x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Pirelli needs development time for 2014 tyre

Manufacturer hoping to use 2013 cars at F1 season’s end to prepare for next year.

Pirelli is more worried about 2014 than Sergio Perez’s tyre failure in South Korea. Aaron Favila / AP Photo
Pirelli is more worried about 2014 than Sergio Perez’s tyre failure in South Korea. Aaron Favila / AP Photo

SEOUL // Pirelli have urged Formula One teams to give them the tools to do their job rather than complaining their tyres are not good enough.

The Italian company was again in the line of fire at the weekend’s Korean Grand Prix, with Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso and Red Bull Racing’s Mark Webber complaining about how quickly the tyres wore out.

McLaren-Mercedes’ Sergio Perez suffered an explosive delamination of his front-right tyre during the race at Yeongam that left debris strewn across the track and brought out the safety car.

The incident was reminiscent, in terms of drama, of the spate of blowouts earlier in the season at the British GP that triggered safety fears and forced Pirelli to return to last year’s structure with 2013 compounds.

Paul Hembery, the head of motorsport at Pirelli, told reporters there were no worries about the Perez incident but there was real concern about how the tyres would behave next year when the rules change significantly and a new V6 turbocharged engine is introduced.

A planned tyre test with McLaren at Austin, Texas, before next month’s US Grand Prix was cancelled after objections that it could favour the British marque, who are fighting Force India for fifth place overall in the constructors’ championship.

Pirelli have already conducted several tests, including a controversial “secret” one with Mercedes-GP in May, with teams providing older cars, but have repeatedly complained that they need to use more representative machinery.

“We’re running around in a 2010 car, developing tyres for the 2014 car, which nobody really knows what it’s going to look like,” said Hembery.

“Yet every time we even ask to test with a 2011 car we come up against opposition.

“Going forward, to do what we need to do, we need to have the ability to test and help everybody – drivers and teams. While nobody wants to think they’re going to get an advantage in testing, you can’t carry on going around in circles and decide to do nothing. Something has to change.”

Hembery said Pirelli want to reduce the amount of “marbles” – small chunks of tyre rubber – that litter the track and increase the mechanical strength of the compound. To do that, they need to test at certain tracks with suitable conditions and also need teams to help them.

Sao Paulo’s Interlagos circuit could offer one such opportunity after the season-ender there next month. Another option would be for Pirelli to test in Bahrain in January before two more scheduled pre-season tests there with all the teams in late February and early March.

“Ideally at the end of the season we’d like to see some use of these [2013] cars because they’re the best and the quickest we’ve got at the moment,” said Hembery.

“It would make sense to use them because for the majority of the teams they’ll be of little relevance anyway.”

Asked whether Formula One, which will allow some limited in-season testing next year after banning it previously to save teams money, was getting what it deserved, Hembery smiled wearily.

“To an extent, yes,” he replied.

sports@thenational.ae