A certain Mr. Horner – and not one named Jack – once remarked that whenever you’re testing, you’re learning something, however at the upcoming Pirelli F1 tyre test in France, just McLaren, Red Bull and Ferrari will be present.
The purpose for the test at the Paul Ricard circuit on January 25-26th is to test prototype tyres that will hopefully replace the current Pirelli ‘extreme wet’ tyre which has come under criticism for its limited operating window. There were suggestions that the limitations of the Pirelli extreme wet tyre were the reason certain teams refused to fit this compound around the fateful time of Adrian Sutil and Jules Bianchi’s crashes at the 2014 Japanese GP.
Pirelli confirm the purpose of the test is, “to develop a new XWET product with an increased grip in drying conditions and without losing aquaplaning properties or performance in full wet. We will try to enlarge the ‘performance window’ of the XWETS and to improve the handling, reducing the snap oversteer.” Pirelli did though offer to split the test if other teams insisted on attending. Therefore Mercedes are absent by choice.
Fully compliant 2015 cars must be presented by the teams and the test will be “entirely defined by Pirelli and agreed with FIA,” says the Italian tyre manufacturer. “FIA observers [will be] present in garage. This is in order to monitor that only the tests dictated by Pirelli are performed. FIA observers will also have driver radio and full access to the team.”
In a detailed communication with all the F1 teams, Pirelli explain those teams present will not know which compound they are testing and when. Pirelli explains, “Comprehensive shared end-of-test reports which contain the information requested by the teams will be anonymised. The reports would be sent to all the teams, not just the team that is testing. This will also include lap times and sector times.”
Pirelli have requested race drivers attend the test; McLaren have confirmed Stoffel Vandoorne will be their representative driver and Red Bull and Ferrari are yet to supply driver names.
Yet the absence of Mercedes is a mystery. Of course, given the ‘tyregate’ saga and the ‘secret test’ of 2013 maybe Niki Lauda thinks it best Mercedes show deference on this issue. Ahem!!!
Pirelli have requested only three teams attend, because they need to control the amount of water on the track and no more than three cars at a time provides the appropriate conditions.
Mercedes absence could be down to the methodology Pirelli intend to take in their reporting of the results. The lap times and degradation will be measured from the base tyre – current Pirelli wet tyre – and the prototype(s) performance by team A, B, C will be compared.
This kid of information should be sufficient for Mercedes to have a good understanding of the differential in the prototype tyre performance when compared to their own data from the current compound. Further, given the advantage Mercedes have over the field, it would be fairly obvious which of the team results A, B or C represented the Brackley built car.
Another reason Mercedes may well have decided against insisting they are at the test may be because the wet tyre has been infrequently used over the past two seasons.
Finally, Christian Horner was slightly misrepresented at the top of this article, what he actually said was: “I think that if a team does carry out a thousand kilometres of additional testing with a current car, you’re going to learn something.”