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F1: Pirelli takes offensive over exploding tyres

Italian company says teams contributed to blowouts

F1: Pirelli takes offensive over exploding tyres

(By Paul Virgo) Rome, July 3 - Pirelli has taken the offensive over the furore caused by a series of blowouts at last weekend's British Grand Prix, insisting its tyres are safe and saying the Formula One teams contributed to the problem by not using them correctly. After conducting an investigation, the Italian company said four rear-left tyre failures at the Silverstone track on Sunday, which sparked alarm about driver safety, were caused by a combination of factors. These included the fact that some teams had deliberately put tyres intended for the right rear on the left side of their cars, had run them at lower pressures than recommended and used extreme camber angles in an attempt to boost performance. "Under-inflation of the tyres and extreme camber settings, over which Pirelli has no control, are choices that can be dangerous under certain circumstances," it said. The company accepted that it was in part to blame though, as it had not banned teams from mounting tyres on the wrong side. But it stressed that its product was safe. "Pirelli would also like to underline that the 2013 tyre range does not compromise driver safety in any way if used in the correct manner, and that it meets all the safety standards requested by (F1's governing body) the FIA," Pirelli said in a statement. Nevertheless, the company said it would take stronger rear tyres to this weekend's German Grand Prix and introduce a new range by the time of the Hungarian Grand Prix later this month. Ferrari's Fernando Alonso said he was confident Sunday's at the Nurburgring will be safe. "After what we saw in Silverstone, we now go to the Nurburgring, confident we can see an improvement," Spain's Alonso, a two-time world champion, said Wednesday. "I know that various modifications have been applied and let's hope that means all of us drivers can race in safe conditions. "At the moment, we can't make any predictions, because no one has tried them and we don't know what and how many benefits they can bring, apart from trusting in the fact that it won't be dangerous to race". Last weekend's rear-left tyre failures hit Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton, who was in the lead at the time of his blowout, Ferrari's Felipe Massa, Toro Rosso's Jean-Eric Vergne and McLaren's Sergio Perez. Pirelli's deliberately fast-wearing tyres, designed to make F1 races more exciting by forcing teams to make several pit-stops, have been criticised by some teams all season. Several drivers, including Red Bull's German world champion Sebastian Vettel, have complained the tyres perform unpredictably and frequently force them to cut speed to stop them wearing out after only a few laps. But the British race was the first to feature tyre explosions. Some in the sport had talked of a possible driver boycott after Silverstone. Pirelli's attempts to introduce significant changes to its tyres previously this season were opposed by Ferrari, Force India and Lotus, teams who had adapted well to the current specifications. After the tyre explosions, the FIA, F1's governing body, changed its rules to allow race drivers to test tyres with their 2013 race cars at Silverstone later this month. The FIA is also looking at the possibility of changing its regulations to enable Pirelli to modify the tyres during the season without requiring unanimous agreement from all the teams. Pirelli has been the sole tyre supplier to all the F1 teams since 2011. Its exclusive contract with the sport expires at the end of this year and a renewal has not yet been signed.

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