Tuesday, July 2, 2013

FIA allow race drivers to partake in Young Driver Test after Silverstone tyre fiasco

After the explosive weekend at Silverstone which saw four drivers experience a total of five blowouts of the Pirelli tyres, all teams and the FIA have called for an immediate solution to the tyre issue. The teams that have been blocking the change of tyres have also agreed to any change now that the safety of drivers is at risk.

But Force India's sporting director Otmar Szafnauer did mention that, “We had no problems. Maybe it’s because we adhere strictly to Pirelli’s guidelines regarding tyre pressures and camber.”

Pirelli did make a change to the bonding process in the manufacture of the tyres for Silverstone, where they changed how the tread of the tyre attaches itself to the tyre structure. But Pirelli's motorsport director, Paul Hembrey, was certain that this change had nothing to do with the explosions we have seen this weekend.

"We can exclude that the new bonding process, which we introduced at this race, is the cause for the tyre failures we have seen today," he said.

"There might be some aspect to this circuit that impacts specifically on the latest version of our 2013 specification tyres.

"But at this point we do not want to speculate but will now put together all the evidence to find out what happened and then take appropriate next steps should these be required."

A day after the Silverstone GP, news emerged that Bernie and Jean Todt met at Silverstone and arranged for Pirelli to be able to conduct two three-day tests. “They can use what they like,” said Ecclestone. “No restrictions. None at all, so they can do what they want.”

Late last night, the FIA went even further and changed the rules of the Young Driver Test, due to be held at Silverstone between 17-19 July. The have ruled that the teams can now use any drivers they see fit for the test, but regular race drivers can only be used for tyre development and assessment of safety. The young drivers will however be allowed to work on improving the car and try new parts.

To allow this change and ensure that the young drivers do not lose out, the FIA is considering extending the test by an extra day. 

The FIA have also informed all the teams that they are seeking the approval of the World Motor Sport Council to change the regulation which requires unanimous approval from the teams to change tyre specifications during the season.

President of the BRDC (British Racing Drivers Club) Derek Warwick echoed the FIA's decision to change the rule regarding mid-season tyre changes, while dismissing suggestions that the sharp edges on the kerbs could have caused the tyre blowouts.

“These kerbs have been in since 2009. We’ve had thousands and thousands of cars go over these kerbs and they have been absolutely fine,” said ex-F1 driver Warwick. “We’ve had them checked by the FIA and they comply completely.

“I think [F1 boss] Bernie [Ecclestone], the FIA and Pirelli are bringing the sport into disrepute and they need to have a serious look at themselves and change these tyres and not expect all the teams to agree. Take it out of the teams’ hands and put safe tyres on these cars.”

He also blamed the teams that prevented Pirelli from switching over to the kevlar belted tyres as suggested by Pirelli by saying, “The teams need to look at themselves. They made the decision not to bring a new tyre. I kind of blame Pirelli but they did their best to bring a new tyre to Silverstone and three teams voted against it.”

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