Despite speculation to the contrary, there appears little proof that any team considered withdrawing from the British Grand Prix
as a result of the repeated tyre failures that affected Pirelli.
Mercedes, McLaren, Ferrari, Toro Rosso
and Sauber all suffered problems during the race at Silverstone, but all insist that discussions on the pit-wall centred on what the sport's governing body, the FIA, may opt to do in light of the failures, rather than whether they should take pre-emptive action of their own.
“Yes, it was discussed on our pit-wall, [but] it was more a discussion focused around what we thought the FIA may do or may not do, rather than us actually making a decision to pull [our] cars out by themselves,” McLaren's Sam Michael confirmed, “It was more a discussion about what we should do in between that time, just in case that happened.”
Ferrari's Pat Fry echoed Michael's comments, explaining that the team preferred to pour its attention into working around the problems rather than ceding to them.
“I think, in that type of situation, it's always tricky and you've got to try to work out the best way to contain it,” he reasoned, “Silverstone is now the highest loaded circuit that we go to – it obviously used to be Indianapolis – and the type of failure, if you see it, was likely to be structural fatigue failure. So, the first thing you do is look at where people were getting to.
“I think Lewis broke on lap nine or eight, we failed on lap ten, someone got to lap 14. So, instantly, we were thinking 'well, you've got to minimise stint length'. We were advised by Pirelli to increase the pressures, which we did, and you try as much as you can to contain that situation. I think, from around the first round of tyre failures, we were always going to three-stop because that was a less risky way. To try and two-stop from there, you would be well past the mileage that the tyres were obviously failing at, so we tried to contain it that way.
“I think we were thinking of how we could contain it and make it as safe as we could rather than pulling out. There was some conversation with the FIA on the intercom about the tyre pressures we were running behind the safety car but, in the end, we just had to manage it.”
Fry also revealed that Pirelli's insistence that pressures needed to be raised as a safety measure ultimately had an effect on the performance of its F138s as, after a second request to increase, the car's pace dropped away..
Mercedes' Paddy Lowe confirmed that, having seen Hamilton lose the lead to the race's first failure, the team's priority was trying to work within the limitations presented by the situation.
“We were keeping a close eye on what the FIA might do in terms of a decision but, from our point of view, it was more a matter of management, whether through pressure or instructions to the driver about certain corners and kerbs and so on,” he said.