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A dramatic day for Mercedes on several levels
Posted By:   |  19 Dec 2013   |  1:38 pm GMT  |  265 comments

Mercedes have had quite a day’ first they announce the exciting news that they are to add two big names from main rivals Red Bull to their ever-growing roster of technical staff by employing Mark Ellis and Giles Wood.

Then Nico Rosberg suffered a Pirelli tyre failure at 320km/h on the final day of the three day Bahrain test, ending Mercedes’ activity at the test.

Rosberg was moved to Tweet about it: “Just spun at full speed 320km/h on Bahrain straight cause my tyre blew up without warning,” he wrote. “Thanks to that need to get some toilet paper now”

However he was clearly asked to take the Tweet down soon afterwards. Nevertheless it had been screen-grabbed and is widely in circulation.

Pirelli issued a statement some hours later saying that the tyres being tested in Bahrain were “prototypes” and adding, “Nico Rosberg’s Mercedes was fitted with one of these prototypes, a tyre which had only been tested in the laboratory and which will not be proposed again.

Thus, the safety of the tyres which will be supplied for the next Championship is not in question.”

The signing of Ellis and Wood, who are contracted to Red Bull until June 2014 adds to the list of significant engineering players to leave the Milton Keynes squad, following chief aerodynamicist Peter Prodromou, who has agreed to join McLaren in 2015.

Red Bull has dominated the sport since 2010, with design and aerodynamics being at the forefront of their success.

For Ellis, Red Bull’s head of vehicle dynamics, the move is a return to familiar ground after previously working as chief engineer for BAR Honda up to 2008 – having input on the 2009 Brawn. He returns to Brackley as Performance Director, working alongside Bob Bell, Geoff Willis, Aldo Costa. Paddy Lowe takes over one half of the team; the technical and racing side of the operation with the departure of Ross Brawn.

Wood, meanwhile, has been chief engineer of simulation and analysis since a switch from McLaren in 2010, and he takes up the role of chief engineer for simulation and development.

The appointments are the first under the new leadership of Lowe and Toto Wolff, who have a difficult task ahead of them. Lowe’s commitments as Executive Director will require him to fill the boots of Ross Brawn and the responsibilities that come with that.

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This looks like something that sums up issues in the correct way and in a positive attitude: “The failure on Rosberg’s car raises serious concerns, not just because it happened at speed but because of the year Pirelli has endured and the fact it is the sole tyre supplier. In an exclusive arrangement there is little need to push the envelope in terms of development. It is only competing against itself while standing alone centre stage – there is no opportunity to succeed, but plenty to fail. Pirelli can afford to be conservative with its development – it should be conservative with its development – because there is simply nothing to be gained and legal precedent as a result of Donohue’s crash if it gets it wrong.

So why did the company feel the need to develop a tyre in the laboratory and bolt it on to Rosberg’s Mercedes? What was it hoping to gain? Perhaps, when presented with the opportunity to test with current-spec cars, Pirelli became like a child in a candy store and lost sight of the bigger picture.

The failure on Rosberg’s car was a PR disaster, reinforcing the perception which was unfairly created during the year that Pirelli doesn’t produce a good product. It was presented, by way of the Bahrain test, an ideal opportunity to gain some positive media coverage. Instead Nico Rosberg had a tyre failure at 200 mph.”


Pirelli were asked to build shyte tyres and they built shyte tyres. In that respect their work as a spectacular success.

The one thing that is unacceptable is using F1 drivers as guinea pigs. A tyre should be bench tested to make sure that it can withstand any possible force it may be subjected to. That cleary wasn’t done with the prototype with which theyx tried to kill Nico Rosberg.


Ouch, please do not go there. There is no bench testing for F1 tires, didn’t you know? It’s forbidden as it is not permissible by @Elie. He will “shred” you for the tire bench test wish.


Some simple facts :-

1. Pirelli have been in F1 for 4 years

2. Pirelli have raced at Bahrain for 4 years now

3. Pirelli have investigated tyres failures from several teams now over the last 2 years now

4. Pirelli has data available from 22 teams for

4 years now

5. Pirelli has conducted secret tests ( sorry private tests)

On a number of occasions

6. Pirelli have been granted more authority to the proper

Running of the tyres- why they did not discover / voice

Even demand better management of their product sooner is ridiculous.

7. Pirelli has not taken a strong enough stand on the incidence of track debris and cleaning as on many occasions tyres popped after debris was left in track – Bahrain is one of many examples

8. Pirelli have substantially effected the outcome of the 2013 season by changing the compounds mid season as a result of their failures.

The commercial rights holders are as much to blame for this debacle than Pirelli because they allowed-in fact determined the requirements. But the simple fact remains and I’ve been saying it for 2 years. ” You cannot engineer tyres to such a narrow operating range with such dramatic drop off in tyre performance whilst still maintaining tyre integrity and safety” !I can honestly say this view has proven accurate this whole time.

