Crisis has befallen tyre manufacturers Pirelli, over the past few weeks. After an 82 pit-stop race in Barcelona, they had been strongly criticized for their high degradation compound. Consequently, Pirelli announced that they would be restructuring all dry weather compounds, to make the tyres more durable. While the initial plan was to have the tyres ready for the Canadian Grand Prix, Pirelli have altered the forecast, stating that the new compounds will only be available in practice as they look to further amend them ahead of the British Grand Prix.
The tyre controversy reached fever pitch last weekend, as it emerged that Mercedes has completed secret tyre tests following the Spanish Grand Prix. This was supposedly a breech of article 22 of the sporting regulations, as other teams had not been granted the opportunity to receive the additional mileage. However, certain details regarding the testing are unclear. For example, it has neither been confirmed nor denied that Mercedes completed the latest prototype compounds.Nevertheless, Pirelli have been at the eye of the storm. First they spend the winter constructing tyres which are ridden with unfeasible levels of degradation. Then they are forced to amend their compounds which is essentially a breech of the regulations in itself. After-which, they conduct a tyre test which lacks transparency and appears to disobey what the FIA previously specified.
At least an improved tyre compound would be beneficial future race weekends. However, Pirelli have once again changed their plans by announcing that they have delayed the full introduction of the new compound. While they will be appearing in Canada, they will only be available to teams during practice. The Italian Manufacturer have denied that the delay is in conjunction with “tyre test gate”, yet undoubtedly, many people will have their doubts. A Pirelli spokesperson told Autosport, “We’ll be bringing two sets per team for Friday practice with a view to implementing the new rear tyres in Silverstone. As the regulations allow for this and for reasons of sporting equity, we think that this is the best way forward.”
The delay will at least diffuse the ongoing argument as to whether the secret tyre test significantly benefited Mercedes, yet the argument will surly now return at Silvertsone. However, time heals and the secret tyre test may all be forgotten by the time Formula One arrives in Britain, (or at least we hope).
Sky Sports News journalist, Craig Slater expanded on this point, stating, “It is a significant development because the fact that the new tyres are not going to be used in Canada might avoid that race being run under protest. But I’ve been in touch with Pirelli and they say the decision not to run the new tyres in the race has nothing to do with the protest in Monaco – they say it is only because they couldn’t the unanimous support from all the teams to run the tyre over the full course of the weekend.” While Pirelli have likely used a baseline of the 2012 compound to construct the amended tyre, it is unlikely that the compounds will have experienced a stringent development process. Consequently, Pirelli have to be cautious in their approach. Especially considering that they could now be the main protagonists who will decide where the title of 2013 World Champion will head.