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Pirelli begins three-day tyre test in Bahrain
Posted By: James Allen  |  17 Dec 2013   |  12:13 pm GMT  |  75 comments

Pirelli will begin a three-day tyre test on Tuesday at the Bahrain International Circuit as they look to develop their 2014-specification tyres.

The F1 Commission granted the Italian manufacturer the session on safety grounds ahead of next season.

All 11 teams were invited to take part but only four teams accepted the invitation – Red Bull, Ferrari, Mercedes and Toro Rosso. They will all run 2013-spec cars to a programme decided by Pirelli.

World champions Red Bull have interestingly decided to run reserve driver Sebastien Buemi, rather than Daniel Ricciardo, who joins the team from Toro Rosso to partner Sebastian Vettel.

Nico Rosberg will drive the Mercedes, with Lewis Hamilton not attending as he focuses on his winter training programme.

Veteran Pedro de la Rosa will get behind the wheel of the Ferrari for the first two days, before Marussia driver and Ferrari academy driver Jules Bianchi takes over for the final day.

Toro Rosso will run Jean-Eric Vergne and Daniil Kvyat, who makes his Formula 1 debut with the team next year.

This test is the last of 2013. The first pre-season test of 2014 will start on 28 January 2014 at Jerez.

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I find the nature of the test quite off putting, Twitter feeds from the Barhain curicuit and teams state the test is private, no times, photos or data will be released. So the 3 largest teams could be doing anything out there. 2014 components galore!

In the spirit of transparency the FIA claim to be trying to create / maintain, why is this test so secretive?


“So the 3 largest teams could be doing anything out there. 2014 components galore!”

What of it? – It’s only a test.


The teams who have not sent a car are still allowed to send an observer(s) to the test. Also the FIA will be keeping an eye on what is going on.

So you can relax about any of the attendees ‘pulling a fast one’ 🙂


I find it strange and disappointing that there aren’t more top drivers at the test.

I would think the guys would jump at the opportunity to test and get a heads-up on 2014 rubber even if they have no idea of what’s bolted on the car for a particular run.

They should be able to tell the difference between how the car handled with 2013 rubber and compare that to 2014…even if there are some changes to come still.

If it was me, blood-dripping thirsty to when a F1 crown, I’d be out there getting in the miles.


If Mercedes wanted Lewis at the test, he would be at the test. Lewis works for Mercedes, not the other way around.

They want to use a race to do the comparison of 2013 to 2014 tyres.

Why must both drivers be there to give the same feedback.


I guess this will be the last time we see timed laps from a V8 powered car 🙁


Not at all. There will be Corvettes at Le Mans.


Last laps from a naturally aspirated f1 car… for now at least.


Oh, you didn’t get the memo about the 2018 formula?



Are you saying that Mercedes wanted Lewis to attend but he couldn’t make it due to his winter training programme ?


Even if Rosberg called Paddy to send him instead of Sam Bird. That would only imply how much he was rattled by Lewis beating him with a car that was developed by him for himself.

Rosberg put in massive amount of hours at the factory last December.

Rosberg would be playing mind games on himself as Lewis has no time for mind games.


If Mercedes wanted Lewis at the test, he would be at the test. Lewis works for Mercedes, not the other way around.

They want to use a race to do the comparison of 2013 to 2014 tyres.

Why must both drivers be there to give the same feedback.


You don’t think those Twitter skills come naturally, do you? 😉


This test can only replicate part of a normal run since 50% of the torque is missing in this years cars.

They can do constant speed runs with the car weighted to next years limit and with downforce backed off.

But the huge difference will only be felt when the additional torque from the new engine/ERS systems are in use. Struggling for grip at low revs and trying to get traction control back into the regs will occupy most of the year. That and cooling.

One wonders whether the Button smooth gradual throttle will prove less effective against the Schumacher style on/off style.

It is quite possible that next year the mass of the car+fuel will actually change less over the length of a race, since the fixed weight has increased but the fuel limited to 100kg usage during the race thus the decrementing fuel load will have a lesser percentage effect on the total.


It is quite possible that next year the mass of the car+fuel will actually change less over the length of a race….

I would say it’s more than quite possible, surely it will definitely be the case. Both as a percentage weight loss as well as actual – unless of course other bits start falling off the cars 🙂


The teams may learn a shockingly large amount.

Might be an old car, but they are new tyres.

The teams learn about the direction in which

Pirelli is going.


I presume they’re allowed to race whichever driver they like. In which case I have no sympathy for the teams if they put an inexperienced driver in the car (or no car out at all) and then complain 6 months down the line that they don’t understand the tyres.


I’m taking the old man to the Jerez test next month. I’m no pro but if James permits it then I’ll post some pictures of the new cars on the web and share the link with you.


Yes we would like that, thanks


It is incredible the expense they will be going to, getting those cars all the way out to Bahrain for a tyre test. Obviously the weather conditions play a part with large parts of Europe entering winter, but it isn’t exactly sending the right message at a time of cost cap agreements.


Ha, Pirelli/FIA has decided not to take any chances after the fireworks at Silverstone 2013.

This is a smart move but the unsmart move is for the other 7 invited teams to give this test a miss.

