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Formula One to change rules mid-season to help end tire chaos

updated 9:56 AM EDT, Tue July 2, 2013
Formula One's governing body has agreed to in-season tire testing to safeguard driver safety
Formula One's governing body has agreed to in-season tire testing to safeguard driver safety
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Formula One to change rules on in-season testing and tire changes
  • Teams to run tire tests at Silverstone on July 17-19
  • FIA president Jean Todt says driver safety must be the priority
  • Six tire blow-outs at the British Grand Prix have inflated safety concerns

(CNN) -- Formula One's governing body is taking the unusual step of rewriting its own rulebook in the middle of the season in an attempt to end the tire crisis threatening to undermine the sport.

The FIA has acted quickly by deciding to amend two rules which ban race drivers testing and prevent tires being changed during the season.

The drivers and teams had called for urgent action after a series of dramatic tire blow-outs compromised driver safety at the British Grand Prix Sunday.

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton, who lost the race lead when his left-rear tire unravelled on lap eight, the Ferraris of Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso, Toro Rosso's Jean-Eric Vergne, McLaren's Sergio Perez and Sauber's Esteban Gutierrez were all affected by tires failures.

In response to the chaotic scenes at Silverstone, the FIA has proposed that race drivers take part in a tire development test at the British circuit on July 17-19.

The test had originally been set aside for the teams to trial their young drivers, who are now set to miss out on a rare opportunity to drive an F1 car.

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"Our priority is to ensure safety for all in Formula One and we believe the incidents at Silverstone represent a genuine safety concern for the drivers," said FIA President Jean Todt.

"We have thus taken the decision to alter the Young Driver Test in a bid to solve the problems we saw at the British Grand Prix. I believe it is fitting to carry out this work at the circuit upon which the issues were manifested."

The FIA's World Motorsport Council now has to give the green light to the rule changes, but that is expected to be a formality.

F1's sole tire supplier Pirelli is due to announce its response to the chaos at the British GP later on Tuesday.

The Italian manufacturer said at Silverstone it had been looking forward to focusing on the racing after being reprimanded at an FIA hearing for organizing a three-day tire test with Mercedes in May -- but instead Pirelli has found itself once again the center of unwanted attention.

Read: Mercedes and Pirelli punished for tire test

Mercedes -- who were also reprimanded by the FIA for using race drivers Hamilton and Nico Rosberg and a 2013 car at the controversial Barcelona tire test -- have decided to sit out the Silverstone test for the sake of harmony within the sport.

The German team's "secret" test still riles their rivals -- especially as they have since won races in Monaco and Britain -- but the shocking tire explosions at the British GP have underlined the need for Pirelli to find a legitimate solution to the tire failures.

Pirelli had wanted to introduce a new tire construction at the Canadian Grand Prix in June but failed to get all the teams to agree to the plan at a meeting in Monaco.

A spate of worryingly delaminations -- where the tire layers separate -- earlier in the season had led to concerns the tires were not safe.

When Pirelli took over from Bridgestone as F1's official tire supplier in 2011, the rubber was deliberately designed to be less durable so that teams would do more pit stops and the racing would be more unpredictable.

But subsequent changes to the construction of the 2013 tire, based on the same principles, have now provoked not just unpredictability but chaos on the track.

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