Saturday, July 6, 2013

Teams stand by their drivers after talks of boycott

(Reuters) Formula 1 teams have backed drivers who said they would boycott this Sunday’s German Grand Prix if there is a repeat of the tyre chaos which rocked Silverstone last weekend.

The Grand Prix Drivers’ Association, which represents most, but not all of those on the grid, announced on Thursday that they will not race if the blow-outs seen in Britain occur again and endanger lives.

Tyre supplier Pirelli has brought upgraded rear tyres to the Nurburgring with an inner belt made of the synthetic fibre Kevlar rather than steel and teams hope that will solve the problem.

Guidance has also been issued to teams about the correct usage of the tyres and pressures required.

“It’s the drivers’ position at the end of the day and you’ve got to respect that. They were concerned about what they saw last week – who can blame them at the end of the day?,” Red Bull team principal Christian Horner told Sky Sports television on Friday.

“Hopefully it’s not going to come anything near to that, but I just think they’ve laid down a marker to say ‘we want this sorted’. We’ve got a different product here this weekend so I’m sure Pirelli are on top of it.

“But nobody wants to be in a position that we were in last Sunday. I think with hindsight (race director) Charlie (Whiting) would even have stopped the race.”

Horner’s comments were echoed across the paddock with first practice in Germany passing without incident.

“I have some sympathy with the feelings of the drivers,” Marussia sporting director Graeme Lowdon said.

“There is no way we, or any of the other teams, would put our drivers in a position that we felt was unsafe.”

Any boycott would not be the first in the sport.

The most recent was in 2005 when seven teams pulled out of the U.S. Grand Prix in Indianapolis because of tyre safety fears.

Pirelli motor sport director Paul Hembery told reporters that the teams had been assured the new tyres were safe.

“We explained the changes here and the changes going forward, which we believe are in completely the right direction for them,” he said.

“We’ve written to Charlie and asked him to write to the teams, defining what we require because despite last weekend we’ve still had some people asking to do things we didn’t want them to do.” (Reuters)

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