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Race drivers to take part in young drivers’ test at Silverstone
Posted By: James Allen  |  01 Jul 2013   |  8:27 pm GMT  |  148 comments

Race drivers will be allowed to drive in the upcoming young drivers’ test at Silverstone to help Pirelli solve the problem with their tyres, the sport’s governing body the FIA has announced tonight.

Six drivers suffered tyre failures during Sunday’s British Grand Prix, raising questions over driver safety.

The three-day test, which takes place between 17-19 July and will be open to the public, will feature all teams except Mercedes who have agreed not to take part following their punishment for the controversial Barcelona Pirelli test.

The team’s regular drivers will only be allowed to work on tyre development and safety assessment. Young drivers will be allowed to work on car improvement work. To accommodate this change, the FIA is considering extending the test by an extra day.

FIA president Jean Todt said: “Our priority is to ensure safety for all in Formula One and we believe the incidents at Silverstone represent a genuine safety concern for the drivers.”

“We have thus taken the decision to alter the Young Driver Test to allow teams to use drivers they deem fit to carry out tyre development work in a bid to solve the problems we saw at the British Grand Prix.

“I believe it is fitting to carry out this work at the circuit upon which the issues were manifested.”

The FIA added that it has “asked Pirelli for an assurance that there will be no repetition of the tyre problems at this weekend’s German Grand Prix or at subsequent grand prix.”

The letter from Todt to Pirelli was addressed to the company’s president Marco Tronchetti Provera, who has bigger problems on his mind at the moment as he is being charged with receiving stolen information relating to his time with Telecom Italia. The Italian prosecutor in his summing up statement at the trial today called for a jail term for Provera of two years.

It is likely that there will turn out not to be one single cause of the failures seen on Saturday and Sunday. A combination of factors with drivers being aggressive on the kerbs being a part, in conjunction with teams running the tyre pressures below 19psi, the high loads at Silverstone, the running condition of the tyre with the suspension of some cars.

Hamilton, Massa, Gutierrez and Perez’s failures happened on the medium tyre, which has been used at every race this season except Monaco, without ever experiencing catastrophic deflations like this. Vergne’s failure was on the hard tyre which has seen action in Malaysia, Bahrain and Spain.

Pirelli has been keen to move away from the steel belted tyres used this year to the more succesful kevlar belted models of 2012 and as a change of specification is now mandated on safety grounds this may prove the fastest and most effective solution.

The sport’s governing body have also informed the teams that approval of the World Motor Sport Council will be sought to change the regulation which says unanimous approval from the teams is required to change tyre specifications during the season.

It was this clause in Article 12.6.3 which meant Pirelli were prevented from making changes to its rear tyres for the Canadian Grand Prix as Force India, Ferrari and Lotus failed to agree.

Meanwhile, Silverstone’s owners have defended the circuit’s kerbs following suggestions sharp edges may have cut the tyre sidewalls which caused a number of failures during the British Grand Prix.

President of the BRDC (British Racing Drivers Club) Derek Warwick dismissed the reports as “absolute rubbish” having gone out on track himself to inspect the kerbs.

“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.”

On Ferrari, Lotus and Force India decision to resist moves to change the construction of the 2013 tyres because their cars have been able to get good performance out of the tyres, Warwick said: “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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I don’t agree that there are multiple reasons. There is only one: Pirelli’s tyres are inadequate.

The Silverstone configuration and kerbs have been consistent for several years now; F1 drivers are paid to drive aggressively over kerbs and fans like to see that; teams have always pushed the envelope on camber and pressures. Nobody has diamond-cut any banked curves without notice. Further more, built in high degradation is about performance drop-off not outright failure.

The tyres should have been able to cope with all the physical features of the track and the cornering forces generated thereon. They should also have been over-engineered to operate safely to a tolerance outside of those recommended. To do otherwise is to fail to understand the nature of F1.

So, when is a failing tyre not a dangerous tyre? It is when the governing body is more concerned with the risks of a (dubious) lawsuit for libel than it is with driver safety. Well, guess what? The tyres were dangerous. Perhaps the FIA would prefer a lawsuit for negligence in failing to ensure safety (probably as a co-respondent with Pirelli) in the event of serious injury.

Actually, they preferred to hide in some non-existent territory between FOM/CVC/Ecclestone/team contracts and motorsport governance in the hope somebody else might solve the problem. Ulta-competitive F1 teams and commercial vested interests will never agree and rarely solve anything. They need strong governance from the FIA. To do otherwise is to fail to understand the nature of F1.


