Nico Rosberg crossed the line first at Silverstone to claim his second Grand Prix win of the season in a result likely to be overshadowed by a brewing storm over a Pirelli tyre shambles that punctuated much of the running with tyre failures.
Rosberg’s Mercedes AMG Petronas team mate Lewis Hamilton had led the early stages of the race, but on lap seven he became the first man to suffer a Pirelli branded difficulty as his left rear tyre blew going down the Wellington straight – the resultant limp to the pits and tyre change meant he dropped far down the pack. However, he did recover to finish fourth.
Soon after came the second part of this modern day Shakespearian tragicomedy with Ferrari’s Felipe Massa suffering almost an identical failure accelerating out of The Loop towards the Wellington Straight. He to managed to get a good result in the books – a sixth place with team mate Fernando Alonso finishing on the podium in third.
The third tyre failure, Jean-Eric Vergne at Stowe, saw the safety car launched to aid the marshals clearing up debris left over. Quickly after this came a flurry of frantic messages from the pit wall instructing drivers to avoid the kerbs theorising that they were the cause of the failures.
Indeed, after Sergio Perez in the McLaren suffered from the cruel curse of the bursting tyre, it has been reported that Race Director Charlie Whiting was “seriously considering” red flagging the race in the name of safety.
Whiting told Autosport’s Jonathan Noble: “We haven’t seen a failure like this before; we have seen other types of failure – and that is what has been addressed. So we need to analyse it very carefully to see if we can establish the cause.”
Pirelli’s Paul Hembrey commented on the tyre issues: “There have obviously been some issues with rear-left tyre failures which we have not seen before. We are taking the situation very seriously and we are currently investigating all tyres to determine the cause as soon as possible, ahead of the next Grand Prix in Germany. At the moment, we can’t really say much more until we have fully investigated and analysed all of these incidents, which is our top priority.”
Away from the tyre discussions defending champion Sebastian Vettel retired from the lead of the race after losing fifth gear and crawling to a stop on the pit straight. However, in a silver lining to the dark Vettel cloud, following the safety car period to recover the stranded #1 car, Mark Webber – having pitted later in the race for fresh rubber – blasted past Adrian Sutil (who finished seventh) and Daniel Ricciardo (eventually eighth) on his way to second place and further proof that Webber is seemingly the stronger Red Bull driver at the Northamptonshire track.
Also finishing strongly was Sutil’s Force India team mate Paul Di Resta who recovered from last place on the grid to ninth and two championship points.
The points tally still shows Vettel leading even with his retirement on 132 points, Alonso is second with 111 and Kimi Raikkonen, after his fifth place, is knocking on the door of triple figures on 98.
The next race for the F1 circus is the German Grand Prix at the Nurburgring next weekend.