Start, Nurburgring, 2011

Drivers threaten German GP boycott over punctures

2013 German Grand Prix

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Start, Nurburgring, 2011The Grand Prix Drivers’ Association has threatened to boycott the German Grand Prix if the tyre failures seen at Silverstone recur at this weekend’s race.

The drivers say they will withdraw from the event if the tyre failures happen again during practice and qualifying.

A GPDA statement said: “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 Grand Prix weekend.

“We are prepared 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 Grand Prix, we shall immediately withdraw from the event, as this avoidable problem with the tyres endangers again the lives of drivers, marshals and fans.”

The GPDA had written to the FIA in June to express concern that Pirelli had not been allowed to make changes to its tyres.

Lewis Hamilton, Felipe Massa, Sergio Perez, Jean-Eric Vergne and Esteban Gutierrez all suffered tyre blow-outs during the Silverstone race. Afterwards Mark Webber said: “We?ve been trying to have input [on tyre safety] for the last three years and it?s deaf ears.”

Kimi Raikkonen expressed doubt over whether the true cause of the failures had been identified: “It’s very hard to pinpoint the reason why the tyres blow up: is it the tyre or there’s something on the kerbs or is it just certain cars that use the tyres harder?

“It’s almost impossible to say after when the tyre goes and there’s nothing left. Easy to try to always blame, somebody will blame someone because you try to find the reason for it but I don’t really believe that you can just say ‘this is the problem, that’s the fix’.”

Fernando Alonso said: “I think performance today is the second priority. What we need to have is a tyre that will last the race, don’t put in danger anyone and you arrive home Sunday night.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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91 comments on “Drivers threaten German GP boycott over punctures”

  1. No point doing that without the test…

    1. even with the interim revised tyre being used ? and all the teams now being extra cautious on the pressures etc. ?

      1. Even with that. I am one of the most anti-tyre and pirelli monopoly that i know, but, if they are gonna test, no point to threat a strike in this point, they should realize that at the start of the season and take actions right way. Know that FIA is on his way of trying to change is just to find the obvious.

    2. Why don’t they add an extra Free Practice session?

  2. Well you can´t be mad at them, is their life in the line…

    1. Exactly, and it’s their sport in reputation aswell.

    2. @celeste exactly. Specially if it’s something that’s within control, like the constructive stability of tyres.

      We know the intrinsic risks of motorsport, but this sort of exploding tyres are not a part of it. It can happen, but not like this.

      I like how everyone’s saying “enough is enough”. That’s the true spirit: keep things safe so we can all enjoy competition again.

      1. @fer-no65 I think thath they were very patient with the problems before Silverstone (Hamilton, Massa, etc. accidents) but there have to be a point where they can´t no longer put on a brave face.

        None of the drivers is a toy to be played and Pirelli/ FIA must take care that safety is first. I would rather see a GP stoped tan to see something like Massa 2009, or worst.

    3. Yes, however the is a reasonable expectation that some harm can happen. When several drivers admit to ignoring warning about staying off the kerbs, this does seem a bit of a moot point. Obviously hindsight is 20/20, but in the heat of the moment they chose to risk everything. What changed now? Are they just now realizing that something worse can happen?

      1. Delaminations were enough for me. I don’t care that they weren’t deflating before. I refuse to believe there is such a thing as a safe delamination, which is why I was so convinced that at the Tribunal the word safety would be predominant, the overriding concern. This could have been avoided.

        1. @robbie

          I think it was very childish seeing teams blocking tyre changes previously proposed by Pirelli because they feared Red Bull would get major benefits. Curiously, Red Bull, “the moaners”, were/are leading both championships!

          Silverstone was scary but not as bad as it could be. If someone was badly injured last weekend; F1, FIA and Pirelli’s reputation could be serioursly affected.

  3. That’s good to read.

  4. Am i missing something here? This is simply getting on the “lets kick Pirelli whilst they are down” bandwagon. Most of the faliures occured during the race, one during free practice, and none during qualifying.
    A better statement would be for the drivers to agree abandon the race if ANY tyre punctures, delaminates or explodes DURING the race; but they all know they can’t be trusted to do that. Or did they say that?

    The 2nd paragraph and the last paragrah of the article appears to contradict themselves. In any case, this is just the GPDA baring its teeth – because it knows it has no bite.

