Pirelli to have 2 3-day tests on tires: Ecclestone

Last Updated: Tuesday, July 2, 2013 - 13:04

London: Facing a revolt from teams over exploding tires at the British Grand Prix, Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone on Monday gave tire supplier Pirelli the green light to run tests to resolve the problem.

Ecclestone said he spoke to International Automobile Federation (FIA) President Jean Todt, who agreed for the tire manufacturer to undertake unrestricted tests on a date yet to be arranged. One possibility would be replacing next month`s young drivers` test at Silverstone for the tire tests.

"(Pirelli) said they`d like to sort it out, but they don`t have a chance to do any testing because of these bloody silly restrictions we have," Ecclestone said of the FIA ban on in-season testing.

"But I spoke to Jean Todt over the weekend and he has said, `Let them test.` So he has allowed them to run two three-day tests between now and, well, when they want, to try and do something for next year, as well as this year."

The move to allow testing comes a day after drivers, including race leader Lewis Hamilton and Felipe Massa, nearly crashed after their tires blew while racing at speeds upward of 180 mph (290 kph).
The sight of large chunks of debris showering cars and, in one case, a huge strip of rubber flying across the track, almost led to the race being called off and prompted concerns F1 was sacrificing safety for excitement.

"Our greatest concern revolves around safety," Massa, who was nearly killed when hit by a piece of debris at the Hungary GP in 2010, said on Sunday. "It`s unacceptable having to drive knowing you are not safe. Even if, luckily, nothing serious happened, what we saw is very dangerous."

Pirelli was investigating the problems, but ruled out a new bonding process for the tires that was introduced ahead of the British GP. The company has been called to a meeting on Wednesday in Germany of team sporting directors and the FIA. It said it had no information on the testing.

The tire trouble at Silverstone is the latest controversy to hit F1`s sole tire provider, which has come under fire over concerns its tires are wearing down too quickly and leading to races being decided by pit stops rather than action on the track. It also was reprimanded along with Mercedes for holding unsanctioned testing in May in a bid to improve the safety of its tires.

With the German GP this weekend, several teams on Sunday called for Pirelli to quickly sort out the problem.

"We had five tire failures here. Lots of people have a lot of theories about what that is, whether it is fatigue failure or puncture caused by debris," said McLaren`s Martin Whitmarsh, who heads the F1 teams` association. "I don`t think now Formula One couldn`t possibly not respond to events this weekend. We have been lucky that no one has been hurt."

Whitmarsh suggested going back to the 2012 tires, while three-time F1 champion Jackie Stewart said the FIA should lift the ban on in-season testing immediately so that all teams can test their tires this week. He went even further, suggesting the time may have come for eliminating pit stops altogether and introducing a tire that can last an entire race -- rather than the current situation that requires two or even three stops.

"We don`t need to have pit stops to make motor racing exciting," Stewart said. "We can have tires that will do the full distance in order to get the safety element in place. If we have to make stiffer tires, a heavy tire, a bigger tire, let`s do that and have no pit stops if that is what it takes to get over this hurdle.

"If we went into another grand prix or two and saw this happening again and something really nasty were to happen, we would never forgive ourselves for not doing something."

PTI



First Published: Tuesday, July 2, 2013 - 13:04

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