Pirelli responds to Vettel’s criticism after Spa tire failure

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Pirelli has responded to criticism levelled by Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel in the aftermath of Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix by revealing that teams rejected a request to limit the number of laps that could be complete on each tire compound two years ago.

On the penultimate lap of the race at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, Vettel suffered a right-rear tire failure when heading along the high-speed Kemmel Straight, costing him a podium finish.

After the race, the German was left fuming with Pirelli, believing that the Italian tire supplier was not being thorough enough in preventing failures with its compounds.

Pirelli responded by issuing a short but revealing statement on Sunday night following the race that claimed Vettel had gone five laps longer on his set of tires than it advised two years ago.

“In November 2013, Pirelli requested that there should be rules to govern the maximum number of laps that can be driven on the same set of tires, among other parameters to do with correct tire usage,” the statement said.

“This request was not accepted. The proposal put forward a maximum distance equivalent to 50% of the grand prix distance for the prime tire and 30% for the option.

“These conditions, if applied today at Spa, would have limited the maximum number of laps on the medium compound to 22.”

Vettel’s tire failure was the second of the weekend, following Nico Rosberg’s blowout during practice on Friday afternoon. However, Pirelli confirmed that whereas Rosberg’s was due to a cut caused by an external body, Vettel’s was a result of excessive wear.

Nevertheless, a full investigation is poised to follow so that both Pirelli and Ferrari can get to the bottom of the incident.

Had the decision to limit tire life in races been accepted, it would have ensured a minimum of two pit stops in races, which despite creating more action in the race may have been considered to be too artificial.

Lewis Hamilton receives Daytona 500 invitation from Bubba Wallace

Lewis Hamilton Bubba Wallace
Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images
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Lewis Hamilton is a fan of the new NASCAR Cup Series team formed by Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan to field a car for Bubba Wallace.

Will the six-time Formula One champion also be a fan in person at a NASCAR race in the near future?

Wallace is hoping so.

After Hamilton tweeted his support Tuesday morning about the news of a Hamlin-Jordan-Wallace team making its debut with the 2021 season, Wallace responded with a sly invitation to the Daytona 500.

Much would need to be worked out, starting with how much garage and grandstand access would be afforded for a 2021 season opener that likely would occur during a still ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

But it would seem fitting given that Hamilton and Wallace have been two of the world’s most outspoken Black athletes about the quest for diversity and racial justice. Hamilton recently reaffirmed his commitment to activism after his donning a Breonna Taylor shirt sparked an FIA inquiry.

The idea of Hamilton attending the season opener already had legs, too. The Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 driver has expressed a desire to race the Daytona 500 after he has retired from Formula One.

He was a spectator (with racing legend Mario Andretti) at four-time champion Jeff Gordon’s final Cup race as a full-time in the 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In 2011, Hamilton swapped cars with three-time champion Tony Stewart at Watkins Glen International.

Having rubbed shoulders with other racing greats so often, it only would be fitting if Hamilton — who is one victory from tying Michael Schumacher’s career record and also could tie the F1 record with a seventh championship this season — spent some time with the greatest basketball player of all time.

Jeff Gordon was flanked by Mario Andretti and Lewis Hamilton before the 2015 Cup season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images).