This month’s ‘Young Drivers’ test session is effectively dead in the water this year.
The FIA has agreed to a change in the format of this month’s test session at Silverstone, with the sport’s governing body agreeing that the teams’ regular drivers can now take part. The focus of the test will now shift to assisting Pirelli with trying to find a quick solution to the spate of tyre failures witness on Sunday’s British Grand Prix.
After multiple left-rear tyre blowouts were experienced on Sunday’s 52-lap race – with cuts and slow punctures also witnessed for a number of other runners, including race winner Nico Rosberg – the FIA has agreed that a quick solution is needed to the latest drama to hit the sport.
After an emergency meeting with FIA figureheads, F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone and representatives from Pirelli, FIA President Jean Todt has announced that the teams will be permitted to run their regular drivers during the July 17-19 test session.
“Our priority is to ensure safety for all in Formula 1 and we believe the incidents at Silverstone represent a genuine safety concern for the drivers,” he explained.
“We have thus taken the decision to alter the Young Driver Test to allow teams to use drivers they deem fit to carry out tyre development work in a bid to solve the problems we saw at the British Grand Prix. I believe it is fitting to carry out this work at the circuit upon which the issues were manifested.”
The Frenchman confirmed that Mercedes would remain banned from the test session in accordance with the punishment handed down by the International Tribunal hearing into the earlier secret test session they conducted following the Spanish Grand Prix.
However, the teams’ and drivers’ focus must remain on evaluating the emergency tyre programme, meaning the teams will be forbidden from trialling any developmental components while one of the series regulars is behind the wheel. It will only be able to do so if it puts a rookie driver behind the wheel.
The FIA will send a team to monitor compliance to this directive, the governing body confirmed.
Todt did concede that the test could be extended by a day to allow teams to run their designated ‘Young Drivers’, many of whom will have already inked contracts – or parted with a lot of cash – to be able to strut their stuff in front of potential prospective employers.
While it is yet to confirm the cause – or causes – of the spate of tyre failures seen on Sunday, Pirelli is expected to announce that it will introduce its Kevlar-belted to this weekend’s German Grand Prix, while a further change in specification will be made for the following Grand Prix in Hungary.
Todt also confirmed that the FIA will push to change Article 12.6.3 of the F1 technical regulations, which will allow Pirelli to make major changes to its tyres in-season without the unanimous consent of all teams.
The FIA World Motor Sport Council will almost certainly ratify the rules changes when they next meet.