Stoddart Calls for Tyre Rules Change

Minardi boss Paul Stoddart has suggested Grand Prix drivers be allowed to change tyres once during a race to reduce the risk of tragedy tarnishing the sport

Stoddart Calls for Tyre Rules Change

The Australian said Formula One's rulers should heed the warning from Kimi Raikkonen's last lap crash at the Nurburgring.

The McLaren driver plunged out, narrowly missing Jenson Button's BAR, at the European Grand Prix, when a flat-spotted tyre caused by locked brakes produced such severe vibrations that the car's suspension failed.

Under new rules introduced this season, tyre changes have been abolished with drivers having to qualify and race on the same set.

"Whatever you do there's going to be people that say leave it alone, we're having a great season," Stoddart told reporters at the Canadian Grand Prix on Sunday. "And I don't really disagree with that until and unless heaven forbid we have a major, major incident.

"Cars are safe but they are not designed to lose an entire quarter. If that digs into the ground and (the car) flips over the fence, and we all know times when it has happened, at that point any degree of safety is out of the window.

"The only sensible solution, given that we're almost half way through a very exciting season, is probably one single tyre change but it has to be elective," added Stoddart.

Lucky Escape

"If you want to dissuade people from doing it, you'd have to say you can't do it during a fuel stop," said Stoddart. "That would arguably penalise someone from doing it.

"We already have the tyres so there's no cost issue here. We have the tyres sitting in the garage that are brought to every race."

Drivers are allowed to change damaged tyres at present but teams have said the rules are not clear enough and could leave them open to a penalty.

Stoddart said Formula One had a narrow escape at the Nurburgring.

"We all know another circuit, another place, another time it wouldn't have ended thankfully as it did with the car going harmlessly into the gravel," he said.

"My message is that we were lucky in the Nurburgring. If we do nothing, are we going to be so lucky next time? Because there will be a next time."

The governing FIA wrote to team bosses and tyre companies last week reminding them of their responsibility for safety and saying they could as a last resort order cars to pit if the tyres caused concern.

Stoddart dismissed the letter as a "waste of time".

"To suggest that the tyre companies ought to be more responsible in what tyres they provide is to completely and utterly ignore the actual issue," he declared.

"The issue is that it does not matter what the thing's made of, short of having a steel tyre. If you flat spot it, that has absolutely nothing to do with the tyre company.

"This is an FIA regulatory issue and it's not for the teams," he added.

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Series Formula 1
Author Alan Baldwin
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