F1 ‘risks Indianapolis 2005 repeat’ in 2017

2017 F1 season

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Formula One risks a repeat of the notorious 2005 United States Grand Prix, which was started by just six cars due to tyre safety fears, if it does not change its testing plans for 2017, an engineer has warned.

Teams are locked in disagreement over whether to arrange a pre-season test in Bahrain to allow Pirelli to assess its new wider tyres in hot conditions.

Pirelli will introduce wider tyres in 2017
Mercedes executive director Paddy Lowe argued in favour of a hot-weather test. “We have the biggest change in tyre regulations probably for one or two decades,” he said. “Pirelli have asked the FIA if they would support testing in Bahrain, which is outside Europe so by regulation requires a process to get there. As I understand a majority of teams support that request.”

“For me the important point that Pirelli are asking for is hot condition testing of the compounds, particularly. The structure of the tyre is created and tested in a lab. But the compounds they can really only evaluate in circuit conditions.”

“Unfortunately the mule car programme which is running at the moment has delivered three cars which are very helpful to the process but they’re not delivering the level of aerodynamic load that we’ll be seeing next year.”

“So for me it’s a matter of supporting Pirelli’s request to contain the risk of arriving at the fist race, first event with hot conditions… there’s a real risk to the show, we’ve seen what can happen, for instance with Indianapolis 2005, we mustn’t forget that we need to put on a show, we need to run a 300 kilometre race with sensible numbers of tyres. So that is not an inconsiderable risk and should be covered and that’s why we particularly support that.”

However Pat Symonds said Williams is “diametrically opposed” to the plan because of the high costs the test would create.

Symonds is against the testing plan
“The cost of doing a test outside of Europe is vast,” said Symonds. “Depending on exactly how you do it, how much you have to ship back to the UK, how much you can send on to the first race, we’re talking of a minimum of £300,000, a maximum of £500,000 and a likely figure sitting in the middle of that.”

“Now to a team like Mercedes I’m sure they can build contingencies in their budgets to cover things like that. A team like Williams simply can’t. It’s a significant part of our budget, it’s unaccounted for and therefore I think it is the wrong thing to do.”

Symonds added Pirellis agreements should preclude the teams from doing tyres tests on safety grounds.

“Paddy mentioned we need to have safety and the Indianapolis situation. But I think it’s very clear in the requirements that Pirelli has signed up to and indeed that Pirelli asked for that we are not running cars to test the safety of tyres.”

“That has to be done off the cars, that has to be done before they ever see the track. So I don’t think that’s an acceptable reason to go testing in the Middle East or elsewhere.”

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Keith Collantine
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36 comments on “F1 ‘risks Indianapolis 2005 repeat’ in 2017”

  1. It’s a pretty simple solution – F1 should cover the costs.

    If it’s a safety issue and they don’t want a repeat of a farce, cover it.


    1. And incur a hit of 2-5 million on their profits, when covering all 11 teams? No way CVC would have allowed it, and unlikely for Liberty Media too.

      Hyperbole aside, your idea is totally sensible and logical. And that is why it won’t happen. :-)

      Paddy’s statements make sense, but invoking the 2005 US GP sounds a bit like he’s fearmongering to win support.

      1. petebaldwin (@)
        7th October 2016, 13:29

        2-5 million to a company like CVC or Liberty Media is absolutely nothing. Compare that to the alternative which might be having to cancel a race and it’s money well spent!

        1. He was being facetious

    2. Your post makes perfect sense. Shame F1 shies away from doing sensible things.

  2. Pirelli simply cant build good tyres, end of story

    1. Its hard too with the limited amount of testing. The mule car isn’t a real enough representation of 2017. They need more testing. Having said that F1 teams have to come to a SENSIBLE decision for the good of the sport. We don’t want a repeat of the start of this year

    2. Utter nonsense. They’re the first ones to develop radically new tyres for radically new cars with barely any testing.

    3. I can’t stand Pirelli’s tyres, but honestly I don’t think Michelin, Goodyear, Bridgestone or anyone else could have done a lot better given the restrictions they have to work under.

      1. @neilosjames I recall Michelin saying that they could produce safe/suitable F1 tyres within a few weeks as they would simply bring over there WEC compounds/construction.

        Let us not also forget that Bridgestone were under the testing ban in 2009/2010 yet managed to come up with tyres that featured zero issues at all.

        Pirelli have had 5 years running in F1, That should be plenty of running & more relevant running been on all cars over actual race weekends to come up with good tyres & they have consistently failed to do so.

        1. @RogerA Pirelli could produce ‘safe, suitable’ F1 tires in a few weeks too…if that was F1’s mandate. Rather, F1 has wanted them to make tires that are the dominant story of F1. That was not yet the case in 09/10 for Bridgestone. Pirelli has only appeared to have ‘failed’ because with limited testing it is much harder to nail down mandated ‘gimmick’ tires than to just produce straight up good tires that won’t behave in a manner that F1 has mandated.

