Lewis Hamilton will attend Pirelli’s 2018 tyre test later this week with Mercedes, in a rare move for the 32-year-old.
Despite a well known dislike for testing, Hamilton admitted to volunteering for the test later this week, giving him a chance to experience Paul Ricard for the first time in a little over nine years; and the first in current machinery, ahead of the circuit’s return to the Grand Prix calendar next year.
Hamilton declined to test Pirelli’s ‘mule car’ ahead of the huge regulation changes for 2017, allowing title rival Sebastian Vettel to gain crucial early knowledge of the new cars – even through stringent control from Pirelli tries to prevent teams and drivers from benefitting in this way.
With cautious optimism, Hamilton spoke to Autosport about Thursday’s programme, “I offered to do it, so I’m looking forward to that – kind of.” said the Brit.
It is believed that Mercedes will pass Friday’s responsibilities over to Hamilton’s team-mate Valtteri Bottas, who has already undergone one day of standardised Pirelli testing with Mercedes this season – at the Hungaroring post-race last month.
Having completed tests with many teams this year in their current cars, Pirelli are to convene with Sauber and Force India after the Mexican GP in October. McLaren are to be the final team to carry out their tests after the Brazilian GP a month later.
The Italian tyre manufacturer have already agreed upon and signed off their tyre construction for 2018, but still need to confirm their tyre compounds for the season, with the deadline falling on 1 December, less than a week after the 2017 season finale in Abu Dhabi.