Pirelli tyre blowouts at Silverstone have Formula 1 world up in arms

Lewis Hamilton drives back to the pits after suffering a blowout while leading

Lewis Hamilton drives back to the pits after suffering a blowout while leading

Formula 1’s intense heat on Pirelli only got hotter, as the British Grand Prix took place amid shards of exploding tyre rubber and only a miracle preventing a catastrophe on the day.

Four blowouts, all left rear tyres (the same as Perez’s failure a day earlier) is now an unacceptable scenario for drivers and teams.

The near misses were plentiful as debris from Hamilton caused Vettel to swerve in avoidance; debris from Vergne’s incident nearly took out both Lotus drivers, shards struck Raikkonen’s helmet and the Toro Rosso driver did well to keep the car from slamming into the barriers; large chunks of rubber from Perez’s destroyed tyre flew past Alonso, missing the Ferrari by inches.

Lewis Hamilton, just one of four drivers who had spectacular rear failures during the Silverstone race, was comfortably leading when he had his problem. Afterwards, the furious Briton told reporters he was trying to hold his tongue.

“Big time,” he relented to Sky when asked if he is worried about safety. They need to do something”

Later on BBC he added, “It’s unacceptable. We tested a tyre that was much safer than this one and I don’t know why they’ve not used it.”

The left rear on Jean Eric Vergne's Toro Rosso explodes

The left rear on Jean Eric Vergne’s Toro Rosso explodes

His Mercedes teammate and race winner Nico Rosberg  also had a partial tyre failure just as a safety car period began and only quick thinking by the team kept him in contention.

On-board footage from Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso’s cars showed how the big chunks of flying tyre debris could have seriously hurt a following driver had they been struck by the wayward shards.

“It’s only when someone gets hurt that [somebody] will be doing something about it,” Hamilton charged. “I think it’s a waste of time talking to the FIA, and if they don’t do anything that says a lot about them.”

McLaren managing director Jonathan Neale, whose driver Sergio Perez had one of the exploding failures, insisted: “We have to make sure our drivers are safe.”

Perez reflected on the incident,  “My race had been going well. I’d been running inside the top 10 for most of the afternoon when my left-rear tyre suddenly exploded. I just felt an explosion along the Hangar Straight – there was nothing I could really do about it. ”

“The tyres are a big concern. Luckily nothing too serious happened to anyone, but we need to sit down together, get an explanation and get something done,” ventured the Mexican.

Jenson Button agreed: “The cars behind get hit by rubber that has metal in it. It’s obvious it’s got to change. It’s very scary.”

Felipe Massa returns to the pits after a blowout on the Ferrari

Felipe Massa returns to the pits after a blowout on the Ferrari

“We’ve had five tyres over the last few days, a big issue and something that needs to be sorted out. Don’t change how you drive but of course it’s on your mind. Happening at 300 km/h, like for Checo, it’s not right.”

“It’s not just dangerous for the driver in the car, it’s dangerous for all the other cars. The cars behind get hit by rubber that has metal in it. It’s got to change. I don’t think anything needs to be said. We all know the situation,” warned Button.

Vergne said of his incident,  “I don’t know what happened, I did not feel any warning signs and it just let go under braking. I am very upset about it and something needs to be done about it soon.”

Red Bull team boss Christian Horner was visibly alarmed by the failures, “The issues with the tyres changed the complexion of the race so instructing the drivers to stay away from the kerbs changed the race.”

“I think they’ll be some fairly serious questions being asked and I think Pirelli will address that. It’s clear Pirelli need to do something but the most important thing is that they address it,” added Horner.

Recently, Pirelli wanted to make a fundamental change to the tyre construction – replacing an internal steel band with a kevlar one – to stop delaminations, but teams like Lotus blocked the move.

F1’s official supplier instead had to resort to tackling the issue by deploying a new kind of glue to bind the tread.

All the talk immediately after the race on Sunday was about the obvious need for Pirelli to change the tyre construction, whether or not the teams agree.

