Rosberg Wins British Grand Prix as Tyre Pressure Mounts on Pirelli
It was an explosive day at Silverstone as several of racing’s big names came to grief during the race for various reasons, allowing German Nico Rosberg to mount the winner’s podium in first place with Red Bull’s Mark Webber continuing his run of Silverstone podium finishes that dates back to 2009 in second place. Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso finished third and Mercedes Lewis Hamilton 4th, but that doesn’t even begin to tell the story.
Championship leader and current World Champion Sebastian Vettel failed to gain any points as his gearbox failed whilst leading but it was the story of five dramatic tyre failures during the race that will hit the headlines around the world, with pole leader Lewis Hamilton’s happening after seven laps when he was leading.
Rosberg was left sweating for a while after the race when he was called by the stewards for an apparent failure to slow for yellow warning flags but he got away with a mere reprimand and ended up spraying the champagne from the top step for the second time this season.
“It’s a very, very special day,” said Rosberg. “With Lewis, I feel sorry for all the British fans. It would have been a great race for Lewis here in front of his home crowd. That’s racing sometimes.” And, speaking about Vettell’s gearbox failure, Rosberg added: “When Sebastian stopped, I won’t lie. I wasn’t disappointed by that one. And it was just a great race from then.”
During the race, Ferrari’s Brazilian Felipe Massa, Frenchman Jean-Eric Vergne in the Toro Rosso and Mexicans Esteban Gutierrez and Sergio Perez for Sauber and McLaren all suffered as a result of tyre failures, but it was that of Lewis Hamilton, chasing his first win for Mercedes since his move from McLaren and on his home track, that disappointed the watched crowd and millions of TV viewers when his rear left tyre exploded in a flash of flailing rubber, leaving him to struggle round the circuit and into the pits before returning in 18th place.
The fact that he managed to come third is testimony to his skill. “Wonderful drive, Lewis,” said team principal Ross Brawn over the team radio at the finish. “Sorry it didn’t quite work out but well done.”
Hamilton wasn’t a happy little bunny after the race: “I’m sure Pirelli and the FIA will react to today’s incidents. I’ll be surprised if they don’t. Safety is the biggest issue. It’s just unacceptable really. It’s only when someone gets hurt that someone will be doing something about it.”
When asked whether he would race on these tyres on the high speed Spa Francorchamps track which hosts August’s Belgian Grand Prix, Hamilton said: “I’m a racing driver so I do what I’m asked to do. But I definitely felt after my incident I was definitely for the rest of the race nervous that the tyres might go again. You never know when it’s going to go. It was the first time probably in my whole career that I’ve ever felt it was dangerous.”
Pirelli seem to have a bit of a problem on their hands, because 5 tyre explosions in one race isn’t exactly a good testimony for them, especially taking into consideration that there have only been 20 tyre failures THIS YEAR!.
“We have seen something new, a different type of problem. We’re currently performing our analysis, we’ve got to go away and understand what has happened today,” said Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery.“It was one tyre at the back, left rear, so we need to understand that. It’s pointless me adding anything else until we have all the facts.”
5th place went to Lotus’s Kimi Raikkonen, who set a Formula One record for his 25th successive points finish, and 6th to Felipe Massa, with Force India’s Adrian Sutil and Toro Rosso’s Daniel Ricciardo 7th and 8th.
Britain’s Paul Di Resta drove magnificently having been demoted to the back row of the grid at the start when his car was found to be underweight and finished 9th for Force India, with Germany’s Nico Hulkenberg taking the final point for Sauber.
The irony involved in all these tyre problems is that Mercedes were recently reprimanded by the FIA after undertaking a three-day test with Pirelli after the Spanish Grand Prix in May. Winner Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton had both been involved in those tests and Hamilton said of the tests: “We had that tyre test to develop and improve the tyre and after that tyre test they didn’t do anything about it.”
McLaren’s Jenson Button added: “We’ve had five tyres over the last few days; it’s a big issue and something that needs to be sorted out. [Incidents] happening at 300khp, like for Checo, 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. I don’t think anything needs to be said. We all know the situation.”
Two of the blow-out happened on Turn Four at Silverstone, and BBC F1 technical analyst Gary Anderson went down and reported that the ridge on them was “razor sharp”.
Pirelli’s Paul Hembery was interested in this, and said: “The guys are going out to have a look at Turn 4. It is one of the things we are trying to understand as we have not really seen anything like it before. I am not going to blame the kerbing but it can influence it, You have to understand all the factors involved. We will work hard now to understand all the facts. They are what count. When we have the facts we will react and make sure we get to the bottom of what happened with those tyres.”
On to Germany’s Nurburgring next weekend, home track of Vettel and Rosberg. That should be interesting!