Red Bull will have a chance to undertake a two-day, 1000-kilometre tyre test for Pirelli this week at the Circuit de Catalunya just outside Barcelona in Spain, as the tyre manufacturer works towards its 2014 compound specifications and seeks to gather further test and development data.
The story was initially broken by Sky Sports F1
reporting from the Monza paddock, and subsequently confirmed by Pirelli's director of motorsport Paul Hembery and Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner.
Unlike the controversial test that got Pirelli and Mercedes into trouble with the FIA earlier this year, this test will use a 2011-specification F1 car which means that the session will comply with the sporting regulations.
Mercedes' test in May ran into problems because it used a current specification chassis in its test. The fact that the Mercedes test was apparently kept secret and no other team had been invited to take part had also raised objections, and Pirelli was quick to ensure that it avoided any such pitfalls this time around so that things proceeded smoothly.
"It's 1000-kilometre as we did with Mercedes and Ferrari," Hembery told ESPN
on the grid at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza before the race on Sunday.
"We've got full FIA approval, all the other teams were invited and maybe there's another team that we're looking to organise another 1000-kilometre with that's offered their availability," he continued.
"It's a 2011 car, next year's tyres," Hembery emphasised. "I'm not sure about the driver, that's probably going to be [Sebastien] Buemi."
Red Bull's new driver signing for 2014, Toro Rosso's Daniel Ricciardo, has also been named as one of the two drivers to make the trip to Barcelona, along with current RBR reserve driver Buemi.
"It's a test that others have conducted for Pirelli," team boss Christian Horner confirmed, "It's an old car, we're running one of our test drivers in it - probably Daniel Ricciardo will drive on the other day."
Although planned as a two-day test, it could be extended to three days in the event of poor weather interfering with track time.
According to Sky Sports,
the test would see Red Bull run a back-to-back test with a control tyre based on this year's specifications compared against the development rubber that Pirelli hopes to introduce in 2014 assuming that it gets the go-ahead to remain as F1's sole supplier.
Positive remarks from FIA president Jean Todt on Saturday suggested that the sporting body was close to formally confirming that Pirelli would be staying in the sport into the 2014 season. [See separate story
The chance to test 2014 tyres in advance of other teams has raised some eyebrows, even though it's unlikely to make any actual impact on competition as the 2011 cars are completely different from the heavily revised technical specification that will be introduced next season.
In addition, the new compounds are still in an early stage of development and are likely to be significantly revised before the first race weekend of 2014 puts the finished articles to the test.
Force India's sporting director Otmar Szafnauer still wasn't happy with the plans when he heard about them on Sunday. "It's a huge advantage for them," he said, referring to the data Red Bull would be able to collect on the proposed new tyres. "We were not offered a test like this."
Hembery emphatically denied Szafnauer's claim, however. "We asked everyone," he insisted. "There won't be anything for them [Red Bull] to gain ... They won't know what they are testing.
"This time, hopefully, we won't be ending up in Paris!" he laughed wryly, referring to the disciplinary process Pirelli faced over the shortfalls in the Mercedes test earlier in the year. "We've had good collaboration from the FIA and I think this time it's all been okay."