Pirelli will be allowed more track time to prepare their 2017 tyres, after the Italian manufacturer threatened to quit Formula 1 if their test programme was not accepted.
After writing to the FIA earlier this month, advising them that their proposal needed to be implemented urgently, the F1 Commission and the Strategy Group met on Monday where they swiftly moved to authorise Pirelli’s plans.
Pirelli began to feel the pressure mounting when there was no word forthcoming either way from F1 bosses, and conceded that if they could not be granted extra track time to prepare the new wider 2017 tyres, then they would miss the deadline to have them ready for next season and would make the decision to withdraw from the sport.
The Italian manufacturer had requested that the FIA change the current rules on testing to allow them to conduct 25 car days of development to produce 2017’s new wider rubber. In a letter written to the sport’s governing body earlier this month, Hembery reiterated how critical the situation now was, giving bosses a deadline to authorise the change by 4pm CET on Monday 18th April. That prompted F1 Race Director Charlie Whiting, to get the ball rolling during the 2016 Chinese Grand Prix weekend, and an agreement has now been confirmed.
The agreed proposal is for five teams to join in a test programme that would run from July, over a period of 25 car days.
Speaking to Motorsport.com, Pirelli Boss Paul Hembery stressed how important it was for the test plan to get underway as soon as possible.
“In practice, we are at the limit already. There are only six months of work left in order to study and implement the whole thing, and it’s not easy.
“The teams want a perfect tyre but week after week it is becoming less and less feasible. Our deadline is [the end of] April.
“If we cannot work as we want, it becomes impossible to deliver what is required of us. We do not want to put our name at risk for the sake of not having the tests nor information necessary to do a good job.
“We have already seen that if then there are problems, then it is our fault.”
A meeting of the World Motorsport Council on Wednesday, formally approved the agreement and the FIA released the following official statement:
“The World Motor Sport Council today approved changes to Articles 10.2 and 10.6 of the Formula One Sporting Regulations in order to provide the appointed tyre supplier additional opportunities to undertake testing in preparation for the 2017 season.
“The further testing was deemed to be essential for the purpose of developing the new tyre sizes permitted by the 2017 F1 Technical Regulations.
“The changes will allow 25 car days of testing with current cars, fitted with 2017 tyre sizes, in 2016, 2017 and 2018.
“In addition, there will be an opportunity to test prototype 2017 tyres (in 2016 sizes) on 2013 or 2014 cars – these tests on older cars only apply in 2016.”