Stars fed up over dangers posed by the mandatory model.
Pirelli came under fire once more Sunday at the Korean Grand Prix, with Mark Webber lashing out at the tyre manufacturer and Sergio Perez warning an accident was only a matter of time.
In the build-up to the race Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso had also hit out at the tyres, which have been the focus of criticism from drivers several times during the season for being too fragile.
The front-right tyre on the McLaren of Perez exploded during the grand prix, with Webber picking up a puncture from the debris.
Asked if it had been dangerous, the Mexican Perez said: “Very. At the end of the day nothing happened (nobody was hurt)… but one day something will happen.”
And asked if a rethink was needed for next season, he answered: “Definitely, definitely…
“Nothing happened so after today nobody will comment on the situation, but one day something will happen so we will regret it.”
A clearly unhappy Webber, a plain-speaking Australian, was quoted as saying by Autosport.com: “That is how it is. The drivers aren’t super-important — it is what other people want.”
He did not elaborate on who he was referring to.
However, it is understood that Pirelli was required by Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone to produce tyres that demand different strategies to make races more entertaining.
“The tyres are wearing a lot and they also explode a bit — but that is for Pirelli to sort out,” added Webber, who retired from the race over a separate incident shortly after the puncture.
Webber, whose race was over when his Red Bull went up in flames, added: “Pirelli will put the puncture of Perez down to a lock-up but the reason the drivers are locking up is because there’s no tread left.”
Paul Hembery, Pirelli’s under-fire motorsport director, defended the Italian manufacturer.
“Regarding Sergio Perez’s front-right tyre issue, we have been able to determine very quickly that it was the result of a flat spot caused by a lock-up under heavy braking,” he said.
“We’re obviously on exactly the same construction as we raced here last year, so there’s no underlying problem, while flat spots or punctures have just always been an integral part of racing.”
Autosport reported that Hembery had apologised to Alonso before Sunday’s race, after the two-time world champion had similarly criticised the Pirelli tyres.
An unamused Hembery had suggested in reply that Alonso ask world champion Sebastian Vettel if he wanted to know how to better manage his tyres, a key ingredient in Formula One.
Pirelli changed the design of the tyres following a series of dramatic tyre failures at the British Grand Prix in June, after which drivers had threatened to boycott the German Grand Prix if the problem was not solved.
But drivers have continued to voice their displeasure.