Wolff hits out at F1 opportunists in tyre exploding saga

Toto Wolff with Helmut Marko

Toto Wolff with Helmut Marko

In the aftermath of a weekend where tyres dominated headlines, Toto Wolff has hit out at Formula 1’s opportunists who initially blocked Pirelli’s intended tyre changes.

Actually, Pirelli has never admitted that its 2013 tyres are not safe, which is the technicality that left the door open for Ferrari, Lotus and Force India to simply say ‘no’ to the new kevlar-belted structure.

“I don’t think you can expect any tyre supplier in the world to say their tyres are not safe,” Mercedes director Toto Wolff said on Wednesday.

A dramatic British Grand Prix, however, has forced the issue, moving the FIA to green-light the kevlar change, even though it breaches the rule on a need for unanimity.

Wolff suggested that the resisting teams should never have blocked the move.

“Sometimes it takes dramatic events for everyone to pull together. In this case, there can be no more opportunistic seeking of advantage,” he is quoted by SID news agency.

It might be argued, however, that Mercedes is only so open about changing the tyres because it has struggled so much with durability on this year’s heavily-degrading Pirelli tyres.

Wolff insisted: “Safety is priority number one.”

He added that it is a “relief” that new tyres are being debuted at the Nurburgring, but Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton – so critical after Silverstone, where he had a failure whilst leading – is less convinced.

“It’s still a concern,” said the 2008 world champion.

“We’ll see how the weekend goes but I’m sure they’ve taken the right steps to make it safe.”

Meanwhile, having readily accepted its banning from the forthcoming ‘young driver test’ over test-gate, it might be suggested that Mercedes’ penalty has just became much harsher.

Due to the Silverstone tyre chaos, that test has now been opened up to race drivers – but Mercedes remains banned.

“We have accepted that we are not going [to test],” Wolff said.

“If, like our test [at Barcelona], it is blind tyre testing, then it should go ahead.” (GMM)

Subbed by AJN.