1 July 2013
Teams call for 'safety' rethink on Young Driver test
The tyre problem that blighted Sunday's Bitish Grand Prix has led to calls for this month's Young Driver test to be turned over to exploring solutions before the Hungarian Grand Prix.
Several F1 teams have suggested that this month's Young Driver test at Silverstone be amended to allow race regulars to help find a solution to the ongoing Pirelli tyre crisis.
While little is likely to change in terms of tyres before this weekend's German Grand Prix – a situation which is making both teams and drivers nervous after the events of Silverstone – Pirelli has been tasked with providing answers when it meets the FIA Sporting Committee in Paris on Wednesday. Although the tyre company has been trying to introduce a revised version of its 2013 rubber, complete with a Kevlar belt beneath the tread, the move has been resisted by a handful of teams, each keen to retain the superior performance it enjoys on the current tyres, but the governing body is expected to force changes on safety grounds, possibly from Hungary onwards.
That move would not only give Pirelli time to manufacture the necessary number of tyres – there is a three-week gap between Nurburgring and Budapest – but it would also allow the teams three days of running with them as the Silverstone test is scheduled to fall between the two races.
At present, however, the 17-19 July session is due to be conducted by aspiring F1 drivers rather than the men who will be expected to race the new rubber, and questions have already been raised as to the wisdom of pressing ahead with evaluating young talent when safety is on the line.
According to BBC Radio commentator James Allen, the suggestion that the test be used to evaluate the revised Pirellis has been warmly welcomed by the F1 fraternity, with several teams also claiming that at least part of the time be turned over to their regular pilots in order to produce consistent feedback.
“I have an idea that, of course, we need to discuss in the next days,” Ferrari's Stefano Domenicali confirmed, “We have a test here at Silverstone that is supposed to be with young drivers [but], considering the fact that this track is very demanding for the tyres, and we can really do something with Pirelli during these days to solve this issue, I would also say use the race drivers because this is also, for them, something very important.”
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner also voiced the same opinion, but not before suggesting that Pirelli revert to using its 2012 tyre – rubber that clearly suited RBR more than the current specification – for the remainder of 2013. McLaren's Martin Whitmarsh, meanwhile, insisted that safety has to be the primary focus.
“We are lucky no one has been hurt,” he told reporters after the race, “For people like 'Checo' [Perez], it has destroyed his weekend but, first and foremost, we are primarily concerned about the safety of our drivers.
“I think there is an argument that Nurburgring is a slightly less severe circuit than Silverstone, but we have Spa looming not long after that and we would certainly not want to go there with these tyres.
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