Sebastian Vettel for life with Red Bull? The hypothesis takes shape one piece at a time: on Tuesday 11 June 2013, the German driver, who had a contract expiring at the end of 2014, extended it by one year with an estimated salary of 15.000.000 per season. Thus, for now, the hypothesis of seeing him in Ferrari alongside Fernando Alonso fades away. At Red Bull since 2009, Sebastian Vettel has won the last three world titles and leads the World Championship by 36 points over Fernando Alonso. In his career he achieved 29 wins (one in Scuderia Toro Rosso) and 39 pole positions (one in Scuderia Toro Rosso), breaking every precociousness record. Moving on to other issues and other topics, unlike what was initially foreseen, Pirelli will not make any changes to the supply of tires in view of the Formula 1 Grand Prix scheduled in Great Britain, Germany and Hungary:
"The decision is due to the fact that the new tyres, due to the rain, were not tested sufficiently during last Friday's free practice in Canada; this did not allow us to find unanimity on the part of the teams".
However, Pirelli announced on Wednesday 12 June 2013, changes were introduced in the production site in response to the delamination problem. P Zero Orange Hard and P Zero White Medium tires were chosen for the British Grand Prix:
"The two hardest tires in the Pirelli range are the ones that best adapt to the high load demands imposed by the Silverstone track".
For Germany, however, the P Zero White Medium and the P Zero Yellow Soft were selected. The Nurburgring, in fact, is a circuit with different speeds and areas of heavy braking:
"The roughness of the asphalt is very low, consequently the tires need mechanical grip. This, combined with the often highly variable weather conditions, make the soft and medium compounds the best choice for this legendary track".
Finally, in Hungary, Pirelli will bring the P Zero Orange Hard and P Zero White Medum compounds:
"Hungary is the slowest permanent track on the calendar, but it puts a lot of effort on the tires due to a twisty layout. If we add to this the often high ambient temperatures, the hard and medium compounds become the most suitable for this track, also because this year's Pirelli solutions are softer than those of the 2012 range".
Under current regulations, each team will receive six sets of the harder compound and five sets of the softer one for each race weekend. In addition, Cinturato Green Intermediate tires will be supplied for wet track conditions (four sets per rider) as well as the Cinturato Blue Rain (three sets per rider). Remaining on the Pirelli theme, on Thursday 20 June 2013 the Mercedes AMG F1 and Pirelli, the sole tire supplier, were indicted at the FIA International Tribunal due to tests that the German team carried out at the Barcelona circuit immediately after the Spanish Grand Prix, between Wednesday 15 and Friday 17 May 2013, using a car from this season, the W04. In the opinion of the other teams, such tests would be prohibited by the regulations, or allowed only with cars that are at least two years old, while for Pirelli the tests would be carried out to develop experimental tyres, as provided for in the contract binding the Italian company to Formula 1. For the prosecution, Mark Howard is the legal representative of the FIA, while the lawyer Dominique Dumas speaks out in defense of Pirelli, while Paul Harris is head of the Mercedes defense team.
Also present are Ross Brawn, Mercedes team principal, and Christian Horner, Red Bull team principal, who together with Ferrari raised the protest from which the trial was born, while the court that must judge the case is made up of Edwin Glasgow, Christy Harris, Patrick Raedersdorf and Anthony Scott Andrews. Mark Howard, legal representative of the FIA, opens the debate by declaring:
"Mercedes, by using the 2013 car, violated article 22 of the regulation, unfairly obtaining an advantage for each event of the World Championship. While Pirelli, whose contract requires that all other teams be informed, violated the article 151 of the disciplinary code, compromising the correct conduct of a sports competition.This applies regardless of the type of authorization they may have had from Charlie Whiting (head of the technical and safety department for the FIA), who had no power to grant it".
Howard points out, however, that indeed Charlie Whiting, safety delegate and head of the FIA technical department, was contacted by Mercedes team manager, Ron Meadows, on May 2, 2013 and who later also spoke to Ross Brawn about the possibility to use a 2013 car. However, in his opinion:
"The question addressed to Whiting was general and not specific, and concerned the possibility of using a 2013 car. The preliminary answer was that such a test was compliant with Article 22 if the purpose was to help Pirelli with the tyres, but that he would check…".
The next day, Whiting then sent an email to the FIA lawyer, Sebastian Bernard, in order to ask for clarification on the matter, and he was told that it was feasible, provided that Pirelli invited all teams to participate. and that it was documented. At this point Whiting then brought it all back to Brawn. Not only that: among the various documents brought in defense of the work, email exchanges are illustrated between Pirelli and Mercedes and between the latter and Charlie Whiting, who in turn was in contact with other FIA figures. However, although Mercedes actually contacted Charlie Whiting and from this he had the approval to carry out the test, the FIA lawyer, Mark Howard, explains that the latter was not the person to contact for a situation of this type, but that the decision on the matter should have been up to the World Council:
"It is irrelevant whether there was a favourable opinion from Whiting to carry out the test under those conditions, because not complying with article 22 would have required a formal exemption from the World Council".
At this point, Paul Harris, head of the Mercedes defence team, takes the floor. His argument starts from the definition of a test, in an attempt to demonstrate that the one conducted in Barcelona was totally under the aegis of Pirelli - not a private test of the team - and therefore not regulated by article 22. According to Paul Harris, therefore, there is no 'was no irregularity, as the test was organised, paid for and implemented by Pirelli:
"This test was not carried out by Mercedes. In article 22 there are the two words undertaken by which are rather critical. This test was not undertaken by Mercedes, but it is irrefutable that it was undertaken by Pirelli".
Harris adds that the Mercedes technicians limited themselves to following the instructions given to them by those of the Italian company:
"This test was confirmed by Pirelli itself, because all the people present knew what was happening, who was doing it and on behalf of whom. It is absolutely undeniable that the test was carried out by Pirelli".
Furthermore, Harris indicates that Ferrari had also carried out a similar test for Pirelli, after the Bahrain Grand Prix, on April 23 and 24, 2013. But Howard replies by indicating that the difference between the two cases is that Ferrari used the 2011 car, albeit with the race driver Felipe Massa at the wheel, thus without committing violations of the sporting code. Paul Harris tries to argue back, supported later by Brawn himself, admitting that:
"There are no significant differences between a 2011 and a 2013 car".
That wasn't enough, Paul Harris reveals the existence of another tire test also carried out by Ferrari in 2012 and never disclosed:
"If we talk about transparency, they behaved similarly to ours, even in questioning Whiting, but the FIA did not prosecute them".
According to Harris, in the exchange of emails between Charlie Whiting and the FIA lawyer, Sebastian Bernard, it is quite evident that the subject indicated as the organizer of the test was Pirelli and not Mercedes, so much so that after reiterating that:
"Without Whiting's go-ahead, he would never have taken part in the test with the 2013 car, as demonstrated by Brawn's testimony".
He admits that Mercedes made a mistake in allowing Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg to use helmets without livery on the occasion of the test carried out in Barcelona with Pirelli, recognizing that this choice has only increased doubts regarding the legality linked to the having brought the 2013 single-seater to the track. However, the defender of Mercedes tried to give an absolutely practical reason for this choice, declaring:
"Now, with hindsight, we see that this choice has made the other teams suspicious. There is therefore regret for having decided to make the riders wear black helmets. The team regrets and apologizes. The reason, however, is from search exclusively in the lack of security personnel and bodyguards, even if we can understand that this choice has given rise to doubts".
He therefore recommends that the court may take the proportion into account if a fine is imposed, even suggesting a solution:
"If you believe that there was an advantage and that this should be returned, the opportunity could be the young tests to be held in July at Silverstone. A suspension could be imposed on Mercedes by excluding it from that event, to equalize the supposed benefit obtained from the tests in Barcelona".
