This week’s final day of testing at Silverstone saw Lotus’ Charles Pic complete 14 laps using Pirelli’s proposed 2017 specification 18-inch tyres as Kimi Raikkonen’s test replacement Jules Bianchi topped the times for Ferrari.
The current 13-inch wheel, which was in use for all others and for Pic later in the day is expected to be dispensed with in 2017, however Pirelli Director of Motorsport, Paul Hembery, today said that the change could come as soon as 2016 should the Italian company be given the green light from the FIA.
“We weren’t looking for performance,” Hembery told reporters at Silverstone; “the priority was to show people what a Formula One car would look like with a change of [wheel] rim.
“We will supply the people in the F1 Strategy Group and F1 Commission with images, so people can make a decision on the future regulations based on fact rather than computer-generated images: that was the real objective.”
Of course, with such drastic changes in configuration there must be structural changes in the tyre itself and Hembery added that today’s test had confirmed the manufacturer’s suspicions about the technical challenges the switch might bring.
“We confirmed what we knew,” he said. “You have more rigid sidewalls, so you do have an integrity challenge; the car’s sensitivity to camber will be very high; the front tyre will create a very aggressive turn in; there will be big variations in pressure. We need more detailed studies on that.
“For now, we were just confirming the things we know, and the areas you would need to start working on if indeed this is where the sport will go – and that is really now in the hands of the decision makers.”
Away from today’s main spectacle regular Marussia racer Bianchi impressed on his test outing for Ferrari, in place of Kimi Raikkonen who is being rested following his high-speed crash during last weekend’s British Grand Prix.
The Frenchman completed 89 laps for a best time of 1:35.262, just 0.02s adrift of Fernando Alonso’s best for the Scuderia in the second free practice session of the British GP weekend.
Behind Bianchi, Daniil Kyvat ended the day in second place, three tenths of a second off the pace. Kevin Magnussen was third for McLaren. Lewis Hamilton, fifth fastest today, had a spin early in the session and remained in the garage until 2pm, eventually completing 47 laps.
Sebastian Vettel, who spent the day testing 2015 Pirelli compounds as Red Bull Racing fulfilled its mandatory tyre testing day, finished the session in ninth place after he was sidelined for almost three hours as his team spent much of the late morning and early afternoon changing the power unit in his RB10.
Silverstone In-Season Test
1. Jules Bianchi Marussia-Ferrari 1m35.262s 89
2. Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1m35.544s +0.282s 56
3. Kevin Magnussen McLaren 1m35.593s +0.331s 91
4. Giedo van der Garde Sauber 1m36.327s +1.065s 84
5. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m36.680s +1.418s 47
6. Valtteri Bottas Williams 1m37.193s +1.931s 40
7. Max Chilton Marussia 1m37.359s +2.097s 77
8. Daniel Juncadella Force India 1m37.449s +2.187s 52
9. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1m39.410s +4.148s 76
10. Charles Pic Lotus 1m41.906s +6.644s 38
11. Julian Leal Caterham 1m42.635s +7.373s 51