PHUKET: Every man jack in the Green Man, Phuket cheered when Sebastian Vettel’s transmission failed. The race had suddenly become exciting. The Championship was teetering towards interesting.
Silverstone re-invigorated the season with exploding tyres and Sebastian Vettel’s gearbox failure. It was certainly not the parade behind Red Bull that I had feared.
Kimi Raikkonen was let down by his team’s inexplicable error in not giving him new shoes under the safety car; they lost a certain second place.
Lewis Hamilton lost a tyre, but was favoured by the safety car to finish fourth, and with his team-mate winning, it was a great day for Mercedes.
Webber had a great drive for Red Bull, and was unlucky not to win. Fernando Alonso’s third place was a boost for his challenge.
The five exploding tyres at Silverstone were probably a latent possibility all season, which I am guessing is why Pirelli had Mercedes conduct that strange test in Barcelona.
The proximate cause of the Silverstone problem seems to have been sharp edged kerbs on fast corners. But Pirelli listed a series of team-created causes, including: teams mounting the asymmetric rear tyres the wrong way round; and the use of lower than recommended tyre pressures.
Pirelli still insists that the current tyres if used correctly are perfectly safe. Teams are now forbidden to swap the tyres around.
But in any case, Pirelli has announced that the Kevlar-belted rear tyres tested in Canada will be used in Germany, replacing the 2013 steel belts. A new tyre range will be introduced from Hungary combining the 2012 tyre characteristics with 2013 compounds.
The tyres for the Hungary onwards will have the structure, construction and belt of the 2012 tyre, with the 2013 compounds. This new tyre, as agreed with the FIA, will be tested by the teams and their 2013 cars at Silverstone from July 17-19 using race drivers instead of the previously scheduled young driver test.
Pirelli is also asking for regulation changes to give them access to real-time data from teams on pressure, temperature and camber angles.
So it’s on to the Nürburgring, one of the most technical circuits where drivers have to manage slow, technical corners. Tyre degradation is likely to be high as well. Do not expect safety cars. It’s the sort of track where Ferrari should do well, and Lotus should also be bullish. Mercedes has its tail in the air, and Red Bull would dearly love a great result, so we are set for a great spectacle.
My eyes will be on Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen, even if Fernando’s facial hair seems to be rivalling Lewis Hamilton’s for eccentricity.
Join me at The Green Man, Phuket (click here for map) for the race on Sunday at 7pm. Qualifying at the same time on Saturday. See you there!
— The Digby
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