Pirelli lays blame on teams for British GP blowouts


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The Independent Online

Pirelli has risked incurring the wrath of Formula One's teams by claiming they are primarily to blame for the high-speed tyre explosions during Sunday's British Grand Prix.

Following what Pirelli claims has been an "exhaustive analysis" of the failures that occurred at Silverstone, the Italian manufacturer insists its tyres are safe, if used correctly.

Pirelli has revealed four factors behind the failures: the incorrect reverse mounting of the rear tyres; adoption by the teams of too-low pressures; extreme camber settings; and aggressive kerbing at Silverstone. Pirelli claims its rear tyres "are not designed to be interchangeable", while under-inflation and extreme cambers "can be dangerous under certain circumstances".

In many respects, Pirelli has shifted the blame, although on the question of the reversal of the tyres it claims it to be "a practice that was nonetheless underestimated by everybody, above all Pirelli, which did not forbid this".

Pirelli, however, has been forced to respond given the incidents at Silverstone where Lewis Hamilton, Felipe Massa, Jean-Eric Vergne, Esteban Gutierrez and Sergio Perez all suffered blowouts. In a statement, Pirelli said it "would like to underline the 2013 tyre range does not compromise driver safety in any way if used in the correct manner, and that it meets all the safety standards requested by the FIA".

That goes against the grain of comments made by drivers and team principals in the wake of Sunday's race, virtually all of whom made clear that what unfolded at Silverstone was "unacceptable".

Despite their safety claim, Pirelli has unveiled a two-fold plan to address concerns. 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 for the rear tyres only.

From the Hungarian Grand Prix later this month onwards, Pirelli will use a tyre that fuses the structure, construction and belt from last year with the current compounds from this season. The tyres to be used in Germany were those trialled in Canada last month, and were designed to cure the delaminations seen in the first few races. They were not introduced, however, due to a veto from three teams – Ferrari, Lotus and Force India. The tyres to be used from the race in Hungary will first be put through their paces at the young driver test at Silverstone from 17 to 19 July.

To further aid Pirelli, the FIA announced a change to its own testing regulations by stating that the teams' regular drivers will be allowed to take part, but only to assist with tyre work. Pirelli's motorsport director Paul Hembery also later released another statement defending his firm's relationship with the Formula One teams.

"Contrary to the impression that some people have formed, I would like to underline the collaboration and support that we are receiving from the teams, drivers, FIA and FOM," he said. "In no way are we intending to create arguments or attack anybody. But not having full control over all the elements that impact on the use of the tyres, we need everybody's contribution."