          FOM probably thinks the opposite that you do, in that Pirelli has succeeded in making the tires they have asked them to make. Now that the tires will be mandated to be vastly different than what they have been asked to make in these recent years, it’s a new chapter and hot weather testing on proper 2017 cars should be a no-brainer. It is irrelevant what time they have had to come up with ‘good’ tires over the last 5 years, as they were never asked to make ‘good’ tires to begin with, but now going forward they may actually have the mandate to make good tires for 2017. They should be allowed the testing needed which is still extremely limited and only amounts to an extra session somewhere hot with actual 2017 cars.

        2. But that wouldn’t be a ‘suitable’ tyre under the restrictions Pirelli have had to work with (being told by FOM what to do).

        3. RogerA, in the case of Michelin, whilst they tried to persuade the sport to move towards using similar tyre sizes to what they use in the WEC, I have not seen a single quote from them where they claimed that it would be a matter of just a few weeks for them to produce a tyre for F1.

          If anything, I thought that it was rather different – that one of Michelin’s conditions of entering F1 was that the teams would have to carry out more tests than they do now in order for them to collect more tyre test data.

          Equally, compared to now, the development restrictions that Bridgestone faced were significantly laxer – I don’t thin you realise quite how drastic the change has been between when Bridgestone were around and what it is like now.

          Bridgestone actually began development work on their slicks in 2007 (possibly earlier), at a time when there were no restrictions on the amount of mileage that the teams could rack up in private testing.

          In 2008, when the restrictions began to be introduced, each individual team was given an individual allowance of 30,000km per annum. However, the teams had agreed at the end of 2007 that any tests which were undertaken in 2008 to develop the slick tyres for Bridgestone would not be deducted from their annual allowance – so Bridgestone was officially exempted from the testing restrictions and actually had an unlimited mileage allowance that year, and was making use of that (the teams were already running tests with prototype slicks in 2008).

          Bridgestone only really began to be affected by the restrictions on test mileage in 2009, when that exemption from 2008 ended – which didn’t really hurt them given that they had already developed their design by that year. Even after the mileage allowance was cut, the teams could still rack up a total of 15,000km of test mileage per annum.

          To put that into perspective, in the pre-season tests this year, the teams collectively racked up about 42,000km (compared to about 41,000km in 2015 and 35,000km in 2014), with Mercedes racking up a bit less than 4,500km (or less than a third of what teams were allowed to do in 2009).

          I am fairly sure that, when you compare the amount of mileage that Pirelli has covered in recent years compared to what Bridgestone did, I think that Bridgestone might have done more miles on their prototype tyres than Pirelli have been able to do across multiple years.

  3. Pre-season testing will take place in March, which won’t be that hot in Bahrain.


    They missed their window.

    1. But clearly a lot warmer than in Barcelona where temperatures sometimes dropt towards 0 at night @abashrawi!

      I guess the solution will be to have either Pirelli or FOM take up part of the bill (FOM maybe part of the transport, as it can be taken as a stop on the way to Australia?) and arrange for as much of the stuff to be then shipped directly to the first race venue to keep the extra cost as sensible as possible?

  4. It’s like all the brightest minds have gathered to do dumb things. Building these cars and tyres, managing the circus, the entire financial governing yet they fail to follow logic steps in project management.

  5. This seems like an outlandish statement to make. To me it feels as though Mercedes are trying to scare teams into going to Bahrain.

    I don’t understand then, the point of the testing they are doing now? Sure the mule cars don’t have the sufficient downforce that a true 2017 car will, but the running in October will be in warm weather (Abu Dhabi). Christian Horner said it best, that the tires for the start of next season will be based on what they are finding out during the tests THIS month.

    So if we follow Paddy’s logic, then will we have a “Indy 2005” situation at the beginning of next season regardless of weather or not they go and test in Bahrain. Wasting millions of dollars.

    Paddy said it would take an “ounce of intelligence” to dismiss the Hamilton engine conspiracies. Maybe he should take a look in the mirror on this issue.

    1. Sorry I apologize, whether*

      1. @sward28 Of course the testing now is what will mostly determine the tires they will be on for next year. They have to do testing now, doing their best to try to duplicate the uniquely huge changes to come, which aren’t normally this drastic one year to the next. They have to gather data now and get the teams the data as soon as possible as it is extremely relevant to how they design next year’s cars.

        The purpose for a pre-season hot weather test with proper 2017 cars is to confirm that everything is ok in all the conditions the teams will face throughout the season, not just cool or even cold conditions that won’t happen during the season. This will allow them to suss out any issues and get working on solutions before the season has begun rather than be caught out in the first race or two and have to react while the season is under way, with solutions only coming several races in.

