LONDON (Reuters) - Silverstone’s owners hit back on Monday at suggestions that the circuit’s curbs could be to blame for explosive Pirelli tire failures at Sunday’s British Formula One Grand Prix.
Derek Warwick, President of the British Racing Drivers Club, said he had been out to look at the curbs and dismissed as “absolute rubbish” reports that sharp edges might have cut the tire sidewalls.
“These curbs have been in since 2009. We’ve had thousands and thousands of cars go over these curbs and they have been absolutely fine,” Warwick, an ex-Formula One driver whose brother Paul was killed in a racing accident in 1991, told Sky Sports television.
“We’ve had them checked by the FIA (International Automobile Federation) and they comply completely,” he added as a safety debate raged, with talk of a possible driver boycott of the next race in Germany.
The Briton said the Silverstone race - in which strips of tread containing metal belts flew off the tires and narrowly missed the heads of drivers following behind - had at one stage looked like a disaster in the making.
“We need to make sure it’s a good race here at Silverstone in order to bring the crowds back for next year so to say I was panicking would be an under-statement,” said Warwick.
He pointed the finger at Pirelli, the three teams who prevented the supplier from introducing a stronger version of the tires for the race at Silverstone and the sport’s commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone.
“I think Bernie, the FIA and Pirelli are bringing the sport into disrepute and they need to have a serious look at themselves and change these tires and not expect all the teams to agree,” said Warwick.
“Take it out of the teams’ hands and put safe tires on these cars,” he added.
Ferrari, Lotus and Force India have resisted moves to change the construction and compounds of the 2013 tires, which other teams say are too quick-wearing and not hard enough, because their cars are working well with them.
“The teams need to look at themselves,” said Warwick. “They made the decision not to bring a new tire. I kind of blame Pirelli but they did their best to bring a new tire to Silverstone and three teams voted against it.”
The Pirelli tires have come in for considerable criticism this season, with drivers also complaining that they have to pace themselves to make them last rather than racing flat out.
Pirelli have pointed out they are merely doing what they were asked to do to improve the show, providing tires that encourage overtaking and force more pitstops. When they tried to change them, they were prevented from doing so.
The company has also chafed at the sporting regulations, which ban teams from track testing during the season and using their current cars to test with Pirelli.
The Italian company was reprimanded by the FIA last month for carrying out a ‘secret’ tire test with Mercedes in Spain.
Warwick, who played down talk of a possible driver boycott threatening next weekend’s German Grand Prix at the Nuerburgring, said the Italian company made good tires but had not lived up to expectations.
“Pirelli and Formula One need to have a really good look at themselves and make sure that we have tires that drivers can drive flat out all the time,” said the Briton.
Editing by Clare Fallon