New 2017 tyres won’t be tested until next year – Hembery

2017 F1 season

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F1’s new, wider tyres for 2017 won’t be tested until next year, according to Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery.

Formula One’s first change in tyre specification since 2009 has been agreed for next season. But with no post-season test planned for 2016, the new rubber won’t be run until the new year.

Speaking in today’s FIA press conference Hembery confirmed the scope of the changes is “very big – not only in the physical size of the tyres but also the characteristics of the tyres, what we’re being asked to deliver.”

Pirelli will be able to conduct preliminary development of the new tyre compounds in the coming months after the FIA agreed to an increase in the number of in-season testing days for this season.

“The first phase is working with some V8 cars up until the end of July, where we’ll be working on the current tyre size and developing new concepts in terms of materials, the actual physical shape of the tyres and also the compounding, in particular. So that’s the first phase.”

“And then we move on to the hybrid vehicle, we believe, based on the availability of the hybrid vehicle from the end of July. So a very intensive programme.”

However plans for further testing after the season finale have been abandoned.

“There isn’t going to be an end-of-season test this year,” Hembery confirmed. “We were originally planning to be available in November to give the product to the teams.”

“It looks likely now the first time we’re actually going to run with all the cars will be next year when they define the winter test plan. I know there’s a lot of discussion under way at the moment to decide where we go and when that’s going to happen.”

Pirelli’s new contract to continue as F1’s tyre supplier was announced at last year’s Russian Grand Prix, however Hembery confirmed they have not finished exchanging documents with Formula One Management.

“From a contractual point of view there was obviously some elements that were linked to the recent changes regarding testing,” he said, “that was essential for us.”

“But the actual terms are all agreed, we’re now in the final phase of signing the actual documents. That’s a matter of days, I would think, rather than anything else.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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3 comments on “New 2017 tyres won’t be tested until next year – Hembery”

  1. Color me pessimistic, but this sounds like a potential disaster waiting to happen.

  2. Indeed – such a crucial component of the 2017 changes with probably a long lead time to make changes, and they won’t test it until the first 2017 cars roll out of the pits to test themselves? What happened to Pirelli’s own test programme – do they have a hybrid yet or are they still using an ancient V8 Renault?

    1. @gregkingston, they used to use an old Renault chassis in the past as their test bed, but they have had to move away from that for a number of reasons.

      Firstly, they did so because changes in the regulations meant that the relevance of that car was decreasing as time went on, and secondly because the other teams kept complaining that there was the potential that Renault could provide data to Pirelli that biased their development program in their favour (even though those same teams had previously rejected Pirelli’s invitation to test when Pirelli invited them to provide their own cars to participate in the tyre tests).

      At the moment, though, I believe Pirelli do not have independent access to a car with one of the current generation of hybrid power units in them. Given the restrictions on testing which have been imposed on the sport as part of the agreements to contain costs, Pirelli is in a situation where it can only get access to current generation cars with the current powertrain via the teams themselves, which inevitably leads to the tyre development process itself becoming embroiled in the internal politics between the teams.

      As hobo says, the whole process does risk turning into something of a disaster given that Pirelli are not really being given much of an opportunity to either provide input into the new regulation package or really being given a proper opportunity to test. They’re effectively being dragged along by the teams, who are then dictating the terms to them (something Michelin complained about when they entered into the tender process for 2017 when they complained that they couldn’t meet some of the performance requirements that the teams were trying to impose).

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