AUTO PACKAGE: Tire concerns threaten to overshadow battle for championship at German GP

  • Article by: MICHAEL CASEY , AP Sports Writer
  • Updated: July 3, 2013 - 12:25 PM

Safety concerns over tires threaten to overshadow what is becoming an intriguing battle for the Formula One championship between three-time defending champion Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari's Fernando Alonso and several other drivers.

The sport was plunged into a crisis when four drivers, including race leader Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari's Felipe Massa, nearly crashed in Sunday's British Grand Prix after their tires burst. The sight of large chunks of debris showering down on cars and, in one case, a huge strip of rubber flying across the track prompted several current and former drivers to suggest the sport was sacrificing safety in a bid for more excitement.

"Without that tire problem, I could have made it to the podium because today I had a good feeling with the car," said Massa, who had similar problems in Bahrain and also nearly was killed in 2010 when he was hit by debris at the Hungarian Grand Prix.

The Brazilian also talked of a driver boycott — something dismissed by F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone — if the problem wasn't solved by this weekend's German Grand Prix.

"Now, our greatest concern revolves around safety. Even if I can't really tell what happened, it's unacceptable having to drive knowing you are not safe," Massa said. "Even if, luckily, nothing serious happened, what we saw is very dangerous."

On Monday, International Automobile Federation President Jean Todt said the young drivers' test scheduled for July 17-19 at Silverstone would be opened to all F1 drivers, although Mercedes would be excluded after holding unsanctioned tire tests in May. In-season testing was banned in 2009 amid cost concerns.

"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," Todt said. "We have thus taken the decision to alter the young driver test to allow teams to use drivers they deem fit to carry out tire 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."

Todt also said he would seek approval to amend FIA regulations to allow changes in tire specifications without the approval of all teams.

Pirelli on Tuesday said the tires were safe if used in the correct way, blaming the blowouts on rear tires being mounted the wrong way by teams, low tire pressures and "aggressive" curbs on high corners at Silverstone. Still, it agreed to make tire changes for the German GP, including using a Kevlar belt — a fiber that is more resistant to punctures — instead of steel on its rear tires. The series will revert to 2012 tires from the Hungarian Grand Prix onward.

Alonso and Hamilton cautiously endorsed the changes Wednesday.

"I am satisfied, but only when we get there (Germany) will we have a better idea how it is for us," Hamilton said. "It's still a concern. We'll see how the weekend goes but I'm sure they've taken the right steps to make it safe."

The tire trouble at Silverstone is the latest controversy to hit Pirelli, which has come under fire over concerns its tires are wearing down too quickly and leading to races being decided by pit stops rather than action on the track.

It also took some of the limelight away from a thrilling race that saw pole sitter Hamilton give up the lead after his tire problems and then Vettel drop out with 10 laps remaining due to mechanical problems. Hamilton's teammate, Nico Rosberg, held off Mark Webber of Red Bull for his second win of the season.

Vettel remains the leader in the drivers' championship with 132 points. His lead, though, is down to 21 points over Alonso with 11 races remaining. Lotus driver Kimi Raikkonen is third with 98 and Hamilton is fourth with 89.

Red Bull's Vettel remains the favorite to win another title but his retirement at Silverstone opened the door for his rivals — most likely two-time champion Alonso who understands time is running out if Ferrari wants to overtake Vettel and win its first drivers' title in four years.

"Mixed feelings to be honest," Alonso said after finishing third at Silverstone. "Happy for the points, we've reduced the gap a little bit in this race but the pace we saw this weekend is not good enough."

The Mercedes drivers, Hamilton and Rosberg, also seem to be emerging as a threat, after the team finally showed it had the pace on race day that it has demonstrated in qualifying. Hamilton, despite his early tire troubles, worked his way up from dead last to finish fourth. The team now is second in the constructors' championship behind Red Bull.

Raikkonen, who won the season-opening Australian GP, appears to be fading. He finished 10th in Monaco and 9th in Canada and missed out on a podium finish at Silverstone, overtaken in the final laps by Alonso and Hamilton after deciding not to switch tires late in the race. The 2007 champion finished fifth and said he was now hoping for a better showing in Germany, a race he has never won in 16 attempts.

"It was a disappointing end to the weekend for sure. Things were going pretty well in the race, but it was a mistake not to switch to new tires when the safety car came out," Raikkonen said. "A podium would be a positive result (in Germany) and a step in the right direction."

