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GP Week : Issue 227
Pirelli arrived in Monza faced with another crisis on its hands following two apparent failures during the Belgian Grand Prix two weeks ago. Sebastian Vettel's race was all but ended in Belgium while running third when his right rear gave up the ghost on the penultimate lap. It came two days after a failure of Nico Rosberg pitched him sideways down the road on the approach to Blanchimont. Around such a high speed circuit the drivers were up in arms, with Vettel being especially critical of both Pirelli and the governing body's response to the Rosberg incident. "If Nico (Rosberg) tells us that he didn’t go off the track then he didn’t go off the track, same with me - I didn’t go out of the track, just out of the blue it explodes and as I said, if this happens earlier..." Vettel's comments left Bernie Ecclestone rather unhappy and summoned the German, along with Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso and Nico Rosberg, to his motorhome in the Monza paddock on Friday where he gave them a stern talking to. The message was clear; tow the party line or shut up about it. "If you sell me something, and it doesn’t work, I complain to the person I bought it from, I don’t complain outside," Ecclestone told Motorsport.com by way of explanation for the meeting. "I want them to think, and if any of them have got problems, they should talk to the people that are making the problems. That’s all. They understand." But it didn't end there. The Eccelstone led Formula One Management issued a media statement throwing its supporting Pirelli, a most unusual move given his typical modus operandi is all publicity is good publicity. "We are entirely satisfied that Pirelli was not at fault for any tyre-related incidents during the 2015 Formula 1 Shell Belgian Grand Prix," the FOM statement read. "Pirelli has offered to provide to each car a single set of tyres to last for an entire Event. While we know that they would be very capable of it, a race with no pit stops would be less exciting. "Thank you, Pirelli, for helping us to deliver excitement to Formula One fans!" The release referred to Pirelli's findings following an investigation into Vettel's Belgian retirement. "Microscopic analysis, carried out on a large number of the tyres after the second free practice session, showed no signs of fatigue or integrity issues," Pirelli's statement declared. "The same result was confirmed for the tyres used during the race, which were cross- sectioned and analysed in Milan. Some of the tyres used in the race were subjected to a further laboratory fatigue test, passing all the assessments conclusively and confirming that there was no structural degradation or problem on-track." The report went on to blame the two failures during the Belgian Grand Prix on 'external factors', suggesting an especially dirty circuit was the most likely cause. "External factors are demonstrated by a total of 63 cuts found in the tread of the Formula One tyres used over the course of the Spa weekend," the report claimed. "In the previous 15 events (10 races and five test sessions) an average of only 1.2 cuts per event were noted. All this indicates an anomalous amount of detritus on the track in Spa, with a consequent increased risk of encountering a foreign object." Pirelli's findings were also accepted by the FIA which said that it was "satisfied with the thoroughness of the investigation and Pirelli's conclusions as to the reasons for the tyre failures." But the drivers were less convinced, and while Vettel had cooled down from his Belgian outburst he continued to drive the issue until gagged by Ecclestone. "Pirelli has been supportive and very open in the discussions, so I think that's the most important thing and we need to make sure that we learn from that," the Ferrari driver said in Monza. "It is not acceptable to have a blow-out at that sort of speed, out of the blue," he added. "That's what I said also after the race, so there's nothing really to add. But, as I said before, I think the investigations that have been going on, the stuff that obviously has been analysed and talked about, explains some of it, maybe not all of it yet but it's still ongoing and obviously, as I said, the most important thing is that we make sure that we make progress." Changes to minimum tyre pressures were made for the Italian Grand Prix. Initially suggested to be as high as 5psi they, Pirelli eventually managed to talk the teams around to just a single PSI ahead of practice. However, that any increase was necessary suggests doubt from the Italian company, which on the one hand was claiming there were no issues with its tyres while on the other wanting to change things to protect themselves. This all comes at a time when tyre tenders are being considered. With both Pirelli and Michelin having submitted applications Ecclestone's reaction could be seen as a bargaining chip against Michelin. By publicly backing Pirelli it mounts pressure on Michelin to present a more attractive package, while the failures will no doubt be used in Ecclestone's favour against Pirelli. 9 GPWEEK.com // 9 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: F1 >>> news peace declared in tyre war