    1. Yeah. We could just wait for someone to die, that way the race gets red flagged and everyone has to stop anyway. Oh wait. Nevermind, people die and the race goes on.

    2. Mark Webber said: “We’ve been trying to have input [on tyre safety] for the last three years and it’s deaf ears.”
      So, I believe, drivers may boycott the race if any failure would appear.
      I don’t want smth like Spa-2012.
      I don’t wish any fan to lose their favourite racer in a race weekend.
      I know it by myself how its difficult to realize that Simoncelli was killed in an accident. For a long time my all family was so depressed. And Sic was a racer I just started following. I don’t want that happen again.
      That is why I’m ready for any outcome even boycott.

  5. Are all drivers members of the GPDA currently? I’m wondering which drivers/teams would choose to ignore this boycott if it came to it…

    1. My thoughts exactly! I can see there being a repeat of Indy ’05 here.

      Would you get a lower team going out purely to get some much needed points?

      I couldn’t blame them in that sense. It’s always been business first in F1, hasn’t it?

    2. Are all drivers members of the GPDA currently?

      I believe it’s not compulsory, but all drivers are members.

      1. Zantkiller (@)
        4th July 2013, 20:12

        Hamilton and Kimi are not members

        1. So we get Indianapolis 2005 but between Hamilton and Raikkonnen?
          Hm… Maybe I would like that..,

          1. So we get Indianapolis 2005 but between Hamilton and Raikkonnen? Hm… Maybe I would like that..,

            @verstappen – hehe! me too! no honor amongst thieves anyway! ….

    3. Ferrari, Jordan and Minardi… oh wait…

      1. Lucas Wilson (@full-throttle-f1)
        4th July 2013, 19:31

        Marrussia to win German gp lol

    4. @jackysteeg Not all of them, I’ve not got a complete list though. Button and Vettel are directors, Pedro de la Rosa is chairman though he’s obviously not a driver at present.

      1. according to BBC Hamilton and Kimi aren’t members.

        1. Out of respect to the other drivers I would think that Hamilton and Kimi would also boycott.

        2. Hamilton was a member last year, he was at the GPDA dinner at the 2012 Korean GP (see the picture Daniel Ricciardio posted on twitter), so unless he has left since I assume he is still a member.

          1. The fact he was in that picture doesn’t automatically make him a member, they might have just invited him along.

    5. Are the reserve drivers members of the GPDA? I’m just thinking of the scenario where the normal drivers boycott because of exploding tyres, but their respective teams still want to run the cars, so they ask the reserve driver to step up into the race seat, and if say that reserve driver isn’t a member of the GPDA, they would have a very tricky decision to make; fulfil your dream by competing in a Grand Prix, or say no, and potentially destroy any chance of fulfilling your dream.

      1. Additionally, doesn’t Pirelli supply tyres for GP3 and GP2 too? Are they having any problems with the tyres in those series? Surely the construction of the tyres for GP3 and GP2 don’t differ from F1 all that much?

        1. That’s an interesting point you raise, @formulales. Both GP2 and GP3 use the same tyres ad Formula 1 (the idea being that the tyres were so sensitive that using them would give drivers plenty if experience with them, making it easier to get into Formula 1), but as far as I’m aware, there wasn’t a single tyre failure in either category over the Silverstone weekend. Which has some interesting implications for the “it’s all Pirelli’s fault!” theory.

          1. @prisoner-monkeys

            GP2 and GP3 use the same tyres ad Formula 1

            They use Pirelli tyres but they aren’t identical to F1 tyres. In GP3 they even have a ‘super hard’ compound which F1 obviously doesn’t.

      2. Pedro de la rosa is the chairman so would of thought the most of the reserve drivers are members.

  6. Fully agree with this decision; if the FIA apparently isn’t strong enough to make such an important decision (e.g. Whiting didn’t have the balls to red flag the Britih GP), then it’s up to the drivers to stand up for themselves. This is exactly what the GPDA is meant to do: drivers as an individual simply wouldn’t make this decision. Good to see this organ is still functioning as it was originally intended.

    But what if the scenario described by the drivers actually occurs? Just google the 1975 Spanish Grand Prix and you will understand my concerns. On the other hand, if the drivers do stand ground, what will happen to the Nürburgring? For them, this will be a major financial disaster, probably the nail in the coffin for the Ring.

