Formula 1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone has warned that F1 drivers risk losing their mandatory FIA super licenses if a boycott of this weekend’s German Grand Prix goes ahead.
“I can understand their position,” the 82-year-old told Germany’s Die Welt newspaper. “It’s not Pirelli’s neck, or my neck, on the line. But there is a big difference between thinking something and going through with it.”
“If they do boycott the race, which wouldn’t help anyone or solve the problems any faster, then they could lose their super license[s],” Ecclestone warned.
The inimitable Kimi Raikkonen, not a member of the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association, counted himself out of any boycott threat.
“Everyone has their opinion,” the Finn is quoted by Brazil’s Totalrace. “I will race when I want and that’s it.”
Mercifully, the quick-fire changes made by Pirelli and the FIA since Silverstone have apparently solved the tyre-exploding problem, as three smooth hours of practice went ahead on Friday.
“It’s extremely unlikely that those problems will come back,” Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg said on Friday.
Ecclestone backed the embattled Pirelli, “A tyre manufacturer, no matter what it’s name, cannot develop reliable tyres if it cannot test properly.”
He likened Silverstone 2013 to Imola 1994, when Ayrton Senna’s death put the issue of driver safety right at the top of the agenda.
“[Imola] was extremely sad, but it saved many lives afterwards. So now it’s the same with the tyre problem. Thank god no one was injured, but we must quickly learn the lessons from it. That’s the only positive [from the tyre saga],” the Briton said.
It is possible that the once-controversial shift from steel to kevlar-belted tyres will shuffle the pecking order, but Lewis Hamilton thinks any change will be minor.
“Force India [isn’t] just going to start winning, that sort of thing,” he is quoted by the Mirror.
But Force India’s Adrian Sutil – another driver who like Raikkonen will not necessarily join a boycott – thinks the change of tyres for the Nurburgring and beyond is still controversial.
“Well,” he is quoted by Speed Week, “it is clear that the tyres are made for the top teams.
“That’s how Formula 1 has always been. Too bad, because we are punished for our good work, the others get their new tyres and go back to the front, and F1 is boring again,” Sutil moaned. (GMM)
Subbed by AJN.