Pirelli express doubts over 2017 tyre remit
Formula 1’s tyre supplier claim test cars being used to evaluate 2017 rubber lack sufficient downforce to mimic real conditions
Pirelli have expressed concerns about the speed of the cars being used for 2017 tyre testing as doubts linger as to whether they will be able to full their obligations next season.
Pirelli will be required to produce tyres on which drivers can push at-out for the majority of a race, and which do not suffer irretrievable thermal degradation if pushed hard. These requirements were set out in a target letter requested by Pirelli from the FIA as part of discussions between bosses, drivers and tyre supplier last winter, following discontent about the tyres supplied to F1.
Pirelli racing manager Mario Isola has said he believes the ‘hack cars’ provided by Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull for tyre testing to simulate the performance levels of next year’s faster cars are “around 20 per cent” down on the amount of downforce expected next year.
“The problem of not having the downforce at the right level is you don’t stress the compound at the level that is required and expected for next year,” Isola said. “You evaluate the degradation, which is probably not the right one because when the performance and downforce is increasing, you have higher degradation. That’s why we are working with the teams to have a car that is able to generate more downforce.”
Isola added: “We’re working with them to have cars that are really representative of next year’s conditions so we can provide a tyre that is in line with the expectation and data collected in this year’s testing.”
Some team insiders have questioned whether Isola’s remarks are intended to lay the ground for excuses if the tyres do not manage to meet requirements in 2017.
The main aim of the new rules is to produce cars that are up to ve seconds per lap faster than their 2016 counterparts. But so far this isn’t going to plan, since it has emerged that the fastest lap time set by Ferrari at their tyre test in Barcelona in early September would have qualied them on the back row of the grid for this year’s Spanish Grand Prix.
Insiders have cautioned against reading too much into lap times at these tests because of the restrictions that have been placed on the cars being used. For a start, they are heavier than the cars that will be used in 2017. Additionally, the engines being used are last year’s and have been detuned to ensure they do the required mileage. And nally, the front wings do not work as they are expected to work in 2017.
One senior engineer from a high-prole team remarked that Pirelli should be given time to produce the tyre demanded of them “because these are their rst efforts and they don’t know how to do it yet”.