Great news for Webber! His good bye to Silverstone in a F1 car has been shortlived 🙂


If Pirelli are reverting back to 2012 tyres from Hungary, does it make sense for Mclaren to revert back to the 2012 car?

Can’t be any worse surely?


I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re not already ruing the decision not to revert earlier, but at this point in for a penny, in for a pound.


What I wonder is why they switched from kevlar belts in 2012 to steel belts in 2013?

Shades of Bridgestone, making cheaper and lower-performance tires over their reign as sole supplier?


According to Ted Kravitz on Sky, the main motivation was indeed cost.


This whole tyre issue is an unnecessary debacle. It has been clear since before the season started that Pirelli needed to test its tires – both for safety reasons and performance reasons (I don’t want to get into a debate about how many pits stops is or is not “good for the show”). Everyone involved in F1 has allowed politics and self-interest to prevent anyone solving the problem and allowing Pirelli to test its tyres. As a result people’s lives were put at risk last weekend.

I know the HRT was not the best car in F1 last year but surely it is representative enough for Pirelli to be allowed to use it to test and none of the current teams could be perceived as getting any advantage from this? And there are plenty of F1 drivers without a current drive who could carry out the testing.


Decision making in F1 just consistently poor.


This is an outrage!!!!

Safety is clearly not the priority here.

A team that suffered a tyre explosion, and is therefore best positioned to determine the safety of these tyres, is left out?….

It’s these tyres that are responsible for tyregate in the first place.


I never understood Ferrari’s motive in wanting to keep the current tires. It seemed to be out of fear that Red Bull would get an advantage, but before Silverstone they were already dominating the championship.

The FIA should have the ability to make changes to any regulation on safety grounds. Imagine in 1994 if teams had refused the raft of safety changes brought in and the FIA had backed down.


This is to help Pirelli? So what are the FIA saying, that the test drivers who already qualify for the “young” drivers test are not good enough to collect tyre data? I can see using race drivers helps those drivers, and helps the teams adjust their cars for those drivers, but I’m not convinced it does much to improve the tyres.

I suspect the more likely reason is someone in the FIA is not happy with the punishment that their tribunal gave Mercedes, and has decided to make this concession to the other teams to even things up a bit more.


This is all making F1 look very silly…

On another note. what ever happened to the talk about going to a low profile tyre, to show a link to road cars. I know it would mean a complete new car concept, surely 2014 was the perfect oppertunity for that…


I bet you Nico and Lewis are happy over this.


Can’t they put a chain on an anchor, and attach it to an F1 car, and let it go full throttle for testing?

Like those control line airplanes?

This is less stupid then DRS…


Any chance Red Bull will use this opportunity to test Ricciardo and Verge?


I wish they would use Antonio Felix da Costa. 🙂


whilst a lot of people appear sympathetic to pirelli, i find it difficult to do so.

pirelli are not newcomers to the tyre industry. they are a major supllier of international repute. to allow themselves to be manipulated into providing tyres that have dubious qualities is derelict, IMO.

to think that the singular most important governing factor in F1, the contact patch, can be frivolously treated is beyond any joke.

they, pirelli, went along with the ‘joke’. they could always have said, to whomever, ‘no, we won’t do that’ and that would have been the end of this sad and sorry state of affairs.


The FIA also needs to look at the other issue that has plagued F1 tires in recent years: the inability of F1 cars to run ib the rain (as in anything more than a drizzle). All the “tyre-gate” discussion has obscured the fact that numerous sessions/races have been delayed/red flagged/brought under safety car. I would expect that a race will have to be cancelled in the next 2-3 years if this is ignored.


it will rain …


more politics are being introduced in f1. the bosses are now suggesting that pirelli should have 2 further 3 day tests this year. surprise surprise! one for ferrari and the other for red bull to sweeten them.

hamilton said improvements were made to the tyre following their 3 day test in spain but the fia refused to use them.

improvements have already been made, use them and if they are not good enough then introduce further tests. changes should be made as the sport demands and not for political reasons.


Lewis said in the interview with Lee McKenzie:

“We had that tyre test to develop and improve the tyres and stop this from happening and after that tyre test they didn’t do anything about it. And to have 4 blown ups, you know, and it could’ve happened to anyone and at high speeds and someone could’ve crashed…”

This is riddiculous. What the hell were they testing there? These tyres or 2014 tyres?


they were testing a special compound codenamed “german domination” 🙄


Italians and Germans are allies again? Oh Lord!


