Horner: Alonso lucky to be alive
Posted By: James Allen  |  01 Jul 2013   |  2:51 pm GMT  |  173 comments

Red Bull boss Christian Horner say Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso is lucky to alive after he narrowly missed being hit by debris from the rear tyre of McLaren’s Sergio Perez which exploded on Hangar Straight during Sunday’s British Grand Prix.

Horner’s comments come as Formula 1 comes to terms with the shock of several tyre failures, many which happened at high speed, at Silverstone to raise questions about the drivers’ safety.

Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton, Ferrari’s Felipe Massa, Toro Rosso’s Jean-Eric Vergne and Perez all suffered left rear failures. Sauber’s Esteban Gutierrez had a left front failure while Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg, who won the race, and Alonso both reported they had problems but were close to the pits so they were able to change tyres before an issue occurred.

“It’s a safety issue now,” said Horner in the BBC Radio 5 Live post race Programme. “We need to think of driver safety. Make no mistake about it, Alonso is a very lucky boy to be going home. It’s not right. Forget performance, forget who has an advantage and who doesn’t. The sport has to be safe. The most important thing is driver safety. I’m surprised they didn’t stop the race in many respects.”

F1 race director Charlie Whiting said that he nearly did red flag the race on safety grounds. “It was quite close to being red-flagged,” he said. “It did occur to me to do that. We haven’t seen a failure like this before; we have seen other types of failure – and that is what has been addressed. So we need to analyse it very carefully to see if we can establish the cause.”

FIA president Jean Todt has demanded that tyre supplier Pirelli meeting of the Sporting Working Group, which was already scheduled to take place on Wednesday, in order to find a solution.

But ahead of this Sunday’s German Grand Prix, Whiting said a solution is needed sooner. “Pirelli have got to analyse it, to try and find the cause,” he said. “We need to make decisions earlier than Wednesday.”

On Monday, F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone said the FIA will allow Pirelli to conduct two three-day tests so they can get to the bottom of the problems: “They (Pirelli) have complained in the past when these tyres have delaminated – which is certainly nothing to do with it (what happened yesterday).

“They’ve said they’d like to sort it out, but they don’t have a chance to do any testing because of these silly restrictions we have. But I spoke to Jean Todt over the weekend and he has said ‘Let them test’.

“So he has allowed them to run two three-day tests between now and… well, when they want, to try to do something for next year, as well as this year, so that’s exactly what’s going to happen.”

The medium and hard tyres which were used at Silverstone have also been used in Malaysia, Bahrain and Spain this year. In Bahrain, Hamilton suffered a failure – although it was a different to those suffered at Silverstone – as did Massa.

Alonso was lining up a pass on Perez when the Mexican’s tyre failed. The Spaniard took avoiding action and was lucky not to be hit by rubber and the metal belt. “That one with Sergio I was so scared and so lucky because I missed the contact by one centimetre,” said Alonso.

McLaren’s Jenson Button added that these failures are putting driver’s safety is at risk: “We’ve had five tyres over the last few days, it’s a big issue and something that needs to be sorted out,” said Button. “Incidents happening at 300kph, like for Checo [Sergio Perez], is not right. It’s not just dangerous for the driver in the car, it’s dangerous for all the other cars. The cars behind shouldn’t get hit by rubber that has metal in it. It’s got to change.”

McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh added: “F1 couldn’t possibly not respond to the events of this weekend. We have to be concerned about the safety of our drivers in this sport.”

And Rosberg said: “Well, we shouldn’t get into that situation. We need to do what needs to be done to sort it out and make the tyres last.”

Massa, who made an electric start from 11th to run fifth on the first lap, had his failure in the middle of Turn Five. “What has happened today is unacceptable,” said the Brazilian. “It was very dangerous for me and all the drivers racing. It’s not the first race we had this problem. I already had two tyre problems in Bahrain and another problem here.

When asked if he was surprised no one was hurt, Massa replied: “In a way yes. We were lucky that in all the incidents, the driver was able to carry on and not crash. But you have corners at Silverstone where if it happens, it could be much more dangerous and you could have a big accident.”

And on the subject of whether drivers could boycott this Sunday’s German Grand Prix, Massa said: “For sure we will discuss about that. I don’t want to say that now because I don’t want to create a lot of problems but this is something that for our safety we can do.”