    There’s a lot at stake this weekend: the FIA’s authority, the drivers’, officials’ and spectators’ safety, Pirelli’s reputation and the Nürburgring’s future. Let’s just hope this whole thing fizzles out and Pirelli’s promises and predictions are indeed accurate.

    1. @andae23

      There’s a lot at stake this weekend: the FIA’s authority, the drivers’, officials’ and spectators’ safety, Pirelli’s reputation and the Nürburgring’s future. Let’s just hope this whole thing fizzles out and Pirelli’s promises and predictions are indeed accurate.

      Well said on all fronts. Also agree that the British GP could have been red flagged and likely should have been. It simply goes against the track record of ever improving safety in F1 to so callously keep racing without knowing the cause or solution for exploding tires. I don’t blame the drivers at all for coming to this decision.

      1. @bullmello

        Also agree that the British GP could have been red flagged and likely should have been

        However, on rate the race most people picked 9. A red flag would have resulted in a horrible score. So, I think there a lot of mixed messages going on.

  7. Perhaps the drivers could ask their employers to actually put the correct amount of air in the tyres as well.

    And staying within the confines of the race track wouldn’t hurt.

  8. Not going to happen. If one of the drivers refuses the boycott (and one will) all the other drivers will realise what valuable points they’re missing out on.

    I.E. If Marussia see this as an opportunity to pick up points, then Caterham and Williams will also want (nay, need) these points. But Williams will force Toro Rosso and Sauber out, which in turn would force McLaren and Force India out, and so on.

    I note in passing that the Chairman of the GPDA is Pedro De La Rosa, who is not currently a GPD.

    1. That’s an excellent point right there. Unless the GDPA can find a way to penalize (are there any??) the drivers who violate the agreement, almost all drivers would take to the track because of the constructors’ points at stake. The exceptions being the ones, whose tyres do in fact give out during practice or qualifying.

      1. they would be crossed off the christmas card list

  9. Stay off the kerbs!!!

    1. @5150 tyres should withstand n-trips through the kerbs. Even if drivers weren’t allowed to use the kerbs (they are), the tyres should still be required to withstand them.

      1. Yes, tyres should withstand driving over the kerbs.
        But drivers should stay off the kerbs!!!

        This is the way it should be. Not obusing the kerbs like they do today.

        1. *abusing. Sorry

        2. The F1 Sporting Regulations may state that kerbs are not technically part of the track, but they also do not forbid the use of said kerbs. So long as at least one wheel remains between the track boundaries, drivers can use as much of the kerbs as they want.

          If the drivers aren’t supposed to be using the kerbs, why are they even there in the first place?

          1. @raceprouk Exactly. This line of argument some people are coming out with that the drivers are somehow in the wrong by driving on kerbs that have been put there for them to drive on is preposterous.

          2. @keithcollantine
            Sure, but it’s preposterous to belive that can’t damage your tyre, since the kerbs are NOT meant to be driven on although not forbidden
            It’s also not forbidden to drive on the grass but they don’t. Or do they?

          3. @raceprouk @keithcollantine

            I believe the kerbs are there to give drivers some margin of error, but they chose to drive over them all of the time instead.
            In the 80’s kerbs were a lot higher, so the drivers made sure they didn’t drive over them much.
            But, because of mistakes like this, they were lowered

            And when lowered driver started to use them much more, although they are jagged and offer less grip. They are meant to ‘punish’ driver mistakes, which they don’t really. They are also there because if not for kerbs, there would be much more debris on the track. But still, they are a little run off areas in my view.
            I don’t think my reasoning on this topic is preposterous.

          4. @5150 – They would if it was faster

          5. @raceprouk
            I know, but running over the kerbs brings a little gambling with it. And they should be aware of that, and accept that risk and responsibility.
            They make damn sure they don’t run over them in the wet when they are slippery. They can avoid them in the dry, too.

          6. @5150 – Your reasoning is preposterous because the kerbs are designed to be driven on. If they weren’t there, there’d be debris brought onto the track as the drivers would still cut the apex. The tarmac itself would also degrade quicker. Not to mention the kerbs also help drainage.

            Drivers stay off them in the wet because they’re painted, not because they’re kerbs.

    2. Even after staying of fthe kerbs, Rosberg’s tyre still had a delamination problem and he had to switch tyres just before the end of the race.

  10. This will wreck havoc with the predictions championship

    1. @cornflakes I’m sure they took that into consideration when they were discussing the boycott :-)

  11. At the end of the day the drivers will do what their team wants them to do.I remember even in Indy 05 , there were rumors that a couple of the michelin runners wanted to race that day irrespective of the risks.

