Jul 01

F1 2013: British GP Recap

© Pirelli Tyre S.p.A.

Tire it’s always the tires and the British GP made that even more obvious in spectacular fashion.  Hit the jump for our thoughts on the insanity that was the 2013 British GP.

© Pirelli Tyre S.p.A.

With the Mercedes testing controversy and constant debates about the efficacy of the Pirelli tires the 2013 F1 season has provided excitement both on and off the track.

After the last two races, with their unconventional track layouts, fans and drivers were looking forward to the F1 circus racing at the historic Silverstone circuit.  Would the recent Mercedes improvement continue at an actual GP track or would they fall back to their pattern of being fast in qualifying and not up to pace during the race?

© Pirelli Tyre S.p.A.

Much to the delight of the home crowd Lewis Hamilton captured the pole position with nearly a half second advantage over his Mercedes teammate, Nico Rosberg.

When the lights went out on the starting grid it looked like Hamilton was on his way to a Cinderella victory at his home GP.  With a great start, and a car that looked to have good race pace, Hamilton began to stretch out his lead to 2 seconds over Sebastien Vettel’s Red Bull.  All that changed on lap 8 when Hamilton’s left rear tire blew apart in spectacular fashion while he was at more than 170mph.  That was only the beginning.

© Pirelli Tyre S.p.A.

Two laps later Ferrari driver Felipe Massa had a similar failure of the left rear, spinning off the track in turn four.  Both drivers were able to limp to the pits and rejoin the race but it seemed that their hopes for a good result were dashed.

At that point most teams had decided to pit their cars and get them off the softer of the two available tire compounds, a precautionary measure as all the failures had occurred with the softer tire.  Then on lap 14, Jean-Eric Vergne’s hard compound tire disintegrated at 180mph, showering the chasing Lotus cars of Raikkonnen and Grosjean’s with rubber and carbon fiber.

Warnings went out to the driver’s and race officials called out the safety car to give marshals a chance to clean up the track.  With no certainty that the punctures were caused by debris, kerbs, or faulty construction the teams were at the mercy of fate.

© Red Bull Media House

Even with the looming potential for catastrophic tire failure, drivers continued to push and it was starting to look like a typical F1 race as Vettel took control and the rest of the field battled it out.

© Red Bull Media House

Fate finally caught up to Vettel on lap 41 as his gearbox packed up and he was forced to retire.  This made for an exciting sprint to the finish and as the season progresses the points Vettel lost at the British GP could be the determining factor in who walks away with the 2013 driver’s championship.

© Pirelli Tyre S.p.A.

With nearly everyone on fresh rubber the final 10 laps of the British GP were perhaps some of the best of the season.  Most notable was the late race charge of Mark Webber.  Webber had managed his usual start and fallen to 14th in the early part of the race.  With fresh tires and nothing to lose during the closing laps Webber scythed through the top ten position and managed to come within .7 seconds of Rosberg’s winning Mercedes.  If the race had lasted one more lap it is unquestionable that Webber would have won.

© Pirelli Tyre S.p.A.

The British GP marked the third career win for Nico Rosberg and his second of the season.

© Pirelli Tyre S.p.A.At this point it seems apparent that there needs to be something done about the tire situation.  While there hasn’t been any official word as to the cause of the failures during the British GP, Pirelli and F1 cannot afford to sit on their hands.  Pirelli, in its defense, had wanted to change the tire construction before the race but that is something the teams have to agree upon and they are reluctant to do.  A mid season change in construction could potentially cost teams millions, if the new tire diminished their car’s performance.

With only a few days before they start practice for the German GP I’m sure Pirelli, the FIA, and the teams are frantically working on some sort of solution or at least an understanding of what caused the problems at the British GP.

For all the official results from the British GP checkout the fancy Official F1 site: http://www.formula1.com/results/season/2013/901/