Rosberg wins dramatic British GP
Pirelli faces a searching examination of its credentials to continue to supply tyres to Formula One after Silverstone was left strewn with exploded rubber throughout the British Grand Prix.
Nico Rosberg ended up taking the chequered flag for the second time this year, primarily as Sebastian Vettel retired on lap 41 of the 52 with what appeared to be gearbox failure to his Red Bull.
But that followed a chaotic race in which there were four failures to the left-rear tyres of Lewis Hamilton, Felipe Massa, Jean-Eric Vergne and Sergio Perez. Italian manufacturer Pirelli has come in for considerable criticism this season, and Sunday's images will further damage their floundering reputation.
Pirelli are still to negotiate a new contract from next year as their initial three-season supply deal, that began in 2011 following the withdrawal from F1 of Bridgestone, expires at the end of this year.
Heading into the race, there was no suggestion as to what was about to unfold in such dramatic circumstances. Hamilton, from pole position, made a solid start and come the start of lap eight had eked out a two-second cushion over Vettel. The 28-year-old, however, was the first to suffer as he headed down the Wellington Straight, his left-rear exploding and rapidly disintegrating.
Just three laps later, and after a stunning start as he had climbed seven places from 12th to fifth, Ferrari's Massa was the next to suffer. Coming out of Aintree Corner on to the Wellington Straight, Massa was sent spinning off the track as his left-rear gave way.
Come lap 15 an unwanted hat-trick for Pirelli was completed, and arguably the most dangerous as Vergne was travelling at a speed of around 160mph at the end of the Hangar Straight in his Toro Rosso when his left-rear blew. With tyre carcasses strewn across the track, race director Charlie Whiting was forced to deploy the safety car.
Once the safety car disappeared after seven laps, it then became a question of whether there would be any more incidents. With Vettel, however, another victory appeared assured until the 25-year-old German suddenly slowed from a position of superiority 11 laps from home and was forced to retire.
At that stage Rosberg inherited the lead, which he just managed to hang on to by 0.7secs to Red Bull's Mark Webber, who conjured a fine charge over the closing stages to take second. But that was not before Perez was again undermined by a blown tyre on lap 46, sending him out of the race.
Ferrari's Fernando Alonso finished third, narrowly ahead of Hamilton. Lotus' Kimi Raikkonen, who had been running second at the second safety car, was fifth ahead of Massa. Paul Di Resta finished ninth in his Force India, having started at the back of the grid after receiving a penalty for being underweight, while Jenson Button could only manage 13th for McLaren.