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GP Week : Issue 186
F1 >>> nEWs Pirelli has pinned some of the blame for the spate of tyre failures in the British Grand Prix on the way Formula One teams were using their tyres, insisting that the rubber was safe to race on if used correctly. Five drivers had their left rear tyres explode at high speeds during last weekend’s race, in some cases close to 300 kilometres an hour, with the sport collectively breathing a sigh of relief that none of the failures had led to a serious accident or injury to drivers and marshals once the chequered flag fell. The tyre failures raised serious safety concerns, with FIA race director Charlie Whiting admitting that he had considered red-flagging the race while drivers raised the prospect of boycotting the next race in Germany. Following an investigation into the spate of failures, Pirelli said that rear tyres mounted the wrong way round – a common practice this season that sees teams fit the tyre meant for the left of the car to the right and vice-versa – combined with the use of tyre pressures that were lower than recommended, the use of extreme camber angles, and the aggressive kerbs at some corners around Silverstone were the main reasons why the tyres failed. In response, Pirelli brought different tyres to Germany, using a construction incorporating the Kevlar belt pack used last year instead of the high-tensile steel belt pack introduced in 2013. The rear tyres are those tested in practice for the Canadian Grand Prix, and which Pirelli had wanted to use in Silverstone to avoid the tyre delaminations – entirely unrelated to the latest tyre failures – which were seen earlier this year. But Pirelli was unable to debut the modified tyres at the British Grand Prix as Ferrari, Force India and Lotus, whose cars were working well with the 2013 tyres as they were, were concerned that some of their advantage could be negated and vetoed the change. “W hat 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,” Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery said. “T hese incidents, which have upset us greatly, have stressed the urgency of the changes that we already suggested – which will be introduced during for free practice in Germany on Friday.” The German changes are a stop-gap solution, and Pirelli will be introducing a new range of tyres with last year’s construction and Kevlar belt packs from the Hungarian Grand Prix onward. In addition to changing the tyres, Pirelli has also asked the FIA for access to real- time data so they can monitor tyre pressures and camber angles used by the teams. The tyre manufacturer has also asked that a dedicated FIA delegate check whether teams are complying with the recommended tyre pressures and camber angles. “I ’d like to re -emphasise the fact that the 2013 range of tyres, used in the correct way, is completely safe,” Hembery said. “ W hat happened at Silverstone though has led us to ask for full access to real time tyre data to ensure the correct usage and development of tyres that have the sophistication we were asked to provide and extremely high performance that has lowered lap times by more than two seconds on average. While we wait for a change in the rules, we will introduce tyres that are easier to manage.” TyRE FAILURES: "A COMPLEX ISSUE" ... Formula One’s governing body has stepped in to make sure the sport does not see a repeat of the multiple tyre failures that marred the British Grand Prix by forcing through a change in the rules that will allow Pirelli to alter its tyres on safety grounds and let current race drivers test tyres for the Italian firm at the upcoming Young Driver Test. Last weekend’s race around the Silverstone circuit saw a spate of high speed tyre failures – some at close to 300 kilometres per hour – that were a danger not just to the cars whose tyres were failing but to following drivers and to the marshals who were helping clear the debris away. On- board footage from Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari, which was tucked in behind Perez’s McLaren when its tyre exploded, makes for uncomfortable viewing – the Spaniard is forced to jink to the right at close to 300 kilometres an hour to avoid collecting the tread from the McLaren’s left- rear tyre. FIA race director and safety delegate Charlie Whiting revealed after the race that he had considered stopping it on safety grounds, while drivers raised the prospect of boycotting the German Grand Prix should they feel that the Silverstone tyre issues were likely to recur at the Nurburgring. “Our priority is to ensure safety for all in Formula One and we believe the incidents at Silverstone represent a genuine safety concern for the drivers,” FI A president Jean Todt said in a statement issued by the governing body. To that effect, the FIA has sought approval from its World Motor Sport Council to change the wording of Article 12.6 .3 of the Technical Regulations to allow for a modification to the tyres on safety grounds without the teams’ unanimous approval. Following a spate of delaminations earlier in the year – unrelated to the Silverstone tyre failures – Pirelli had wanted to go back to the tyre construction used in 2012, which incorporated a Kevlar belt pack instead of the high-tensile steel belt pack introduced this year. The modified tyres were set to get their race debut at Silverstone, but their introduction didn’t get the unanimous backing required. In addition, the FIA has moved to open up the Silverstone Young Driver Test scheduled for 17-19 July to current race drivers on the condition that their running does not include testing development parts and potential upgrades and is solely limited to conducting tyre testing for Pirelli. Mercedes – who were banned from taking part in the YDT as punishment for carrying out a private tyre test with Pirelli following the Spanish Grand Prix in May – will not participate in the Silverstone test. ... THEN FIA TAKES dECISIVE ACTION 9 GPWEEK.com // 9 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: