Following ‘Test-Gate’ many respected members of the paddock have been calling for official Pirelli tyre tests to create more coherent and transparent testing arrangements. Following yesterday’s drama at Silverstone, Bernie Ecclestone has announced that Pirelli will be permitted to conduct two more tyre tests, which will involve all of the teams. In addition to this, the forthcoming Young Drivers Test has been converted into a tyre test, as the FIA look to distinguish the German GP boycott threats which arose this morning.
The blowouts in yesterday’s race were undoubtedly a cause for concern. Whiting has already expressed his safety fears, suggesting that the race was close to being stopped on safety grounds. Degrading tyres can be dealt with, but exploding tyres are a different matter. Consequently, several teams were threatening to take action against the FIA by boycotting the German Grand Prix in an attempt to force changes to the current tyre situation.
It appears that the swift FIA approval of tyre tests are in a direct response to these threats. The integrity of the FIA has already been dashed by the ‘test-gate’ scandal; A mass boycott would do little to improve their reputation. Prior to this bold change in policy, the governing body had announced that it was to meet with Pirelli on Wednesday to discuss the current situation.
“Pirelli have said they’d like to sort it out, but they don’t have a chance to do any testing because of these bloody silly restrictions we have,” Ecclestone told Press Association, “But I spoke to Jean Todt over the weekend and he has said ‘let them test’. He has allowed them to run two three-day tests between now and… well, when they want, to try and do something for next year, as well as this year, so that’s exactly what’s going to happen.” Bernie concluded by stating that these tests are without restrictions so Pirelli can analyse the tyres in the way which best suits them.
While Bernie only spoke of two tests, the third will take place instead of the YDT at Silverstone. This test will be open to all teams, except Mercedes, as their ban still stands. On the whole, this conversion appears to be a fantastic idea as it suits several sectors. Red Bull will no longer have to campaign against Mercedes’ so called, unfair advantage, as they will be able to run an identical test to the one which Mercedes enjoyed in Barcelona. Moreover, it will allow Pirelli to examine the tyres on the circuit where the two hardest compound of tyres failed. This will inevitably give them a better chance of discovering the issue, which could be due to the high lateral loading which the tyres experience at the circuit.
“Our priority is to ensure safety for all in Formula 1 and we believe the incidents at Silverstone represent a genuine safety concern for the drivers,” stated Jean Todt, President of the FIA. “We have thus taken the decision to alter the Young Driver Test to allow teams to use drivers they deem fit to carry out tyre development work 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.” What needs to be recognised however, is the requirement to give young drivers track time. With their test being replaced by a tyre test, they have missed a glorious opportunity. Hopefully teams will allow their youngsters time in the car during FP1 sessions. This would be a positive move for all, as the likelihood is that this would prompt more on track action on a Friday morning for the fans to enjoy.
However, it is most certainly a pro-active move from the FIA. It is a decision which solves a number of issues and will hopefully assist Pirelli as they try to distinguish the dire problems bestowed within their 2013 tyres.