Tyre Saga Spawns Strike Threat

After a long absence – due mainly to the pressures of work, moving house and going to the pub – I feel it is time to return, as things are getting a little hot under the collar in the F1 world. The fall-out from the Silverstone fiasco (see grandprix.com for the full statement on the cause of the spectacular tyre explosions) has been stellar and, while Pirelli is hardly blameless, it was clear all along that the teams, and the FIA, should also shoulder some of the blame.

With just one week between the British and German Grands Prix the Italian tyre maker has been put firmly on the back foot; without going into complex detail, Pirelli has reverted to a Kevlar-banded tyre for this event, in the hope of alleviating the problems experienced last weekend. However, the Grand Prix Drivers Association has issued a potentially explosive statement, confirming the threat of a boycott should the problems recur. It reads:

“The drivers of the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association wish to express their deepest concerns about the events that took place at Silverstone. We trust that the changes made to the tyres will have the desired results and that similar problems will not occur during the German GP weekend. We are ready to drive our cars to the limit, as we always do, and as it is expected by our teams, sponsors and fans. However, the drivers have decided that, if similar problems should manifest themselves during the German GP, we shall immediately withdraw from the event, as this avoidable problem with the tyres endangers again the lives of drivers, marshals and fans.”

Joe Saward raises an interesting point in that if drivers withdraw en-masse, the teams may still wish to race; drivers with licences, he states, would be ‘in demand’. Most teams have third drivers on hand – who may or may not be members of the GPDA – and Saward also infers that some current drivers are not members of the GPDA. Could we have a crisis on our hands? The likelihood of a drivers ‘strike’ is not great, but the threat is clearly very real.

Those of us with long memories will remember – with fondness, in fact – the 1982 Kyalami driver’s strike – more of that soon – but the hope is that, this time around, things go smoothly. It will be interesting to keep an eye on both practice sessions today.

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