Coulthard criticises tyre rules after Raikkonen spin

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The Independent Online

Following Kimi Raikkonen's spectacular departure on the final lap of Sunday's Grand Prix of Europe due to tyre problems, drivers and teams have branded the latest 2005 rules dangerous. Raikkonen's McLaren spun at high speed at the end of the main straight and just avoided colliding with Jenson Button's BAR-Honda.

The rules oblige drivers to qualify and race on one set of tyres - they can replace damaged tyres only in emergencies. Raikkonen had flat-spotted his right front tyre under heavy braking - the vibrations caused his suspension to break.

McLaren's chief executive, Martin Whitmarsh, said that the incident with Raikkonen demonstrated a dangerous - and unwanted - situation the teams now face: do they gamble on a driver finishing the race or play safe by calling him in, effectively ending his race?

"We took a decision," Whitmarsh said, "[but] it has created a precedent which demonstrates how dangerous it is."

David Coulthard, prominent in the Grand Prix Drivers' Association, said: "It is a major worry. The FIA are asking us to throw away our races by coming in to change tyres.

"In one way the rules have been good for overtaking and entertainment, but there is no question that it is more dangerous."

The new rules, however, have succeeded in generating races that become more exciting as some drivers try to preserve their tyres. The FIA, the sport's governing body, takes the view that it is up to teams, drivers and suppliers to choose the best type of tyre for each circuit.