Pirelli have failed because they have not stood their ground and respected their integrity and purpose of racing tyres. Certainly they have failed to react it read situations. quickly enough to make responsible adjustments. The fact that they are still in F1 says that the commercial rights holders puttheir priorities ahead of driver safety, the sport of racing and the supplier themself. Anyone that compromises their brand to these levels is not reputable and not worth having at the pinnacle of Motorsport.

Bring in 2015 and 2 reputable brands that aren’t joined at the hip to a ringmaster that should be pit out to Pasteur years ago.!


Those round things that sit on the rims are made to surprise us. But they are of such a quality that sometimes they are to much of a surprise.


* put out to pasture*


The FIA / BE agreed to ask Pirelli to make “marginal” or “weak” tires to promote racing, so did they meet their goals? If they did, with some issues, which to be fair was due to a company engineering their product in a opposite direction, which must have been hard to get your head around. We all work to improve performance and effeciency for ourselves/products etc yet they had to make them worse, which they did and maybe too much in the end. It just isn’t right they are blamed when it wasn’t their idea in the first place, they were in essence just following orders and we all know that means a COC, buck always stops at the top, step up FIA. Tire companies strive to produce quality, reliable and long lasting tires for every other vehicle in the world, this bodged experiment won’t be repeated, no other manufacturer is that short sighted. My feeling now is Pirelli will cover it’s arse bigtime, hence why someone, somewhere proposed mandatory pitstops, did someone get some inside info?


It is clear by now, that tweets’ immediacy mean they can be sent due to or as an emotional release, and I don’t have a problem with that.

Even if I was Nico’s advisor on such things, I’d be: “Well, let’s look at the criteria; anything momentous happen prompt this? Oh, your tyre exploded while you were doing 200mph? **** it, send it.”


I disagree, the tweet was refreshingly honest telling it how it was with a pinch of humour.

He pointed out that the tyre gave no warning before the blow out but did not state that all of the new tyres were unsafe.

Long live some driver honesty.


Why can’t Pirelli have they’re own car to test with so they can sort out the Lemons in their bunch of prototypes before real F1 testing?


…a Pirelli test car, …and di Resta is back in the game. 😉


people who keep throwing the bombs at Pirelli continue to completely miss the plot here.

I have no allegiance to any corporation, but this was a set up from the start, and people, ignorantly, keeping on shooting the messenger, Pirelli, from their comfy little spot on the bandwagon, without even looking a single layer beyond the most obvious scapegoating.

Many of the cozy crew, sniping indiscriminately, from the caravan, refer to ‘better daze’ of other tire companies, in seeming total lack of acknowledgement of the downside and the different operating conditions of the times.

For example, do you really think it was okay that the champion got his own specification of tire, customized for his car and style; is that okay?!?

That’s just one of the things that was going on, besides the boredom equal to the second half of the season, after the unwarranted specification change destroyed the sport of it?!?

2012 was a high water mark for competitiveness and sporting excitement in F1.

But the manipulators got their way, and it was so incredibly tedious from the summer onwards.


These tyres have not improved f1,theyve made it worse, bring back tyres that drivers can push and really race on, bring back refuelling too.


‘only been tested in the laboratory and which will not be proposed again’

Looks more like Pirelli is trying to eliminate certain drivers since the are probably not in a position to chance the tires again next season. 😉

Apparently Lewis is the smarter one and Nico more the crash test dummy with balls. 🙂


When will this tyre issue end? My thoughts With this years tyre, it was obvious there was a delamination or construction problem very early in the season. Tyre Safety should not be a political issue and to put your own teams agenda, before that of safety is beyond belief.

Those that have followed the sport for many years can remember Mark Donohue being killed in an accident in Austria in 1975 along with a track marshal after a rear tyre blow out on his Penske. His widow later sued Goodyear and in 1984 won a major settlement from the tyre company.Is history going to repeat itself before somthing is done? there has been some close calls this season….


Widow was the only beneficiary, wasn’t she. So from no one we could call Pirelli. “The widow makers”


All this Pirelli bashing for a single blowout in three whole days of testing for prototype tyres without even knowing the resons behind the failure just feels as if the new age F1 fans have forgotten what testing is really all about.

I don’t blame Pirelli for having a non disclosure agreement with the participating teams which made Nico delete the tweet after all the negative publicity they have been through this year. They knew that many would fail to grab the basic point that this is called ‘Testing of Prototypes’. The reactions on this forum, which I find to be the best informed among the many that I follow, just proves them right.

Don’t get me wrong as I was NOT a fan of 2013 Pirellis but the blame needs to lie on FIA and the (non existent)FOCA


What’s the point of having a twitter account if a driver’s personal insights/views are going to be scrutinized like press releases spewing out the corporate line, or potentially censored by management? What’s so controversial about having a failure and explaining to fans (in a somewhat colourful way) that he was scared at having an incident at 320km/hr.

