Earlier this season, Pirelli experienced tire issues that culminated in the British Grand Prix with blowouts prompting a new tire construction for the following weekend in Hungary. The Pirelli storm rose to a crescendo when it was revealed in Monaco that Mercedes had a private test with Pirelli and it was postulated that this test gave Mercedes an unfair advantage.
At the time, Pirelli motor sport boss Paul Hembery cautioned the Formula 1 world that if they made the changes for Hungary, it would play directly into Red Bull’s hands. Pirelli also argued for more testing with current spec F1 cars in order to perfect their tire construction and Austin was to be a location for another test but according to AUTOSPORT’s Jonathan Noble, that isn’t going to happen and Hembery is nonplussed about the decision:
“It is not ideal obviously – that is a bit of an understatement,” Hembery said. “We understand that there were some objections from a couple of teams, and that is part of the process to make sure that you don’t cross over any boundaries after the Mercedes test.
“That is why you have the process of approval and the reasons given. So we have to accept them and find another solution.”
There is little doubt that next year’s regulation changes and new turbo engine format as well as a new Energy Recovery System (ERS), the torque to the tires will change dramatically. Pirelli would like to start testing those 2014 compound constructions and McLaren were the team to help in Austin but that has now been denied by the FIA.
On one side of the equation you can see how running a full tire test ahead of the USGP in Austin could be construed as an unfair advantage. Spending hours pounding out laps at a circuit you will soon race it may provide some key details.
On the other hand, Pirelli do need testing and with current kit. McLaren are far off the pace this year and out of the championship hunt for the title so what’s the harm? However, if you are Force India and less than 10 points behind McLaren in the championship standing, it starts to make sense.
On an ending note, all the talk this week about Red Bull’s alleged traction control or blown exhaust system may fall short of the simple fact that Paul Hembery was right all along…the tire construction change has played into the teams hands and perhaps the engine mapping, Coanda exhaust and aerodynamic work have now found a tire construction that will work with the RB9.