Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery last night held his hands up and conceded: “We got it wrong.”
It was a frank admission from Hembery in light of the shocking events that unfolded during the British Grand Prix on Sunday, when exploding tyres overshadowed the event at Silverstone.
It was also a shift in proportional blame given earlier in the week Pirelli had pointed more of an accusing finger at the teams for the blowouts, which included Lewis Hamilton when he was leading.
Pirelli highlighted a number of factors behind the failures, among them the practice of the teams swapping their rear tyres, too-high pressures and excessive cambers.
Adopting a more conciliatory tone, Hembery said: “We underestimated the impact of swapping tyres with the cars two and three seconds per lap quicker this season.
“When you swap them around it creates a weakness with the metallic belt. We got that wrong. We need to get it right going forward.
“There were secondary issues, which have been mentioned, but I don’t want to take away from the fact it was our responsibility.
“Going forward, though, there are things we need to be much more rigid on and that’s where we are at.”
For this weekend’s German Grand Prix only, the cars are running on Kevlar-belted rears as opposed to steel as it is more resistant to punctures.
From the race in Hungary later this month, the tyres will comprise last year’s structure with this year’s compounds.
Asked as to how certain he could be of their safety, he replied: “We wouldn’t be racing if we didn’t feel they were safe.”
Yesterday’s two practice sessions for the race at the Nurburgring passed off without any incident, to leave any threat of a driver boycott now rapidly receding.
The Grand Prix Drivers’ Association had earlier made clear they would withdraw from the event should there be a repeat of the incidents seen at Silverstone.
That followed a meeting between the GPDA and Pirelli race director Mario Isola and FIA race director Charlie Whiting.
Clarifying the GPDA’s position, director Jenson Button said: “We want to go racing – that’s what we’re here to do. We love racing and want to put on a show for the fans, especially.
“But obviously last weekend was dangerous, and we said if we have issues again that we would have to consider not racing this weekend.”
McLaren star and 2009 world champion Button is confident there will be no problems, however, adding: “Yes, I am actually.
“Pirelli has done a good job of bringing the new tyres here. To turn around that many tyres – almost 1000 – is very impressive. It’s good to see.”
Fellow director Sebastian Vettel echoed Button’s remarks, saying: “The general agreement was that we’re happy Pirelli bought their new specification of tyre for this event.
“We want to thank them for their flexibility and reaction times, that they were able to find a solution in only a couple of days.
“The circumstances we raced under in Silverstone were not what we can accept, but I don’t think we will see those issues again.”
As one of the three non-members of the GPDA – Valtteri Bottas and Adrian Sutil the others – Lotus’s Kimi Raikkonen has stated he will not take part in any boycott should one materialise.
Recalling events from the 2005 United States Grand Prix, Raikkonen was one of 16 drivers using Michelin tyres that race who withdrew on safety grounds, only to be let down by those on Bridgestone rubber.
“I was once involved in 2005 and funnily enough there were some guys that didn’t stop and they drove,” Raikkonen said.
“So I will race whatever happens this time, although I am sure it is not going to happen anyhow.”
Regarding Pirelli’s longer-term involvement in the sport, Hembery is adamant the Italian manufacturer will not be walking away. “We need to get it sorted and the best way to react is to do it properly and get things back on line,” he said.
“We are a professional company. We are very passionate about what we do and very good at what we do.
“You don’t walk away in difficult times. That’s the time to work harder and make sure you do a better job.”
After the first session of practice yesterday, Mercedes appeared to be a class apart, with Lewis Hamilton narrowly ahead of team-mate Nico Rosberg, but with nearest challenger in Mark Webber a staggering second off the pace. Come the conclusion to FP2, it was reigning triple world champion Sebastian Vettel who held sway as the teams tested the quicker of the two compounds available for this race, the soft as opposed to the medium that had been used in FP1.
Vettel, who has never won his home race – and more remarkably has never won a grand prix in the month of July in 12 attempts – posted a time of one minute 30.416secs in his Red Bull.
Rosberg, as in FP1 behind Hamilton, was second and 0.235secs adrift, with the Briton 0.888secs down in eighth place.