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Dear Pirelli, What The Hecky-Pecky Was That?

Traumatised by the events at the Silverstone Race, Nikki Grubb-Clarke writes to Pirelli, asking them one simple question: Whaaat the hecky-pecky was that?

My Dearest Pirelli,

Hello! Long time, no speak – I trust you’re missing me oodles! I hope my letter finds you well on this beautiful summer’s day. Me? I’m not so good. I watched The British Grand Prix at Silverstone. And it made me sad.

You see, I love Silverstone, and when the sun got his hat on for race day, and the crowd shouted hip, hip, hip hooray, I was ready for a scintillating race. After all, we hadn’t seen the cars run in such temperatures all weekend, what with the rain on Friday, and the slightly warmer conditions on Saturday. I was on the edge of my seat, wondering what affect the higher temperatures would have on the Mercedes of our home hero Lew-Lew whose masterful pole lap was up there with one Ayrton might have produced back in the day.

I was super excited to see whether Mark Webber, at his final British GP, and as an almost honorary Brit (lucky boy!) might come through in his Red Bull to take his third victory at a track he loves.

And don’t even get me STARTED on Paul Di Resta! Did you see what happened? Poor wee lambie’s car was underweight after that amazing qualifying and he had to start from the back! Now I’m not one to stir, Pir (you don’t mind if I call you Pir, do you?), but that’s 3 races on the bounce now that the team, have cost Paul dear, and you know what they say – even paranoid people get followed! Still, look what he did last time out, making up 10 places from a disappointing start position. Goodness me, was I looking forward to seeing what he might be able to do!

I was even excited to see what Finger Boy might do – see, I MUST have been in a good mood as I never get excited over Finger Boy, as well you know!

Oh how I enjoyed the start too! Did you see how brilliant Lew-Lew’s start was? Wow was he going for it or what!! Secured the lead expertly and blooming well stayed there. He was on FIRE!

Thank goodness his start was better than Mark’s! Bashed on the nose by the Smiley Giraffe RoGro… you know, for a change… and ended up back in 15th. Oh I was terribly upset for him!

Watch that curb Lew-Lew! Image courtesy Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 team (for editorial use only)

Watch that curb Lew-Lew! Image courtesy Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 team (editorial use only)

Lew-Lew continued to build himself a reasonable lead, until on lap 8, BANG!! Left rear tyre exploded as surely as if a sniper had shot it out! Heartbreaking it was! He’d not long gone past the pit entrance as well, so by the time he got in to get a new set of boots, he was dead last!

Fast forward briefly to Lap 11 and what do we see? BANG! Left rear tyre blow out for Massa! Exactly the same as happened to Lew-Lew! And on lap 15? BANG! I’ll give you one guess…Jean-Eric Vergne this time! 3 left rear tyre blow outs over a space of 7 laps.

What on earth was that about, Pir? Now I know that the FIA asked you to produce tyres that degrade more quickly than a degradey thing on a degradey day in Degradeville, but I must have missed the memo when they wanted them to blow up as well!

Oh Pir, you broke my heart. Image by courtesy of Pirelli (for editorial use only)

Oh Pir, you broke my heart. Image by courtesy of Pirelli (for editorial use only)

Thank goodness for the Safety Car coming out – it was becoming horribly uncomfortable viewing, just waiting for the next blow out, especially as the majority of the cars were traveling at pace when it happens, with cars immediately behind. That the drivers affected held on to their cars and avoided accidents is a testament to their skill as drivers. And how lucky were the drivers in the cars immediately behind that they didn’t end up with chunks of errant rubber and steel to the face at 300km/h?

Incidentally, did you hear about Red Bull’s tyres? They confirmed that they’d checked Finger Boy’s tyres after the pit stop and they had cuts on them. He was lucky not to have a blow out as well. Scary times, I’m sure you’d agree!

Racing like a master: Mar Webber. Image courtesy Red Bull Content Pool (for editorial use only)

Racing like a master: Mark Webber. Image courtesy Red Bull Content Pool (editorial use only)

To be honest, Pir, it was fairly static after that. Well unless your name was Lovely Lew-Lew or Mark Webber. Lew-Lew coming back from right at the back, and Mark coming back from 15th, and oh my, were they driving like absolute masters, don’t you think?

