Thursday 14 November 2019

Pirelli get tyre test green light after Silverstone chaos

Lewis Hamilton enters the pit after a blowout
Lewis Hamilton enters the pit after a blowout

Ian Parkes

Pirelli is to be allowed to run two three-day tests in an effort to resolve its current tyre woes following the blow-out chaos that unfolded in the British Grand Prix.

Formula One's two most powerful men, supremo Bernie Ecclestone and FIA president Jean Todt, have come up with the solution following a meeting over the course of the weekend at Silverstone.

"They (Pirelli) have complained in the past when these tyres have delaminated - which is certainly nothing to do with it (what happened yesterday)," said Ecclestone, speaking to Press Association Sport.

"They've 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.

"But I spoke to Jean Todt over the weekend and he has said 'Let them test'.

"So 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."

Asked whether Pirelli would be allowed to use this year's car, the 82-year-old added: "They can use what they like. No restrictions. None at all, so they can do what they want."

Yesterday's race was overshadowed by a string of high-speed blowouts as drivers put their lives on the line at one of the fastest circuits on the Formula One calendar.

Silverstone was awash with shredded rubber as Lewis Hamilton, Felipe Massa, Jean-Eric Vergne and Sergio Perez all suffered failures to the left-rears, whilst Esteban Gutierrez had a front-left issue.

"We obviously wish it hadn't happened," added Ecclestone.

"There could have been big accidents in the race, but we have to be careful and know exactly what went wrong before we say anything more.

"One thing for sure is Pirelli don't want problems and would rather there be no troubles.

"So they will have to investigate and see if it was anything to do with the kerbs. Even one or two of the drivers said it might have been the kerbs."

British Racing Drivers' Club president Derek Warwick, however, has categorically dismissed that theory, stating it to be "absolute rubbish".

Warwick added: "These kerbs have been in since 2009 and we have had thousands and thousands of cars go over these kerbs and they have been absolutely fine.

"We have had them checked by the FIA and they conform fully with the FIA."

When it comes to the possibility of the Pirelli tests, the fact there will be "no restrictions", according to Ecclestone, opposes the current FIA ban on in-season testing.

Just 11 days ago Mercedes were reprimanded and banned from running in the young driver test at Silverstone later this month for using a 2013 car in a Pirelli test in mid-May in Barcelona.

Pirelli was also given a reprimand.

Sir Jackie Stewart had earlier suggested to Press Association Sport that free testing was the way forward for Pirelli.

He said: "They've got to open up the regulations and do as many tests as they need to drive in order to feel comfortable their tyres are durable," said Stewart.

"You have to lift the no-testing regulation. That's more important right now than anything else.

"We've already seen it happen with Mercedes-Benz...let everybody else get out there.

"We've got to have a harder construction (of tyre), a harder compound or whatever it is, and then let's get going.

"If we've got to run with hard tyres that mean there's going to be no pitstops for three or four grands prix, let's do that.

"But the amount of debris that was flying around, at the height and speed it was travelling at, is a great concern."

The tests will be strictly controlled by Pirelli, and will allow the under-fire Italian manufacturer to finally overcome the plethora of issues that have plagued them this season.

As for a short-term fix, with the German Grand Prix just days away and with drivers having expressed their concerns over safety with regard to the current crop of tyres, there have been murmurings of a potential boycott.

But Ecclestone said: "I don't think that will happen, to be honest with you. I don't think it's something we need to address."

PA Media

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