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Wolff: F1 must support Pirelli for Bahrain tests

Toto Wolff insists F1 must test in Bahrain rather than the cooler Barcelona to meet the needs of Pirelli but accepts the argument about splitting costs.
Toto Wolff insists F1 must test in Bahrain rather than the cooler Barcelona to meet the needs of Pirelli but has accepted the argument about splitting the costs for pre-season testing at the Middle East track.

The Mercedes team principal has been met with confrontation over his support of F1 testing in Bahrain next February ahead of the 2017 campaign with Red Bull boss Christian Horner the most vocal opponent citing the logistical costs for cash-strapped teams on the grid.

Pirelli should foot bill for Bahrain test - Horner

Wolff understands the argument laid out by Horner but feels with the vast regulation changes to the tyres the paddock must support Pirelli by going to locations where it can rely on representative conditions.

“We heard Pirelli ask for representative testing on a track where they can actually learn, where the tyres are in the proper operating window and Bahrain offered itself to host those tests,” Wolff said. “Niki was championing those tests because from his standpoint we need to give Pirelli all the possibilities to assess those new tyres. That is a fair and square initiative.

“There are teams that are not keen to go to Bahrain because they don't feel it is to their advantage or because it is too cost intensive, which I can understand as an argument but I think what is happening is the ball will go back to Pirelli and the FIA to see what kind of set of circumstances Pirelli need to properly test the tyres and finance it and make it viable to smaller teams.”

With a heavy emphasis on the new tyres re-energising the sport, as well as the 2017 aerodynamic regulations, Wolff insists F1 must allow Pirelli to get its tyre specifications settled ahead of the season and feels the Italian tyre manufacturer should take a leading voice.

“This is our tyre supplier, they need to tell us what they need in order to come up with a tyre that keeps integrity and provides a spectacular show," he explained. "If they come up and 'say we need to go to Bahrain' everybody starts to have an opinion and it's 25 different opinions. That's not helpful for the case, in my opinion.

“Because the risk in Barcelona is you could have a couple of dreadful days in February, it's freezing in the morning and too cold in the day to really get the tyres in a critical area to find out how far you can push the tyre in terms of the integrity of the tyre, not only the grip levels. We need to stop giving opinions about what should be reasonable and what should be sensible to do."

READ: Hamilton forced to miss Pirelli F1 test

Wolff concedes the cost element is something he can't ignore and while it is not an issue for Mercedes he is happy to open talks on splitting funds from a number of stakeholders to find a solution to the cost issue.

“I think if we were to go to Bahrain and the costs are much more expensive than in Barcelona then it's fair enough to say we need to have a discussion on those costs,” he said. “It is still a joint platform between the commercial rights holder, the FIA, the tyre supplier and the teams and we need to find a solution that is not detrimental to one party only, but to sit down and say 'OK, how can we divide those additional costs?'”

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