F1's drivers pleased with immediate Pirelli response to British GP tyre failures
Mercedes' Nico Rosberg suggests changes will "mix things up a bit"
By James Galloway. Last Updated: 04/07/13 8:20pm
Formula 1's drivers have welcomed the swift response taken by Pirelli to address last weekend's Silverstone tyre failures, although remain uncertain how the changes will affect the pecking order.
In the wake of an explosive 48 hours of fallout from last Sunday's British Grand Prix, in which the threat of a possible drivers' strike for this weekend's German GP was even mooted, Pirelli announced on Tuesday a two-step approach to improving the safety of their tyres before the summer break.
As an immediate measure, the rear tyres with the 2012-style Kevlar belt that were first tried by drivers in Friday practice in Montreal will be raced this weekend at the Nurburgring ahead of a move back to last year's structures for the following round in Hungary.
Drivers had expressed varying degrees of concern over tyre safety in the wake of last Sunday's race but as the paddock reconvened in Germany on Thursday, they largely appeared to be have been appeased by Pirelli's changes.
World Champion Sebastian Vettel duly expressed optimism that the Italian manufacturer had now developed a more robust product.
"I think it's good that not even within a week's time we have been able to get a different tyre for this race, which hopefully is safer for all of us," he said.
"Obviously the last race was not what we want and not satisfactory, but it's good that we have a new tyre here. How much better and how different it will be, it's difficult to judge at this stage, but I'm confident it's a step forward."
Silverstone victor Nico Rosberg, whose team-mate Lewis Hamilton suffered the first race blow-out on Sunday, added: "I trust the FIA's going to make the right calls, which they are - they're working on it flat-out with Pirelli.
"So I'm sure there is going to be progress and there shouldn't be a concern this weekend."
After previous attempts by the tyre supplier to beef up their structures were met with resistance from some teams, McLaren's Sergio Perez said the events of Silverstone had shown that safety had undoubtedly now gone to the forefront.
"I think it's definitely important to change them for the safety, not anymore for the performance," he said.
"It's very important that we as drivers feel safe; there could have been a big accident in the last race weekend. So I think it's a good thing that Pirelli are reacting to do a change."
But while agreeing with the Mexican sentiments over safety, Force India's Adrian Sutil - whose team had originally been against any change for purely performance reasons - insisted he had always felt safe running on the 2013 tyres as they were.
"As long as it's for safety, they have to improve it," Sutil acknowledged. "But it hasn't been 100% that it was a real tyre issue. One says it's a tyre issue that caused the punctures in Silverstone. Some people say it's maybe kerbing or something like that. So it's always hard to see where the problem is. But four punctures in a race is too much, so they have to get behind it.
"I feel safe on these tyres and had no problems with them. I did some two-stop races, a two-stop at Silverstone, so for me the concern is not so much."
Focus is now set to turn to how the revised structures to be introduced over the course of the next two race weekends will impact on the competitive order, given the teams previously opposed to any change had imposed their respective veto for that very reason.
Mercedes' Rosberg, whose team have generally experienced higher degradation levels than their rivals until recent races, reckons the alterations will serve to move things around.
"It's very likely that it's going to have an impact. On performances, differences, qualifying, race. It will be interesting and it's possible it's going to mix things up a bit," the German said.
"But it's also an opportunity for us as a team to try and understand it better than earlier, than other people and try and make the most of it.
His compatriot Vettel adopted a more cautionary stance - "it's difficult to foresee what is going to happen" - but made clear that in reality it didn't matter what happened to the pecking order provided the tyres were now indeed safe.
"It doesn't matter if it changes competition," he declared to Sky Sports News.
"When we talk about safety it's good that we are not listening to everybody and everyone to have an opinion because some people will always agree, some people will always disagree, as a principle
"So in that regard it's good that the decision was made from the top and people and teams have to live with it. Our only interests at the end of the day are that the sport is safe and I'm happy that there was something happening now."
Lotus's Kimi Raikkonen agreed when speaking to Sky Sports News that it was too early to suggest how things might pan out on track.
"I have no idea," he said. "Obviously we haven't run it yet. We will have to go through the race weekend and see what happens in the race."