Formula 1 would have had to call off the British Grand Prix if Pirelli's tire failures had struck in practice at Silverstone, reckons Mark Webber.
Following the four tire blow-outs that marred the Silverstone race, and forced Pirelli to introduce new tires, Webber believes that F1 was lucky that the problems were not discovered until the Sunday. He believes that if the faults had come to light in practice, then the sport may have faced another situation like that seen at the USGP at Indianapolis in 2005, where drivers were unable to race on safety grounds.
"It was probably fortunate in Indy we found the problem in practice," said Webber at a press preview ahead of the German Grand Prix. "The tires were failing at a very high-speed nature in a dangerous corner, so the race couldn't go ahead [for the Michelin cars]. The problems we had on Sunday [at Silverstone], if we'd had them on Friday, then the result probably would have been the same.
"You can't just magically turn up with a new type of tire overnight and supply a hundred set of tires through the pitlane. So we were probably fortunate in a way we got away [with things] at Silverstone on Friday. That was the big difference."
F1 drivers had very limited dry running at Silverstone on Friday because of the bad weather that struck that day, with the first sign of tire trouble coming on Saturday morning when Sergio Perez had a failure.
Webber thinks that everyone in F1 will have taken on board valuable lessons from what happened at Silverstone. He says he has no personal concerns about the safety of Pirelli's products.
"I'm a bit more confident they've got some more data, although not in the environment they wanted to get it, with which they can be more comfortable in the future," he said. "We have had some issues in Bahrain [with Lewis Hamilton] and Barcelona with Paul [di Resta]. They are different, but there is enough evidence for them to improve the package that will give us some more confidence."
Webber also said that Adrian Newey's frustrations after the race – where he blamed the situation on the "short-sighted" views of teams who had blocked earlier safety changes – were genuine. He pointed out that Red Bull technical chief Newey had been at Williams in 1994 when Ayrton Senna was killed in an accident some suspected low tire pressures or debris had contributed to.
"When you've someone like Adrian Newey, he doesn't forget what happened at Imola in '94," he explained. "These things aren't small for him. He's a clever guy, but he gets as emotional as any of us. These things need to be handled correctly, and Pirelli will handle them correctly.
"If Adrian has an opinion on something, especially when it's a safety factor, then you have to respect it."
RECAP: INDIANAPOLIS 2005 TIRE DRAMA
The 2005 United States Grand Prix took place with only six cars competing after all the Michelin runners had to withdraw at the start because of tire safety concerns. During Friday practice there had been a number of incidents for Michelin cars at the final banked corner, including a spectacular crash for Ralf Schumacher.
Michelin came to the conclusion that its tires' safety could not be guaranteed for the race, so advised its competitors not to take part. Despite frantic efforts to find a solution – with a variety of proposals being considered, including installing a chicane or flying out fresh tires – no agreement could be reached.
On Sunday afternoon, the 14 Michelin runners all completed the parade lap before heading to the pits to retire. Bridgestone's six cars were able to race, with Michael Schumacher winning ahead of Rubens Barrichello. The Jordan of Tiago Monteiro finished third.
The events of that weekend caused huge controversy in F1, with the sport's image at Indianapolis never fully recovering and the events opening up fresh conflict between the teams and FIA president Max Mosley.