The options open to F1 and Pirelli after the tyre blow-outs at the 2013 British GP
With the dramatic events of Silverstone having thrust tyre safety to the forefront of the sport, we look at what could be done to resolve the problems
By James Galloway. Last Updated: 02/07/13 9:49am
After the dramatic events of Silverstone, we look at the options open - and already adopted - to F1 and Pirelli as they bid to solve the tyre 'crisis' both in the long-term and for this week's German GP...
Revert to last year's tyres
Perhaps the most drastic option open to Pirelli is to discard this year's problematic completely and revert to the tried-and-trusted 2012 rubber. Red Bull and McLaren's respective Team Principals both floated this idea in wake of Sunday's race, with the World Champions having initially lobbied for such a move back at the start of the season when they were struggling with 2013's higher degradation levels.
However, clearly aware that this stance could reignite accusations that Red Bull were pursuing their own competitive agenda, Christian Horner insisted the World Champions were now only stating their case on safety grounds: "The problem with that is that teams are always perceived to be chasing competitive advantage. But from our perspective, we were leading the race on these  tyres, we've won races on these tyres. I would urge to change purely on the grounds of safety."
While such a move on paper may sound simplistic should it gain wider support, it remains to be seen how many of the 2012 tyres Pirelli simply have lying around their Turkish factory ready to be dispatched at the drop of the hat. Given the complexities and logistical challenges, even the Hungarian GP may be too soon for a complete reversal.
Return to a Kevlar belt
The solution Pirelli had been hoping to push through two races ago in Canada in the wake of the spate of tyre delaminations seen in Bahrain and Spain. While a prototype rear compound with 2012-style reinforcing Kevlar, rather than the existing steel, belt was duly tested on Friday practice in Montreal, a lack of dry running and opposition from three teams meant the revisions were never introduced for racing at Silverstone.
In any case, Pirelli simultaneously believed that they had solved the delamination problem through their production process, via an improved bonding method of connecting the tread to the belt. This new procedure had been used on the tyres raced at Silverstone and the problem didn't reoccur.
So having described the Silverstone tyre blow-outs as a completely "new" phenomenon, which was not linked to the change in glue, it remains to be seen whether racing the revised Kevlar rears would also solve this latest problem.
Nevertheless, it is understood this option is likely to be adopted as an emergency - but perhaps only temporary - measure for the upcoming German GP as Pirelli strive to quell talk of a driver boycott at the Nurburgring.
Hold an emergency test
The option pushed through by the FIA on Monday night following a race outbreak of co-operation from previously uncooperative different parties with the Young Driver Test effectively rebranded into a full tyre test and Mercedes accepting their exclusion with good grace "in the best interests of the sport".
It remains to be seen, however, whether that spirit of co-operation will survive the test when the teams have studied the results. However, in an apparent preemptive bid to ward off the prospect of teams bickering over which tyres ought to be introduced, the governing body has sought a change in the regulations "to allow for a modification of the specification of the tyres during the Championship season without the unanimous agreement of all competing teams".
It's amazing just how quickly F1 can act when it needs to.
Force the teams to make changes
While the overriding feeling since Silverstone has been that F1 now undeniably has a tyre safety issue on its hands, there's an argument to make that it could actually be the settings the teams are running on their cars which are exacerbating the problems.
"The big question is 'are the tyres safe' but it's not simple to just say yes or no because there are lots of parameters which depend on how the cars use the tyres," explained Sky Sports F1's Ted Kravitz. "You have camber, you have toe, you have the tyre pressures and it's just too simplistic to say they're not safe."
It's of course up to the individual teams to run the tyres how they see fit and Pirelli's reported advice to teams mid-way through Sunday's race to increase tyre pressures was only that - advice.