Alonso fears tyre testing
TYRE BOYCOTT? Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso would rather "not go" to the upcoming tyre testing at Silverstone later in July after he was almost hit on the head by an exploding tyre during the 2013 British GP. Image: AFP
Author: MARK MEADOWS
NURBURGRING, Germany - Ferrari's Fernando Alonso is reluctant to take part in a test at Silverstone later in July because he fears a repeat of the scenes at the British Grand Prix last Sunday when exploding tyres put drivers' lives at risk.
The Spaniard, second in the standings behind Red Bull's triple World champion Sebastian Vettel, was almost hit on the head by a strip of tread flying off Sergio Perez's McLaren in front of him.
Formula One's governing body responded to the five blowouts by deciding on Monday to change the rules and allow race drivers to test revised Pirelli tyres with their current cars at the same track later in July, instead of just young drivers.
HESITANT TO TEST
Alonso told reporters ahead of Sunday's German GP: "I don't intend to go. It's not a very safe thing racing on the same track with the same tyres. I don't have the feeling I want to go. But if the team wants me to go..."
After the intervention of the governing FIA amid talk of a driver boycott, Pirelli have brought different rear tyres to the Nurburgring - Vettel's home race - with an inner belt made of the synthetic fibre Kevlar rather than steel.
Double champion Alonso has put his faith in Pirelli to at least make this race safer, even if cooler rear tyres could benefit Mercedes and Red Bull based on the 2013 season's analysis.
"Pirelli made some changes so we trust them," Alonso said. "This is the third or fourth change they make in the season already, some were hurting us, some were helping us. I think performance today is the second priority.
"The most important thing is to make it for dinner at home on Sunday. I was lucky... it could have hit my helmet (last Sunday when finishing third). It would have been like a bullet."
‘MIX THINGS UP’
Other drivers hoped the Italian firm had cracked the problem. Photographers milled around the Pirelli trucks in the Nurburgring paddock on Thursday with technicians hard at work on the tyres, with practice taking place on Friday, July 5.
Vettel said: "Like we said last weekend, it has to be safe. It was not what we want, not satisfactory. It's good we have a new tyre here."
Red Bull team mate Mark Webber, who is swopping the perils of F1 for the equally dangerous pursuit of Le Mans endurance driving at the end of the 2013 season, rejected suggestions that kerbs at Silverstone had ruptured the tyres.
Webber said: "It caught us all by surprise on Sunday for sure. All of a sudden in the race there were landmines everywhere which no one really predicted. In the end everyone left there in one piece...apart from the tyres. Pirelli will learn from it, they have to. There's no issues with the kerbs because the track was fine the last five years. I'm a bit more confident they've got more data."
Pirelli, which has put some of the blame for the Silverstone blowouts on the teams for the way they have managed tyres, conducted a "secret" test with Mercedes in Barcelona in May for which the German team were punished by the FIA.
Mercedes have been ruled out of the Silverstone tyre trial this month and Nico Rosberg, the British GP winner, shrugged off talk that the Spanish test had given them inside knowledge going forward.
He also gave little hope to fans who feel tyres have been too decisive when it comes to results this season. "There's no advantage. We don't know if we ran this tyre in Barcelona, you'll have to ask Pirelli. For sure (the tyres changes) will very likely have an impact. It's going to mix things up a little bit."
Stay with Wheels24 for the 2013 German GP weekend.