Stewart: FIA must open up tyre tests

Stewart: FIA must open up tyre tests

Jackie Stewart has called for an immediate relaxation of the in-season testing ban to ensure Pirelli crack their tyre woes.

Yesterday’s British Grand Prix was overshadowed by a string of high-speed blowouts as drivers put their lives on the line at one of the fastest circuits on the Formula One calendar.

Silverstone was awash with shredded rubber as Lewis Hamilton, Felipe Massa, Jean-Eric Vergne and Sergio Perez all suffered failures to the left-rears, whilst Esteban Gutierrez had a front-left issue.

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has already suggested the young driver test at the Northamptonshire circuit later this month should now be scrapped in favour of a Pirelli tyre test with the race drivers.

Stewart feels Pirelli need as much help as they can get, and although a rule was introduced on Friday that will see the return of in-season testing from next year after a five-season absence, the three-times world champion believes the Italian manufacturer should get as much track time as they require.

“They’ve got to open up the regulations and do as many tests as they need to drive in order to feel comfortable their tyres are durable,” said Stewart, speaking to Press Association Sport.

“You have to lift the no-testing regulation. That’s more important right now than anything else.

“We’ve already seen it happen with Mercedes-Benz...let everybody else get out there.

“We’ve got to have a harder construction (of tyre), a harder compound or whatever it is, and then let’s get going.

“If we’ve got to run with hard tyres that mean there’s going to be no pitstops for three or four grands prix, let’s do that.

“But the amount of debris that was flying around, at the height and speed it was travelling at, is a great concern.”

FIA race director Charlie Whiting yesterday confirmed he came close to bringing a halt to the race at one stage given the number of incidents.

“I hoped that wasn’t going to happen,” added Stewart.

“But I think if another two or three tyres had gone, I don’t think they could have allowed it to continue.

“But I was obviously concerned. Because at one point one very large piece (of rubber) came up and was in the air for a long time. It is a concern.” Like many of the current drivers, Stewart also described yesterday’s incidents as “unacceptable”, and can only now hope a solution is found.

“With the delamination and the tyres flying everywhere at very high speeds, four obviously very good drivers kept the car under control under these circumstances, but could so easily have lost it,” said Stewart.

“There were two or three times when they were in close proximity to other cars. but there are no problems, only solutions.

“I’m sure Pirelli Italy were watching on television, I’m sure their president was and a lot of other people, and they don’t want to see their tyres doing that.

“We need to get it fixed.”

British Grand Prix tyre failures

Lap eight: Leading the race after making a strong start from pole position, Lewis Hamilton is the first to suffer as he heads down the Wellington Straight, his left-rear exploding and rapidly delaminating.

Hamilton manages to make it back to the pits on just the wheel rim, but given he was only just over four corners into the lap, the time lost sees him drop to the back of the pack.

Lap 11: Coming out of Aintree Corner on to the Wellington Straight, Ferrari’s Felipe Massa is the next to suffer a blow-out. Running fourth at the time, Massa spins off the track, and like Hamilton faces a long, slow journey back to the pits to take on fresh tyres, the Brazilian relegated to last.

Lap 15: Travelling at a speed of around 160mph at the end of the Hangar Straight into the gentle right-hander at Stowe, Toro Rosso’s Jean-Eric Vergne manages to hang on to his car under braking as his left-rear gives way. Vergne was the more fortunate of the trio as his incident was close to the pit entrance, resulting in a short trip to take on new tyres.It was at this point, with tyre carcasses strewn across the track, that race director Charlie Whiting deployed the safety car.

Lap 46: Shortly after a second safety car incident to remove Sebastian Vettel’s stricken Red Bull after he suffered a transmission failure, Perez suffered his second blow-out in two days to end his race. There were two other notable incidents as Sauber’s Esteban Gutierrez suffered a puncture to his front-left due to a cut, but no serious delamination.Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso, meanwhile, has confirmed he incurred a failure to his right-rear tyre just as he came into the pits for his stop.

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