Saturday March 23, 2013
Champion Vettel says disintegrating tyres could spoil his race
WORLD champion Sebastian Vettel and his Australian team-mate Mark Webber may have finished near the front of the pack during the free practice sessions for the Malaysia Grand Prix yesterday but they still did not like what they saw after stepping out of their Red Bull cars.
Many teams suffered high degradation with their Pirelli tyres during both practice sessions on the hot and sweltering circuit and Red Bull was one of the teams.
Vettel, who finished second fastest behind Lotus driver Kimi Raikkonen, was even heard over the radio complaining of “vibrations” eating into his tyres.
The three-time world champion is now concerned that Red Bull could run out of tyres during race day tomorrow.
“We’ll see,” he said when asked about his team’s prospects for round two of the championship.
“I hope we have enough tyres to survive the race. Tyre wear was obviously quite big today for everyone. Tomorrow is a different day. There could be some rain, and you saw how quickly things can change.
“It’s Malaysia. It’s a different place, different tyres. Today tyre wear was pretty severe for everyone. It’s not a lot of fun, but that’s how it is, it’s the same for everyone.
“We need to try a couple of things to make it better. Hopefully we learned the right lessons and can make a step forward.
“This afternoon we couldn’t do that much because of the weather, which was a little bit disappointing,” said Vettel, who won at Sepang in 2010 and 2011.
Webber, despite topping the timesheets in the first practice in the morning ahead of Raikkonen, was not so patient and did not mince his words.
“The whole category is geared around tyres at the moment. Everything is around tyres. Tyres, tyres, tyre, tyres, tyres,” said the Australian, while noting the wet track following a downpour in the second session was “the only conditions that slicks work”.
Pirelli motorsports director Paul Hembery, defended their tyres and insisted the degradation was within the norms expected with their hard and medium compound tyres.
“The teams experienced high ambient temperatures for the first time this year with our tyres, which was extremely useful as these are also the conditions that we would anticipate for the rest of the weekend.
“That includes the high risk of rain, as we saw halfway through FP2. As the circuit dried towards the end of FP2, this allowed the teams to assess the crossover points between the intermediates and the slicks.
“As expected, we saw quite a high wear rate today due to the high temperatures and abrasive track surface. Nonetheless, degradation stayed within our anticipated parameters.”