But the closure of Mark Howard, legal representative of the FIA, is quite clear:
"This communication does not represent an agreement with the FIA, as it is nothing more than Whiting and Bernard's interpretation of Article 22 of the Sporting Code".
After the FIA and Mercedes, it is Pirelli that provides its version of the facts for what happened in the test carried out together with Mercedes in Barcelona. Mainly, however, the lawyer Dominique Dumas focused on a fundamental point for him, namely that the FIA does not have the jurisdiction to sanction Pirelli:
"Because Pirelli is not a competitor in the race, therefore it is not subject to sporting jurisdiction".
In other words, according to article 7 of the contract signed with the FIA:
"Pirelli can only be judged under French law and any dispute with the FIA can only be resolved by the Civil Court of Paris. This excludes any jurisdiction or procedure of any other type. In the context of the FIA case against Flavio Briatore, one expert gave his opinion that the FIA, under French law, may have jurisdiction over sporting and regulatory matters, but cannot have the power to sanction anyone who has not associated with it by accepting its regulations.Therefore, Pirelli cannot accept that its image, product quality and credibility may be damaged due to an inadmissible and unfounded case. However, our hope is that the decisions that will be taken can ease tensions, also leading to the designation of a clearer regulation on the issue of the tests".
Furthermore, Dominique Dumas points out that Pirelli acted solely in the interest of Formula 1:
"Having no reason to favor one team over another. The only interest was in acquiring elements for the development of the tyres, so much so that Ferrari and Red Bull themselves, in their protest, do not make any requests for sanctions against Pirelli".
Ultimately, for the lawyer Dominique Dumas:
"The case is unfounded, because it is clear that Pirelli has not violated the code".
But in the opinion of Mark Howard, legal representative of the FIA:
"Compliance with the disciplinary code on loyalty and transparency is incorporated in the contract, for which Pirelli is subject to this judgment and to the FIA rules".
Thus, the following day, after a seven-hour hearing, the Tribunal of the International Automobile Federation made up of Edwin Glasgow, Christy Harris, Patrick Raedersdorf and Anthony Scott Andrews did not accept the justifications brought to the courtroom by Mercedes and Pirelli, both of which are subject to a reprimand, and prohibits Mercedes from participating in the three-day test session scheduled from Wednesday 17 to Friday 19 July 2013 for young drivers, in which the German car manufacturer allegedly participated with Sam Bird and Daniel Juncadella. The hypothesis of an exclusion from the races or a penalty in the standings in terms of points for the regular drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg is therefore avoided. According to the court:
"Mercedes took advantage of the test carried out with Pirelli, testing for three days with the current car and the team's drivers, being able to evaluate performance and reliability, and producing a large amount of data in part shared by the Mercedes engineers".
As part of the investigation into the Mercedes tests, the FIA had also asked Ferrari, as well as other teams, for information in particular on the tests carried out by the Maranello team again in Barcelona on 23 and 24 April 2013 with Pirelli tyres, but with the car of 2011.
In this regard, the FIA considers the case closed because the use of the 2011 single-seater from the Maranello team does not involve any infringement of the regulation. At this point, however, a doubt remains: if what the FIA stated is true, and therefore Mercedes has used this data, then why is the sanction so mild? The answer is simple. Mercedes has never actually benefited from any data gleaned from the Barcelona test. In fact, Pirelli had announced its intention to change the tires starting from the Canadian Grand Prix, which would have taken place on a date prior to the trial, exactly on Sunday 9 June 2013. But it subsequently communicated that for the Canadian race it would supply only two new types of compound, to be used during practice on Friday, and which on the basis of the results of these tests would have established the compounds to be used in the next British Grand Prix. In short, the change that was envisaged for the Canadian race has been moved to the British Grand Prix, given that, as Paul Hembery, Pirelli's motorsport director, explained after the bitter controversy raised by the private test performed by Mercedes:
"We will proceed in this manner to safeguard the spirit of sporting equanimity".
An absolutely necessary caution.
"In the best interests of sport, we do not intend to avail ourselves of the right to appeal".
Mercedes comments after being virtually acquitted. Involuntary humor that seals a story bordering on the surreal: a team violated the rules and suggested the sentence to the court; the court accepted the suggestion; whoever provided the team with the alibi is the same subject who supported the accusation and who appointed the judges: the FIA, i.e. the highest authority of Formula 1, denied in its indictment and also forced to pay a third of the costs of the proceedings . Since there will be no appeal, the story of the secret tests ends with the sentence of the sports court convened for the first time in Paris: Pirelli booked, Mercedes booked and excluded from the tests for young drivers. Here is the key passage of the verdict:
"The test was not carried out with the aim of giving Mercedes an unfair sporting advantage. Pirelli and Mercedes have not acted in bad faith at any time".
Not even when the pilots wore anonymous black helmets so as not to be recognized.
"We are satisfied because our good faith has been recognised".
The court accepted the extenuating circumstances: the offending event had been informally authorized by Charlie Whiting, i.e. by a figure of reference in the FIA. In a brief statement, the Federation hopes that this episode will serve as a lesson. Let's hope not, the leaders of Ferrari and Red Bull Racing must have thought, the two teams that had officially protested against Mercedes. Christian Horner comments:
"It's always better to test with the two starting riders than with an inexperienced youngster".
As if to say: the sentence is lighter than the acquired advantage. In the end, the only one who is convicted is Daniel Juncadella. Who is he? He is the 21-year-old test driver who allegedly drove the Mercedes in the tests reserved for young people.
His only opportunity of the year to drive a Formula 1 single-seater for the first time was missed. Perhaps it was also the last: from 2014, tests for rookies will be prohibited. In the meantime, on Saturday 15 June 2013, José Froilan Gonzalez, nicknamed El cabezon (The big head, because of his big head), died at the age of 90. to win a Formula 1 Grand Prix in a Ferrari. In 1951, at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, Gonzales drove the single-seater from Maranello in front of everyone for the first time, beating his compatriot Juan Manuel Fangio, in an Alfa Romeo, and the Italian Luigi Villoresi, also in a Ferrari. On the eve, Gonzalez had scored pole position, also in this case the first in the history of the Maranello team. In his career in Formula 1, from 1950 to 1957, Gonzalez competed in 26 Grands Prix, winning two and being on the podium fifteen times. Besides Ferrari, he also drove for Maserati and Vanwall. His best year was 1954 when he finished second in the world rankings. Gonzalez made one final appearance at his home Grand Prix in Argentina in 1960 at the wheel of a Ferrari. In 1950, the Argentinian driver made his Formula 1 debut in a Maserati at the Monaco Grand Prix. In 1954, El cabezon also won the 24 Hours of Le Mans, again in a Ferrari, together with the Frenchman Maurice Trintignant. In 2011, Ferrari celebrated the 60th anniversary of its first Formula 1 victory, by having Fernando Alonso drive the 375F1 of Froilan Gonzales at the Silverstone circuit. The Spaniard completed the celebrations by winning the British Grand Prix on the same day. With the death of Froilan Gonzales, Australian Jack Brabham, 87, becomes the oldest living Formula 1 winner. Ferrari president Luca Cordero di Montezemolo comments:
"I was very saddened by the news of Gonzalez's passing. We had only spoken a short time ago, and we had talked about cars and racing, the subject that most excited him. He has always remained very fond of Ferrari over all these years and was a pilot and a man who was an integral part of our history. With him we have lost a true friend".
In 2011 Froilan Gonzalez revealed, on the occasion of the anniversary of his victory in the British Grand Prix:
"I only realized what it really meant to have won that race the following Wednesday, when I met Don Enzo in Maranello. In his office there was a large photo of the victory behind his desk. He asked me to sign it and tell him every detail of the race and then he gave me a gold watch with the Prancing Horse on the dial. Only three days later did I really understand that it had been a particular victory. Ferrari is the pinnacle of motoring. For me it has always been a reason to proud to have managed to conquer that first victory, especially considering what the brand has managed to do in these sixty years all over the world".
