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Hamilton gets a 5 place grid penalty
At the very end of FP3 we saw Lewis Hamilton crawling back to the garage with a delaminated tyre and broken suspension. With all the debate over whether tyres are overly affecting race results the reaction from some in the media is to blame Pirelli for delivering a sub-standard rubber.
Two things are worthy of note, if it were a tyre delamination due to a faulty construction then FP1,2 and 3 represents about 7,000km of running – add the qualifying and races – we’ve seen over 50,000km of the Pirelli tyres already this year and this is a rare event.
I believe that Mercedes have information that this was not a simple delamination due to a structural rubber failure alone – but we’ll have to wait and see what their official line is in the coming hours.
Hamilton was 5th fastest in FP3 and it appears after success in Malaysia and China as in 2012 the Mercedes team has lost some it its early momentum.
Team Principals’ FIA Press Conference
This is the one I look forward to each race weekend. Regardless of who is asking the questions unlike the drivers, those involved on a Friday regularly have some message they wish to convey even though it is regularly somewhat coded.
This weekend, the biggie was right at the very end and it wasn’t the domain of a principal with a competing car. Paul Hembery has been a fine ambassador for Pirelli and at times handles extreme criticism and pressure with a long lens. He realises the heat is on the tyre supplier for the first 3rd of the season and thereafter it becomes a series of mind games between teams and drivers.
Paul was asked,”When asked about the Pirelli situation, Mr. Ecclestone said rather cryptically that ‘from our side it’s all done.’ Is that your understanding of it? Could you explain what he could have meant by that please?”
Hembery: (Laughing a quite a lot) “What, you didn’t understand that, then? Well, it’s all done then from his side. I think that’s all I can say.
It’s on-going, I think I’ve told you before that we need to have some clarity over what’s going on, going forward. As time passes, we have to make decisions as a business. We’re not immune to what’s going on in the European automotive business in particular; sales were ten percent down in March in the overall market. That impacts heavily on us and we’re currently having to make action plans to address those challenges. I would think that from our point of view, sooner rather than later… time is of the essence, I would suggest now”.
Question: “What is the time scale?”
Hembery: “I don’t particularly want to give deadlines to everyone because it seems like a negotiating point but there is a time scale and I’m pretty sure I know what it is. You might be inviting me here shortly to have a different type of press conference, I don’t know, but there has been progress and we are discussing and hopefully it will get resolved in the near future”.
It sounds to me like Bernie is getting as good as he usually dishes out in this negotiation. So he’s thrown down the gauntlet to Pirelli and said his position on remuneration is final – take it or leave it.
Hembery is careful not to threaten unnecessarily with deadlines but his response that he may soon be giving ‘a different type of press conference’ was a clear message. The veiled threat is – and not one that was too heavily disguised – we may be hearing from Pirelli, “We’re off and thanks for the memories” is a distinct possibility.
Many fans who oppose the current tyre design concept may feel it would be good for F1 were Pirelli to be replaced for 2014 but in fact it would do nothing to bring stability to the tyre matter. The reason being Pirelli have been developing their track data for 2 and a bit years and a new supplier coming in 2014 will be starting from scratch.
3 year tyre supply contracts are probably too short if we wish the manufacturer to develop a database that enables them to control the production and then the selection of tyres to each venue to an accurate specification