Pirelli’s Paul Hembery refused to immediately comment pending an investigation, despite the international media relentlessly bombarding him with questions.

“Sorry,” he told them. “When we have the answers, we’ll let you know.” (GMM / Apex)

Subbed by AJN.

  • Has Pirelli Built this tire to fail on purpose so they can calim safety isses to change the tires?

    Why do I get the feeling that Pirelli has built this tire to fail on purpose so they can claim safety issues to change the tires like Mercedes and RedBull want?

    Funny how the Pirelli’s never failed in this manner until after the ill fated illegal Mercedes tire testing happened and the teams said no to changing the tires. The FIA said no unless it is a safety issue and clearly there has not been a safety issue.

    Mercedes cheats and Pirelli needs to be tossed out of Formula One.

  • Lol.


  • Chrill

    Well, these blowouts HAVE happened in earlier races, just not in every race and certainly not this frequently.

  • Emiguel

    Pirelli decided not to let Michelin take all the credit for producing failing tires (remember the US grand prix a few years back?).

    Two of the biggest manufacturers in the world have failed heavily, who´s next???….

  • F1 Neutral

    I don’t really understand why these failures today differ so much from the failures in past races.

    The failures before have not resulted in punctures like we are used to seeing in F1 – they have simply been tyre failures in the sense that the tread adhesive has not done its job and the wheel has stayed complete, apart from the visible steel part where the rubber has simply fallen off.

    Today, these were old-style punctures

  • PB

    Unfortunately the tyre contract was let by Formula1.com and not by FIA who wants a different tyre manufacturer. With the 4 incidents in this race together with the earlier races there is some serious doubt about the safety of the tyres in F1. It will be interesting to see Forumla 1’s, Pirelli and FIA responses. My guess is that Pirelli will be left holding the bag.

  • Spartacus

    The failures were different because the glue was working. It kept the tread on to the metal carcass and therefore when the tyre failed the whole of the tyre was discarded by the car.

    Sadly, F1 only has itself to blame. Mainly because certain teams were too interested in blaming Mercedes for giving Pirelli a loan of their hardware to test new tyres. Tyres which would have avoided this embarrassing situation.

  • Empee

    “Why do I get the feeling that Pirelli has built this tire to fail on purpose so they can claim safety issues to change the tires like Mercedes and RedBull want?”

    And risk being asked NOT to come back next season by maiming or killing someone?

    Next time you have a ‘feeling,’ just go have a snack.

  • Shane

    Everyone is so quick to blame Pirelli. Doesn’t it seem odd that all the failures happened around the same point in the track, and always the same tyre? Pirelli stepped up when no one else would after Bridgestone and Michelin withdrew from the sport. If they pack it in what then?

  • Jetpack

    That kerb on turn 4-the fact that this has happened to four rears and one left front to me suggests there’s an additional factor here. BBC’s Gary Anderson demonstrated that there is indeed a bit of kerb that is in racing terms ‘razor sharp’ and to we cant ‘t realistically ignore that.
    A combination of that and temperature looks to have resulted in what we saw.

  • david

    solution 1 – make it impossible to drive over kerbs, racetrack is racetrack kerbs are there to indicate edge of racetrack

  • Spectator

    F1 is a sports like other sports..it also has issues, and F1 always point out they want to increase the competition many were angry mainly bcoz their favorite team or dirvers was not doing well this season and believe their driver that the cause was the tyres..but I think tyres is one of the hundred reason affecting the performance of the car this also includes the driver itself..i will just watch because i enjoy this Sport..=)

  • Jay

    Seems like many are missing the point. If Pirelli was allowed to do more in season testing as they asked for we wouldn’t be
    here commenting on this now. Pirelli has asked repeatedly for more
    in-season testing, and of course the FIA refused. Then, when Pirelli asked the teams if they can change the tire construction, what happens? The teams cant agree, and ultimately turn it down.
    So here’s where we are today. Now the FIA has agreed to more in season testing for next year and the teams are demanding a tire construction change. Go figure……