Grand Prix Drivers’ Association chairman Pedro de la Rosa insists that the only thing drivers care about is safety, and they are no longer prepared to take unnecessary risks.
After the drivers agreed in a meeting on Thursday night to withdraw from the German Grand Prix if there was a repeat of the tire blow-outs that marred the British race last weekend, de la Rosa is adamant the stance is needed.
The Spaniard says that current Formula 1 drivers have been through enough in recent weeks, and that the time had come for the GPDA to stand firm.
“The important thing is that we are not talking about boycotting, we are not talking about politics we are talking about safety,” said de la Rosa. “There was not one driver who was against what was decided. Safety is first and if there is any issue with blow-outs in the weekend we have to think about own lives, the marshals and the fans.
“It is not worth taking any more risks. I think all the drivers have gone through enough risk already, for the past few races and especially the last. Boycotting is not the word at all: it is about being safe.”
The GPDA members met with the FIA and Pirelli’s racing manager Mario Isola at the Nurburgring on Thursday night for a meeting to discuss the latest tire developments. De la Rosa says that drivers are confident Pirelli has taken the right action in introducing Kevlar-belted tires this weekend, but says it was vital the GPDA made clear its concern before action got underway on track.
“Let’s be honest: Pirelli has done a tremendous effort to bring here nearly 1000 new-specification tires, which we think will be safe enough,” he said. “All the evidence, all the data, all the information from Charlie [Whiting, F1 race director], is that it will be more than enough. However, we have to be clear before the weekend starts, because if things develop we have to be prepared as a group. That is the whole point of it.”
WHAT HAPPENS IF THERE ARE FAILURES?
De la Rosa has also clarified what will happen in the event of tire problems over the German Grand Prix weekend.
He said that if there were failures in practice or qualifying then the drivers would get together to decide on their next course of action. If there are incidents in the race then it will be left to Whiting (LEFT) to decide whether it is safe to continue or not.
“The point is that if there is any problem blow-out, we will stand out, think about it, look at the case in particular and decide,” he said. “You can have punctures; you can have blow-outs for many other reasons, if there is a big piece of carbon fiber that goes through the tire, that is part of racing. There is no problem with that.
“It is being sensible and analyzing what happens in particular. But we really think that what Pirelli has brought here is safe, and they have done incredible work to bring it here in such a short time.”
He added: “In the race, there is not much we can do. It is up to race control to take a decision or red flag it, and Charlie has always been very supportive of us when there has been too much water and I think we consider this at least a similar scenario.
“We trust Charlie. He has always been very supportive of any safety concerns so we are in his hands. But we are happy to be in his hands.”
NON-MEMBERS FREE TO CHOOSE
With Kimi Raikkonen, Adrian Sutil and Valtteri Bottas not being members of the GPDA, there is a potential scenario of the three drivers electing to continue in the event of a mass withdrawal. De la Rosa said that the GPDA was not concerned about what the non-members would do, as its sole focus was on safety.
“We don’t care who is a GPDA member or not the message is about safety,” he said. “We thought it was the right time to have a meeting on the Thursday before the weekend starts, because normally we have the meeting on the Friday after the sessions and we want to make sure everyone is on the same boat.
“If they [the non-members] want to support us we are happy, and we will support them no matter what, whether they are members or not.”