German Grand Prix: Pirelli to make immediate changes to rear tyres after Silverstone chaos
Tyre manufacturer acts to stop repeat of British GP which was overshadowed by a string of high-profile blowouts
Pirelli has announced a range of measures designed to ensure drivers' lives are not put at risk in the wake of Sunday's British Grand Prix debacle.
The Silverstone race was overshadowed by several high-speed blowouts, forcing the Italian tyre manufacturer to act swiftly to guarantee the safety of not just the drivers, but also fans and marshals.
For this weekend's German Grand Prix at the Nurburgring, Pirelli is to use a belt made of Kevlar - a high-strength synthetic fibre which is more resistant to punctures - instead of steel on its rear tyres.
Later this month, from the Hungarian Grand Prix onwards, Pirelli is to use a tyre that fuses the structure, construction and belt from last year with the current compounds from this season.
Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery said: "What happened at Silverstone was completely unexpected and it was the first time that anything like this has ever occurred in more than a century of Pirelli in motorsport."
Sanity broke out in Formula One with the immediate sanction of two three-day tests to cure the tyre crisis that has blighted the season. But the shift in attitude has come too late to have any impact on Sunday’s German Grand Prix.
The sport has acted to repeal the ban on testing that has hampered progress all year. The commercial rights holder, Bernie Ecclestone, met with the FIA president, Jean Todt, after Sunday’s race to thrash out a way forward.
“They [Pirelli] have complained in the past when these tyres have delaminated. They’ve said they’d like to sort it out, but they don’t have a chance to do any testing because of these silly restrictions we have. But I spoke to Jean Todt over the weekend and he has said ‘let them test’. So he has allowed them to run two three-day tests to try to do something for next year, as well as this year, so that’s exactly what’s going to happen,” Ecclestone said, adding that, “they can use what they like [cars]. No restrictions. None at all.”
Lewis Hamilton, Felipe Massa, Jean-Eric Vergne and Sergio Perez all suffered failures to the left-rear tyres and Esteban Gutierrez lost his front-left. “There could have been big accidents in the race, but we have to be careful and know exactly what went wrong before we say anything more,” Ecclestone added.
Ironically, on a weekend when an exploding tyre cost him a chance of victory, Lewis Hamilton believes that Mercedes made progress in solving the wider rubber issues that have held him back this season. Hamilton was in control at the front of the race before his tyre disintegrated and fought back through the field to finish fourth behind his winning team-mate Nico Rosberg raising hopes that he might yet mount a championship challenge to the leader Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso.
“I don’t think it would have been a problem [to win the race]. I had a lot of damage on my car at the end, on the floor and was losing a huge amount of downforce, so I was surprised that we still had that kind of pace. I have no doubts that we would have had a one-two,” Hamilton said.
“Aside from all the talk about the tyres there are massive positives to take away from the weekend. Nico won. We got some good points. I was grateful to come back and got some points back on Sebastian. We are improving. I really think we can be more competitive. I’m just trying to stay in the fight.
“I feel really good about my performance. It is just bad luck that your tyre blows when in the lead. Every time I passed people I could see the crowd supporting me. We just have the best fans here, and I’m grateful for the turnout we had. It would have been great to win for them but I still feel I did them proud.
“I’m sure at some point in the next few races my time will come. We were matching the Red Bulls. I don’t think we have overtaken them, but closed the gap, maybe, in terms of the tyres.”
Pirelli are expected to recommend the revised tyres that were rejected when the teams could not agree on the use at Montreal last month. Force India, Lotus and Ferrari voted against their deployment at a meeting in Monaco, but safety issues have taken the decision out of the teams’ hands.
An alternative suggestion by the McLaren team principal, Martin Whitmarsh, is to revert to last year’s tyres, which did not present any of the flaws on show at Silverstone. A combination of track characteristics, kerbs and tyre pressures were thought to have been behind the Silverstone debacle. According to Mercedes’ team principal, Ross Brawn, the Nürburgring is unlikely to present Pirelli with such difficulties.
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