Before racing begins in Germany we take a look at five of the things you should be watching out for. From the trouble with Pirelli tyres to Mark Webber’s replacement these are the five key stories to look out for this weekend.
1. Pirelli tyre failures
The furore around Mercedes and Pirelli’s tyre test was forgotten amid multiple tyre failures at the British Grand Prix. Lewis Hamilton, Jean-Eric Vergne, Felipe Massa and Sergio Perez were among the drivers to suffer a left rear tyre failure. Drivers and teams alike have branded the tyre failures dangerous and Pirelli will be changing its tyres for this weekend. The FIA have allowed Pirelli to make the changes without the agreement of the teams. It will see Kevlar belts used for the first time this season in place of the current steel ones. Only the rear tyres will be changed. Whether or not this will affect performance only time will tell but either way Pirelli look set to continue to face criticism.
2. Driver boycott
Drivers have threatened to pull out of this weekend’s grand prix should the tyre failures seen in Britain reoccur this weekend. Although Pirelli have acted to make changes to ensure the tyre failures do not happen again the drivers are not prepared to put themselves at risk. Following a meeting of the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association (GPDA) on Thursday evening a statement was published saying “the drivers have decided that, if similar problems should manifest themselves during the German GP, we shall immediately withdraw from the event, as this avoidable problem with the tyres endangers again the lives of drivers, marshals and fans”. 19 of the 22 drivers are members of the GPDA.
3. Young Driver Test
At the Young Driver Test at Silverstone later this month teams will be allowed to run their race drivers to allow them to test the Pirelli tyres. This follows the six tyre failures at the British Grand Prix. The test has been extended from three days to four. FIA president Jean Todt said race drivers could take part in the test as long as it was proved it was for tyre testing purposes. Mercedes are still banned from the test following their illegal tyre test with Pirelli in Barcelona. Whilst the teams and Pirelli seek a solution to this the young drivers set to test F1 cars will suffer losing out on their chance to demonstrate their potential.
4. Mark Webber’s replacement
Rumours over who will replace Mark Webber at Red Bull in 2014 continue to grow. Whilst Kimi Raikkonen is still thought to be number one in line Daniel Ricciardo’s impressive performance at Silverstone will only go to help his chances. Jean Eric Vergne is also on the list with his Toro Rosso links but a tyre failure resulted in a disappointing result last weekend. Another name has been added to the list after Jenson Button was mentioned. Button has remained coy over the rumours suggesting he wasn’t actively looking to leave McLaren. Red Bull are unlikely to make any decision this weekend.
5. Brawn to stay at Mercedes in 2014
Ross Brawn has suggested he doesn’t have any plans to step down as team principal of Mercedes is 2014. The arrival of Paddy Lowe at the team was expected to signal the winding down of Brawn’s career. Lowe is thought to be Brawn’s replacement in the long term after his move from McLaren. Brawn told the BBC the team looked in good shape for next season and he didn’t want to miss the fun.