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Chicago 17 FINAL
Detroit 34
Philadelphia 33 FINAL
Dallas 10
Seattle 16 3rd Qtr 8:05
San Francisco 0
Cleveland 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Washington 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis
Tennessee 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Houston
San Diego 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
NY Giants 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Cincinnati 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Oakland 11/30/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
New Orleans 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Carolina 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota
Arizona 11/30/14 3:05 PM
Atlanta
New England 11/30/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay
Denver 11/30/14 7:30 PM
Kansas City
Miami 12/1/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
Edmonton 0 3rd Prd 4:13
Nashville 0
ULM 54 FINAL
Robert Morris 71
Santa Clara 57 FINAL
Tennessee 64
Oklahoma 59 FINAL
Butler 46
Austin Peay 79 FINAL
Brown 58
Princeton 56 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 62
Coastal Carolina 67 FINAL
Chattanooga 78
Kansas 76 FINAL
Rhode Island 60
Wisconsin 68 FINAL
Georgetown 65
FIU 53 FINAL
USC Upstate 68
Long Island 54 FINAL
Stony Brook 73
San Diego 71 FINAL
Xavier 82
Illinois 88 FINAL
Indiana State 62
Cal State Fullerton 67 FINAL
Wright State 62
Western Ky 62 FINAL
Saint Josephs 59
Michigan State 77 FINAL
Rider 45
UCLA 56 FINAL
North Carolina 78
Long Beach State 59 2nd Half 3:17
Western Mich 51
Marquette 49 2nd Half 8:49
Georgia Tech 47
Stephen F Austin 37 2nd Half 16:58
Prairie View 28
UAB 22 2nd Half
Florida 27
Rice 28 2nd Half
Mercer 33
San Jose St 10:00 PM
Washington
Washington St 10:59 PM
UC Santa Barbara
Baylor 10:59 PM
Memphis
LSU 20 4th Qtr 10:30
Texas A&M 10
(6) TCU 27 4th Qtr 14:04
Texas 10
Northern Ill 11/28/14 10:00 AM
Western Mich
Nebraska 11/28/14 11:00 AM
Iowa
Western Ky 11/28/14 11:00 AM
(19) Marshall
UCF 11/28/14 11:00 AM
So Florida
Houston 11/28/14 11:00 AM
SMU
Akron 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Kent State
Ball State 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Bowling Green
Buffalo 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Massachusetts
Toledo 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
Arkansas 11/28/14 1:30 PM
(17) Missouri
Navy 11/28/14 2:00 PM
South Alabama
(13) Arizona State 11/28/14 2:30 PM
(12) Arizona
Stanford 11/28/14 2:30 PM
(9) UCLA
(21) Colorado State 11/28/14 2:30 PM
Air Force
Virginia 11/28/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
East Carolina 11/28/14 7:30 PM
Tulsa
North Texas 11/29/14 11:00 AM
TX-San Antonio
Old Dominion 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Fla Atlantic
(16) Georgia Tech 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(8) Georgia
Kentucky 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(24) Louisville
So Carolina 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(23) Clemson
West Virginia 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
Rice 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Louisiana Tech
Michigan 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(7) Ohio State
Purdue 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Indiana
Illinois 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Northwestern
Cincinnati 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Temple
NC State 11/29/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
Syracuse 11/29/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Louisiana 11/29/14 11:30 AM
Troy
Utah 11/29/14 12:00 PM
Colorado
Texas State 11/29/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Idaho 11/29/14 1:00 PM
Appalachian St
Wyoming 11/29/14 2:00 PM
New Mexico
New Mexico St 11/29/14 2:00 PM
Arkansas State
UAB 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(4) Miss State 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(18) Ole Miss
Notre Dame 11/29/14 2:30 PM
USC
(10) Michigan State 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Penn State
(22) Minnesota 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(14) Wisconsin
(5) Baylor 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Texas Tech
Florida 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
Rutgers 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Maryland
San Jose St 11/29/14 2:30 PM
San Diego St
Tennessee 11/29/14 3:00 PM
Vanderbilt
Kansas 11/29/14 3:00 PM
(11) Kansas State
Connecticut 11/29/14 3:00 PM
Memphis
BYU 11/29/14 3:30 PM
California
ULM 11/29/14 5:00 PM
Ga Southern
Middle Tennessee 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Hawaii 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Fresno State
Wake Forest 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Duke
Pittsburgh 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Miami-Florida
(15) Auburn 11/29/14 6:45 PM
(2) Alabama
(3) Oregon 11/29/14 7:00 PM
Oregon State
Utah State 11/29/14 9:15 PM
(25) Boise State
Washington 11/29/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Nevada 11/29/14 9:30 PM
UNLV
UCF 12/4/14 6:30 PM
East Carolina
Hamilton 11/30/14 5:00 PM
Calgary
Hartford 43 FINAL
Furman 53
Clemson 77 FINAL
Ohio State 86
Idaho State 53 FINAL
San Diego State 68
East Carolina 58 FINAL
(22) Syracuse 69
Santa Clara 0 Cancelled
Texas-El Paso 0
Florida State 68 FINAL
Washington 80
Wichita State 39 FINAL
Fla Gulf Coast 56
Wisconsin 44 FINAL
(1) South Carolina 67
Kansas State 0 Cancelled
LSU 0
BYU 73 FINAL
BYU-Hawaii 52
Charlotte 58 FINAL
Montana 67
Illinois 77 FINAL
(9) Kentucky 71
Central Michigan 61 FINAL
Richmond 56
Oklahoma 65 2nd Half 1:29
South Florida 82
Princeton 67 2nd Half 1:21
Wake Forest 50
(19) Oregon State 85 FINAL
Butler 53
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close