  12. At the end of the day the drivers will do what their team wants them to do.
    I remember even in Indy 05 , there were rumors that a couple of the michelin runners wanted to race that day irrespective of the risks.

    1. They weren’t just rumours, I remember Coulthards radio on the formation lap, he was trying to convince the team to let him start.

    2. Something makes me think Kimi was one of those…

  13. I’m not too happy to read this. Tyre failures have happened at other races this year, and they went ahead without incident. Obviously, what happened in Silverstone was too much, but where do you draw the line, and with what type tyre failure?

    Also, even if a tyre explodes again, what exactly are the dangers? F1 is reasonably safe today, so even if you lose control of your car, it’s likely you will walk away from it. Suspensions can also fail in high speed corners, but the possibility of that happening does not stop racing drivers from taking to the track.

    That leaves the dangers of flying tyre debris. I cannot judge how dangerous that is to other drivers, fans, and marshals. I think as long as tyres are not exploding, but merely failing on occasion, the race should go on. My thoughts are first with the fans at the track. I have no problem skipping an afternoon in front of the TV for the safety of the drivers, but for everyone making a hugely expensive trip to a GP it would be terrible if it is called off.

    One thing is for sure, though, Pirelli had better get their act together by Hungary, and I think the current tyre failures are their fault, even if there are mitigating circumstances. Yes, they were asked to develop aggressive tyres, and they cannot test with current cars, but those are part of the design parameters. And they had done so well in their first two years to develop exactly that: safe and degradable tyres (with the exception of the Spa 2011 blistering, but even that was not as dangerous, as you could see the blistering develop with the naked eye).

    1. I disagree with practically everything you have written.
      The drivers safety should come first, and F1 is actually extremely dangerous before tyres start exploding at high speed.
      yes, there hasn’t been an F1 death for going on 20 years, but complacency is a very dangerous thing.

      1. @xjr15jaaag, “safety should come first” is not an absolute. If it were, the cars could never leave the garage, as motor racing is inherently dangerous. In fact, it would be impossible to drive to work if safety is placed above all else.

        Like I said, exploding tyres are probably too unsafe to go racing for the drivers behind, but this is not oval racing, so for the driver suffering the failure it does not imply a high-speed impact.

        And anyway, the front tyres are unchanged for this race, and in Silverstone Esteban Guitierrez suffered an exploding front tyre. Are you saying the teams should pack up an go straight back to Silverstone to wait for the tyre test?

        1. No; I’m suggesting that if the drivers boycott the race on safety grounds, then they shouldn’t be criticised at all, as it is extremely clear that they have a point.

    2. @adrianmorse – Question: Would you be willing to get in a car and drive it at top speed in traffic through twists, turns and curves knowing full well that there was an approximately 22.7% possibility that your tire could explode at any moment?

      1. @bullmello, no I wouldn’t. But the question is, what is the probability of a failure, and what was the probability of a failure (tyre, suspension, brake, rear wing, etc.) before?

        I know I’m being a bit unpopular here, but they are racing the same front tyres here as last week, so the risk of failure is already increased, compared to tyres you can trust. So why aren’t more posters here calling for an immediate cancellation of the race?

    3. Watch this from about 4:30 – that’s how dangerous tyre debris can be. And that was at about 55. Imagine how much worse it would be at 155.

      1. Yeah if multiple explosions happening throughout one race weekend where there were none the year before aren’t enough of a sign of danger, I don’t know what it would take to raise alarm.

        @adrianmorse Of course the odd tire failure, with the background of them being fairly rare, might make your cavalier attitude toward safety make some sense, but given Pirelli’s worsening issues, I think one should be able to appreciate that any issues that crop up are not going to be taken as lightly at this point than they normally would be.

        I agree the fans in attendance might be disappointed and deserve compensation if at all possible if they miss a boycotted race, but I think they would be more disappointed/saddened/affected if their attendance saw them witnessing something tragic. They might end up wishing they weren’t there. The sponsors might not want their brands sullied in an overly and avoidably dangerous situation either. And this is so easily fixable with sensible safe tires that tire makers have been able to make for decades. Of course there is always danger and the cars and tracks are safer than ever…doesn’t mean you simply invite danger to walk right into the room. Michelin must be incredulous at what Pirelli has gotten away with so far.