Precisely in view of the British Grand Prix, on Monday 24 June 2013, the current Ferrari driver, Felipe Massa, feels optimistic about the chances of winning at Silverstone:
"I think our car can be competitive on the Silverstone track, the characteristics of which are similar to those of Shanghai and Barcelona. It's an old-fashioned track, with some fast corners that the F138 should adapt well to, so I expect a good finish." week. The goal is to score many points and get on the podium again".
To date, the Brazilian driver has never managed to finish in the top three in Great Britain, but Felipe Massa likes every aspect of the Silverstone round:
"It's a fantastic track, first of all for its incredible layout, with fast corners and those changes of direction that we drivers like so much, even if there are some slower corners. The atmosphere is fantastic because the British love Formula 1. Most of the teams are still based in this country and the fans are crazy about this sport: there's always a huge crowd every day and it's a pleasure to drive with full grandstands".
Immediately begin closing the gap to Red Bull Racing in the World Championship, bringing Fernando Alonso as close as possible to points leader Sebastian Vettel, now 36 points behind the Spaniard. Two days after returning to the Formula 1 circus track, with the first free practice sessions for the British Grand Prix to be held on Friday 28 June 2013, the Ferrari men have clear ideas on the approach to take at Silverstone. Says the team principal of the Maranello team, Stefano Domenicali:
"Our goal is to close the distances from the front in the next three races. I think we'll be competitive at Silverstone. We've also been competitive at this track in the recent past, but we know there are many factors at play".
Even in the last race, held in Montreal in Canada, Ferrari's weak point was qualifying. Stefano Domenicali says about the performance of the F138 in the fight for pole position:
"We're trying to do our best. Our technicians are working hard on this front because we know we can't afford to always start from behind on the grid, otherwise overtaking a lot isn't going to help much. The goal is to be consistently at least in the top two Obviously we always want to be in pole position: starting from there makes everything easier and it would be even more so considering the potential of our car in the race".
Looking to the future, the head of Ferrari's sports management answers some questions relating to the technical changes that will take place in 2014 and the possibility of returning to testing during the season.
"The sound of the new V6? It will be a different music from what we are used to hearing but it will adapt quickly. It is difficult to say where we are compared to the others because never like this time we work in the dark".
And remaining on the theme of the F1 to come, it raises discussions in Italy about the risk of no longer seeing the queens of speed whizzing around the Monza circuit after the words of Bernie Ecclestone ("If we had to give up on Monza, and I say if, because no decision is been taken, it would only be for economic reasons"). According to the opinion of the Brianza Chamber of Commerce:
"Without Monza, F1 would lose the circuit richest in history, one of the fastest, inserted in a unique context, immersed in the greenery of the largest walled park in Europe and located in one of the most densely manufacturing areas in Italy and in Europe".
Maurizio Flammini, patron of the project, which later faded away, to bring Formula 1 to Rome also expresses his opinion on the matter:
"If Monza had accepted the alliance with the Rome GP project, which put its existence in no doubt, commercial synergies would have been created and perhaps we would not have reached this point. We had prepared an offer for the exploitation of marketing rights, but that was not the case".
But Flammini, who invites not to underestimate Ecclestone's admonition, puts great faith in the role of the ACI and its president Sticchi Damiani:
"He is a man of great power internationally and will protect the Italian Grand Prix effectively. Our federation has great weight and this will count for a lot. Ecclestone, however, is little interested in politics and more in business".
With the halfway point just around the corner and with 36 points to make up against reigning champion, Sebastian Vettel, the lone winner in Canada, Fernando Alonso knows very well that in seven days he and his Ferrari will have the opportunity to shorten the gap between them split from Red Bull Racing. Sunday 30 June 2013 will be raced at Silverstone, then immediately after on the Nurburgring circuit, two circuits historically favorable to the Maranello team. The Spaniard, encouraged by the splendid second place conquered in a comeback in Montreal, knows that no more missteps can be made, starting from the British weekend.
"All the races are important from now on I think, especially given the position we are in we are 36 points behind the leader and we don't have much room left, much margin for error to lose many more points, but we have to stay calm we have to do we do our best every week. If we can win, if we can get ahead of Sebastian, it will be great. If we don't, we have to try to lose as little as possible. Last year after Monza I think I had an advantage of around 40 points over Sebastian and that wasn't enough, and we were at Monza, now we're 36 points behind, it's not the ideal position, but it's not the end of the world".
The Spanish driver says he is optimistic about the possibilities of the F138 at Silverstone.
"I think it should be a good circuit for us, we've been quite competitive here for the last three or four years, it's a very similar circuit to Barcelona and China which have been the best circuits so far for this year's car. So We have high hopes for this weekend, but on the other hand Red Bull have been quite strong, dominating here from 2009 onwards, so it's going to be a very tight and challenging weekend".
But attention will also have to be paid to Mercedes.
"Mercedes is very strong as they demonstrated in China and Barcelona with the front row in qualifying, so it will be an interesting weekend ahead and we approach it with confidence and knowing that we have a good opportunity".
Last year during the summer break Ferrari made some important improvements in performance.
"This year we dominated the tire problem that we faced every week. This problem affected some teams, on other weekends someone else. I think that when you manage the tires well you have a better chance of winning. The most important thing it will be making the tires work in the best way both in qualifying and in the race. We need to improve in the preparation of the tires on Saturday and Sunday".
Finally, on the gap that separates him from Sebastian Vettel, the Spaniard says:
"I think he's doing a fantastic job. He was almost perfect in all the Grands Prix, without any negative races. He always performed well in qualifying and did very well in the race. Obviously I had a couple of unfortunate situations, one in Malaysia, the other in Bahrain Raikkonen also had two unfortunate situations, one in Monaco and one in Canada, which was a bit of a difficult race for him, so we have to keep fighting, pushing and we have to recover now We have to race at our maximum, at our full potential if we want to get close to Sebastian".
At Silverstone, Williams also celebrates the 600th Grand Prix valid for the F1 World Championship, which will take place on the occasion of the German GP. The British team, in fact, decides to anticipate the celebrations in the home Grand Prix. The British team made its debut at the 1977 Spanish Grand Prix, using a March, and with Patrick Nève at the wheel (although the first appearance of a Frank Williams team, Frank Williams Racing Cars, was at the 1969 Spanish Grand Prix, with managing a Brabham). In 598 races the British team achieved 114 victories, 127 pole positions, 131 fastest laps, 9 constructors' and 7 drivers' titles. Before the British Grand Prix, exactly on Tuesday 18 June 2013, Lotus announces the entry of a new partner: Infinity Racing Partners Limited acquires 35% of the Enstone team's shares, supporting the Genii Capital in its management , which therefore remains the owner of 65%, with Gerard Lopez who will in any case continue to be the big boss. Infinity Racing is a consortium of investors, mainly located in America, which however also includes a group of multinational companies from Abu Dhabi and the royal family of a nation that is considered one of the major oil producers. Comment, satisfied, Gerard Lopez:
"The managers of Infinity Racing have exceptional experience in the development of high quality technologies. This partnership will therefore allow us to find a competitive advantage for technologies related to Kers and the environment more generally. It will also increase the market for the Lotus brand F1 Team, allowing us to find new sponsorship opportunities".
And adds Mansoor Ijaz, the man at the head of Infinity Racing:
"Gerard Lopez, Eric Lux and Genii Capital are building a team that is now capable of winning every Formula 1 race. The recent developments at Enstone and the excellent results achieved by the drivers are testament to this. managing director Patrick Louis and team principal Eric Boullier are continuing the traditions of the Lotus brand, having managed to once again build a competitive team in Formula 1. We are honored to be part of the growth of the team and proud to join a team in this spirit, who will certainly work to make the Lotus F1 Team one of the main title contenders".
