Formula 1 - 'We are risking our lives' say drivers over tyre fiasco

The world of Formula One is up in arms after a farcical Grand Prix at Silverstone on Sunday which saw four drivers suffer exploding tyres – among them former champion Lewis Hamilton.

Formula 1 - 'We are risking our lives' say drivers over tyre fiasco

View photo

Lewis Hamilton and a shredded tyre

Hamilton, Felipe Massa, Jean-Eric Vergne and Sergio Perez all suffered dramatic blow-outs during the race, forcing teams to urge their drivers to take things easy and avoid kerbs wherever possible.

Hamilton, whose rear left tyre exploded on lap nine while he was clear out in front of the field, was clearly shaken and outraged at having his life put in jeopardy by the tyres.

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

"We had that tyre test to develop and improve the tyres to stop that from happening and after that tyre test they didn't do anything.

"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."

Manufacturers Pirelli have been in meetings with the FIA and teams, are being pressured to act before the F1 circus arrives in Germany later this week.

Red Bull have led calls for teams to revert to 2012 specification tyres, calling it a "sad state if affairs", while Ferrari star Felipe Massa claims the sport was lucky that nobody was killed.

"I think we were lucky that in all the accidents the driver was able to carry on without crashing," Massa said.

"But if that happens in a corner you can have a big accident and this is really not nice. What happened today was very dangerous for us, for me and for all drivers racing...

"Many people say it's because of the kerbs or the debris, but it's not the first time, so for me it's unacceptable and we need to do something for our safety."

Perez suffered two blow-outs over the weekend, one in Saturday morning’s free practice session and another in the later stages of Sunday’s race – and he was even more outspoken.

"We are risking our lives and we shouldn't wait until something happens to all of us," he said. "If it happens at 250km/h it will be a big shame so Pirelli has some work to do."

FIA Race director Charlie Whiting sent the safety car out several times as stewards worked frantically to clear debris, and he later admitted that he had been on the verge of abandoning the race altogether.

It was quite close to being red-flagged; it did occur to me to do that," explained Whiting after the race.

When asked if just one more failure in that phase of the race would have been enough, Whiting replied: "I'm not going to give a specific number. Obviously to clear up all that debris was putting marshals at risk, and it is not satisfactory.

View gallery


"We haven't seen a failure like this before; we have seen other types of failure - and that is what has been addressed. So we need to analyse it very carefully to see if we can establish the cause."

There has been huge criticism of Pirelli’s tyres this season, which have deteriorated extremely quickly – though Hamilton’s Mercedes has struggled more than almost anyone else to keep its tyres in good condition.

The irony is that the tyre manufacturer had intentionally designed tyres that would wear quicker in order to increase the amount of overtaking and the drama expected via pit stops this season.

But it appears that the huge strain caused by Silvertone’s high-speed corners – among the fastest in motor racing – together with high temperatures during Sunday’s race were too much for the tyres to take.

All the tyres that exploded were on the rear-left of the car, and all went at slightly different parts of the circuit.

Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery said that his company were mystified by the blow-outs and were desperately trying to get to the bottom of it.

"Obviously today wasn't foreseen," he said.

"We've seen something new, a different type of problem.

"We're currently performing our analysis. We've got to go away and understand what's happened today.

View gallery


"When we've got the facts we can understand what's happened and get to the core of the issues.

"We take these things seriously and when we have the answers I'll let you know.

"It's pointless me adding anything else until we have all the facts."

Whiting backed that approach:

"It is too early to draw any conclusions," he said.

"They have a lot of analysing to do, including the tyres that didn't fail – because maybe we will find something there that was on the verge of failing that will give us a better indicator of what happened.

"It is too early to say what will happen, so it's too early to say what needs to be done."

Pirelli did insist that a new bonding process used for the tyres for the British Grand Prix could not be to blame.

But Red Bull's Adrian Newey suggested that the heart of the problem was several teams - including Ferrari - refusing to accept the new, better-wearing tyres offered by Pirelli ahead of the Canadian Grand Prix last month.

"It's been fairly clear that there has been a number of worrying tyre failures through the year, Pirelli came out with a solution to that - or appear to have come up with a solution with a different construction that was being offered initially for Montreal," he said.

"Two or three teams vetoed that because they were worried that it would suit some other teams more than it would suit them and as a result of that short-sightedness we end up with Formula One putting on the worrying performance that it did today and concerns over driver safety."

View comments (592)