F1 drivers told to stop public criticism of Pirelli tyres

Formula 1 drivers have been asked to stop criticising Pirelli in public in a meeting with the tyre firm and Bernie Ecclestone at the Italian Grand Prix

F1 drivers told to stop public criticism of Pirelli tyres

The talks followed severe criticism of Pirelli by Sebastian Vettel and Nico Rosberg following their Belgian GP tyre blowouts.

Pirelli met with Vettel between Spa and Monza, leaving the Ferrari driver appreciative of the Italian company's efforts.

That was followed by a meeting with a larger group of drivers and team bosses on Friday in which topics included the need for more testing freedom and an agreement to voice criticism in private.

"It was to find a way, if we're to stay in Formula 1, to have a much better working relationship and collaboration with all the parties in the sport," said Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery.

"You can't go to 2017 with a dramatic change in tyre widths with the current regulations saying you can't test.

"We also feel that there needs to be a greater communication with the drivers and all parties need to agree on what is the objective.

"You might not agree with the objective, but if the sport decides to go in a direction then we all need to know that we're all looking at the same future."

Asked if the drivers had been told they were barred from negative comments about Pirelli, Hembery replied: "They've been asked to do it in the right environment, which is in the teams and with us.

"They should express their opinions in the right manner.

"Other things happen in the sport and they don't offer an opinion, so it just needs to be balanced."

Although Pirelli is currently embroiled in a battle with Michelin for the next F1 tyre contract, Hembery said the main impact of driver criticism was on the public rather than Pirelli's board-level decision-makers.

"It's less about the board, it's what the general public thinks," he said.

"Public perception, obviously, with famous people saying those things is not favourable."

He accepted there was also fault on Pirelli's side.

"We're guilty of not communicating enough with the drivers," he said.

"I think there's a willingness from the drivers to work with us.

"The main point is that we need more communication, so we've suggested regular meetings with the drivers so we can take their points of view and put them to the other parties."

Drivers present in the meeting were unwilling to comment about its specifics.

When asked by reporters what had been discussed, Rosberg replied: "You guys know too much. I'm not going to say anything. It's not a good idea [to talk about it].

"[The meeting] was OK. I'm pleased with the effort that's gone in since Spa to try to understand it and take measures to further improve the safety."

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