Pirelli has announced it will delay the full-blown introduction of its modified tyre compounds until at least the British Grand Prix, as Formula 1’s sole tyre supplier continues to come under increasing pressure over its recent handling of tyre developments, testing and driver safety.
Its safety-focused adjustments will instead be tested on Friday practice at the upcoming Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal.
The Italian tyremaker has come under increasing criticism following the Spanish Grand Prix – won by a four-stopping Fernando Alondo – where a number of teams raised concerns over the durability of the 2013 tyre compounds.
Pirelli was quick to react, announcing a wholesale change in its tyre construction would be implemented at the Canadian Grand Prix in June, with the focus being to reduce the spate of tyre failures witnessed.
The new tyres will feature a kevlar belt in their construction – as the 2012-spec tyres did – and they will now be trialled during practice at the Circuit de Gilles Villeneuve. Each team will be given two sets of the experimental rubber, with the aim being to introduce the modified compounds at the next Grand Prix in Silverstone three weeks later.
“We can confirm that we will bring two sets of experimental tyres to the Friday practice in Montreal as the regulations allow us to do,” a Pirelli spokesperson has confirmed.
“The event tyres will be the usual specification that has been used all year. Hopefully we will be able to start using the new tyres from Silverstone onwards.”
Pirelli is still to renew its contract with Formula One Management to continue its supply deal to the sport, with Pirelli Motorsport director Paul Hembery warning that a new deal will need to be struck up soon to give the company enough time to develop its 2014-spec tyres.
Pirelli came under enormous fire when it emerged during the Monaco Grand Prix weekend that it and Mercedes had performed a three-day private test immediately following the Spanish Grand Prix, which would appear to be in breach of the regulations that ban in-season circuit testing.
The news sparked an almost immediate protest from both Red Bull Racing and Ferrari, who raised official complaints with the FIA Stewards, claiming that the test gave Mercedes an unfair advantage. Their complaints were heightened further when Nico Rosberg claimed a lights-to-flag victory for the team on Sunday.
The resultant debate has seen a lot of back-and-forth, with Mercedes and Pirelli denying that the test gave them any advantage. In turn, the Monaco Grand Prix stewards opted to refer the matter to the FIA’s International Tribunal, which will hear the case sometime next month.
There are plenty of conspiracy theories abounding at the moment, and all of this comes at an uneasy time when Pirelli’s very future in the sport remains under a cloud.