Former Formula 1 racer Stefan Johansson believes Sebastian Vettel will take an advantage into the 2017 season by running in the Pirelli tyre tests with his Scuderia Ferrari outfit.
Johansson, a former Ferrari driver himself, feels the decision by the German to participate in the tyre tests will benefit Vettel heading into the new season, with 2017 tyres much larger than what is being raced in 2016.
“What’s interesting is that Sebastian Vettel has been doing every test lap for Ferrari that has been available,” said Johansson on his own blog. “I guarantee you that this will give him an advantage next year.
“Every time you run a car you gain some level of knowledge. Racing and F1 in particular is no different than any other business in that it relies on human interaction and relationships to get the best results.
“The fact that Pirelli has Vettel doing testing, making every single run he can make will pay off. I’ve done lots of tyre testing in the past and it’s absolutely the best way to move things forward for driver or a team performance.”
Johansson also believes Pirelli will be delighted to have such a significant current racer doing their tests as Vettel, with Mercedes AMG PETRONAS and Red Bull Racing using Pascal Wehrlein and Pierre Gasly respectively more often than not in their own tyre tests.
“Pirelli will love the input that Vettel gives them because engineers want as much input as you can possibly provide,” said Johansson. “And without a shadow of doubt, those tyres will be based largely on his input. As I’ve said over and over, on race day the tires are more important than any other feature of a car.
“If Vettel gets a tyre that suits his driving style, that he’s 100 percent comfortable with, he won’t have to spend as much time getting his car to react the way he wants. He’ll be able to attack right away.
“It’s an incredibly smart move on his part and incredibly stupid on the other drivers’ parts not to dedicate the time to testing if it’s available to them. That’s exactly what Michael Schumacher did. Every chance he had to test, he took it… and some.
“It’s a really smart move on Vettel’s part. I’m really surprised that no one else seems to be noticing and that the other teams are instead using their test drivers. [Kimi] Raikkonen has done one test apparently but neither of Mercedes’ regular drivers have tested on the new tires, and as far as I’m aware neither has the Red Bull guys. I’m very surprised.”
Johansson was surprised that another of his former teams – McLaren – did not also offer to be a test team for the 2017 tyres, and believes that this was a missed opportunity for the Woking-based team.
“For the life of me, I can’t understand why McLaren didn’t offer a car as well,” admitted Johansson. “I don’t know the ins and outs of it but it’s strange, assuming that they were also offered the opportunity to do the tyre testing.”