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Pirelli hopeful of 'back to future' breakthrough in row over testing 2017 Formula 1 tyres

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Pirelli hopeful of 'back to future' breakthrough in row over testing 2017 Formula 1 tyres
Feb 25, 2016, 3:02 PM

As the F1 rule makers wrangle over what 2017 F1 cars should look like, one of the real intractable problems is what to do about testing the Pirelli...

As the F1 rule makers wrangle over what 2017 F1 cars should look like, one of the real intractable problems is what to do about testing the Pirelli tyres they will be fitted with, which will need to be specially engineered for the faster cars.

The Italian company, with a fresh mandate from F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone and the FIA, have made it clear that they want to do a high test mileage in developing the next generation F1 tyres.

But there are two problems with that. First the cost in hybrid turbo engines of doing the amount of testing mileage Pirelli has demanded will cost €10m; who will pay for that? The sport itself looks set to foot the bill, but which manufacturer will have the resources to manage the programme?

Second is the problem of finding a 'mule test car capable of accurately simulating the loads that a high downforce 2017 car will generate.

Pirelli has indicated that a breakthrough may be found to allow it to test the tyres Formula 1 will run in 2017 this year on a V8 car, from the higher downforce blown diffuser days.

The FIA announced yesterday that the regulations regarding F1 bodywork would be changed for 2017 to produce cars that decrease latimes and have more downforce.

Pirelli had previously suggested it would be forced to run high pressures in its tyres to cope with an increase in cornering speeds, but the sport’s stakeholders are now prepared to let the company test its 2017 tyres on a car that would simulate the stresses the rubber may face next year.

Paul Hembery

Speaking to Autosport at the Barcelona test, Paul Hembery, Pirelli’s motorsport boss, said: "We're pleased there has been a decision [on the 2017 regulations], which was our primary objective because time was running on.

“We were given assurances of what the aero package would look like by the end of February, and the sport has delivered that.

"The first step has been taken, which allows us to work to the parameters of what the tyre is going to be subjected to in 2017."

Pirelli F1 tyres

Hembery also outlined what kind of car would generate the desired loads to test tyres ahead of 2017, which would either be a V8 era F1 car or a modified GP2 car.

He said: "Ideally you want something like a V8 from the last technology era. There is something to indicate the performance levels of those cars were close in some respects to the 2017 [regulations].

"So it's being discussed. It's an example of the type of vehicle that will allow us to do the work we want. We could do a lot of good work with compounding on a V8-era car, and that is something we will be looking to do.

"Considering there is a good number of those cars around and available, it would be sensible for that to be an avenue we explore and try to find a solution with. It could also be done on a lesser performing car, possibly an actual GP2 car."

Sebastian Vettel

If Pirelli is allowed to test its new tyres ahead of 2017, it may be able to address concerns that the high pressures would reduce cornering speeds and prevent next year’s cars reaching their targeted speeds.

More Mercedes innovation

On the final morning of the first test, Mercedes has unveiled a new nose design that appeared when Lewis Hamilton emerged for his half-day in the WO7, as part of its drive to use innovative designs to stay ahead of the competition.

The new nose, which is reportedly known as “Bruce” within the team, is shallower than the previous one and features an S-duct to clean up the airflow as it passes moves up the chassis.

Mercedes

The support pillars where the nose connects to the front wing, which is also new and features a different layout for the turning vanes, are extremely narrow.

Hamilton, who completed 99 laps before handing over to Nico Rosberg for the afternoon explained Mercedes attempts to make innovations on its chassis before the rest of the F1 grid.

He said: "It's easier to chase and catch up than it is to stay ahead, but we've started on the right foot and we've already got new bits on the car.

"All the teams are spying on each other, so every time you bring a new component they will take loads of pictures of it and take it back to their engineers.

"If it's better than a design of their own, they'll probably come up with their own version of it, test it in the windtunnel and see if it works on their car.

Lewis Hamilton

"But by the time they've done that, it's a couple of months down the road so we hopefully have the advantage."

What do you make of Pirelli’s F1 testing plan? Will it help to shape the 2017 action? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below or head over to the JAonF1 Facebook page for more discussion.
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Series Formula 1
Teams McLaren Shop Now
Tags innovation