He added that things would need to change for next month’s Belgian Grand Prix at the high speed Spa Francorchamps. “I hope they change something for Spa,” he said. “If you have this problem at Eau Rouge, you don’t know what is going to happen.”

Hamilton, who recovered from his tyre failure when leading to finish fourth, said: “It was the first time in my career I’ve ever felt it was dangerous. “After my incident, I was definitely nervous for the rest of the race that the tyres might go again. Safety is the biggest issue. It’s just unacceptable really. It’s only when someone gets hurt that someone will do something about it. It’s a waste of time talking to the FIA and if they don’t do anything that says a lot about them.”

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Carlos Marques

Just wait until Pirelli transfers their race-knowledge to road-going tires. Let’s see how you feel having a brand new tire burst at 120 Km/h…


I don’t know where you are, but here in Aus the speed limit is 110 on the highway…so if you bust a tyre at 120 don’t come crying to me 🙂


I am surprised that the tyre warriors aren’t complaining more about the fact that Kimi was actually hit on the helmet by tyre debris. I guess when you dont complain about something then people just dont take much notice. That would have been a much better argument for safety measures.

This whole issue is 100% Pirrelli’s fault, they could have changed the tyres on safety grounds, but because of bad PR they were not willing to admit that their tyres might be unsafe.

It is not the responsibility of Ferrari, Lotus or FI to make these calls, they are just competitors. Pirelli might have been worried about PR, but they are getting much worse PR now. All they had to do was admit that the tyres might be unsafe.

Personally I think the previous delamination was much better, then these exploding tyres.

Next the FIA should be blamed for this whole mess. It is ridiculous that some teams should be punished because the tyre compounds are changed. Most of this mess could have been avoided if teams where just allowed to choose what tyres they want for every race. If one team want softer material, and another teams wants harder material then most of the responsibility would have lied with the teams, and Pirelli wouldn’t have been facing all of these issues.

Just let the teams choose what compounds they want.

Tom in adelaide

So much talk. Just change the tyres. Seems pretty simple – they are not safe.




Pirelli are changing their tyres, the engineers at Pirelli who make the tyres think the tyres were at fault.


the newspaper headline NO-ONE one wants to see.

The Daily Tribune – August 6 2013


The family of fatally injured f1 driver Chas Sterling today announced that it would seek redress in the courts. Sterling was killed when his car’s rear tyre exploded at the notorious Oster curve at the O-Ring circuit in Portugal last month. His car slammed into a barrier at over 200 km/h and sterling died instantly.

A legal spokesman for the sterling family said “We assert that Chas Sterling died because a tyre company supplied race tyres that were known by the manufacturer to be defective and dangerous. At the previous round of the F1 championship at Silverstone, 5 drivers suffered identical tyre failures. Those failures were unprecedented in the 63 year history of F1. The tyres used at the Portugal race were the same as the tyres used at Silverstone. We will pursue our legal rights to the fullest extant.”

Journalists asked why Sterling would knowingly race on dangerous tyres.

“My client was contracted to drive the full 20 race championship. If Sterling decided not to race he would have been in breach of his contract to his employer” the spokesman said.

The tyre company involved declined to answer any questions from journalists.

This is not a new issue for the sport of F1. In 1975 a deflating tyre led to the fatal crash of F1 ace, Mark Donohue at the Austrain GP. A jury decided that the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company should pay Mark Donohue’s widow $9.6 million in damages. With interest the award amounted to $19,584,000. Interestingly the trial judge refused testimony from other F1 drivers because he considered that the drivers were not tyre experts.

The case is due to start in london next month.


Am I missing something?

Pirelli have a replacement tyre with a revised construction. It was tested during the Pirelli/Merc tyre test. The teams have run the tyre in free practice at the last two races, (limited by the weather). The teams only have to agree to it being introduced. The teams with cars that are gentle on their tyres do not want to change because the new construction, (more like 2012), will reduce the disadvantage for Red Bull and Merc.


That tyre is now going to be used in Germany (according to the news, Pirelli will announce that later today).

Hurrah! Something positive for F1 at last.


Horner is 100% correct. Alonso was extremely lucky, and other drivers were lucky as well. Pirelli must get their act together for the good of the sport, or someone could be killed.

James, if you were a tyre manufacturer, would you like what you were seeing, and the image that it would create for you as the tyre manufacturer?

If it was me, I would make changes immediately.