  14. Is Räikkönen still the only race driver outside GPDA? The idea of him driving alone around the track is both hilarious and dreadful at the same time.

    1. According to the BBC article, it’s him and Lewis.

      1. This is easy then. Those two force a failure on their cars during practice, everyone else bows out and then can toss a coin for the podium positions :-)

        1. Or better yet, just let them duke it out.
          I wouldn’t mind seeing a two-car battle royale, provided one car doesn’t just streak ahead :)

        2. Zantkiller (@)
          4th July 2013, 21:03

          It would actually be decided using the numbers on the cars.
          So Hamilton would just be in the points.

      2. Hamilton = tyre failure, Kimi = tyre saving.

  15. I didn’t know there was a GPDA. I almost read that as GDPA and wondered what does Gross Domestic Product of Austria have to do with German GP? And then I realized, everything.

  16. Pirelli blamed the teams for running tyres on the incorrect sides of the car as well as using overly low pressures and strong cambers.

    Surely if they pop again in Germany it will be a case of – “We told you not to do that and now you’ve just gone and done it again”?

    1. But only if the teams actually repeat those actions.
      What slightly concerns me is the weather forecast; if it’s damp/wet for practice and qualifying, the drivers may still not find out if the revised tyres are up to it until race time.
      Thinking back to last week, if the weather had been better on Friday at Silverstone and we had seen four or five blowouts in Practice 1, 2 and 3 what would have happened come race day?

  17. what a load of hot air. nobody stopped during the british gp due to safety concerns

  18. Looks like Hamilton and Raikkonen are the ones who have a clue. I mean why join an association that makes decisions as rash as these. in the 60s they boycotted because drivers were dying day in day out. No one
    has even crashed yet and the association has already said they may boycott the race

    1. To act after something serious has happened is too late.

    2. So you’re waiting till something bad happens? Hey what do you care, it’s not YOU’RE the one having to drive high speed not knowing if the tires will hold up. Classy mate.

      Hamilton said:

      And to have four blowouts… it could have happened at high speed, someone could have crashed and I was thinking in the race behind the Safety Car it’s only until someone gets hurt that someone’s going to do something about it.

      Hamilton might not be part of the GPDA but I doubt he would risk driving since it personally happened to him. Raikkonen on the other hand…might.

  19. The tyres didn’t fall apart at GP2, did they?
    Wonder what they’ll do when only GP2 are affected.

  20. If somebody wants to fly me over to Germany I’ll gladly drive a car if the “Professionals” are too scared too….

    1. Hey how ’bout we all pitch in and buy you a ticket to Germany. We’ll even pay for the rental car to get to the track and you can get on the autobahn and drive at high speed to your heats content. Oh yeah, some of the tires might have cuts on them that might or might not fail at high speed.

  21. Am I the only one who thinks it’s a little contradictory for the drivers to give Pirelli a vote of confidence, and then threaten to boycott the race?

  22. The thing is that you cannot blame Pirelli or the track until the teams stop running them under the recommended pressure, in the wrong direction/side of car, at the wrong tracking angle or with too much camber.

    1. Paul Hembry, is that you?

      Good that besides the PR talk and blame shifting you still realize that a better construction is needed.

      1. No it’s not, but a person that spent many years testing in industry, but mainly in electronic controls.
        Can you be sure that if the tyres last week had been run as per Pirelli’s guidelines that there would have been any failures.
        Maybe that should be part of the (YD)test at Silverstone later this month.

      2. Also remember Spa 2011, RBR tried to blame Pirelli for tyre failures, but were found to be running aggressive camber angles.

        1. There weren’t any failures then though, not even to RBR, who took a 1-2. Compare that to there being around six failures in one weekend.

  23. This will never happen. The drivers have strong contracts and the teams have a strong obligation to race. They basically cant back out. The GPDA is just trying to stretch their muscles, and to play politics. This an empty threat and everyone knows this.

    This is exactly why Kimi isn’t part of the GPDA, he doesn’t like the politics of the GPDA.

  24. Kimi Raikkonen, Valtteri Bottas and Adrian Sutil are not part of GPDA, so they would race in any case. They are brave men. Raikkonen has admitted that early and dangerous 70’s were one of his favourite days in F1 history. I’d bet that if Nico Rosberg was not part of GPDA, he would join that club, too. He would be brave enough to compete at dangerous situations.

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