Pirelli responds in war of words over tires

Source:AFP Published: 2015-8-25 0:18:04

Vettel involved in high-speed blowout, says it nearly cost his life

A war of words over tire safety between Pirelli and Ferrari raged on Monday in the aftermath of Sunday's Belgian Grand Prix, won in consummate ­fashion by ­defending champion Lewis Hamilton.

The Italian rubber suppliers hit back after being told by Ferrari's four-time champion Sebastian Vettel, who was ­victim of a high-speed blowout on the penultimate lap, that their tires were "unacceptable."

The German was running third in the race behind Briton Hamilton and his Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg at the time. His tire failure, on the ­Kemmel Straight, cost him his finish and his points and, he claimed afterward, that it could have cost him his life.

"If this had happened 200 meters earlier, I am not standing here answering your questions now," he said. "I am with 300 kph in the barriers at Eau Rouge," he said. "This is unacceptable."

Pirelli, however, heaped the blame for Vettel's terrifying high-speed puncture on Ferrari for choosing to use a one-stop strategy in a race in which most teams stopped twice for new tires.

Vettel had completed 28 laps since his pit stop when his right rear tire disintegrated. Ferrari said their strategy was sound and based on team data approved by a Pirelli technician.

"All the teams have an engineer from Pirelli, and what do you think that engineer is doing?" said Ferrari team boss Maurizio Arrivabene. "He's not there to chew the gum. He's there to check the tires and to read the data from the team."

As the dispute intensified, ­Pirelli ­issued a statement in which they claimed that Formula One teams had rejected a proposal that would have prevented the Vettel incident.

The statement said, "Since ­November, 2013, Pirelli requested that there should be rules to govern the maximum number of laps that can be driven on the same set of tires, among other ­parameters to do with correct tire usage.

"This request was not accepted. The proposal put forward a maximum ­distance equivalent to 50 percent of the Grand Prix distance for the prime tire and 30 percent for the option.

"These conditions, if applied today at Spa, would have limited the ­maximum number of laps on the medium ­compound to 22."

Vettel left the circuit soon after the race without conducting his usual media work with Ferrari, following on the heels of German Nico Rosberg of ­Mercedes, who was the victim of a similar high-speed tire failure in practice on Friday.

"We had something similar on Friday," said the furious Vettel. "Nico said on Friday he didn't go off track, I didn't go off track, so there is no explanation for what happened. And as a matter of fact it is not safe."

Arrivabene had defended his team's decision to give Vettel a one-stop strategy, insisting it was "nothing stupid or crazy" and it was based on data from Pirelli. He said he preferred not to comment on their products though Vettel was vociferous in his criticism of Pirelli.

Posted in: Motorsport

blog comments powered by Disqus