For this edition of the British Grand Prix there are two areas in which the riders can use the Drag Reduction System: the first is located on Wellington Straight (like last season), while the second is on the Hangar Straight. Furthermore. The FIA is asking Nigel Mansell to play the role of assistant commissioner for the Grand Prix. The Briton had already performed this function in the editions of the same Grand Prix in 2010 and 2012. Pirelli brings Hard compound and Medium compound tires to Silverstone. For Friday practice, each driver will have two extra sets of new tyres.
"Do you know what the best legal drug around is? The adrenaline you feel when the men of the team leave and leave you alone on the grid. You have the eyes of the whole world on you. There's you, there's start and there are the opponents. I will miss this of Formula 1".
Thursday 27 June 2013 the oldest pilot of the circus decides to say enough. Mark Webber leaves Brazil in November, he will leave the cockpit of his Red Bull Racing for the last time, 2014 will move to another world, endurance racing, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and above all he will have a 'another car in hand, a Posche. He gives up and says that the new six-cylinder engines are also to blame:
"I think it will never be the same again".
But he also leaves because something had broken between him and Red Bull Racing, as evidenced by the surprise announcement, via twitter, made during the morning, without the team knowing anything, with the exception of the team principal, Christian Horner, warned just a moment before. Relations with Sebastian Vettel had been icy for some time, but the great cold had subsided especially after the tussle in Malaysia, with the German who won without respecting team orders and the Australian who candidly stated that nothing would ever be the same again. Now, however, Webber does not want to indulge in grudges:
"Sport is a mixture of happy and sad times, you have to seize the moment when you're up and don't cry when you're down".
His score speaks of 205 Grands Prix, 9 victories, 11 poles and 36 podiums, 35 of which with Red Bull Racing, the team that exalted him. The new challenge with Porsche is already in the head.
"But first I would like to win at least one more race". Maybe Sunday at Silverstone, where he triumphed last year".
Meanwhile, the FIA World Council, meeting in the famous Goodwood House, launches significant innovations in view of the 2014 Formula 1 season. Four testing sessions, lasting two days each, will be allowed during the World Championship. The tests will take place after the Grand Prix on European tracks on Tuesday and Wednesday, in order to limit the extra costs for the teams. The definitive dates will be indicated only after the calendar has been compiled, but the weeks following the Spanish, Great Britain, Hungary and Italy Grands Prix are preferred. Track tests will also be allowed as early as January to examine the new engines that will be used during the season. The introduction of a penalty point system also stands out in the new sporting regulations. If a driver accumulates more than 12 penalty points, he will automatically be excluded from the next race when the threshold is exceeded. The resume will only be cleaned up after 12 months. The sanctions, varying between 1 and 3 points, will be imposed on the basis of the seriousness of the violations committed. At Mercedes' request, each manufacturer will be able to supply engines to up to four teams. The issue of engines deserves particular attention: each driver will have 5 units available for the year and the use of additional engines will force the driver to start from the pit lane in the race in question. The replacement of one of the 5 single elements indicated by the rules, on the other hand, will result in the loss of 10 positions on the grid. No manufacturer will be able to homologate more than one engine in the 2014-2020 period, but changes will be allowed for reasons of reliability and cost reduction. Each driver will have to use a gearbox for six consecutive Grands Prix, one more than now. The single-seaters will then not be able to take on more than 100 kg of fuel for the race. New provisions also concern the tyres: each single-seater will be equipped with an additional set of tires to be used exclusively in the first 30 minutes of the initial free practice session on Friday. In this way the teams will be encouraged to take to the track without the need to preserve the tyres. Finally, measures to reduce costs include the reduction of wind tunnel tests, with the possibility for two teams to share a single facility. In the field of safety, the rule requiring the use of helmets for all personnel engaged in pit stops is significant. Also changes to the speed limit in the pit lane, which is currently 60 km/h for free practice sessions and 100 km/h for official practice and the race and has been raised to 80 km/h for the entire event. The exceptions are Melbourne, Monte Carlo and Singapore, where it will remain at 60 km/h. Friday 28 June 2013 heavy rain and low temperatures welcome the first practice session. In view of better forecasts for Saturday, only eleven cars take to the track. In practice, however, these run only in the last quarter of an hour of the session. Daniel Ricciardo sets the fastest time, ahead of Nico Hülkenberg and Pastor Maldonado. Sebastian Vettel, Fernando Alonso, Kimi Räikkönen do not score valid times. Charles Pic was the protagonist of a track exit in which he damaged his single-seater. During FP2 the track dries up and Nico Rosberg sets the best time.
The German precedes the two Red Bull Racing drivers. However, Sebastian Vettel is the most consistent throughout the race simulation, held throughout the session. Felipe Massa went off the track at Stowe damaging the car, thus completing only seven laps. Lewis Hamilton suffers a reprimand for not following the instructions on how to return to the pit lane. Williams are fined €1.000 for Valtteri Bottas' speeding in the pit lane, while Lotus are reprimanded for letting Kimi Räikkönen restart when another car arrives. During the tests the regularity of the front suspension of the Lotus E21 is questioned. The steering arm is anchored to the hub carrier where the push rod suspension strut and the lower triangle are also pivoted. This would violate the point of the technical regulation which states that there cannot be more than three attachment points to the hub carrier pivoted in the same point. In addition, Lotus is testing the double DRS on its car, a mechanism that passively stalls the main profile of the rear wing. The air that is channeled by two supplementary openings, placed on the sides of the air intake on the bonnet, is brought to the root of the same with two conductors; when the car is pushed at low speed the air is blown into the area of the monkey seat, the additional mini wing, mounted above the lower wing, while when the car reaches high speeds the air is sent under the main wing to the order to obtain stalemate. Until now, however, the pilots had complained of a certain delay in the response from the device. In Canada Felipe Massa had promised:
"From next time no more walls, only asphalt".
And instead the Brazilian crashed during the second free practice session. In a cold and damp Silverstone, the Ferrari driver had just begun to push when, putting his tires on a puddle, he lost control of the car and ended up in the barriers. Violent impact, fortunately once again (the fourth in the last three Grands Prix) without physical consequences, but with a heavily damaged Ferrari. Free practice doesn't make the classification, except for the fact that the Brazilian ended the day with just seven laps, but what worries him is the recurrence of his accidents, always with right-hand corners, among other things. Felipe Massa does not worry:
"I had cold tyres, I was testing the new Pirelli tyres, the super Hard ones, those prototypes that we should use in the next races, the slippery asphalt let me down, but I wouldn't make a fuss about it. It happens".
It's true, but the fact that it always happens to him doesn't leave the Ferrari men alone. In Monaco, the first bang, in free practice, had prevented him from competing in qualifying, the one the day after in the race had completed the job. Then Canada, the crash during Q2 of qualifying, the bad position on the grid and the frantic run-up to Sunday. Now Silverstone, what was supposed to be the redemption race, on a track that Ferrari considers a friend. Massa swears not to be conditioned:
"Just bad luck".
But the walls that he insists on kissing risk becoming his condemnation, from the point of view of reconfirmation. Alonso's ambitions are also unsure, yesterday only tenth and with a non-exciting pace.
"The strategy will have to be flawless".
But his speed must also increase.
"There is no correlation between the various episodes, Felipe is fine and has our trust".