        Furthermore, with only one tire maker in F1, failure at any one venue akin to what happened in the US would result in a cancelled race completely. What would be the cost of that? Lowe is not fear mongering, he is talking common sense.

        1. @robbie As I look at it now, the last preseason test is March 7-10. The first race is on the 26th. Let’s say they go with a compromise in that second test and go to Bahrain. Which has been the idea I’ve seen most being floating around. You’re telling me Pirelli will be able to find a solution, create new compounds, construct those tires and ship them in the 2 weeks before Melbourne? Not mention it’s a back to back with Shanghai. Sounds like a logistics nightmare.

          I don’t know, I just don’t buy it. I’m not saying Pirelli is going to make the perfect compounds. All I’m saying is that regardless of where you go for the preseason tests they are most likely going to still run the tires they are forming right now, in Melbourne

          1. @sward28 I wasn’t suggesting a two week time window for correction to tires if they found a problem. They could do this 4 to 6 weeks earlier than the first race. Not only would a hot test be valuable on many fronts, for Pirelli and the teams, and us for getting a better product on the track, it would give them a head start and minimize any potential adverse affect to the races and the season if the tires fail, as we have seen before. Has F1 not learned from very recent history of ‘secret’ mid-season tests necessary to rectify exploding tires?

            And as I have said, I agree they will pretty much be on the tires they are testing these days. But their validity in the heat on a 2017 car cannot be proven until next year. The sooner the better, or would you rather drivers’ days ruined and the racing degraded with the worst case scenario of a mid-season fiasco?

  6. Phillip island a week before aus gp…. ticket sales would cover cost!

    1. Well done Alex, I was just scrolling through to make the same suggestion.
      Test at Phillip Island just outside Melbourne, it’s plenty hot enough in February, and a great spot for the teams Wags and children to have a break from the N. winter. Ford have just shut down their Melbourne manufacturing operation and could probably be prevailed upon to donate some storage and workshop facilities in return for a little positive PR. All in all a win-win arrangement with minimal extra travel/transport.

    2. I think Pirelli want to test that the tires will be good enough to use in the Australian GP itself, given its summer there. So a week’s lead time might be inadequate.

      I read this statement “Pirelli’s request to contain the risk of arriving at the fist race, first event with hot conditions” as implying that the first race is itself the first one with hot conditions.

  7. F1 needs to ensure a hot weather session of tests using the 2017 cars happens if it is to call itself the pinnacle of racing. F1 has to start getting it right, and with the bold changes coming in an effort to get it right it seems ridiculous to me that complete testing of crucial tires could be an afterthought or come down to a literal tiny fraction of the billions of dollars that F1 is worth.

  8. If the next pre-season testing days are run in the middle east, then I’d choose The Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi because it hasn’t been used for pre-season testing yet, and the Bahrain International Circuit has already been used for that purpose, but other than that I don’t really care which one.

  9. Out of curiosity: has MERC already scheduled the 1,000km test in Barcelona with Pirelli for 2017? :)

  10. I was there at the Indy USGP in 2005 as a non-VIP guest of Michelin. The PR damage of that event was almost incalculable to F1 in America. I totally understand the point of the smaller teams not going to Bahrain over the additional costs to them but to hear this coming from Christian Horner is puzzling. Regardless, if Pirelli wants hot-weather testing, then they should cover the costs. My compromise would be the FIA pick 3 teams at random, those teams take only 1 car to Bahrain and the teams agree that ALL data become available to the other teams.

    1. I was there as a fan, and my blood still boils every time I think of that day. My sisters were along for their first ever F1 race, and simply couldn’t comprehend what had happened. Needless to say, they never went to another race.

    2. I’d offer a slight variation – pick the bottom 3 teams from 2016, and fly them out for testing. They could use all the extra testing they can get. In the past, we’ve seen backmarkers skip one round of pre-season testing partly due to cost pressures.

      There’s a small risk that this might not be very representative, since the backmarkers often have the poorest downforce (as evidenced by Manor often topping the speed traps), but it should be good enough for Pirelli.

      1. That’s pretty much a reward for losing. Despite Sauber being abysmal they get a bigger reward than a team like Force India who were exceptional.

        1. The data is still shared to all, per @photogcw ‘s suggestion, so that should minimize it.
          Besides, they’ve already taken the monetary penalty of getting no payout, or the minimal payout, based on their standings, so I think its OK to throw them a bone.

    3. @photogcw, in case you are curious as to why Red Bull have spoken out against the plan, Horner stated in another interview that the main reason was because Red Bull like to bring out prototype parts on a day by day basis during testing, and it takes longer to transport new pieces to Bahrain.

  11. What about doing it on southamerican soil, since we’re still on a summer weather?
    Is it that more expensive to travel to, for example, Interlagos than going all the way to Bahrain?

    1. @mcgrot, Best thing going for Brazil is lack of jet-lag, but will it be dry ?

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