Felipe Massa has labelled the tyre failures in the British Grand Prix as 'unacceptable'
Brazilian calls on the FIA to force through safety changes
By Mike Wise. Last Updated: 02/07/13 8:23am
Massa - Tyres leave my safety in God's hands
Felipe Massa has labelled the string of tyre failures in the British Grand Prix as "unacceptable" and called on the FIA to force through changes on safety grounds.
The Brazilian was one of six drivers to suffer a high-speed blow-out during Sunday's race at Silverstone. Massa's left-rear tyre failed at Aintree corner, although he was able to return to the pits and eventually finished in sixth place.
Likewise, Ferrari team-mate Fernando Alonso, Lewis Hamilton and Esteban Gutierrez all took the chequered flag despite suffering tyre failures. However, Jean-Eric Vergne and Sergio Perez were forced to retire.
"I think what happened is unacceptable because we're not talking about whether tyres are better for one team, we're talking about safety. What's happened was very dangerous for us," Massa said after the race.
On the subject of safety, Massa does, in a sense, speak with an authority unique among current F1 drivers. The 32-year-old suffered a fractured skull during qualifying for the 2009 Hungarian GP, when he was hit by a suspension spring that had fallen off another car.
Initially, Massa's condition was described as "life-threatening". Yet despite being sidelined for the rest of that season, he eventually made a full recovery.
His concerns are two-fold: that a driver might lose control of his car and also that debris thrown up by a tyre failure might hit someone.
Massa said he was lucky not to be struck by the remains of Perez's tyre when it shredded on the Hangar Straight - the fastest part of the track - shortly after the race's second safety car restart.
Alonso, however, can count himself even more fortunate as he was right behind the Mexican's McLaren when the car's left rear let go.
Asked if he was surprised that there wasn't a more serious accident, Massa replied: "In a way, yes. But we were also lucky that in all the cases the driver was able to carry on, not crash.
"But you have corners here that, if it happened at this corner, there would be much more danger and you could have a big accident."
On the subject of flying debris, he added: "It happened to me again when Perez had his problem with the tyre. Suddenly I saw a lot of smoke and debris coming over. There was another car just in front of me, so I didn't know what to do and then I saw him completely on the left."
Driver boycott threat
Massa stopped short of calling for a boycott of this weekend's German GP but said the matter would be discussed in Friday's drivers' briefing.
An opinion was expressed in the Silverstone paddock that the Nurburgring is unlikely to produce a similar spate of incidents as its layout does not place tyres under the same strain.
However, Massa said that Spa, venue for next month's Belgian GP, places tyres under even more strain than at Silverstone.
"I hope they change something for Spa. It's another place that, if you have this problem, you don't know what's going to happen," he said.
Pirelli will meet with the FIA on Wednesday to discuss the issue and with safety now top of the agenda, it seems likely that swift action will be taken.
That has not been the case so far this season, even with the delaminations seen in Bahrain and Spain.
Pirelli responded with a new tyre, but at the same time said the changes had more to do with the delaminations looking bad rather than safety; the tread might have come off, in other words, but at least the tyres stayed inflated.
The new tyre was given an outing during Canadian GP practice but rain limited running there and teams - Lotus, Force India and Ferrari - vetoed the move anyway as they thought it might favour rivals.
Pirelli were therefore forced to introduce yet another tyre for Silverstone with a different bond between the tread and steel belt on the tyre's circumference to stop the delaminations. They have already denied that this was the cause of Sunday's failures.
Massa said he hopes the FIA will indeed play the safety card to end the game, as he put it, of "whether tyres are better for one team".
"I'm sure the FIA will go through these games and try to solve the problem," he added.