Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond delivers his speech at the Scottish National Party (SNP) Spring Conference in Aberdeen, Scotland April 12, 2014.
voices
Arts & Entertainment
Jessica Pare as Megan Draper and Jon Hamm as the troubled, melancholy Don Draper
tvAnd six other questions we hope Mad Men series seven will answer
Life & Style
The new low cost smartphone of Motorola, 'Motorola Moto G', is displayed in Sao Paulo, Brazil on November 13, 2013. The smartphone, with dimensions 65.9mm W x 129.9mm H x 6.0 - 11.6mm D is equipped with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 with quad-core 1,2 GHz CPU, a 4.5-inch display and Android Operating System 4.3 and a suggested price of $ 179 USD.
techData assessing smartphones has revealed tens of millions of phones are at risk of being harvested
News
David Beckham is planning to build a stadium in Miami’s port for a new football team he will own
news... in his fight for a football stadium in Miami's port area
VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
News
weird newsMan live-photographs cracking of mysterious locked box on Reddit
Sport
Oliver Giroud kisses the Arsenal badge after giving the Gunners the lead
sportArsenal 3 West Ham 1: Two goals from the German striker and one piece of brilliance from Giroud puts the Gunners back above Everton
News
Plans to decriminalise non-payment of television licence fees would cost the BBC £500m according to estimates drawn up within the Corporation
people
News
weird news
Arts & Entertainment
Seeing red: James Dean with Sal Mineo in 'Rebel without a Cause'
filmAs 'Rebel without a Cause' is re-released, Geoffrey Macnab reveals how its star James Dean perfected his moody act
News
Obesity surgery in rats has been found to change the way the body processes alcohol
news
Arts & Entertainment
Heads up: Andy Scott's The Kelpies in Falkirk
artThe Kelpies are the latest addition to a growing army of giant sculptures. But naysayers are asking what a pair of gigantic horse heads tells us about Falkirk?
Life & Style
US Airways has been at the centre of a Twitter storm after it responded to customer complaints with a graphic sexual image
techUS Airways takes an interesting approach to customer service
Arts & Entertainment
Philip Arditti as Yossarian and Christopher Price as Milo Minderbinder in Northern Stage's 'Catch-22'
theatre
Arts & Entertainment
The Purple Wedding: Joffrey and Margaery Tyrell tie the knot
TV The second episode of the hit series featured a surprise for viewers
Life & Style
Back to nature: women with body issues have found naked yoga sessions therapeutic
lifeDoing poses in the altogether is already big in the US, and now it’s landed here – in mixed classes
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Homelessness: Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Zubairi Sentongo swapped poverty in Uganda for homelessness in Britain. But a YMCA scheme connected him with a couple offering warmth and shelter
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park
The pain of IVF

The pain of IVF

As an Italian woman vows to keep the babies from someone else’s eggs, Julian Baggini ponders how the reality of childbirth is often messier than the natural ideal
Supersize art

Is big better? Britain's latest super-sized art

The Kelpies are the latest addition to a growing army of giant sculptures. But naysayers are asking what a pair of gigantic horse heads tells us about Falkirk?
James Dean: Back on the big screen

James Dean: Back on the big screen

As 'Rebel without a Cause' is re-released, Geoffrey Macnab reveals how its star perfected his moody act
Catch-22: How the cult classic was adapted for the stage

How a cult classic was adapted for the stage

More than half a century after it was published 'Catch-22' will make its British stage debut next week
10 best activity books for children

10 best activity books for children

Keep little ones busy this bank holiday with one of these creative, educational and fun books
Arsenal 3 West Ham United 1: Five things we learnt from the battle between the London sides

Five things we learnt from Arsenal's win over West Ham

Arsenal still in driving seat for Champions League spot and Carroll can make late charge into England’s World Cup squad
Copa del Rey final: Barcelona are paying for their complacency and not even victory over Real Madrid will put things right

Pete Jenson on the Copa del Rey final

Barcelona are paying for their complacency and not even victory over Real Madrid will put things right
Rafa to reign? Ten issues clay courts will serve up this season

Rafa to reign? Ten issues clay courts will serve up this season

With the tennis circus now rolling on to the slowest surface, Paul Newman highlights who'll be making the headlines – and why
Exclusive: NHS faces financial disaster in 2015 as politicians urged to find radical solution

NHS faces financial disaster in 2015

Politicians urged to find radical solution
Ukraine crisis: How spontaneous are the pro-Russian protests breaking out in Ukraine’s east?

Ukraine crisis

How spontaneous are the pro-Russian protests breaking out in Ukraine’s east?
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: The first execution at the Tower of London for 167 years

The first execution at the Tower of London for 167 years

A history of the First World War in 100 moments
Fires could turn Amazon rainforest into a desert as human activity and climate change threaten ‘lungs of the world’, says study

New threat to the Amazon rainforest:

Fires that scorch the ‘lungs of the Earth’
Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City: And the winner of this season’s Premier League title will be...

Who’s in box seat now? The winner of the title will be ...

Who is in best shape to take the Premier League prize?