Perhaps N.Rosberg may wish to explain the basis of removing the tweet.

James – why not ask him about him why he removed it?

Can’t imagine one M.Webber doing so.


Jeez, some of you people… They were testing a prototype and it blew. That’s what happens when you test a sports prototype. Prototypes fail sometimes, that’s kind of why they;re prototypes. Would all the Pirelli bashers be going as mad if a teams monocoque failed it’s first front-impact test, saying they were putting lives/the sport at risk? No, they’d say strengthen it and do it again.

Do these same people go crazy when brakes/wishbones/take your pick fail in the race? No. That’s racing, it’s what it’s like. It’s top-level motorsport and INSANITY level engineering, things fail sometimes. Like it or not, that’s the game. Get over it, folks.


All this flak on Pirelli… I understand everybody’s frustration, but honestly, I highly doubt replacing Pirelli with another manufacturer would make much of a difference. Just a layman here, but I suspect it’s not only that they’ve been asked to do something that’s the opposite of what they’d normally do (i.e. fast degrading tyres instead of durable ones). Couldn’t there be something in the regulations regarding other aspects of the car that somehow favours this kind of accidents?

Also, I started watching F1 in the early 80’s (side note: I remember Piquet’s first title in 81, he was a phenomenal driver, at least pre-Imola 87 – better than Senna and Prost IMO, not to mention a much more interesting character), and there were tyre problems all the time, which added to the spectacle, there was always the unpredictable… and drivers had to understand a lot more about their cars (hence why Piquet was one of the very best, along with his friend Lauda and his idol Brabham). In sum, the periods in which we had few tyre problems were the exception, not the rule.


Pirelli along with DRS are the 2 worst things that has happened to F1 in the last 10 to 15 years. They are simply killing the sport. Sport? what am I talking about? WWE wresting more like it.

Also, the only reason Pirelli are in the sport is because they are the only cheap manufacturer that would agree to manufacture tyres on the cheap and with cheap material so that Eclestone and CVC bottonline could be boosted. Eclestone is not ready to pay good tyre manufacturers like Bridgestone or Michelin hence they left the sport.

Mike from Colombia

Absolutely agree.

Formula Dumb is becoming ridiculous.



Slightly off topic, has Lotus announced what power units they will be using next year?


No, but working on Renaults. Things are quite difficult there now, however


How have they designed the car without knowing what engine unit will be going in it? They are just hoping they will end up with a Renault? Pretty risky considering what’s at stake.


What a damn shame. A top 5 WCC regular. Sign if the times. Maybe Mr Lopez can sell an ivory back scratcher… Joke! Don’t fret Gerard. We know you are doing what you can.


It’s incredible how many people are criticizing Pirelli. Here’s a tire maker who could have very easily made bulletproof tires that could drive from Shanghai to Silverstone (like the previous bridgestones) but as per the commercial rights holder have “attempted” to create a racier tire to give us race fans more of what we want. Granted, they haven’t gotten it right but how has F1 helped them? No testing and they’re supposed to be able to create compounds that will make cars stop 2-3 times a race? Pirelli certainly doesn’t want failures as it does nothing for their brand so I think they should be commended for sticking it when they could be making bomb proof tires.


I do not understand people talking about which team has this or that engineer after Rosberg has a tyre blown at 320 km/h. Are we going to wait for a driver to kill himself just for TV ratings ? If I were a driver I would have a bunch of lawyers getting ready to sue Bernie and Pirelli for all they have. This situation is getting equivalent to sending people on parachutes that have cords that are just in the limit to break, if somebody falls to death the comment woulD be ” He did not know how to manage his cords ” ARE WE ALL INSANE?????


Formula 1 cars these days just spin around, then come to a stop when there is a tire failure. A couple of decades back it may cause a car to flip or roll, but not now. It’s not hugely life threatening (although terrifying no doubt) unless there is no runoff.

Improvements in track safety have in my opinion been the major contributing factor in the effort to reduce the dangers of the sport.

I maintain that simply continuing to hold a race at Monaco is far more dangerous than tire blowouts. The Monaco track will be the cause of the next driver death in Formula 1 before anything else is, such have been the improvements in so many other areas. I was genuinely concerned regarding the Massa and Maldonado crashes this year at Monte Carlo. Even with the energy absorbent barriers, it still made me cringe.


Formula 1 cars just spin around? Incredible!


Please, don’t take it that I was being condescending. I did read every comment on the page, including yours.

It is wrong to say F1 cars just spin round and come to a stop these days. The drivers threatened a boycott at Silverstone, because they feared that the tyres would soon take a life.

“Someone could’ve crashed. I was thinking behind the safety car that it’s only when someone gets hurt that something will be done about it.”

