Sebastian Vettel insists GPDA statement shouldn't be viewed as a boycott 'threat'
World Champion attempts to play down drivers' statement
By Pete Gill. Last Updated: 06/07/13 8:01am
World Champion Sebastian Vettel has insisted that F1 drivers didn't threaten to boycott the German GP if there was a repeat of the Silverstone blowouts at the Nurburgring.
F1 breathed a huge sigh of relief on Friday when both of the day's practice sessions ended without incident after a statement from the Grand Prix Drivers' Association on Thursday declaring that, following the spate of tyre failures during last week's British GP, "if similar problems should manifest themselves during the German GP, we shall immediately withdraw from the event."
However, according to Vettel, a prominent director of the GPDA, that announcement didn't amount to a warning that the drivers were prepared to pull out of this weekend's race.
"It wasn't a threat, you must have got it wrong," the Red Bull driver told Sky Sports F1.
"We expressed that we trust Pirelli, and it was a good day today, but we also expressed that should there be any incident we would think about something like that [a boycott].
"Fortunately, nothing happened today. The tyres were fine. We didn't say, 'We won't race'. We said first of all we trust that within a couple of days the steps that Pirelli took are working, which they were today despite high tyre wear - especially on the soft tyre. Yes, we came together but the point was not to threaten."
On the track, matters were far less ambiguous as Red Bull and Mercedes appeared to advance into a league of their own, with Lewis Hamilton leading the way in Practice One before Vettel went fastest in the afternoon.
"Mercedes were bloody quick this morning, we couldn't have done that," the three-times Champion reflected. "I wasn't entirely happy with the car in the morning but in the afternoon I was in better shape and the long runs were determined by traffic etc. So we'll see, but quite happy with today."
Yet while neither session featured the type of failures that blighted Sunday's race at Silverstone, the increased tyre pressures which Pirelli have asked all the teams to employ coincided with the drivers experiencing severe graining on their rear tyres - particularly the softs.
"It looks a little bit high maintenance to be honest," said Vettel's Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber. "The medium looks a little bit more acceptable for the race.
"Pirelli have done what they can and gone back to tyres they know work here. It's impossible to tell how they will affect the performance of the car - but it feels comfortable so far."
Judging by the length of stints the teams were able to run before suffering a sharp-drop off in pace, Sunday's race may well be divided into a three-stopper with the cars pitting as early as lap five to swap the faster but brittle softs for the slower but more durable medium compound.