Formula One risks driver action over tire problems

Reuters, LONDON

Tue, Jul 02, 2013 - Page 19

Formula One searched for answers yesterday after headline-grabbing British Grand Prix tire blowouts plunged the sport into crisis and triggered talk of a possible driver boycott in Germany this weekend.

Tire supplier Pirelli began an immediate investigation after four drivers suffered rear-left tire failures at Silverstone.

Ferrari’s Brazilian Felipe Massa, who was almost killed by debris shed from a car in front of him at the 2009 Hungarian Grand Prix, would not rule out drivers considering a boycott if solutions were not in place for Sunday’s race at the Nuerburgring.

“I don’t want to say that [drivers would walk out] because I don’t want to create loads of problems, but this is something that for our safety we can do,” he told reporters after he experienced one of the blowouts.

McLaren’s Sergio Perez, another victim of the exploding tires, said drivers were risking their lives and needed assurances.

“If something like this happens again, we don’t want one of us to be killed,” he said.

The immediate question is whether the problem was track specific, with failures caused by debris or a particularly sharp kerb at Silverstone cutting into the tires, or something related to the construction and design.

Pirelli’s motorsport director Paul Hembery said that the Italian company had ruled out the cause being linked to a new bonding process introduced ahead of Silverstone.

He will join a meeting tomorrow of Formula One’s sporting working committee, although teams will want to see something tangible before then.