Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


Exploding tyres: F1 in crisis

01 July 2013, 09:48

England - Formula 1 and tyre supplier Pirelli faced a crisis as the 2013 British Grand Prix came close to being stopped for safety reasons due to a spate of explosive tyre blow-outs.

The spectre of Indianapolis 2005, when only six Bridgestone-equipped cars competed in a farce of a US Grand Prix, since teams equipped by tyre supplier Michelin did not compete due to safety concerns.

There were also uneasy flashbacks to the 2009 Hungarian Grand Prix, when Ferrari's Felipe Massa suffered a near-fatal head injury after being struck by debris thrown up from a car in front.


With television images broadcast around the world showing bucking cars scraping along on rear left wheel rims stripped of rubber, the drivers wrestling to keep them on the road, the sport breathed a sigh of relief that the race had ended safely.

Race director Charlie Whiting said: "It was quite close to being red flagged. It did occur to me to do that. I don't want to put a figure on it but it was close.

"I don't think we've seen anything like this. I can't remember anything. To have four total catastrophic failures, I believe, is a first."

Lewis Hamilton, who had led for Mercedes from pole position, was the first casualty when his rear tyre blew after eight laps.

He was followed by Ferrari's Felipe Massa, Toro Rosso's Jean-Eric Vergne and McLaren's Sergio Perez. Sauber's Esteban Gutierrez suffered a front tyre failure.

Mercedes' race winner Nico Rosberg had signs of imminent delamination (when the tread peels away from the rest of the tyre) when he made a pitstop and champions Red Bull said cuts were found on the tyres of triple champion Sebastian Vettel, who retired with a gearbox problem.


Hamilton said: "The safety is the biggest issue. It's just unacceptable.

"Someone could've crashed. I was thinking behind the safety car that it's only when someone gets hurt that something will be done about it."

With the next race in Germany only a week away (July 07), Pirelli's motorsport director Paul Hembery said the Italian company, which has come under fire all season for the performance of its product, was making the investigation a top priority.

Hembery said: "We can exclude that the new bonding process, which we introduced at this race, is a cause for the tyre failures we have seen today.
"There might be some aspect to this circuit that impacts specifically on the latest version of our 2013 specification tyres but at this point we do not want to speculate."


McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh declined to use the word crisis but said safety was the main concern.

Whitmarsh said: "We are lucky no one has been hurt. For people like Checo (Perez) it has destroyed his weekend, but first and foremost we are primarily concerned about the safety of our drivers.

"I think there is an argument that Nuerburgring is a slightly less severe circuit than Silverstone, but we have Spa (Belgium) looming not long after that and we would certainly not want to go there with these tyres."

Whitmarsh said the sport could not wait for a scheduled meeting of the governing International Automobile Federation (FIA) working committee on Wednesday to discuss the situation.

Whitmarsh said: "You just have to say to Pirelli 'Do whatever you can do by Germany'. They know what stock they have, they know what they can do practically before Germany and they should do whatever they can to enhance the safety and durability of the tyres."

Asked whether the German race might be cancelled, Whitmarsh suggested a solution would be to go back to last year's specification of tyres.


Whitmarsh said: "In fairness to Pirelli, I don't know how they can respond in such short order but we have to do what we can to support them.

"We don't want an Indianapolis but cancelling a race is a big step, we don't have all the technical insight Pirelli have. All I would ask is they do everything they can to give us the most durable tyres they can for next weekend."

Red Bull principal Christian Horner said: "The most logical thing would be to go back to the tyres that worked well for them previously. The tyres they had in 2012 did not have these failures.

"Whatever has changed, has changed but you would have thought the most logical thing would be to go back to the tyres that had served them well."

- Reuters



Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Submitted by
William Korir
ODM kicks 6 MPs out of Parliament...

ODM has kicked 6 rebel members out of house committees. Read more...

Submitted by
William Korir
Karua now headed to Jubilee?

Is Martha Karua now headed to the Jubilee Coalition? Read more...

Submitted by
William Korir
Kenneth defends move to support U...

Peter Kenneth says that moving to support President Uhuru Kenyatta and the Jubilee Party is his democratic choice. Read more...

Submitted by
S Mbinya
How to keep her interested

It is not only men who lose interest in relationships. Read more...

Submitted by
S Mbinya
What to do after breakup

Your life does not end after breakup. Here are tips to move on: Read more...

Submitted by
S Mbinya
Rare gift for President Uhuru Ken...

Young Jubilee supporters have a rare surprise gift for the President. Read more...