Drivers threaten a boycott of the German GP if Silverstone tyre problems are repeated
GPDA drivers "shall immediately withdraw" if there are more blow-outs at Nurburgring
By James Galloway and Mike Wise. Last Updated: July 5, 2013 11:23am
Drivers stress safety is everything
Formula 1 drivers will boycott this weekend's German Grand Prix if there is a repeat of Silverstone's tyre problems.
Four drivers suffered blown tyres during a chaotic British Grand Prix last Sunday, forcing manufacturers Pirelli to revert to Kevlar-belted models for the Nurburgring.
A new tyre will then be introduced for the remainder of the season, and the planned changes have been welcomed by drivers including World Champion Sebastian Vettel.
But the Grand Prix Drivers' Association met on Thursday night and have now made it clear that any further incidents will not be tolerated.
A statement read: "The drivers of the Grand Prix Drivers' Association wish to express their deepest concerns about the events that took place at Silverstone.
"We trust that the changes made to the tyres will have the desired results and that similar problems will not occur during the German GP weekend.
"We are ready to drive our cars to the limit, as we always do, and as it is expected by our teams, sponsors and fans.
"However, the drivers have decided that, if similar problems should manifest themselves during the German GP, we shall immediately withdraw from the event, as this avoidable problem with the tyres endangers again the lives of drivers, marshals and fans."
In general, drivers displayed relaxed demeanours when quizzed on the subject of tyre safety in the paddock on Thursday afternoon.
As expressed in the GPDA statement, the consensus was that changes the FIA and Pirelli are introducing from this weekend should prove more than sufficient to prevent a repeat of the high-speed blowouts.
"I have to trust the FIA and Pirelli. I'm not someone that dwells on something so I just forgot about it generally," said Lewis Hamilton, who was the first driver to suffer a tyre failure whilst leading his home race.
Jenson Button, who is a Director of the GPDA, said of the new tyre: "We haven't seen an issue with this type of construction. As far as I know, it's very similar to what we had last year, using Kevlar instead of metal in the tyre. We didn't have any issues last year.
"I'm happy that they're able to bring this tyre; three or four days to sort the tyres out and bring a completely different construction is fantastic."
The McLaren driver added that the British Grand Prix was "a tough weekend for Pirelli and a tough weekend for all of us really - especially the drivers".
Button's last sentiment perhaps shed some light on the strongly-worded statement: that the situation may be bad for Pirelli from an image point of view but the Italian company is only putting its product in the front line.
Romain Grosjean, whose Lotus was following Jean-Eric Vergne's Toro Rosso when its left-rear tyre blew at approaching 190mph on Silverstone's Hangar Straight, described his feelings on Thursday.
"When we were behind the Toro Rosso on the Hangar Straight and we've got the tyre blowing in front of us, it's a bit scary to imagine that, at 300km/h, you can have pieces of rubber flying into your head," he said.
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Earlier this week, Pirelli blamed the failures on a combination of "rear tyres mounted the wrong way round, low tyres pressures, extreme cambers and high kerbs".
Yet Button, whose team-mate Sergio Perez suffered two blow-outs at Silverstone, defended the set-ups used by McLaren.
On the question of swapping a car's rear tyres, he said: "We were told we were okay doing that by Pirelli. We stuck to their guidelines."
The 2009 Champion added that the other tweaks had little effect with the tyres used so far this season.
"Normally, yes. With these tyres, no," Button added. "Pressures, cambers, toes - nothing really makes a big difference. I think it's the construction of the tyre. That's not just us, I think it's the same for everyone."
Vettel is also a Director of the GPDA while its Chairman is Ferrari test driver Pedro de la Rosa.
However, membership is not compulsory and - however unlikely a boycott might be - it does raise the question of whether some drivers would continue to take part while others withdraw.
Indeed, the statement does not make crystal clear exactly when any boycott might start. Although most of last weekend's blow-outs came in the race, Perez also suffered one during practice.
The statement includes the word 'event' which in F1's rulebook is defined to mean practice, qualifying and the race itself.