For the German Grand Prix at the Nurburgring this weekend, Pirelli has announced it will change the construction of the tire belt from steel to Kevlar. Prior to the British Grand Prix last week, teams had voted against the use of Kevlar tires, suspicious that certain teams could benefit from the change. Tire construction will once again be changed before the Hungarian Grand Prix, using the construction methods of the 2012 season tire with 2013 compounds.
The reason is this: At the British Grand Prix at Silverstone Circuit, there were at least four instances of tire failures. Drivers Lewis Hamilton, Felipe Massa, Jean-Eric Vergne, and Sergio Perez all suffered blowouts to the rear left side tire.
Pirelli, the sole tire provider for Formula 1, blamed the failures on the racing teams. Many teams were mounting tires on opposite sides to maximize tire life, a practice which Pirelli believes contributed to the issue due to the asymmetric design of the tires. Teams also ran the tires at lower than recommended pressures, leaving the sidewall more susceptible to cuts. It is suspected that a high kerb at Turn 4 was responsible for the punctures, and many drivers were told to stay off the kerbs if possible.
Lewis Hamilton was the first to fall victim to tire failure, leading the race at the time. Sebastian Vettel inherited the race lead from Hamilton, and was told his first set of tires had cuts in the sidewalls. His tire problems were short lived, as he retired due to transmission failure. Felipe Massa and Jean-Eric Vergne were the next to experience tire failure, with Sergio Perez having the final blowout of the race. Vergne and Perez were forced to retire due to damage, but Hamilton and Massa were able to finish in fourth and sixth place, respectively.
The FIA, the governing body of Formula 1, has altered the upcoming Young Driver test rules. The test will now allow more experienced drivers to participate, helping Pirelli to develop tires safer for the drivers. In addition to the new tire construction, Pirelli wants the FIA to regulate how teams run the tires to ensure that they are run safely.