It's the team's response to criticism. But in the meantime, poor Massa on twitter becomes the target of irony and teasing. Moreover, it's time for contracts: the Brazilian on the eve said he was convinced of a renewal and had promised to do everything possible to deserve it. If he manages to play a good qualifying on Saturday, the unfortunate episode will be reset. Ferrari clings to a possible sun to come, but for now it's wriggling in the humidity. At the same time, due to lack of time, Fernando Alonso only tried the Medium tyres, without obtaining exceptional performances: a tenth overall time, one second behind the Mercedes of Nico Rosberg, and a race pace performance in any case lower than that of Sebastian Vettel, who remained the favourite. Mark Webber did well too, while the team is already thinking about his heir: Kimi Raikkonen. The British autumn weather also contributed to slowing down the F138, which suffers from the low temperatures this summer. A ray of sunshine and a few degrees more temperature are forecast for Saturday and tomorrow, i.e. more favorable conditions for Ferrari. Fernando Alonso also warns:
"Perfect strategies will be needed".
But how do you make the right decisions without trying hard enough? The British Grand Prix represents a decisive stage in Ferrari's journey: because it is a track similar to those of Shanghai and Barcelona, where the Maranello team took two victories, and because Sebastian Vettel has a 36-point lead, and if he stretched it would still become unreachable. Felipe Massa promises:
"I will pick up where I left off".
And also the technical director of Ferrari, Pat Fry spreads optimism:
"With a higher temperature we will be able to better evaluate all the details that can make us go faster".
On Saturday 29 June 2013, Nico Rosberg set the fastest time again, followed by his teammate, Lewis Hamilton. Sebastian Vettel, who during the session prefers to focus on car set-up for the race, is third. The climatic conditions improve compared to Friday, even if low temperatures and a strong wind remain. Ferrari's problems continue, with Felipe Massa asking for an engine replacement. A few hours later, in Q1, the two Ferraris only made it through to Q2 at the last attempt, with Felipe Massa forced to put on Soft tyres. The fastest is Lewis Hamilton, while Valtteri Bottas, Esteban Gutiérrez are eliminated together with the Caterham drivers, Charles Pic and Giedo van Der Garde, and the Marussias of Jules Bianchi and Max Chilton. Sebastian Vettel is already fast in Q2, followed by the two Mercedes drivers, who manage to keep all the sets of Soft tyres. Jean-Éric Vergne is the author of a mistake that penalizes him, so much so that he does not qualify for the decisive phase. Together with the Frenchman, the two McLarens of Jenson Button and Sergio Perez, Felipe Massa, Pastor Maldonado and Nico Hülkenberg are also eliminated. In Q3 Nico Rosberg immediately sets the best time, followed by the two Red Bulls of Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber. In the last attempt the German is overtaken by Lewis Hamilton, who conquers his twenty-eighth career pole position. The second row is monopolized by Red Bull Racing, while fifth is Paul di Resta and sixth Daniel Ricciardo. However, at the end of qualifying, Paul di Resta's Force India was found to be underweight: the Scotsman was therefore excluded from practice, and will be forced to start from the back of the grid. Subsequently Giedo van der Garde, already penalized by five positions, is further penalized for the replacement of the gearbox. For this reason he will occupy the last starting pitch.
At the end of the tests, Fernando Alonso talks about the worst Saturday of the season. Ferrari, more good-naturedly, of an unsolved puzzle, but the right word is probably catastrophe. On a favorable track, where the Maranello team dreamed of redemption and where the Spaniard was convinced he could begin his comeback over Sebastian Vettel, bad qualifying took place, which in the end enraged the driver. Fernando Alonso tenth, Felipe Massa twelfth, fortunately, at least that, without incidents, not even the most pessimistic fan could have imagined a similar disaster. And the Spaniard blurts out:
"We have taken a significant step backwards. The rivals improve and we worsen, given that at the beginning of the season, in the second race in Malaysia, Massa had achieved second place on the grid and I third. Since I don't think Felipe and I have forgotten how to drive, it's the car that needs to be as fast as it was three months ago. We are losing ground and we need to understand why. We have ended up in dangerous territory, Ferrari cannot start so far back, in the fifth or sixth row. If that happens, winning is impossible. We need to review everything and also quickly, because we had high hopes for Silverstone and instead we are not competitive at all. I expected a lot more, because the track suits our characteristics. Now the race promises to be decidedly more complicated because we start from the back and have to make a comeback. We need to improve in view of tomorrow's race and the next Grands Prix, which are just around the corner. Pirelli has often changed the tires and whoever complained is now on the front and second row".
A hard outburst, not at all softened by the position earned in the evening, following the disqualification of Paul di Resta. As a good Scotsman he saved on weight, his Force India was found to be a kilo and a half under and the driver demoted. This allows Fernando Alonso to start from ninth, still fifth row, but at least on the clean side of the track. Small advantage, but nothing compared to the stellar distance that separates him from the man in pole position, Lewis Hamilton, from the other Mercedes on the front row, that of Nico Rosberg, and from Sebastian Vettel, who with Red Bull Racing took third place, but which on Sunday, with the race pace shown on Friday, is a candidate as the great favorite for the final triumph. Alonso is asked for yet another miracle, but since when he hits hard he never leaves room for feelings, here is another tombstone on hopes.
"Here the tyres, at least the ones Pirelli brought to this weekend, degrade little, so let's forget about big comebacks. It will be possible to gain some positions, but predicting a fifth or sixth place seems realistic to me. To do more, it would take a lot of luck".
What is missing when you look at the sky and check the temperatures. Because it's understood by now, to see the Maranello car competitive the 20 °C recorded on Saturday (30 °C on the asphalt) are too low. Alonso, who will compete in the 66th Grand Prix with Ferrari, joining Gilles Villeneuve, is also controversial with the choice of the Pirellis.
"They can bring whatever tires they want, but being so cautious disadvantages us and Lotus and favors those who complained a lot at the beginning, Mercedes and Red Bull Racing. We risk affecting the World Championship".
Let's not talk about the super hards, the prototype tires used on Friday and which, in Fernando Alonso's opinion, are at the origin of yet another accident involving Felipe Massa.
"Unfit to compete".
Sentence the Spanish, and they are not light words. On the other hand, the soul of Lewis Hamilton is light, who dedicates pole number 28 of his career (he joined Fangio) to the people in the stands.
"The scream when they saw my time was extraordinary, as exceptional I consider my lap. It's really amazing, it's the same feeling as in 2007. Seeing today's audience is really fantastic, it was a ride I did for them, for a sold out crowd. I wanted to do something special, but the credit goes to the team who did a fantastic job, I felt comfortable in the car all weekend".
Compliments signed by Nico Rosberg:
"It's really great to be in the front row. We have such a competitive car, the fastest at the moment in qualifying and this is thanks to the great work done by the team to be like this. We're improving on Sunday too, even though I'm sure there are teams that are even stronger than us, but starting up front can help us out".
And from Sebastian Vettel:
"Lewis was unreachable".
Despite this, Lewis Hamilton fears he won't make it:
"We are still lacking in terms of tire wear".
Sebastian Vettel, on the other hand, dreams:
"I have excellent sensations. Let's see what happens tomorrow. It will be a long race, but I'm happy for today. I don't know if Lewis found some shortcut. He did something special, he was beyond my reach. I'm very close to Mark (Webber, ndr), we did everything we could and it was important to get a good position to start".
The German, leader of the World Championship standings, can smile looking at the difficulties of Alonso, his direct rival in the standings:
"It's not good news for him, it's a surprise at least in part. They've always been very competitive here in recent years. In the end, however, the results of the race count".
On the other hand, Felipe Massa's disappointment is also very great, only twelfth, who is pessimistic about the idea of being able to make a comeback in the race like in the last Grand Prix held in Montreal, Canada:
"The car was fast there, here we are not where we want to be. There is a lack of grip - he complains - but let's see if tomorrow, with the car full of petrol, something will change in our favour. It is difficult to say if it will be like in Canada".
