Pirelli says teams contributed to tyre blowouts at Silverstone
Italian manufacturer to make changes ahead of this weekend’s German Grand Prix
Ferrari driver Felipe Massa enters the pit with a puncture during the British Grand Prix at Silverstone. Photograph: Nigel Roddis/Reuters
Formula One teams contributed to the dramatic blowouts at Sunday’s British Grand Prix by mounting their tyres the wrong way around and using insufficient pressure, supplier Pirelli said on Tuesday.
Rejecting any suggestion that its tyres were dangerous, the Italian company said it would bring stronger rear tyres to Germany this weekend to allay safety fears and then introduce an entirely new range in Hungary at the end of the month.
Pirelli said teams had put tyres intended for the right side of the car on the left to gain a competitive advantage, had run them at lower pressures than recommended by the manufacturer and used extreme cambers.
Pirelli said the kerbs at fast corners, and specifically turn four of the Silverstone circuit, were also ‘particularly aggressive’.
Four drivers suffered alarming high-speed rear tyre blowouts at Silverstone - Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes), Felipe Massa (Ferrari), Jean-Eric Vergne (Toro Rosso) and Sergio Perez (McLaren).
The debris from the exploding tyres was flung up into the path of cars behind, with Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso having one near-miss, and the safety fears plunged the sport into crisis with talk of a possible driver boycott.
Pirelli said the rears to be used at the Nurburgring on Sunday would feature inner belts made of Kevlar, a reinforced fibre that was a feature of last year’s tyres, beneath the tread instead of the steel used so far this season.
The tyres had been made originally for teams to try out in Canada last month. But they were not used due to bad weather and opposition from teams – notably Ferrari, Force India and Lotus – whose cars were easier on the tyres and who feared giving up an advantage.
Those tyres to be introduced in Hungary at the end of July will incorporate last year’s structure and the 2013 compounds.
“I‘d like to re-emphasise the fact that the 2013 range of tyres, used in the correct way, is completely safe,” said Pirelli‘s motorsport director Paul Hembery.
“What 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.”