London: After a season of strife and adverse publicity, Pirelli must have hoped it could reach the end of the year without another controversy blowing up in its face.
But the Italian manufacturer will once again come under scrutiny after a tweet on Thursday morning, hastily deleted by Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg, claiming that his tyre exploded while he was travelling at 200mph down the main straight in Bahrain.
Rosberg has been taking part in the 2014 tyre test in Bahrain this week, from which little has been made public. The silence was broken in dramatic fashion on Thursday, however, when Rosberg took to Twitter.
“Just spun at full speed 320km/h on bahrain straight cause my tyre blew up without warning,” wrote the German. “Thanks to that need to get some toilet paper now.”
The tweet was deleted shortly after it was posted.
Pirelli was forced to change its tyre structure after the first part of the season was blighted by tyre issues, culminating in a chaotic British Grand Prix in June that saw multiple high-speed blowouts and led to the threat of a driver boycott.
The Pirelli tyres became a hot issue during the 2013 season, with a number of controversial incidents caused by blow-outs.
Fellow Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton bemoaned the issue after his left-rear tyre exploded at Silverstone, he was one of four drivers to suffer such a failure at the race. Former F1 driver David Coulthard labelled the blowouts as “driver killers”.
Mercedes, Red Bull, Ferrari and Toro Rosso are all taking part in the Pirelli tyre test in Bahrain, in order to help develop new rubber for the 2014 season.
New specification on the 2014 cars will require a very different type of tyre to the 2013 ones, which put an enormous level of downforce through the tyre and down onto the track. The new V6 engines, with higher torque, will require less downforce.
However, Pirelli, who are F1’s sole tyre manufacturer, have now clarified that the tyre Rosberg was running at the time of the incident will not be used during the upcoming 2014 campaign.
“The tyre tests in Barhain regarded a number of prototypes, which were completely innovative in terms of structure and compounds, with the aim of developing the most suitable solutions for the next season,” the company stated.
“This morning Nico Rosberg’s Mercedes was fitted with one of these prototypes, a tyre which had only been tested in the laboratory and which will not be proposed again.
“Thus, the safety of the tyres, which will be supplied for the next Championship, is not in question.”
“The accident which happened to Rosberg’s car is being investigated and the findings will be communicated to the FIA and the teams,” Pirelli added.