We are certainly into reputational damage here

Like when Jaguar were in F1 damaging the brand rather than enhancing it


But Pirelli is maybe not fair to be blamed, they wanted to introduce safe tyres but for the veto of Ferrari.


I don’t mind the boycott for this weekend race in Germany.

Better than ‘oh nooooo!’ holding my palms to my face for another serious incident leading to death.

A marshall died and Allan Simonsen death does not bode well for a good vibe.

Worried racers is not what we want in a race and can you imagine what goes through their head ‘not me please’.

They are scared, very scared.

Seán Craddock

I heard someone (possibly Newey) saying that the thread belt, with the steel weighs 3kg! Just imagine that! 3kg! What Horner said is no exaggeration, that could EASILY have killed Alonso if it hit his head, or Kimi when behind JEV for that matter. The spring that hit Massa in 2009 only weighed 1kg and look at the damage it did


3kg is a lot, but what if there was no steel in the tyre in the first place? I believe Pirelli added kevlar and removed the steel for Silverstone, as many comments above suggest but did not inform anyone – how could Hamilton’s tyre explode into pieces at Silverstone and leave no remnant of a steel belt?

It would also explain why Di Resta was underweight on Saturday.

Seán Craddock

Di Resta’s car wasn’t underweight, he was. The team said they accepted that the car was the weight they expected it to be.

Fair enough even if it was kevlar it still would weight quite a bit!


germanys not a problem, they should have been out there first thing monday morning with the angle grinders just to take off the rough edges running fore/aft of direction. the curbs dont need drastic changes. racing is safer and buys the tyre manufacturer some time till eau rouge……………


Its just that like Silverstone, F1 is not the only racing that takes place at the Nurbugring.

It wont be right to deface tracks for all other formula’s only because F1 tires are crap.


i wouldnt call it defacing, the curbs are still there still high still bumpy and all that theres just less of a sharp dropoff onto the green concrete / fake turf / grass whatevers there. it could easily be a problem in any formula as the tyre is very vulnerable in that area, it just happens that f1 is the(?) one of the most powerful formulas with 900hp trying to acclerate the wheels whilst sliping on a knife edge has showed up the issue. its only the drop off the curb that needs moding not the curb itself……


The kerbs have been the way they are for DECADES. It is the same for all other formula’s that race there too, and make no mistake about it, Silverstone is one of the most raced cirquits in the World. It hosts all sorts of different races all year round, and guess what? They all use the kerbs without issues.

Why should it suddenly change, because Pirelli tyres are rotten?

Pirelli should accept that their 2013 tyres are substandard and get it.


Just so long as they don’t leave the angle grinders lying around the track…


Imagine if the teams had a group class action against the FIA for their “silly rules” (Bernie) on tyres, which have left Pirelli with mud of their face and has cost the teams millions of dollars in repairs /replacement and lost points which is also dollars.


If I were the boss at Pirelli I’d be absolutely livid at this point in time.

It looks as though F1 might be heading in the right direction with more in season testing and rules changes to allow tyres to be changed without the unanimous agreement of the teams.

If they want the cars to make 2 pitstops per race, then write that into the rules, why do we need degrading tyres to achieve that. It robs the F1 fan of potentially amazing racing. I want to see the top drivers on the planet racing hard, right on the ragged edge using every last bit of skill and cunning to take or maintain places. I want to see engineering people given enough space to invent new ways of building things that my children might get some serious benefit out of in a decades time (like an amazingly efficient engine)

I wanted to see Vettel try and catch and pass Hamilton, I wanted to see what Massa could do from his great race start, instead I got to wonder about who’s tyres would go next and whether there’d be a huge crash, if I want that kind of ‘entertainment’ I’ll go watch NASCAR thanks.

F1 teams are hungry, passionate, driven (no pun intended) groups of people who will take and do anything they can to get the fastest car they can, and if that means blocking tyre or other rule changes to try and keep a minor perceived advantage then that’s what they are going to do. If it means running tyre pressures a little lower that might not be within the range Pirelli says is ‘safe’ then they’ll do that as well.

Testing shouldn’t be banned – it should be mandatory and subsidised for all teams. The F1 business makes enough money to pay for testing immediately after lots of the GP on the calendar. Logistics costs are kept to a minimum cos the teams are there already, they can sell tickets for a Monday test day to recoup some of the extra cost, Pirelli get good data with relevant cars, teams get to iron out problems better but they still don’t have free reign to test as much as they want.

