Vettel enraged by Pirelli tyre failure in Spa
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.