Sad Sebastian. Image courtesy Red Bull Content Pool (for editorial use only)

Sad Sebastian. Image courtesy Red Bull Content Pool (for editorial use only)

And then, on lap 42, the single most amazing thing that has happened all season, happened. Sebastian Vettel, leading from Nico Rosberg in 2nd, suffered a transmission failure coming out of club. Do not pass go, Do not collect £200. He. Was. Out. Oh the absolute, unadulterated joy when his car slowed gently to a halt! My joy was mirrored by the Silverstone crowd, as they yelled their approval, I can tell you!

That brought the Safety Car out again, which was great news for both Lew-Lew and Mark, still making their way through the field thoroughly brilliantly. I tell you, between the two of them, they made picking a driver of the day super difficult! I decided to give it to them both, as they were equally awesome. See how nice I can be when I try?

Oh my heavens, Pir, that 6-lap sprint at the end! How exciting was that? Well until lap 47 when Cheeky suffered his 2nd tyre blow out of the weekend traveling along the hangar straight.

The Ice Man needed a pitstop, but didn't get one. Image courtesy Lotus F1 Team (for editorial use only)

The Ice Man needed a pitstop, but nope, he didn’t get one. A big, big mistake. Image courtesy Lotus F1 Team (for editorial use only)

No Safety Car came out, and we were treated to some amazing action! Lotus decided not to pit Kimi under the Safety Car and oh my life, how he suffered for that decision! Firstly, being taken by Mark Webber, who moved up into 2nd, then by Alonso, and finally by Hamilton. Well and truly hung out to dry, and no mistake.

Happy happy. Mark Webber, Nico Rosberg, Fernando Alonso. Image by courtesy of Pirelli. (for editorial use only)

Happy happy. Mark Webber, Nico Rosberg, Fernando Alonso on the podium. Image by courtesy of Pirelli. (for editorial use only)

Mark Webber was pushing and pushing Nico for the lead in the last couple of laps, and similarly Lew-Lew was all over ‘Nando for 3rd. It was difficult to know where to look! Nico and ‘Nando won the battles, but ooo, for there to have been another couple of laps!

Now you know me, Pir, I tell it like it is. I don’t hold back generally and as much as I love you, and as much as I know that the FIA have to accept a modicum of responsibility, I have to ask…

What the hecky-pecky was that all about?

It’s bad enough that drivers have to deal with blow outs, but debris flying through the air toward their faces at that kind of pace? And not just the drivers – the marshals too. What we saw this weekend was plain old dangerous. And it made very, very uncomfortable viewing.

You’ve gone to great lengths since the race finished to say that it was the curbs, or it was the teams, but this makes no sense, my lovely. You see the curbs are the same as they’ve been for the last 4 years, and the teams are using the tyres in the same way as they have all season. You want to know what I think? I think you didn’t think it would be so warm.

Let me explain.

On Friday, FP1 was a washout, so most teams used FP2 to do their race simulation stints. We saw a large number of drivers doing stints of 12 laps during this session. The weather was dry, but overcast and cold – exactly the weather we have come to get used to during the GP weekend. Move forward to Saturday and FP3. Warmer weather and sunshine. Wonderful, but a sign of things to come sadly when Perez suffered a tyre blow out.

So Friday – no tyre blow outs. Saturday (warmer weather) – 1 tyre blow out. Sunday (even warmer again) – 4 blow outs. Are you seeing the pattern?

The change in temperature is the only difference. You didn’t see it coming. You didn’t change the pressures of the tyres and we saw the result. All pure speculation of course, but you can see how I might think it, can’t you?

Image by courtesy of Pirelli (for editorial use only)

Image by courtesy of Pirelli (for editorial use only)

I confess, I feel a little sorry for you, I mean it’s not as though you can make changes to the tyre and have the freedom to test the changes you make on current equipment is it? We all know what happens when you try and do that, and as such the FIA need to accept that they have contributed to putting our Drivers and Marshals at risk, but dearest Pirelli, you have to accept that the lion’s share of responsibility for this situation lies quite squarely at your door.

Please, if you do nothing else this week, suck it up, grow a pair, and hold up your hands. Tell us you’re doing everything you can to rectify, because you recognise how lucky the racing community has been to have not witnessed a serious injury this weekend, and do everything in your power to make this right. Only then will we, as fans, regain our confidence in you as the tyre supplier.

Lots and Lots of Love,

Nikki. xx

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