– Lewis Hamilton

“It was not dangerous this time because it happened on the straight but it could have been really serious,” he said. “We are risking our lives and if something like this happens again, we don’t want one of us to be killed.”

-Sergio Perez

‘It’s not a very safe thing racing on the same track with the same tyres. I don’t have the feeling I want to go. But if the team wants me to go…’

-Fernando Alonso

“The most important thing is to make it for dinner at home on Sunday. I was lucky… It (the piece of tyre) could have hit my helmet. It would have been like a bullet.”

-Fernando Alonso

“If something like this happens again, we don’t want one of us to be killed”

-Filipe Massa

These are quotes from people who actually drive the cars, so it seems really uncaring to imply that nowadays, the cars simply spin round and stop safely when their tyres explode.

However, the blame for that falls squarely on Pirelli’s shoulders. They have always come up with very irresponsible excuses for their unsafe tyre failures; so much so that newer fans and those who might not be technically adept begin to swallow and propagate. Its a dangerous thing.


I would appreciate a decent explanation to back up your condescending comment. On it’s own it makes you appear to have read merely the first five words, then written a comment.


The fastest I have been in a car is around 200 km/h, on an ordinary motorway,in an american mid size sedan , I can not imagine a tyre blowing up at 200 least at 320 ,the noise from metal parts, the sparks,the fast as light spins. No I can not take it for granted that a tyre blown will not kill somebody at Formula 1 speeds even with the cars they use, I hope I am wrong .


Here is a quote from David Coulthard on the subject of tyre blowouts – it would appear that he doesn’t share your opinion.

David Coulthard

BBC F1 co-commentator

“In the racing fraternity, tyre failures are known as driver killers.

“That is why the problems seen at the British Grand Prix, where four drivers suffered severe blowouts, caused such a concern.

“There are few issues that are more serious than that. And tyre failures – like brake failures – are right up there as being as bad as it can get.”


Four tire failures in one race and in each instance the cars did not flip or roll or even come close to doing that. This was my point about the stability of the cars these days. I do however have concerns regarding flying debris from a tire blowout. This debris can seriously injure or kill a driver in another car. This factor is where the main danger lies with regards to tire blowouts.


Check out Brian Redman’s lower right front wishbone failure in 1968 @ Spa. That’d really jack up the request for toilet paper!


Don’t want the upcoming season to be dominated by tyres _again_. I don’t want pirelli *manufacturing* a level playing field between cars. I want them to produce safe tyres that drivers can have confidence to go racing on. I want them to *not* prevent racing beyond the midway point of a grand prix due to their gross + wasteful shredding of rubber littering the racing track.

I want something like the Bridgestone 2010 tyres.

Can’t remember recall any exploding tyres and we had some cracking races. I put Bridgestone tyres on my own car too, never bought Pirelli, don’t think I ever will.


they were testing. some part of testing involves pushing a tyre to see what happens. Just like the chassis components everything is shaved to the limit . The days gone past where schumi pounded round the test track at ferrari hq all day every day are long gone. The limited testing puts pirelli in a no win situation. They should double what they charge for tyres to compensate for the stitch up they have to endure.


Why are those days long gone? are headed back to the stone age with tyres made of crumbly stuff?


Why are those days long gone? Are we headed back to the stone age with tyres made of crumbly stuff?


For me, the most disturbing part of this story is the censorship of tweets.

F1 seems to be increasingly frightened of reality.


Interesting that the main beneficiaries of the cost war in F1 appear to be high profile engineers (and team managers). No wonder no one is in a hurry to introduce cost caps.


Mercedes will have problems with cost caps. They are hiring everyone in F1 so 70% or their budget will be the salarys lol.


Red Bull has the largest or second largest buget in F1; they have the most functional depth. People forecasting the demise of RB, seem to fail to notice the pattern of Adrian Newey, regardless of where he has gone, regardless of the people around him.

In Christian Horner, love him or hate him, he’s done a top notch job, and maybe a little blood-letting will actually be good for the team. I feel it likely that they have a fairly robust succession management system; the new blood, having waited in the wings for the top spots of departments will now get their chance, and as is the case with all mid-sized corporations, some will fly and some will crash; but it’s the same everywhere. Look at Merc, at how long, and how much money, already, they’ve spend, and their results to date don’t look all that good.

I think we could get surprises where you might overlook, because of their perrenial success and their recent dip in form, obviously Ferrari and McLaren are not going to stay off the top of the mountain for ever; I think they will both be running at a much higher level next year, and I hope for a close, unpredictable battle in which driver contributions, over the entire season, becomes the decisive factor.

Mercedes is almost a parody of the corporate megalmanical approach to buying up everything in sight; high burn rate does not necessarily equate to getting the job done, in fact, reality is usually the opposite.

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