Pirelli is pushing to nail down a proper winter testing program, including a post-Brazilian Grand Prix test, to ensure Formula 1 avoids a repeat of this year’s tire dramas.
With the new Pirelli tires that will race in Hungary this weekend appearing to have cured current problems, F1’s tire supplier is now looking further forward to ensure the sport is fully prepared for the challenge of the 2014 rules.
It is still eager for a post-season test at Interlagos in the week after this year’s Brazilian GP, even though teams are reluctant for that to happen, but is also eying the chance to get access to a 2013 car so it can test in the Middle East in December.
“There are a couple of teams interested and they have raised the possibility of testing a 2011 car,” Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery told AUTOSPORT. “We are going through the process of verification now, which is fantastic. But I would prefer it to be with 2013 cars. Ideally what we would like to do is run at the end of the season with one or two cars after Brazil, and we don’t care who they are as long as they are quick.
“Then, we would like to go to Bahrain in December with one or two cars and do something similar. The 2013 cars are the quickest and most aggressive cars that are out there at the moment for us to use.”
Hembery is well aware that it was the lack of proper testing this year that meant the issues with Pirelli’s steel-belt tire did not materialize until the season was well under way, and is wary of potential issues arising from the new rules package.
“We need to define a proper program in 2014, because for us it is not just about turning up to the winter testing sessions,” he said. “What if we get there and find out that one of the cars is one second quicker per lap than everyone else, because they have a huge advantage with their powerplant? That could open up another Red Bull scenario, where people suggest the car is too quick for our tires.
“Equally, we must go and do some wet weather testing. People are saying in the simulators that the 2014 cars will spin their wheels in fourth and fifth gear. Well, I don’t think any driver wants to go to Malaysia when it first rains and find out there that they are stood still at the first corner because of wheelspin. There is a whole load of detail we need to look at as a sport before we get there.”
F1 teams are currently finalizing pre-season testing plans for 2014, with a test set for Spain in January and then two further runs at a Middle East track before the first race.