Mark Webber has joined his friend Fernando Alonso in delivering a blistering attack on F1 tyre supplier Pirelli.
Ferrari’s Alonso said on Saturday the “quality” of the Italian marque’s 2013 products are “very on the edge”, to which Pirelli boss Paul Hembery hit back. “I can only suggest he goes to ask the soon-to-be four time champion how to get the best from the same tyres,” said Hembery. It is believed Hembery approached Alonso on Sunday and apologised for the harsh rebuke, but after the Korean grand prix Pirelli was fighting on another front.
Before retiring with a spectacular KERS fire after a crash on Sunday, Red Bull’s Webber suffered a tyre puncture, caused by the debris of what the Australian described as Sergio Perez’s tyre “explosion”. Webber accused Pirelli of being unconcerned about driver safety. “I think I got a Pirelli puncture from a Pirelli tyre,” he lamented. Pirelli entered F1 with a brief to spice up the racing by supplying tyres that degrade quickly.
On Sunday, a frustrated Lewis Hamilton said on the radio he lost ground with a set that was “f****d”. “It’s strange, you know,” the Briton said afterwards. “Me and Fernando in fifth and sixth at the end having our own little race, yet we are of a higher calibre than that.” And Webber is quoted by the BBC: “The drivers aren’t super important (to Pirelli) — it is what other people want.” Amid Webber’s troubles, his teammate Sebastian Vettel cruised to a fourth consecutive win on Sunday, moving him to his first ‘match point’ of a fourth consecutive title.
If Alonso finishes lower than eighth on Sunday at Suzuka, and Vettel wins a fifth consecutive race, the German will wrap up the championship with four races still in his pocket.