Tyre blowouts are not just about tyres, but a dereliction of duty
It is perhaps one of sport’s greatest ironies that while Sebastian Vettel is a three-time world champion, he has never won the German Grand Prix — his home race — in his six years in Formula 1.
This statistic became even more pronounced over the last three years because, despite his domination of the field and drivers’ championship, victory in Germany always eluded the 26-year-old. His best result to date was finishing third in 2010.
With this year’s title race heating up after double world champion Fernando Alonso slashed the Red Bull driver’s lead to 21 points, tomorrow’s battle in Nurburgring will surely be a nail-biting one.
But it was almost off the cards.
Chunks of rubber, metal and debris from a disintegrating tyre of Sergio Perez’s McLaren during last weekend’s race at Silverstone nearly hit Alonso at high speed, whizzing past his head by centimetres.
Had they hit the Spaniard, the Ferrari driver would have been severely injured and could have even been killed.
The close shave was the last and most dangerous of explosive tyre incidents that hit four cars, including Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton, Ferrari’s Felipe Massa and Toro Rosso’s Jean-Eric Vergne, at Silverstone.
It was eerily reminiscent of the 2005 Indianapolis race in the United States, when Ralf Schumacher was injured after crashing his Toyota, following a tyre blowout during practice.
The incident resulted in seven teams supplied by French rubber manufacturers Michelin boycotting the race.
Now, drivers are threatening to do the same at Nurburgring at the slightest sign of tyre trouble.