Massa explains that there was no particular problem in qualifying:
"But between yesterday and this morning I lost a few laps and this made me suffer. We also suffer to get a good lap compared to other cars, it wasn't easy to get through Q3 either".
Sunday 30 June 2013, at the start of the British Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton maintains the first position, followed by Sebastian Vettel, Nico Rosberg and Adrian Sutil. Felipe Massa gained five positions before passing Kimi Räikkönen during the first lap, moving up to fifth place. Daniel Ricciardo is seventh; behind him Fernando Alonso, who passed Button on the first lap and Romain Grosjean at the start of the second, placing himself eighth. Webber got off to a bad start, collided with Grosjean at the first corner and, at the end of the lap, was alone in P14. During lap 8 the left rear tire mounted on Lewis Hamilton's Mercedes exploded, and the British driver was forced to return to the pits. Sebastian Vettel moves into first position, followed by Nico Rosberg. During lap 10, the rear left tire also burst on Felipe Massa's Ferrari. Between laps 10 and 13 the leading drivers make a pit stop, but the standings remain unchanged with Sebastian Vettel ahead of his compatriots Nico Rosberg and Adrian Sutil. Romain Grosjean, anticipating the pit stop, gains positions; during the twelfth lap Kimi Raikkonen passes, with cold tyres. The Finn was also passed by Fernando Alonso, who in turn also passed the French Lotus driver, and moved up to fourth place after also passing Jean-Éric Vergne. During lap 14, the left rear tire on Jean-Éric Vergne's Toro Rosso exploded. The race direction decides to send the safety car onto the track to allow the stewards to clean up the rubber debris from the track. Behind Sebastian Vettel, Nico Rosberg, Adrian Sutil, Fernando Alonso, Kimi Raikkonen, Romain Grosjean, Daniel Ricciardo, Sergio Perez and Mark Webber follow. Lewis Hamilton is fourteenth. During the 21st lap the race resumed its regular course, with Sebastian Vettel maintaining the first position, while further behind Mark Webber passed Sergio Pérez and moved up to eighth position. During lap 28 Daniel Ricciardo moved into sixth position, after overtaking Romain Grosjean. Subsequently, the French Lotus driver was also passed by Mark Webber. The second series of pit stops began on lap 29, with Kimi Raikkonen leading Fernando Alonso by one lap, overtaking him. Mark Webber also made up positions with his pit stop and during lap 35 he was already in a position to take fourth place away from the Spaniard at the end of the Hangar straight. Nico Rosberg stops on lap 34, while Sebastian Vettel stops on lap 35.
The gap between the two remains in the order of three seconds. During lap 41 Sebastian Vettel was forced to retire due to a gearbox failure: Nico Rosberg thus climbed into first position, followed by Kimi Räikkönen, Mark Webber and Fernando Alonso, who however made the third tire change. The race direction decides again to send the safety car onto the track, to allow the marshals to remove the Red Bull Racing of the World Champion, stopped at the starting straight. In this phase Nico Rosberg and Mark Webber return to the pits. At the restart, Nico Rosberg remained in first position, followed by Kimi Raikkonen, Adrian Sutil, Daniel Ricciardo, Mark Webber, Sergio Pérez, Jenson Button, Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton. Mark Webber immediately passes Daniel Ricciardo, Alonso does the same with Jenson Button. Lewis Hamilton and Felipe Massa also recovered after making their pit stops on lap 36. Immediately after the restart, on lap 46, a tire also burst on Sergio Pérez's car; the race, however, continues regularly. Mark Webber also passed Adrian Sutil, thus taking third place, while Daniel Ricciardo was passed by both Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton. Kimi Räikkönen, who complained to his engineers for not calling him back to the pits during the safety car, gave up several positions in the final laps: he dropped from second to fifth place. In the closing laps, Mark Webber got close to Nico Rosberg who, however, won the British Grand Prix by a certain margin. For the German it is the third career victory in F1. The Mercedes driver precedes Mark Webber, Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton. Kimi Räikkönen, fifth, reaches the points for the twenty-fifth time in a row, a new absolute record for the F1 world championship. Felipe Massa, Adrian Sutil, Daniel Ricciardo, Paul di Resta and Nico Hulkenberg follow. The way the British Grand Prix started, it was a triumph. With a car that according to him was not on the track, Fernando Alonso managed to finish on the podium, gain 15 points over Vettel who retired and beat Hamilton and Raikkonen. In Ferrari the British Grand Prix has been declassified from favourable to lucky. Says the Spanish driver, who is 21 points behind Sebastian Vettel in the standings, but does not rejoice:
"It went well for me at the start, where I risked an accident, and then at the pit stop, because I had a puncture at the last corner before returning to the pits. It was a good race for us. With the last safety car in we lost six positions and so overall it was a very lucky race for us, especially looking at the tire problems with some of the riders. We were lucky and made up points so in the end it was a positive Sunday".
And he adds:
"I have mixed feelings: I'm happy for the podium because we reduced the points gap, but for the pace I've seen I'm not optimistic enough; while on other Sundays where we lost a few points we were more optimistic. But we stayed united even if it's It was a difficult weekend. Now we have to work and think about the next one".
Fernando Alonso also says he was scared when in the final laps the left rear tire of Sergio Perez's McLaren blew, with which he was fighting for overtaking.
"I was back there and I was a little scared, then I thought I was lucky not to have been hit by an inch. Even at the beginning I was lucky not to have been caught".
The F138 has lost competitiveness and at this point of the season there isn't much time left to fix it. In the meantime, owling has helped him. He had been repeating for two months that one day it will be the turn of the others too, implying that he would retire. Who knows what Sebastian Vettel thought when his Red Bull Racing decided not to change gears anymore. Net of the episodes that decided the result, the opponents are in great shape. When he retired, Vettel was comfortably in the lead and on course for a success that would have closed the World Championship. On the other hand, Mark Webber finished second, having collided with Romain Grosjean at the start, and managed to recover from the back to second place. And can we talk about the Mercedes? Starting from pole position, Lewis Hamilton was leading the race when he lost a tire on the straight and was forced to complete more than half a lap on three wheels. His teammate Nico Rosberg won, who in the last three races (i.e. since Mercedes carried out the test for which they were condemned) has scored 60 points: an average of World Championship victories. The only ones in decline are the Lotus drivers. Combination, they were the team that was best suited (along with Ferrari) on the Pirelli tyres. At Silverstone, they had written on the car: God save our tyres. The tires were saved, Kimi Raikkonen, fifth, finished his race by returning for the 24th time in the top ten. An absolute record, but the early season performances are a faded memory. Ferrari's opponents are the other two: through ups and downs, Red Bull Racing remains the rival of reference on any circuit. Mercedes, which at the start were only very fast in qualifying, resolved the excessive tire wear that forced them to slow down in the race at the beginning of the year. Fernando Alonso, on the other hand, feels weakened:
"Other times I lost points, but I came home optimistic. This time I recovered in the standings, but we have a lot of work to do".
What is it like to have to pass five or six cars in every race? The Spaniard replies that he's used to it, because he hasn't had the means to qualify on the front row since the 2008 grace year.
"But I have confidence in the team, we had a difficult weekend, let's put a cross on it and think about the next one".
The next one is already Sunday, without breaks. And it is useless to hazard predictions, this year it is impossible to get them right. the only certainty is that it's cold at the Nurburgring these days, and that's not good news for Ferrari. We need developments that work: in Maranello they hope that the innovations rejected at Silverstone can in part be useful in Germany. Says technical director, Pat Fry:
"We'll try to work methodically on all the aspects that can help us improve our performance, trying to find the right compromise for qualifying and the race, because as we saw here at Silverstone, points are scored on Sunday".
