It is normally good for a Grand Prix to be remembered, particularly as an exciting race, a great performance by a driver or team, or for some impressive overtaking manoeuvres. However, the 2013 British Grand Prix, whilst having all of those qualities, will also be remembered for the Pirelli tyre issues that a number of the cars experienced, and which changed the face of the race. There has been much controversy about the Pirelli tyres this year – whose purposeful degradation has certainly met the brief to add some unpredictability to the races – and the British Grand Prix happened just after the outcome of the controversy inevitably known as “TyreGate” when the Mercedes team were found to have tested the car not in accordance with the rules, and were punished with a reprimand and a ban from the Young Drivers’ Test.
There had been some tyre related issues in the run up to Sunday, but these were nothing compared to the race itself. Pole sitter and Grand Prix leader Lewis Hamilton was the first to see one of his tyres explode, and thankfully Lewis managed to control the car through to the pits and to get some new rubber. The tyre looked in a pretty awful state as Lewis passed me.
The next tyre to go was also of a high profile, with equally dramatic effect, was Felipe Massa, who had his car pushed into a spin whilst going through The Loop, just again in my line of sight. Again, he worked hard to keep the car moving, and managed to get it around to the pits for a new set of tyres, and managed to keep going. The tyres looked in quite a state again as Felipe passed by.
As we watched the two Lotuses race down the Hangar Straight, the tyre of Jean-Eric Vergne, just in front of them, had its turn to go, with dramatic effect, just within our sight. This lead to the track being filled with marshalls, as the drivers continued behind the safety car, to check the track. I have never seen so many marshalls on the track during a race.
There were more tyre failures through the course of the race, which led to the drivers threatening not to race the following weekend in Germany should the problem not be rectified. Thankfully, enough was done to keep the German Grand Prix with all twenty two drivers.
This was not, though, the first tyre troubles of the year, or the only wheel issues. In Spain, I watched on as Giedo van der Garde’s tyre bounced away in front on me.
When I looked at the tyres back in Winter Testing, I had no idea that they would be such an important part of the 2013 season.
I do hope that the focus can go back to the racing.
There is an index of my photos from the 2013 British Grand Prix weekend here.