The Grand Prix of Germany is scheduled to be held this weekend under massive scrutiny, with all of the eyes of the racing world firmly placed on tire manufacturer Pirelli. Now in their fourth year of tire development for Formula 1 teams, Pirelli is on the hot seat after five tire failures plagued the previous race at Silverstone, making drivers question the overall safety of the tire.
Mercedes GP has been nearly disqualified for colluding with Pirelli this year, and yet every grand prix the tour travels too, tires seem to be an issue. It arguably cost Lewis Hamilton a victory at his home grand prix when he lost a tire from the lead.
Even before the season started, Pirelli essentially admitted their compound for this year would be rather untested, blaming it on the Jerez Circuit in Spain. Last week, Pirelli attempted to clear its name by saying the curbs at Silverstone were “razor sharp”, although that was found to be untrue.
That brings us to Germany, the center of everything that is wrong with Formula One. The Nurburgring, the arguable center of the racing world, finds itself bankrupt after mismanagement and a broken agreement with race promoters.
While Pirelli blamed tire swapping, where the steel belt for rigidity was placed on the wrong side of the tire in relation of the car, they will certainly face their ultimate and perhaps final test this weekend. Pirelli has only run at Nurburgring once, thanks to the alternating German Grand Prix dates with Hockenheim.
The Grand Prix Drivers Association has issued a boycott threat which would park all of the cars this weekend if a tire fails during practice conditions, such as one did on the car of Sergio Perez in free practice three at Silverstone.
Going forward, Pirelli has stated that it will be developing a new compound for the Hungarian Grand Prix, essentially using its Kevlar based compound only for this week’s race.
Formula One is never going to be in any sort of financial disparity, but these are certainly troubling times in the sport. Pirelli seems every weekend to be more and more incompetent, and new regulations are hurting the sport. Everything is artificial and dredged in political tension.
With The Grand Prix Drivers Association’s threat alone having to exist, it symbolizes a return to threats and politics. Much like the 2005 United States Grand Prix which symbolized the end of the V10 era, this controversy marring the sport marks the end of V8 engines. With an added emphasis on mechanical grip, tires will be at the forefront of in-race strategy. The pressure will be on Pirelli this weekend and rightly so. If they cannot step up, expect their role as exclusive tire provider to be terminated quite shortly.
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