Drivers told to shut up about Pirelli

Pirelli are certainly facing a tough time of it as of late in Formula 1. The fact is they are up against Michelin in a sole-supplier bid for for the future, they’ve had two tires blowout at the last grand prix in Belgium and they face stiff criticism from drivers who feel their safety is being compromised in F1 if not this weekend.

Then there is Formula One Management (FOM) who are very happy with Pirelli’s involvement in the sport and for providing one of the more antithetical products the Italian company has ever made…a tire that doesn’t last long.

Pirelli has done a terrific job of supplying F1 and in that context, few could argue with FOM boss Bernie Ecclestone who praises the company for their hard efforts in supplying what F1 asked for in the form of a high degradation tire.

While Pirelli exonerated themselves of any wrongdoing two weeks ago at the Spa Francorchamps circuit in Belgium, there were some drivers who felt the tire maker’s recommendation for 5psi higher air pressure in the tires this weekend at Monza for the Italian Grand Prix was a serious concern. Namely, current world champion Lewis Hamilton.

The governing body of F1, the FIA, and FOM both had glowing complements for Pirelli’s analysis of the Belgian GP tire issue and it seems they have called a meeting in which they asked drivers to stop publicly criticizing Pirelli.

Not only is Pirelli having to defend itself against the HD tire incidents but now the FIA and FOM are having to weigh in and demand that communication be restricted from drivers to their teams and Pirelli only.

This is reaching nonsensical proportions in that FOM may be happy with HD tires as a construct to spice up the show but it has inherent risks and has perhaps run its course. Pirelli are in the unenviable position of having to defend themselves for making a tire that degrades quickly and when circumstances cause an issue with the formula, they are the ones left holding the bag.

What the drivers are criticizing isn’t Pirelli, it’s the HD tires concept as a whole. They aren’t happy about having tires that degrade and lose grip in 10 laps. Unfortunately Pirelli is taking the brunt of their ire while FOM still insists that the fans love the HD tires and it really makes F1 a much better sport to watch.

Perhaps that’s true for many fans, I am not one of them. I would love to see alternate compounds designed for performance and longevity and let the teams pick which compound they will race on a given weekend.

To be fair, Pirelli and FOM are asking to drivers to keep their comments between the team and Pirelli, I don’t want to insinuate that they are not allowed to communicate. Quite the opposite as Pirelli would like to communicate more. They would also like to make more testing part of a stipulation to extending their contract to supply F1 beyond next year.

Gagging drivers is certainly something the political powers of F1 can ask for but in the end, I think that energy would best be used in re-thinking the HD tire issue and moving to a new format in 2017. A sole-supplier shouldn’t be continually battling for their reputation in supplying F1 with what they ask for. Therefore, give any tire company the opportunity to benefit and enjoy their role in F1. You’re looking for long-time partners, not 3-year brand assassination opportunities for them.


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Alianora La Canta

Did the powers-that-be not realise that this sort of gagging order comes dangerously close to an admission that the drivers are right in their criticisms and the powers-that-be, collectively, are wrong?

Paul KieferJr

Hello, Bernie? The more you tell people to shut up, the louder I’ll say what they have on their minds.

Negative Camber

I wasn’t at the meeting but the article linked seems to imply that Pirelli asked drivers to keep communication open but in the right venue…meaning between team and pirelli.

Tom Firth

Sky’s Ted Kravitz pointed out an exec from Bridgestone near Ferrari after FP2.


Why weren’t drivers (and others) demanding independent investigations into the component failures that affect two teams in Hungary?. Both Ferrari and Force India lost front wings, Ferrari also had a camera fall off, all of those components are heavy enough to have done comparable damage to the spring that hit Felipe Mass a. The suspension failure that befell Perez’s Force India caused a significant crash. Yet the teams’ we’re allowed to carry out their own investigations into what happened with no complaints from journalists, drivers or fans. I can’t see what the difference is when the component failing is supplied… Read more »

Junipero Mariano

With the teams investigating their failures, it’s one party handling it’s problems. It’s their driver, their car, their race to lose.

With Pirelli investigating the tyre failure, it involves multiple parties who must trust Pirelli. Pirelli handling the inquiry leads to the perception, right or wrong, of a conflict of interest.

In my opinion, Pirelli makes a reasonable case for the cause leading up to the blowout. Another case of multiple incidents, seemingly minor on their own, adding up to a bad outcome.


Hey Pirelli :) if you don’t allow the drivers to tell the fans how bad your products are, we fans are going to scream even louder: don’t buy Pirelli tires because they’re just ****!

F1Racer is British owned right ? So what’s with ‘tire’ ???


Tyre tyre tyre tyre tyre tyre tyre tyre tyre tyre tyre tyre tyre tyre tyre tyre tyre tyre tyre tyre tyre tyre tyre tyre tyre. Not tire! That’s when you get tired.


O.o Wrong side of the pond. Here, it’s correctly spelled “tire”. Its six of one, half-dozen of the other, says I.


I’m on the right side of the pond when it comes to the English language. The correct English is ‘tyre’. American English is just a bastardised version of the original actually. Just remember how old America is as a country. They changed it to make it easier.

Junipero Mariano

According to Corky Coker, it’s pronounced “tarrs.” ;-)


Yep :) Just like mirror is pronounce miiiiir, Squirrel is pronounced Squirl, Iran and Iraq are incorrectly pronounced as Eye-rak and Eye-ran, Fiat is pronounced Fee-art and worst of all car-wise is Nissan being pronounced Neee-san….. and I could go on and on. :)

Junipero Mariano

Hey man, you forgot Ren-Alt!

Paul KieferJr

I’m not into the habit of getting into a flame war about language evolution. Decorum and civility, after all.


Fair enough. I just wouldn’t refer to is as an ‘evolution’ as if it’s a superior.
It’s a downgrade on the original but lets just say different.

Negative Camber

Stay off the curbs. ;)


aaarrrrgh :)

Paul KieferJr

Curb your enthusiasm there. :-D


Now THAT is something good America gave to the world :) Could do with another season though !


if driver doesnt feel safe or lacks confidence in the tyres they should be aloud to speak freely. if it is behind closed doors will pirelli take swift action ?
vettel and rosberg were very lucky they were not seriously hurt, i wonder what Fom and Pirelli would be saying if they were

Paul KieferJr

At 200 MPH (320 KPH), blowing a tire can send you off into the Armco guard rail…with deadly results.

Junipero Mariano

Didn’t Pirelli foresee that now that the public knows that they asked to be spoke of nicely in the press means that anything positive the drivers say about Pirelli will be taken with a massive dose of salt?

I agree, Todd, the HD tire thing needs to go.

Formula Future

Somebody should probably remind Ecclestone, he has been the first one to complain publically to the media about a product that he’s actually selling and that he called “crap” (F1). Even if it is in some extents, in this regards, easy for him to tell others what to do but he surely contraddicts himself.