How can it be ridiculous when both Pirelli and Merc said they tested mainly 2014 tyres and also did safety work on the 2013 tyres?

It was said several times and was repeated too at the tribunal. Its ok to banter in forums, but we’ve got to keep up with verifiable F1 news out there too.


Both in fact, from what I’ve read from older posts and articles.


Hamilton wasn’t supposed to know what tyres he was testing….


Doesn’t that go back to your point about,

“You don’t think they would notice a different vehicle dynamic?”


Hamilton said the tyres they tested didn’t have exploding issues. I’m sure he’d have known if any exploded while he was driving.


james, i think it was a lot easier for hamilton to answer ‘no’ to the question rather than explain what he knew and what he didn’t know just in case he said something that might be restructured to mean something else. after all he knows just how good the journalists are at that.


now that’s naughty:-)


James that is a little provocative. I am sure Pirelli came out publically and said that during the test of the 2014 tyres they also tested the new tyre proposed for the Canadian GP. Why are you implying Hamilton knew something he should not have?

There is enough controversy around these tyres, there is no need to invent more.


Drivers are pretty perceptive. They can tell when one tire is better than another. What Hamilton may have meant is that the tires he was driving on felt better, irrespective of whether they were existing 2013 tires, new tires for the Canadian GP, or 2014 tires. He doesn’t have to know what they are and what their purpose is to know whether or not they’re better or worse.


I thought they said they were 2014 tyres being tested by Merc and only the delamination was being addressed with regards to 2013 tyres. So what use would they be this year? Unless ofcourse….


see jake’s response mate.


Meant to reply to Aveli.


That doesn’t mean Pirelli didn’t shake his hand and say “Yep, we’ve figured out the delamination problem, thanks for your help!”.

Besides, Hembry’s publicly said they had changes in the pipeline that would fix the delamination issue, but that the teams wouldn’t agree to run them.

There is the possibility that Pirelli deliberately sabotaged their own tires to force the issue, but from a PR standpoint, that would be the equivalent of using a shotgun to cure dandruff.


Think he was giving a general opinion on how the tyres he ran at the test felt.

On sky he said something like “The tyres we tested felt better yet we have not raced them, I feel like doing the test was a total waste of my time”.


Funny thing, right?


Indeed, but perhaps Pirelli have said that they were able to make improvements as a result of the test and that is what Hamilton is referring to…

I don’t know if they have, just speculating…


He wasn’t supposed to admit that he knew, you mean.


Exactly that was a faux pas from him though I guess still seething from losing because of the tyres.


rosberg has already acknowledged that he knew what tyres were being tested. how could he possibly drive,test and not know what he was running on?

Stephen Taylor

James , if Pirelli tell the FIA they don’t have suitable tyres for Germany? What do you think will happen should that arise? Is there still a meeting on Wednesday?


It’s a good decision to allow the regular drivers to take part.

Lets hope the tyres that Pirelli bring to the test are up to the task, as similar failures happening when young, less experienced drivers are at the wheel could have the most dire of consequences.


Answered my own question!

A Roving Grandstand ticket allows you access to any of the following grandstands:

– Woodcote B

– Abbey

This ticket type also allows you to view from any of the General Admission areas during the weekend.


Does anyone know where we can spectate from? Thinking of taking a day off work and wandering over, but not sure where we’ll actually be allowed?


James, there is a rumor (another possible tyregate) Pirelli aparently changed the tyres for Silverstone and teams found out after the race. McLaren, Sauber and others analysed the tyres. And they found out that kevlar has been used. The problem would be that they did it behind everyone´s back. Neither teams nor FIA new about it.


This is a pic of Vettels tyre (he pitted just in time). You can see the steel radial.


You don’t think they would notice a different vehicle dynamic?


Well I´ve seen many bizarre things over the years. I don´t know what to believe anymore. By the way now Sky is reporting that Pirelli will make a statement saying they will use kevlar in Germany. And more private test coming up in France and Barcelona with current cars.

Craig in Manila

The drivers of the cars that only had three tyres certainly noticed a different vehicle dynamic !


Oh, c’mon, James… You’re raining on someone’s perfectly good paranoia parade!

Besides… we all know that all it takes for “rumor” to become “fact” is for it to be repeated at least 3 times. 😉


Respectfully, I’d suggest they would’ve noticed a different vehicle dynamic on Sunday, but if it is true, realistically what would be the consequences for Pirelli?

