SEPTEMBER 4, 2015
Drivers still nervous after Spa blowout saga
Formula one drivers are still nervous about the tyre blowout saga, but Bernie Ecclestone has made clear he is perfectly happy with Pirelli.
Just as he also negotiates with Michelin about the official supply contract beyond 2016, the F1 supremo indicated it is Pirelli on pole position, even after Sebastian Vettel said his failure at Spa-Francorchamps was "unacceptable".
After talks with Pirelli in the days before Monza, the formerly-furious Vettel said on Thursday: "At the moment, from Pirelli's side, it looks very, very professional.
"They have handled it with extreme care, and I think things are going the right way."
Ecclestone, for his part, was hailing Pirelli as a "first class partner" for F1 in a statement distributed at Monza by his company FOM.
"We continue to have full confidence in the safety, quality and suitability of Pirelli's tyres," it read.
Ecclestone then turned his attention to the F1 teams, arguing that if they ignore Pirelli's advice about how to use the tyres, "it is at their own risk".
"Thank you, Pirelli, for helping us to deliver excitement to formula one fans!" Ecclestone's fawning statement concluded.
Even Ferrari is now on Pirelli's side, with boss Maurizio Arrivabene towing the official line that Spa "is a very difficult track, with a lot of debris and so the words I would use are 'bad luck'."
However, there are also some mixed messages.
Whilst essentially blaming the Spa failures on debris, F1 teams have been told that they may be required to add a full 5 PSI of pressure to the tyres this weekend at Monza.
World championship leader Lewis Hamilton sounds horrified.
"I don't think any of us have tried 5 PSI more on these tyres because they're not designed to have 5 PSI more," he told reporters at Monza.
"We would be moving out of the optimum range of the tyre, we'll be using a different part of the tyre which means there will be more wear, less grip. It's going to be a disaster."
F1 veteran Fernando Alonso added: "We respect Pirelli and will follow their recommendations, but I am a little surprised (about the 5 PSI news). I hope perhaps it is something just for this race."
With a similar view is former F1 driver Marc Surer, who is also concerned that Pirelli may mandate a maximum tyre life per set.
"It would be a pity," he told the German broadcaster Sky, "because at the moment the teams have the freedom to do a lot of different strategies.
"I am from the 'old guard'," Surer admitted, "and in my day there were also punctures but no one was leaping from their chairs.
"I think what we're seeing is drivers no longer willing to take the risk. But we're talking about a race tyre, which is significantly more sensitive than a road tyre -- so you can go much faster.
"If you only want safety, then you would have to build wooden tyres. But I don't think the drivers want that either."