Vet­tel en­raged by Pirelli tyre fail­ure in Spa

F1 Racing - - INSIDER -

The Fer­rari driver and Mercedes’ Nico Ros­berg both suf­fered blow-outs in Bel­gium, cre­at­ing wide­spread con­cern among teams

Driv­ers have raised con­cerns about tyre safety in the wake of a se­ries of rub­ber-re­lated in­ci­dents at the Bel­gian Grand Prix.

Fer­rari’s Se­bas­tian Vet­tel launched an an­gry tirade at Pirelli fol­low­ing his 200mph tyre blowout on the penul­ti­mate lap of the race, which cost him third place. “Things like that are not al­lowed to hap­pen,” Vet­tel said. “Full stop. If it hap­pens 200 me­tres ear­lier, I’m not stand­ing here now.”

Vet­tel’s re­marks fol­lowed a week­end in which Mercedes driver Nico Ros­berg suf­fered a 190mph blow-out in prac­tice. In the wake of that in­ci­dent, Vet­tel, Lewis Hamil­ton and Fer­nando Alonso were among driv­ers who ex­pressed their con­cerns to F1 race di­rec­tor Char­lie Whit­ing.

Pirelli blamed Ros­berg’s tyre fail­ure on a cut in the tread. Vet­tel re­ferred to this with­er­ingly af­ter the race: “But what’s the an­swer? Same as ev­ery time: ‘Yeah, there was a cut, de­bris, maybe some­thing was wrong with the body­work, maybe the driver went wide,’ – bull­shit. If Nico tells us that he didn’t go off the track, he didn’t go off the track. Why should he lie to us? It is the same with me, I didn’t go off the track and out of the blue the tyre ex­ploded.”

Vet­tel, who had been on a one-stop strat­egy, said to Pirelli motorsport di­rec­tor Paul Hem­bery af­ter the race: “Forty laps, you told us.” This refers to the rec­om­mended max­i­mum tyre life, the fact Vet­tel’s tyre failed on his 29th lap, and the fact that Pirelli gave Fer­rari no warn­ing of risk.

Pirelli blamed the fail­ure on wear. Engi­neers from other teams said this was “sur­pris­ing” since there was no ma­jor per­for­mance drop of the sort that usu­ally ac­com­pa­nies ex­ces­sive wear.

Pirelli later is­sued a state­ment, say­ing that in 2013 they’d sug­gested max­i­mum tyre-life lim­its for the tyres of 50 per cent of race dis­tance for the prime (medium) and 30 per cent for the op­tion (soft), but that the lim­its were “not ac­cepted”.

Had these lim­its been in place in Spa, Vet­tel’s tyre fail­ure would not have hap­pened. This would not, how­ever, ex­plain Ros­berg's ac­ci­dent.

The FIA was due to meet with Pirelli af­ter F1 Rac­ing closed to press to try to reach some kind of res­o­lu­tion to the mat­ter.

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