Vettel eyes history, others eye Pirelli

A Mercedes mechanic checks Pirelli tyres before this weekend's Italian Grand Prix. Pirelli, which supplies tyres to all Formula One teams, has said that Sebastian Vettel's blowout denying him a podium place in Belgium was caused by track debris and F
A Mercedes mechanic checks Pirelli tyres before this weekend's Italian Grand Prix. Pirelli, which supplies tyres to all Formula One teams, has said that Sebastian Vettel's blowout denying him a podium place in Belgium was caused by track debris and Ferrari's single pit-stop strategy.PHOTO: REUTERS

German keen to win at Monza with third F1 team, as Pirelli tyres come under scrutiny

MONZA • Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel is eager to put his tyre blowout in Belgium behind him this week, as he seeks to become only the second driver to win the Italian Grand Prix with three different teams.

Two weeks after a dramatic tyre failure ended his hopes of a podium finish in Spa, tyre company Pirelli released findings from its investigation into the incident.

It said an "exceptional combined effect" of track debris and prolonged usage led to the tyre failure and motorsport governing body FIA has agreed to the request that the circuit be cleaned after qualifying.

"Tests were carried out on tyres used by different teams during the race and none showed any signs of internal delamination (fatigue)," read a statement on the Formula One website yesterday.

"However, Pirelli engineers reported a highly unusual number of cuts to tyres over the Spa weekend."

A total of 63 cuts were found in the tread of tyres used over the Spa weekend, compared to an average of just 1.2 per event in the previous 15 grands prix.

Ferrari's single pit-stop strategy also added stress to the tyres.

Mercedes' Nico Rosberg, who also suffered a blowout in Spa during practice, told reporters he was confident he would have a safe car this weekend.

However, others remained sceptical about the conclusions.

"I don't think anyone is happy with the fact that it's a cut. Seb didn't go off track, there are kerbs and you can use them," Lotus's French driver Romain Grosjean told reporters moments before the statement was issued. "I don't think it's a good explanation."

The FIA, however, said it was satisfied with the thoroughness of the investigation, and with Pirelli's conclusions, and was willing to consider any further safety recommendations.

Drivers said separately that teams had been advised about tyre pressures and cambers for Monza, the fastest circuit on the calendar where cars hit speeds in excess of 360kmh.

Vettel, who was very emotional in Spa, was not keen to revisit the issue.

"Tyre situation is not acceptable if you have a blow-up out of the blue, so nothing more to say," he told a press conference yesterday. "The important thing is to make progress."

The four-time world champion is on Sunday aiming to emulate a 56-year-old achievement of Briton Stirling Moss who triumphed in 1956, 1957 and 1959 with Maserati, Vanwall and Rob Walker Racing.

Vettel claimed his maiden F1 win at the famous old Autodromo Nazionale with the Toro Rosso team in a downpour in 2008 and then won twice more with Red Bull in 2011 and 2013.

Now, he seeks to add a memorable victory on home soil for the scarlet scuderia at a time when the team and their local race badly need a boost.

Lotus are set to race this weekend despite the British-based team facing an uncertain future.

Monza represents the last European round of this year's world championship before the competition moves to Marina Bay for the Sept 18-20 Singapore Grand Prix.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS


ITALIAN F1 GRAND PRIX

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 04, 2015, with the headline 'VETTEL EYES HISTORY, OTHERS EYE PIRELLI'. Print Edition | Subscribe