Pirelli should give all the teams an allocation of tyres for the season. They should be tyres that are durable enough to last an entire grand prix that don’t shred off so many marbles. If we had less marbles, then more track is available to race on and more overtaking opportunities arise.

Have a ‘tread depth’ test for each set of tyres at the end of each GP and tyres that fail are binned. You run out of tyres in the season and need new ones, fine, here are your new tyres, and a 10 place grid penalty a la engines/gearboxes.

This whole problem is easy to fix, make tyres much more durable, make 2 pitstops mandatory, allow teams to test in season in a structured capacity without letting the big spenders throw money at the problems and ‘buy victory’

I don’t want ‘more passing’ I want more entertainment, more thrills, more suspense I want to be flat out amazed at what these drivers can do on four wheels. Passing is only a small part of that equation and it gives me the sadface thinking about how the F1 marketing people have focused on such a small part of the big picture and are letting their myopic vision of the sport I love ruin the sport.

At the end of the day it’s sport. We have hugely talented engineers and hugely talented drivers and we should let them race, let the entertainment take care of itself.


2010 is still considered by many as the best season in formula 1 because it had pure racing. None of that tire and refuelling nonsense. The conditions created themselves and it provided for a fantastic season with a four way shoot out at the last grand prix. Something we have never seen with the degrading, exploding pirelli tires, not to mention providing extremely confusing races (4 stops for goodness sake)without a clear outcome to the very last lap unlike in 2010 where it was clean proper racing without artificial aids. (I would keep kers, it’s small enough to defend and attack without making passing a walk over.) bring back proper racing, #BringBackBridgestone


Reading these comments is quite worrying but I will never blame those teams who were working well with these tyres.

In my opinion the whole issue is why FIA decided to change 2012 specs for more pit-stops. Pirelli were commissioned to produced a more degrading rubber. It produced a disintegrating rubber but still the spark started from the FIA and it has to help Pirelli solve the problem.

Formula 1 is thirsty of testing!


I don’t disagree but why do you jump to the conclusion that its the tyre design and/or manufacture that is the issue.

Pirelli have used these tyres at multiple races without blowouts so why do you assume it’s their fault. Easy answers are rarely the right answers.


Well, Pirelli has already “jumped to the conclusion” that it was tyre fatigue that led to the explosions.

Listen out for further announcements, its all getting revealed today.


Have they really. Well my point was that you’re not a tyre expert, neither am I so what qualifies you to jump to the conclusion that it was the sole fault of the tyre, rather than the tyre being a contributing factor of many, or another issue entirely?

Pirelli haven’t jumped to any conclusions. Their qualified experts have carried out an investigation and concluded that the tyre construction could be improved to prevent further issues.

Your point is a bit like guessing that Man United will win 2-0 before a match, happening to be right and then claiming that you can see the future.


Sorry, but Pirelli did admit that the problem is due to tyre fatigue. You should have checked what I said first.


So Todt can overrule the WMSC now? Don’t they have to authorise rule changes?


Todt said that approval is being sought, so as I understand it the answers are no and yes respectively, but – in my humble opinion – what’s the point of being a president if you can’t overrule a committee?


It just seems so unfair now that Mercedes are /still/ being punished when they took Charlie Whting’s advice, and yet Todt appears able to change the rules (to suit Ferrari?). Mercedes should be praised and paid for their help, when other teams refused to help or to authorise changes which Pirelli wanted.


I would like to hear from Mercedes whether they would have been allowed to take part or not – I had the impression that they were not.

I don’t believe that they broke the rules intentionally, as they had permission from Charlie Whiting and the FIA legal bods, but I accept that this was a grey area, and still is when Todt can facilitate a rule change as tyre issues have become clearer.


Mercedes are not taking part in the Silverstone test on July 17-19. With this latest development that now becomes a more punitive penalty



They did break the rules with the using a 2013 car bit, but I can’t count the number of times I’ve broken a rule in order to do the right thing…not that Mercedes didn’t have any self-interest at all, but I like to think helping Pirelli was the greater part of it.

Anyway – again as I understand it – since this is no longer a YDT Mercedes would have been allowed to participate in these revised tyre tests, but have themselves elected not to.

