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.
Despite receiving a post-race reprimand by the stewards for failing to slow for yellow flags, Nico Rosberg won 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.
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.
Given Hamilton’s position on the track at the time, a long way from home, it resulted in a slow journey back to the pits, with the time lost dropping him to the back of the pack.
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
Like Hamilton, the Brazilian was also forced into a long journey back to the pits, relegating him to last.
Come lap 15 and 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.
It was at that point, with tyre carcasses strewn across the track, that race director Charlie Whiting was forced to deploy the safety car to help the marshals clear the circuit.
There were also several messages from the pit wall to drivers urging them to stay off the kerbs, particularly at turn four of Aintree Corner, suggesting that was the cause of the failures.
Once the safety car disappeared after seven laps, it then became a question of whether there would be any more incidents.
For Vettel, however, another victory appeared assured until the 25-year-old German suddenly slowed from a position of superiority 11 laps from home.
“Lost the drive, lost the gears” was Vettel’s explanation after grinding to a halt.
With his car in an awkward position, it brought the safety car into play for a second time to allow it to be removed.
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.
Come the flag, and keeping up his title challenge and closing the gap to 21 points to Vettel, Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso finished third, narrowly ahead of Hamilton, who missed out on a place on the podium by 0.6secs.
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 while Jenson Button could only manage 13th for McLaren.
A delighted Rosberg dedicated his win to all of his team, who are based in nearby Brackley.
He said: “It is fantastic, it’s a very special day and it is even more special because our factory is so close.
“The team have done such a fantastic job to have such momentum going this season. We are progressing all the time.”