Extremely vague sentence. The truth is that there isn't time to change a single-seater that is behind the cars of Force India and Scuderia Toro Rosso in qualifying. The feedback from Felipe Massa is more encouraging: his start from eleventh to fifth is a masterpiece that erases the accidents in series. Sure, if he were also lucky, he would be able to get on the podium sometime, but this time let's be satisfied that he didn't make any mistakes. Fernando Alonso, the outburst on Saturday was good.
"It has nothing to do with it and I'm not changing my mind. If they had told me before the race that I would have finished on the podium, I would never have believed it. It was an impossible dream, I thought that at most we could have finished fifth or sixth".
Pilot of little faith?
"No, realistic. We suffered all weekend, this time we have to thank luck above all. Vettel retiring is great news for us, me shortening the distance and then I get him even more points. Other times everything had gone wrong, now we really can't complain. But woe to easing tension or rejoicing too much: there's a lot of work to do and as early as the next race we'll understand if the backward step recorded here is an isolated episode or something very alarming. These days the car was not competitive, we can't forget that".
However, it is difficult to be sad after such a result.
"And in fact I'm not, I'm enjoying this result, but I'm not forgetting the reality. To make it clear how much luck helped me, just think of what happened to Massa and what could have happened to me".
In what sense?
"He had a tire problem, immediately afterwards I could suffer the same fate. My tires were also at the limit, at the first pit stop the team encountered obvious cuts. I noticed something, but luckily I was very close to the pit entrance. Felipe spun in the corner and almost crashed in the straight, away from the pit lane, while I rushed back in to change tires and didn't lose a single second".
Benedetta then was the safety car in the final, which regrouped the group and allowed her to make a great comeback.
"Actually, with the safety car, I lost four positions, in that case fate wasn't our friend. We had already planned the stop, before Vettel was forced to stop. Changing the tyres, I found myself eighth. But they were new and I was able to make the most of them, overtaking Button, Hamilton, Sutil and Raikkonen and benefiting from Perez's retirement.The ride in the closing laps was fantastic, I'm pleased to have achieved this result for the team, but also for the fans, all of them. even the British, who have given us great support here".
Talk about gifted points.
"They are free, and for this reason they are even more welcome".
They can be a signal in the race to win the World Championship.
"Only if we manage to come back as fast as we were at the start of the season, when maybe we were struggling a bit in qualifying, but we were among the best in the race. Even here on Sunday our pace wasn't exceptional. Shortening the distances will certainly help us, but we he wants continuity. We have to grow, shorten the gap also in terms of performance and not just in the standings".
What do you think about his departure?
"Disappointing, the worst since the beginning of the season. To be honest, even that didn't seem like a good sign. It's really true that everything changes quickly in F1. However, I'd be happy if we were less uncomfortable at the Nurburgring. That too, like , it should be a favourable track, but given how we went here on Saturday, it's better that he doesn't say anything more".
Vettel, if he heard it, would tell him to shut up. England reopened the World Championship.
"Yes, but let's not exaggerate with the word luck. Admitting it is honest, but let's also remember when everything worked against me. I'm thinking of Suzuka and Spa last year, two disasters, in races that I could have won. And that cost me the World Championship".
The one who has much more to complain about is poor Felipe Massa, slowed down by one of the many punctures:
"I'm very satisfied with the race, not with the tyre. I don't know what happened, it's hard for us to say what the problem is. Of course five-six cars had a problem today. But after a good first lap, perhaps one of the best "I did this and I missed a great chance to be on the podium. Apart from that today I made a great comeback, a great race".
The Ferrari team principal, Stefano Domenicali, on the other hand, has the task of making the coldest analysis:
"Given the difficulty of this weekend, it was important to bring home a positive result. Thanks to the situation, we maximized what we had. Now it's essential to rearrange our ideas, line things up and understand why we didn't have a weekend that we were waiting. It is useless to deny that the fact of having shortened the gap on whoever is in front was one of the objectives we had and we have achieved this. Now it is essential to stay calm and sort out the problems we have had".
As for the tires that exploded during the race, Stefano Domenicali points out:
"It's a topic we have to tackle together, from Formula 1, because it's clear that certain things aren't going well, but in these moments I'm the first to say calm, try to understand the problems that exist here too, but obviously we have to solve them".
On Wednesday 3 July 2013, the governing body of Formula 1 summons Pirelli, sole tire supplier, to a meeting to make a point after the punctures suffered by four cars during the British Grand Prix at Silverstone. Lewis Hamilton was leading the race when the left rear tire of his Mercedes blew. The same problem happened to the left rear tire of Felipe Massa's Ferrari, Sergio Perez's McLaren and Jean-Eric Vergne's Toro Rosso, whose problems resulted in huge streaks of rubber on the track and several drivers being hit by debris. The summit is scheduled in Germany, in view of the next round of the World Championship at the Nurburgring circuit. The summit will be attended by emissaries from the FIA and the team principals of the F1 teams. Pirelli, meanwhile, is launching an internal investigation to understand what caused the problems with the tyres, but no explanation has been provided for the moment. Pirelli Motorsport Director Paul Hembery said at the end of the race:
"There have been problems never seen before with the left rear. We have taken the situation very seriously and are currently analysing all the tires to determine the cause as soon as possible, before the next German Grand Prix. Not we can add much more until we have fully studied and analysed all these accidents which, at the moment, represent our priority. However, we can exclude that the new construction process, introduced by this race, is at the basis of the accidents".
"Some part of the Silverstone circuit may have had a particular impact on the latest version of our 2013 tyres, but at this stage we don't want to make assumptions. We will put all the evidence together to find out what happened and then take the necessary actions".
But the pilots protest.
"We put ourselves in the hands of God".
The best snapshot is from Felipe Massa, the phrase that captures the situation on the Sunday of the Pirelli disaster, tires exploding in the middle of the straight, taking on the appearance of a fan, with pieces of compound spreading everywhere. Debris, controversy and fear, because the drivers love the risk, but also their own skin and no one is happy to know that at any moment your left rear tire (because the four most obvious disasters, with Lewis Hamilton, Felipe Massa , Jean-Éric Vergne Vergne and Sergio Perez, always looking at the left rear tyre) could shatter, leaving you at breakneck speed at the mercy of the rim alone. Nobody feels comfortable. Said Charlie Whiting, the race director:
"I thought about suspending the race".
And faced with such a striking case, it becomes difficult to celebrate the triumph of Nico Rosberg, the third of his career, a race won by his own skill, but also by the misfortunes of others, Lewis Hamilton who abdicates betrayed by the tyres, Sebastian Vettel who parks on lap 41 , because the gearbox no longer works. Nico Rosberg rejoices, even if the shiver appears even in his masterpiece, because 2 hours after the podium he is summoned by the marshals because he ignored the yellow flags, the telemetry shows that he hasn't slowed down noticeably and for more than half an hour he fears losing his victory. In these cases the (very wavering) Formula 1 jurisprudence provides for a drive through or 20 second penalty, which would make him fall to tenth place, given that seven laps from the end, after the second safety car, the race actually restarted and everyone lined up.
Sunday could become funereal and instead a simple admonition arrives, which does not change the standings and retains his great joy. In the last three races (those following the Barcelona tests sanctioned with a reprimand) Nico Rosberg has scored 60 points, against Sebastian Vettel's 43 and Fernando Alonso's 39. At Silverstone, however, we talk about tires in a different way, not for performance advantages, but for safety which by now seems to be no longer guaranteed. The pilots are in revolt, the alarm has gone off and the FIA has decided to move. A summit with all the sporting directors was already on the agenda on Wednesday at the Nurburgring track (Sunday the race is held in Germany), but now Pirelli has also been summoned and risks turning into a showdown. Jean Todt, the president of the FIA, has always put safety first in his thoughts and now he wants to see clearly. No more problems, if these tires are a danger, I'll try to the bitter end on the track. The teams have already found a first solution, three days at Silverstone, already scheduled for the young promises and now entrusted to this year's official drivers and cars. But there could be others, if these weren't enough, because for the first time Pirelli is talking about structural failures and the FIA (which on Thursday will sign the Concorde Agreement with teams and Ecclestone) is bored. Felipe Massa is explicit:
"It is unacceptable to have similar tires and situations like that. Had it not been for the tyre, I would have finished on the podium, but I'm not thinking about the result, but about the danger we are running".