As for the reasons for that? Speculate away… 🙂


If Alonso had moved to the left of Perez instead of right he might have been seriously injured now. Imagine a flying belt of rubber and other material hitting a drivers face at that speed. In some previous posts, I had supported these tires based on only the degradation and tire life. But now it is a serious safety issue and I was hoping that they will red flag yesterdays race after Hamilton and Massa’s tire explosions.


I am not saying the tyres are fine, they appear to be overly fragile. But (you knew there was a but) dollars to donuts the teams will be partly to blame for the problem. They will, I suspect, be using the tyres in a manner not recommended by Pirelli, eg excessive camber, tyre pressure too low, reversing the tyre directions etc.

Cool heads are required to resolve this issue, not knee jerk reaction. Lets wait for the results of the investigation before jumping to conclusions.


James could you possibly tell us what the tyre pressures window is that Pirelli recommend and weather the teams are actually running the tyre’s according to the guidelines that Pirelli provide.

Most teams engineers called for tyre pressures to be increased as soon as the problem became evident. This just makes me wonder weather they were following the guidelines laid out by the tyre manufacturer as under inflation would stress the sidewalls dramatically.


About 19PSI is used

eric weinraub

Time for Pirelli to go. How many more seasons of their crap tires do we have to enure?


The worrying think is not only the unsafe tyres, but also that they are manipulating the Championship through their illegal Mercedes test. Before that test Mercedes were 4th in the Championship and now they are second. How long ’till they’ll be in the lead? They won 2 from 3 races after the test while they won 0 from 5 before that test. Facts don’t lie.


Would you rather one-stopping Bridgestones once more? 🙂


To think… Teams of some of humanity’s best engineers and scientists work entirely independently to make the best racing machines that the rules allow. The only two critical components in these fantastically complex machines that are common to every single car are the ECU and the tyres. Despite this the leading cars consistently lap within fractions of a second of each other. It’s incredible.

But as soon as one of those components – the supplier of which the competitors have no direct control over – fails in this way, the entire endeavour of designing and building a Formula 1 car is profoundly undermined.

If there’s one thing that’s surprising about this scandal it’s the amount patience being granted to Pirelli. Formula 1 is not a patient place, and that’s how we like it. Sporting infringements are met with immediate penalties, there’s no ‘yellow card’. Under-performing drivers get binned and forgotten without ceremony. The same is true of engineers and support staff.

Perelli’s relationship with Formula 1 should be terminated at the end of this season, the sport has lost faith. But that’s only the start.

Give teams individual and direct choice over their tyre supplier. As with engines, keep specifications tightly regulated but promote fierce competition. Let the under-performers fail, let the rule-breakers be punished, and let the best competitor win. That’s why we’re here.


Is this not simply a case of Horner trying to get inside of Alonso’s head with this comment? It is pretty obvious the accidents on Sunday were dangerous, why single out Alonso as being lucky?


Alonso said he was one centimetre away from being hit. That’s why.


Alonso was pretty much directly behind Perez when his tyre blew. The carcas nearly hit Alonso in the face.

However, I’m sure the fact that such a comment might unsettle Alonso wouldn’t be lost on Horner.


Alonso was the closest to another driver when a failure occurred with the least amount of time to react


We’re lucky that Pirelli doesn’t produce condoms.




..and we’re doubly lucky that Pirelli doesn’t produce steel belted condoms 😉


Steel belted condoms? Damn! Damn!! Damn!!! 🙂


ouch. 🙁


You think that’s bad?

Wait until Pirelli start producing their new EXPLODING steel belted condoms.

Ouch redefined.


It seems everybody is suddenly a tyre expert, when in reality most people have zero knowledge about such things. I think it’s only fair to the tyre supplier to allow them time to investigate before we start to sling mud in their general direction. Speak of mud I see Vijay has piped up saying the failures were not dangerous. I say mud because clearly such a view is as thick as sea mud. I very much hope someone puts him in a car with a rear tyre failure at 200 mph. I’m sure there would be skid marks, and probably some marks on the track as well.


You didn’t need to be a tyre expert to know that high speed blowouts are dangerous. Thats the position the rest of us hold. Tyres should not do that, its simple really.

Danny Almonte

The tires are fine. The teams aren’t doing enough pit stops. They can’t expect Pirelli tires to last more than 10 laps without exploding. What were they thinking? This is the new and exciting PIRELLI f1.

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