As much as we would hate to admit it, tyres are fast becoming the most popular word in F1. Bang on the heels of the Mercedes-Pirelli controversy, the tyre company today announced a con-call press conference – open to whoever has Internet i.e. the world at large.
Paul Hembery didn’t pull any punches as he said that the company, or ‘we’ as he put it, was “disappointed” by the reaction, not just of the media, but also of social network sites regarding the controversy. It was pretty obvious that the Great Mercedes Secret Test would be the main agenda. And so it was. The folks over at Mercedes had absolutely no clue about what they were running, Hembery said. They went in blind, he said. There would have been no benefits to the team, only to F1 and Pirelli in general.
Pirelli did get in touch with a number of teams for the 1,000km testing and Mercedes responded by offering them a car. “They were just asked to do certain runs and certain kilometres,” he said.
These were private and confidential research and developmental tests, he said when asked if Pirelli shared the information from the test with other teams. “Research and development testing is propriety information to Pirelli. It is not relevant to the teams, as for Mercedes, they merely provided a service to us.”
Hembery also addressed the other bugbear: Delamination. The company has tested tyres in the factory and there have been improvements, he said. Canada will be the testing ground and each team will get two sets of tyres to test during the practice session. Based on their feedback, these new tyres will then be rolled out for use at Silverstone for the remainder of the season.
Much of the press conference was Pirelli’s attempt at subduing the controversy. The team also issued a press release that details the purpose behind the test. The release stated firmly and in all CAPS: We did not favour any team. We never asked for a 2013 car. Here it is in full:
Pirelli, in development testing with teams carried out in 2013, has not favoured any teams and, as always, acted professionally, with transparency and in absolute good faith. The tyres used were not from the current championship, but belonged to a range of products still being developed in view of an eventual renewal of the supply contract. Further, none of the tests were carried for the purpose of enhancing specific cars, but only to test tyre solutions for future championships. The use of the car utilized by Mercedes, in particular, was the result of direct communication between FIA and the team itself. Pirelli did not ask in any way that a 2013 car be used: not of Mercedes nor FIA nor the teams, which, during the year, were offered the opportunity of participating in tests for the development of tyres for 2014. The tyres that will be tested by the teams in the free practice at the Montreal Grand Prix have never been used by the teams before. With regard to the new tyres, the problem of delamination has been solved by Pirelli’s technicians exclusively through laboratory testing. Delamination, which only occurred on four occasions and always because of on-track detritus, has never put the drivers’ safety at risk, but does risk harming Pirelli’s image. This is why the company decided to intervene.
With regard to the rules, which govern its conduct, the company has always respected the contractual limits, which bind it to the FIA, teams and championship’s organizers, and has always respected the principles of sporting loyalty.
Pirelli, however, feels the need to reaffirm the indisputable need to carry out tests for the development of tyres which are adequate and regulated by rules which are clear and shared by all the interested parties. The company confirms its availability, as communicated to the teams many times in the past, to organize tests for the development of tyres for 2014 with all the teams in the championship.
PIRELLI’S ANSWERS TO FIA
With regard to requests for information received from FIA, Pirelli promptly provided the answers needed to clarify what happened at the tests, as far as its own responsibilities went.
DEVELOPMENT TESTS FOR 2014 TYRES WERE OFFERED TO ALL: NO FAVOURTISM
The tests were conducted in observance of the contract between Pirelli and FIA, which gives the supplier the possibility of carrying out tests for the development of tyres with each team of up to 1,000 kilometres, without specifying the type of car to be used, nor sanctioning the simultaneous presence of all the teams for the running of the tests. In this regard, Pirelli has since 2010 made it clear that it is neither possible nor useful to carry out this type of test with all the teams simultaneously. In fact, this type of testing aimed at technological development and researching new solutions, involves many tyres of different types, which must be tested with a single car at a time. Testing for championship specifications is different, as occurs in winter testing which require the participation of all the teams, so as to find the most satisfying solutions for all the cars in the competition. For this reason, Pirelli insists on the need for winter testing under conditions, which are truly representative of the situations, which will be met during the championship.
Already in March 2012, Pirelli sent an email to all the teams, FIA and FOM, inviting the teams to indicate their availability for testing for the development of tyres for 2013. Further, the company explained that it was necessary to conduct the tests with the teams’ cars because it did not have a suitable one of its own (Pirelli has the use of an adapted 2010 Renault and, before that, a 2009 Toyota).
The invitation was subsequently repeated in various official contexts and repeated to some teams last March for the development of tyres for 2014.
THE TEST CONDUCTED IN BARCELONA WAS FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF TYRES FOR 2014 AND NOT FOR THE MODIFICATION OF 2013 SPECIFICATIONS
This test, as always, carried out with a single compound never used in a championship, regarded structures not in use in the current season and not destined to be used later during the 2013 season. The tyre tests were conducted “in the dark”, which means that the teams had no information on which specifications were being tested or about the goal of the testing; nor did they receive any type of information afterwards.
Further, the tests did not regard delamination in any way, as that problem was dealt with and resolved by Pirelli’s technicians through laboratory tests, with the support of data gathered during the first races of the season.
Pirelli always asked for representative cars, that is, with performances comparable to those of the cars being used in the championship underway, without ever referring to those effectively used in the 2013 races.
The “2013 MERCEDES” At BARCELONA WAS THE SUBJECT OF DISCUSSIONS BETWEEN THE TEAM AND FIA. PIRELLI MADE NO REQUESTS AND HAD NO WAY OF KNOWIING IF RULES WERE BEING VIOLATED
The Barcelona test was conducted in cooperation with Mercedes between May 15 and May 17, 2013. The teams made available one car and two first tier drivers, who alternated at the wheel on different days.
The trials were done with a base compound, not in use this year, and 12 different structures, which had never been used in 2013, only one of which with kevlar.
The team did not obtain any advantage with regard to knowledge of the behaviour of the tyres in use in the current championship.
The type of car used during the tests was the subject of direct discussions between Mercedes and FIA, as shown in the exchange of emails between the team and Pirelli. In particular, Mercedes informed Pirelli that its 2011 car could not be used and that it had already contacted FIA regarding the use of the 2013 car. There is no doubt that the questions relating to the vehicle were the exclusive domain of the team and that Pirelli was excluded from these questions (notwithstanding Pirelli’s need, from a technical point of view, to have a representative car in terms of impact on the performance of the tyres).
To confirm that this was an ordinary development test and not aimed at specific interventions, Pirelli made no specific requests about the drivers or about the tye of Mercedes staff that would be present during the tests and had fielded its normal team for development testing.
EXPERIMENTAL TYRES FOR THE CANADA GP NEVER USED BEFORE
The tyres with the new structures in kevlar which will be given to the teams during the free practice at the Montreal Grand Prix will for the first time be track tested, following laboratory development. The new tyres have overcome the problem of delamination. This phenomenon in no manner compromises the drivers’ safety but risks damaging the company’s image. At the Canada tests, the teams will have the opportunity to express their opinions and make observations.
NO CHANGE TO THE “DURATION” OF THE TYRES
Pirelli, ready as it is to make changes at any moment, has made no modifications that effect the duration of the tyres and, consequently, on the number of pit stops during the race because of a lack of unanimity of the part of the teams.