They can’t be fined, they can’t be banned, so is there any penalty that could be enforced on them apart from failing to secure a contract for 2014?


Any idea why they exploded instead of remain inflated like in the two cases when Paul and Lewis had failures?


i think we saw tyres breaking up while remaining inflated with a steel belt exposed. this time, the steel belt was no where to be found. not a single one of the tyres which failed had a steel belt in them as seen in the past. i suspect pirelli changed the tyre construction without telling the teams. that’s why mercedes were so fast over the race distance all of a sudden.


lee, profecy is the least profitable profession. how are you able to tell how i feel without me telling you how i feel?

pirelli are trying to blame it on the teams instead of accepting blame. do you accept it simply because they wrote it with 100% insider information? 🙂


lee, i was trackside, turn one, abbey. as a result i only saw the tyre failures on tv. i watched the highlights on tv when i got back. i have used my observations to make a suggestion and that has upset you so much? i saw a metre and described it as a metre and you’re suggesting it’s not a metre yet you don’t have a calibrated metre rule either. is that normal?


There seems to be a reasonable amount of evidence (or rumour if you like) that Kevlar was in the tyres in some form of hybrid compound.

Were these the tyres that Merc ran in their secret test and does that explain there sudden increase in improved tyre wear at a similar fast flowing circuit?

On paper Silverstone is a Ferrari circuit and they have no explanation why they were so far off the pace. Could going on to a kevlar compound tyre like last year, where they also struggled be a reason?

If this is true and Pirelli went ahead with changes other than the type of bonding, what are the ramifications. If the FIA are forcing through changes to the tyres on the basis that they were unsafe in Silverstone, what happens if they weren’t steel belts and were indeed kevlar or a hybrid version? Would they have to go back to steel belts which were arguably safer but not great for Pirelli’s image?

This all feels like a complete farce at the moment and is going to be detrimental to some teams in this championship, whoever wins it it will feel somewhat tarnished imo.


You must either work for a team, for Pirelli or have inside access to the tyre debris from Sunday because of course you wouldn’t make such a ludicrous statement like that based upon what you saw on the television. You clearly wouldn’t want to embarrass yourself in public by doing that would you?

The Hoarse Whisperer

Would Mercedes miss out on any extra day too?


I would like to know what has changed with the tyres from earlier in the season.

When they punctured/ failed earlier in the year, the steel “belt” stayed in place and just the upper layer of the tyre flew off.

This weekend the whole thing exploded. Was the steel belt shredded? If so, why did it not stay in one piece like before?

Sudden tyre failure is never any good but at least the earlier failures kept most of the debris on the tyre and not flying through the air, with the potential to do damage to a following driver.

I just hope this has not done damage to Pirelli’s sales of road tyres/ reputation, they have just tried to do what they were asked to do and have been given very little opportunity to test the tyres.

Imagine trying to develop a safety crucial part in any other industry/ sport and not being allowed to test it.

Only in F1…………..

rob in victoria bc

Delamination in first case, puntures in second. Different cause – different effect.


The difference here was that the damage was being done to the sidewall rather than the tread.


The FIA carries the greater portion of the blame for asking for irresponsible “show” tyres. Even worse, for the unsafe things to be produced with hardly any testing.

However, Pirelli took on the task with obvious relish. At ever race, there was an ecstatic Paul Hembery bobbing everywhere like a happy toad on steroids, telling us about race strategy based on the pop corn tyres he’d brought. No one asked them to make the tyres so bad, but they did anyway.

I read somewhere that Pirelli’s website says, “bring the F1 experience to your roadcar.” WHAT?!!!

…Or “we sell what we race.” OH LAWD!!

F1 is your only opportunity to drive cars with mini-nukes for tyres. Thank you Pirelli, we are grateful.


Well said.




From what I read they used a new bonding process (again), but that definitely absolutely most assuredly was not to blame…even if they don’t quite know yet what was to blame.

‘I just hope this has not done damage to Pirelli’s sales of road tyres/ reputation’

Blade if you haven’t already you need to go back and read some older posts – maybe try using search terms such as “I will never buy Pirelli”

Trust me, the damage is done – and just so you know I’m one of their supporters…a slightly confused one to be sure, but still.


Exactly, Pirelli used a new bonding process in the manufacture of the tyres, where I am guessing the tyre tread (upper layer, that flew off in initial races)was bonded to the steel belt. So when ever there was a failure the tread along with the belt disintegrated.

