The F1 drivers taking part in the Belgian Grand Prix have accepted the official explanation of the punctures of Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel yesterday, when presented with a piece of metal off Kimi Raikkonen’s Lotus, which was retrieved from Turn 13 after the end of yesterday’s running.
Meanwhile there are strong indications from sources in the F1 paddock that Michelin is lining up a return to the sport, which would be supported by the FIA.
Ferrari test driver Pedro de la Rosa, who is also a leading light in the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association, told BBC Sport Online that the drivers were satisfied with this explanation.
In last night’s driver’s meeting they expressed concern to the FIA’s Charlie Whiting, asking for some reassurance about what he would do should there be problems in the race, as there were in Silverstone.
“We only asked to know what it was,” De la Rosa said. “If it had been the first time we’d seen it, we would have been relaxed but after all the problems this year we were definitely concerned.”
Pirelli maintained after practice that some debris had caused both punctures.
The construction of the tyres introduced from the Hungarian Grand Prix onwards, based on a kevlar belt, now is broadly the same as last season, where there were no problems.
The episode comes against a backdrop of behind the scenes intrigue, as is seems that there is a fresh impetus for Michelin to return to the sport in 2014, despite the late stage.
Pirelli has contracts for next year with eight of the 11 F1 teams, it is believed that Force India and Lotus are among the teams with whom it does not have a contract. There is also a commercial agreement in place.
However this is contingent upon there being an official tyre supply contract with the FIA, whose president Jean Todt is known to be keen to see Michelin back in F1.
This weekend in Spa the talk has been of a fresh push to return Michelin and that makes the punctures which occurred on Friday following on from tyre problems in Bahrain, Spain and Silverstone in particular, so politically sensitive.
Michelin is known to favour a move away from tyres that degrade, which was Pirelli’s strategy with Bernie Ecclestone over the last few years. If they were to return, they would push for some changes to Sporting Regulations, which would change the character of the races.