Four explosions, but Esteban Gutierrez also had problems with his front left tyre, and Fernando Alonso and Nico Hulkenberg also managed last-minute tire changes. Someone says: isn't it the fault of the hot air blown on the rear tires by the exhausts? Either way, a remedy is needed. Pirelli changed the glue, but from delamination we moved on to bursting. In 2005 Michelin refused to race in Indianapolis, it did not guarantee the safety of the pilots. Endless controversy ensued. But fear hurts even more. Even the riders are now afraid to race with these tires that wear out quickly and explode suddenly. And when a rider is afraid, it's a sign that the limits have been exceeded. Mark Webber, Jenson Button and the other circus elders have been saying it clearly for days. At Silverstone, after a surreal and very dangerous race, even what is considered (perhaps rightly) the bravest of all, Lewis Hamilton, repeated it:
"We talked about it both with the FIA and with Pirelli, but it was all in vain. Should we wait for someone to get hurt?"
A legitimate question, which is both a desperate plea (someone do something) and a guilty verdict, issued against the FIA and in particular its president Jean Todt. The FIA is the highest institution of motorsport. Its first mission is to protect and promote road safety (not just circuits). In a circumstance like this, it would have the task of taking Pirelli by the ears - the sole supplier of Formula 1 which this year has sensationally wrong product - and immediately demand solutions that allow races to be held respecting at least the first requirement imposed by common sense, precisely that of safety. And instead, nothing. Not a voice, not a question, just a lot of questionable political maneuvers, with teasing enemies and fraternal pats to friends. The funny thing - hoping it stays the same and doesn't turn out to be dramatic - is that some riders have actually used the Paris process to put their concerns about the tires on paper. But of course nobody did anything. Sunday back on track, racing at the Nürburgring. The day following the British Grand Prix, Monday 1 July 2013, some light was finally shed on the darkness of the tire case: Pirelli, after having swallowed poison for three days, went on the attack and - essentially - said that the F1 teams got it all wrong, using the tires badly. The cars that suffered tire explosions would in fact have made mistakes in setting the pressures, messed up by fitting the right tires instead of the left ones and then also getting the camber angles (the inclination of the wheels) wrong. In short, a disaster.
It must be said that communicating their mistakes in this way will certainly enrage the Formula 1 teams. But Paul Hembery, Pirelli Motorsport Director, preaches calm and in relation to the company's statement explaining the reasons for the tire failures at Silverstone, comments:
"Unlike some interpretations, I would like to underline the collaboration we are receiving from the teams, the drivers, the FIA and the FOM. In no way do we intend to be polemical or attack anyone. We have assumed our responsibilities as emerges from the press release. But not having full control of all the elements that impact the use of tires we need everyone's contribution. In this sense we are receiving support from all those involved to whom we thank".
In any case, shortly before this clarification it was Hembery himself who explained that:
"What happened at Silverstone was completely unexpected and it is the first time it has occurred in over a century of Pirelli's sporting history. These episodes, which first of all caused our deep regret, made the changes already proposed by us urgent, which we will introduce from next Friday's free practice in Germany".
Of course, the Pirelli Motorsport Director now finds all the doors open, given that he already has the official support of the Federation, the FOM, the teams and the drivers on the introduction of winter tests, agreed with the FIA, more suitable also for the development of tires. In short, in extreme synthesis, Pirelli reaffirms that the 2013 product, used in the correct way, is totally safe. A heavy accusation for the teams, which deserves further study, for which we publish all the technical analysis of Pirelli in full. Here it is in detail. First of all, the reverse fitting of the rear tyres, i.e. placing the right tire in place of the left one and vice versa, on the cars affected by the failure. The tires supplied this year have an asymmetrical structure and are not designed to be interchangeable. The sidewalls of the tires are constructed in such a way as to support stresses of a different nature between the inside and the outside. Under certain conditions, the inversion of the tires compromises their optimal functionality. In particular, the external part is designed to withstand the severe stresses that develop especially when cornering on a circuit as demanding as Silverstone, with fast left-hand corners and some particularly aggressive curbs. Secondly, the adoption of excessively low tire pressures or in any case lower than those indicated by Pirelli. Underinflating contributes to making the conditions of use of the tires even more stressful. Then there is the adoption of too high camber angles. And finally, particularly aggressive curbs in fast corners, such as Turn 4 at Silverstone, the scene of most of the breakages, which not surprisingly affected the rear left tyre. The only problems that occurred before Silverstone were exclusively related to delamination, which was a totally different phenomenon. Pirelli undertook to solve the delamination by proposing to all the teams to adopt the tires tested in Canada and which should have made their race debut at Silverstone. The delamination was then resolved by Pirelli with laboratory tests, by introducing an adhesive band to ensure better bonding between the tread and casing. The problem of delamination is therefore in no way connected to the breakages that occurred in the British Grand Prix. In the light of these findings, Pirelli underlines that tire inversion is a practice that has been underestimated by everyone, primarily by Pirelli which has not prevented its adoption. Likewise, underinflation and camber that are too high, over which Pirelli has no control, are choices that in certain conditions can prove dangerous. To this end, Pirelli has asked the FIA that in the future the relative parameters are subject to punctual verification. The company has also proposed that the application of these parameters be controlled by its own delegate. And finally, in line with what the company has always affirmed, the 2013 range of tyres, if used correctly, does not jeopardize the safety of the drivers, but has all the safety features required by the FIA.
In the light of what has been ascertained, it is therefore essential that the use of tires as sophisticated and high-performing as those supplied for 2013 be regulated and strictly controlled by Pirelli itself, which needs to receive from the teams in real time all basic data such as pressures, temperatures and camber angles. Pending the introduction of a regulation that allows the tire manufacturer to access this information, which is fundamental for the development and management of such sophisticated tires in races, to guarantee maximum safety in the next races, Pirelli proposes to the FIA, FOM, teams and riders the supply for the German Grand Prix of the evolution of the 2013 tyres, the reliability of which has already been tested in free practice in Canada and which represents the optimal response to the technical characteristics of the Nurburgring track. In particular, the rear tire sets that will be supplied for the German Grand Prix on Sunday 7 July 2013 are characterized by a Kevlar construction, which replaces the steel of the current structures, and by the reintroduction of the 2012 belt, in order to ensure maximum stability and hold. Considering that these tires are also asymmetrical, inversion will be expressly prohibited. The front tires will, however, remain unchanged. Starting with the Hungarian Grand Prix and for the following races, Pirelli is proposing the introduction of a new range of tyres. The new tires will have a symmetrical structure and with characteristics such as to guarantee maximum safety even in the current conditions, i.e. without the availability of the essential data for the correct functioning of more sophisticated tyres, such as the 2013 tyres. Hungarian Grand Prix will combine the characteristics of the 2012 structures with the performance characteristics of the 2013 compounds. Basically, the new tires will have the same structure, construction and belts as those which ensured maximum safety and performance in 2012. The compounds used will be those which during 2013 guaranteed the fastest lap times and the widest working range. These specifications, in agreement with the Federation, will be developed together with the teams with 2013 cars at Silverstone from 17 to 19 July 2013 in a session dedicated to top drivers as part of the scheduled tests for young drivers. These tests will contribute to the definitive development of the new range of tyres, giving the teams the opportunity to perform the appropriate settings for the cars.