Can you confirm if this could be right or wrong James?


pirelli tyres are cheaper than bridgestone and selling better than bridgestone. most tyre fitters tell their customers that those pzero tyres are being used for f1 racing. the more the name pirelli is mentioned the further it imprints into brains.


‘the more the name pirelli is mentioned the further it imprints into brains’

…and before you know it Pirelli have taken over the world!!!


Very very good question and observation Blade.

When Lewis and Paul suffers shreded tyres earlier in the season, the tyre remained inflated and the steel belt was still there.

I have a strange feeling Pirelli did changed the tyres even if the teams didn’t want. Pirelli said the tyres stayed the same, but I have a feeling they just told us and the team what we wanted to hear. Something must’ve changed since earlier in the year they did not explode like these ones.

Even thought I understand that Pirelli are making tyres to the specifications of what FIA requested, the way they run this show and the inconsistency shown so far has made my mind to stay away of any Pirelli branded tyres for my car.


Pirelli DID change the tyres for Silverstone but they didnt tell the teams nor the FIA. That’s why tyres were not delaminating but exploding (way more dangerous) and that’s why suddenly Lotus-Ferrari lost race pace and thats why their new parts didn’t work. Sauber and McLaren took some parts from exploded tyres track and discovered that.


Do you have proof of this or a link?



Gavin Pendergrast

It has to be a combination of the new tyre construction and the way the drivers were driving over the that kerb & I would suspect that Pirelli will come to this conclusion. Silverstone is right that the kerb has been there for the last 4 years but other tracks move walls or barriers for safety reasons so surely they could adjust their kerbs for safety reasons. Seems that just getting rid of the square edge would solve the problem. A couple of hours with a concrete cutter would do the trick! The fact that failures of this type hadn’t occurred so often in all the races so far this season does point to a specific characteristic of this track causing the issue.


It’s easy. Has GP2 or GP3 had any tyre issues so far this year? Not really, right? And it’s the same tyre supplier, right?

Then have Pirelli build a tyre with similar specs to the GP2/GP3 series but with the same sizes that have been approve for the F1 series.

There: problem solved.

And we shouldn’t whine about it if that would be the outcome of all this because F1 is about cars and drivers. It’s never been about sticky-glue’sque tyres that nobody uses on normal day-to-day cars.


GP2 had a similar explosive tyre delamination this past weekend, I think.



That means it’s either the kerbs or Pirelli doesn’t know how to build tires anymore…


Saying it’s just the tyre is like saying the Titantic sank because it wasn’t strong enough to hit the iceberg. Gavin is correct it’s a combination of issues. These tyres have been used all year without these types of issues so that alone is evidence that your single cause theory is wrong. It’s clear that something acted on the tyres to cause the blowout. Their use all year without issue shows that its they’re not just exploding of their own accord. The most likely explanation is a sharp kerb so that by definition is the causal factor but you suggest ignoring this and just sorting the tyres.

Coming back to my analogy. People say that thousands if cars have used those kerbs without issue. Well thousands of liners sailed the North Atlantic without hitting an iceberg. Saying that all that needs to happen is that Pirelli need to change the tyre is like concluding that avoiding the iceberg isn’t necessary to stop your ship sinking. It’s a combination of issues. Clearly the tyres aren’t as strong as they could be at the inner shoulder. On its own this isn’t an issue and doesn’t make the tyre dangerous. However when that comes into contact with a sharp kerb it can’t resist that contact as much as other tyres and fails. Clearly to avoid sinking strengthening your hull AND avoiding the iceberg would seem to be a sensible solution.



Does Pirelli keep the same specs for each compound all year long?

Like, is the Medium tire that we used in Silverston the exact same compound that we used on all previous races this year? I was under the impression that they were doing 2 or 3 upgrades during each season.

Besides, they have accepted that they changed the building process for these tires.

*And*, this was not the 1st time we had this kind of issues this season. Many drivers have experienced similar issues over FP1/2/3 on other venues and Hami has had similar issues on other races. Just saying.


How do you know nothing has changed. Silverstone installed drainage since last year and there’s been 12 months of weather impacting on those kerbs, water freezing and thawing getting into small cracks and blowing the concrete. There’s been 12 month of traffic from circuit vehicles to other racing cars which could of damaged it.


please keep it real. what has f1 tyre use got to do with the titanic hitting an iceberg?

those teams have raced on those tracks for many years without major problems. the only factor which has changed is the tyre, an independent variable. basic science for you. observation is very important and it’s not polite and inaccurate prophecise to others about how they feel when they haven’t told you how they feel.

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