Pirelli come under fire from drivers after tyre incidents in Korea

Mark Webber makes a pit stop during the Korean GP

Mark Webber makes a pit stop during the Korean GP

Mark Webber has joined his friend Fernando Alonso in delivering a blistering attack on Formula 1 tyre supplier Pirelli, with Lewis Hamilton also voicing his displeasure at the state of affairs at the Korean Grand Prix.

Ferrari’s Alonso said on Saturday the “quality” of the Italian marque’s 2013 products are “very on the edge”, to which Pirelli boss Paul Hembery hit back.

“I can only suggest he goes to ask the soon-to-be four time champion how to get the best from the same tyres,” said Hembery.

Hembery approached Alonso and apologised. The Spaniard told reporters after the race, “We speak with facts and they [Pirelli] just use words. Everybody can see that.”

He added, “These are tyres that won’t last a lap, but as we said [on Saturday], we have zero problems with the performance. It’s us who haven’t adapted to these 2012 tyres. It’s up to us Ferrari, or the drivers, to improve.”

Fernando Alonso with Mark Webber before the race in Korea

Fernando Alonso with Mark Webber before the race in Korea

“But the tyre marbles [bits of discarded rubber off line] are there, and when it rains they have to stop the races, and then Perez has a blow-out… So we know the tyres are on the limit in terms of quality. Hembery had not heard this and he made a mistake, and he came to apologise, so we are thankful for that,” said the Ferrari driver.

But after the Korean Grand Prix race, Pirelli was fighting on another front.

Before retiring with a spectacular KERS fire after a crash on Sunday, Red Bull’s Webber suffered a tyre puncture, caused by the debris of what the Australian described as Sergio Perez’s tyre “explosion”.

Webber accused Pirelli of being unconcerned about driver safety.

“I think I got a Pirelli puncture from a Pirelli tyre,” he lamented.

Pirelli entered Formula 1 with a brief to spice up the racing by supplying tyres that degrade quickly. On Sunday, a frustrated Lewis Hamilton said on the radio he lost ground with a set that was “f*cked”.

“It’s strange, you know,” the Briton said afterwards. “Me and Fernando in fifth and sixth at the end having our own little race, yet we are of a higher calibre than that.”

And Webber is quoted by the BBC: “The drivers aren’t super important (to Pirelli) — it is what other people want.”

Amid Webber’s troubles, his teammate Sebastian Vettel cruised to a fourth consecutive win on Sunday, moving him to his first ‘match point’ of a fourth consecutive title.

If Alonso finishes lower than eighth on Sunday at Suzuka, and Vettel wins a fifth consecutive race, the German will wrap up the championship with four races still in his pocket. (GMM)

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