UNDER-FIRE tyre manufacturer Pirelli has been given the green light to conduct legal tests with a current car as they look to ease safety fears following the chaos that unfolded over the British Grand Prix weekend.
The decision was taken by FIA president Jean Todt in a meeting with Formula 1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone and Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery at Silverstone on Saturday. It followed a tyre failure suffered by McLaren’s Sergio Perez during final practice at Silverstone, and before the carnage that took place throughout Sunday’s race.
Perez was again a casualty, and the last of the five overall as Lewis Hamilton, Felipe Massa, Jean-Eric Vergne and Esteban Gutierrez were all affected by blowouts. With drivers’ lives on the line and safety of paramount importance, Pirelli’s continual plea this season to be given the right equipment to hold a proper test appears to have finally been heard by Todt.
Ecclestone said: “They (Pirelli) have complained in the past when these tyres have delaminated – which is certainly nothing to do with it (what happened yesterday). They’ve said they’d like to sort it out, but they don’t have a chance to do any testing because of these 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, he added: “They can use what they like. No restrictions.”
The decision will likely anger Mercedes who, along with Pirelli, were reprimanded for using their 2013 car in a tyre test at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya in mid-May.
Pirelli is scheduled to test at the Paul Ricard circuit in France next week, and again at Barcelona later this month, albeit only running a 2010 Renault. It remains to be seen whether Todt’s relaxation of the rules with regard to using this year’s car will apply to those tests or others that may now be planned.
Whatever the venue, there is likely to be a queue of applicants – other than Mercedes – knowing they will not be hauled before an international tribunal in Paris as happened to the Brackley-based team.
Ultimately, despite Todt’s more relaxed stance, it does not solve the immediate concerns of teams and drivers heading into this weekend’s German Grand Prix at the Nurburgring.
There were murmurings of a potential boycott on Sunday, but such a prospect has been dismissed by Ecclestone, who said: “I don’t think that will happen.”