Sebastian Vettel has launched a furious attack against tyre manufacturer and supplier Pirelli after he suffered a tyre failure on the penultimate lap of the Belgian Grand Prix.
Vettel, a four-time world champion, was not the first driver to express concerns with the Italian manufacturer after Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg was fortunate enough to emerge unhurt from his 190mph tyre blowout on the Friday practices.
Vettel was on the penultimate lap of the track, when his tyre blew, whilst he was driving down the Kemmel straight. The German began in ninth place on Sunday’s race, but after switching to an unusual one-stop strategy, he was battling for the final spot on the podium behind the two Mercedes with Lotus’ Romain Grosjean when he suffered tyre failure.
“Things like that are not allowed to happen, full stop,” said an angry Vettel. “If it happens 200 metres earlier, I am not standing here now. I don’t know what else needs to happen.”
Whilst he was speaking to the BBC, Vettel also added: “I think it is a sort of thing that keeps going around and no-one mentions. It it is unacceptable. If Nico tells us he did not go off the track, he didn’t go off the track, why should he lie to us?
“It is the same with me, I didn’t go off the track – it is out of the blue the tyre exploded – and as I said if this happens earlier than I am f*cked. It is not acceptable.”
After Rosberg’s blowout in practice at Spa on Friday, Pirelli suggested the damage to Vettel’s tyre might’ve been caused by debris or a kerb and they insisted they were pleased with their product.
Pirelli chief Paul Hembery stated: “I am not going to criticise Sebastian. It is a hot moment and I don’t want to enter into a war of words over that – it is pointless for everybody.”
In reference to Vettel’s strategy, Hembery added: “We were concerned when we saw the number of laps that were going to be done. Nobody really suggested they were going to do a one-stop race and it was a bit of a surprise – if anything people were talking about doing three stops rather than two.
They were following a different approach – if the race was one lap less everyone would have said what a genius approach because they would have been on the podium.”
Vettel has also defended claims against Ferrari on this matter, insisting that the Maranello-based team should not be held accountable for what happened, pinning the blame firmly on Pirelli, who released a statement hours after the race claiming that its proposal to limit the number of laps completed on one set of tyres was dismissed by the teams two years ago.
It claims that had the suggestion been observed, drivers would have been restricted to just 22 laps of the track on medium compound tyres during the race. Vettel had started the 28th lap on the same tyres when the incident took place.