I mean remember back when Vettel was the only driver to visit the Pirelli factory then went on to have a dream season in 2011 so it’s beyond belief why any team wouldn’t show.

Now, seeing as the top teams are sending their reserve drivers, it seems it was a personal decision of Rosberg to attend possibly with the aim of wrestling back the leadership of the team from his teammate in 2014.

Right, wishing Pirelli all the best and hopefully they can give us some durable tyres in 2014 for those turbo engines are really going to burn some rubber.


Making Rosberg feel like a defecto no.2 that needs to do everything he can to outperform a lead driver, is not Lewis’ intention.

It might seem to look that way, but Lewis wants to beat people fair and square.

He does not want a Red bull type situation.

He is the purest racer in F1 today. He doesn’t want a domination either, because that will always question your ability. He always says this. Brawn has said this many times this year.


With all the hoo-har about the perceived advantage that Mercedes gained from a tyre test last year, why on earth have seven teams chosen not to bother?


1. Minimal values to the teams from running old cars since the new ones are so different.

2. Their people need a break, or to be focusing on 2014 work

3. Most of the hoo-har about Mercedes was just that

4. Cost of shipping people and kit to Bahrain. Note that of the mid-field and back markers only TR thinks it worth the expense.


My thoughts exactly!!!


Because they’re not going to use the 2014 cars and power trains. It’s Pirelli’s test, and the teams might not be allowed to keep any specific data, but they could only count how many laps the tyres lasted with a certain fuel load.

All teams participating in the test are taking all this data but are not counting on it, because the new power train which has alot more torque could have a greater or lesser effect on the tyres than what the teams expect.

I guess they gambled that it will help them next year, but nobody knows if it’s going to be that way.


You’re asking the question backwards.

Look very carefully at the teams that did decide to run: Red Bull, Ferrari, Mercedes and Toro Rosso.

What do they all have in common?


Not sure about the common, but the difference is that one team having 2 cars, while the other 2 teams having 1 cars each.


It’s the title of a Pink Floyd song isn’t it.



Even running a few test laps around an empty track still costs a ridiculous amount of money, which of course is why testing was dialed back so severely in the first place.

All four teams that did choose to participate have solid financial backing, while the other seven teams are struggling for cash – some more than others.

Normally McLaren would have been the exception, but since they’ve lost Vodafone with no replacement title sponsor announced yet (?) I’d have to assume they’d be looking to save money as well.

Honestly I’m still scratching my head trying to figure out why anyone rocked up – they’re not going to learn a hell of lot in a 2013 car and soon enough they’ll be using the tyres with the 2014 cars anyway.


Because it was just that: hoo-har.

Some teams like to protest, not in the name of of sports, but to gain an advantage if one gets penalized.


Red Bull not giving Ricciardo a run for a day is a shame. It’s nice that Buemi gets a run-out but he could have had two days and Ricciardo one. At least there’s in-season testing next year.


I can understand it from the point of view that as the cars are quite different next year Ricciardo would be learning the wrong thing in a 2013 spec car, so to speak. Jenson Button made a comment earlier this year that McLaren didn’t necessarily want him to have an experience of the 2014 car, even in a simulator, before the end of the 2013 season purely because of the differences between the cars. It sounds like Red Bull’s thinking is along the same lines.


I agree.

I think it shows the confidence Red Bull have gained of their years of consistent success. They must think they will get on top the tyre situation in 2014 quickly. If I was a driver I’d be looking for every chance to gain the slightest advantage including a look at what is possibly the rubber you will be racing on next year. If they change the rubber between now & then, you’ve lost nothing.

As for only four teams taking part, I guess there’s only four financially stable teams. Lotus should be there but we know their money situation at the moment isn’t fantastic but I’m surprised at McLaren, maybe last years poor showing has resulted in a lack of financial support.


WOW, Robert is deep!

I say forget driving Robert. Time for you to aim for F1 Team Ownership!


From top left…name all the characters in Bernie’s Christmas Card!


On the left are the team principals, LDM Bernie and JT in the middle and assorted drivers on the right.

My question is, who do the hands belong to (the unseen person who appears to be conducting) – the German State Prosecutor perhaps?


Who else but….Flavio!


Completely off-topic, but I wanted to share this retro liveries on 2013 cars with you guys. 1969 Lotus and 1974 Tyrrell look brilliant to me!


The only thing I don’t like about some of those old liveries is the number of tobacco companies on there (but a sign of the times I guess)


Jordan 191 and Alfa Benetton for me



Sadly, they all look far better than the liveries of the ACTUAL 2013 cars

Who says smoking doesn’t make you look cool, eh? 🙂


Thank you for sharing. It must be an optical illusion, but putting some classic liveries on them actually makes the modern F1 car look much less ugly. The ’82 Ferrari gets my vote….if votes we’re bring taken.


Very cool. That Jordan 191 livery really pops out to me.


Check out the autosport forum, the person making them has posted countless on there.


Are the team able to alter the 2013-spec cars so they mimic next year’s cars?


Given how the cars will change in 2014 (lower noses, completely different exhausts) I would guess no, but I also wouldn’t be surprised if they were 100% 2013 spec.

Being a test – and a test for 2014 tyres no less – I can’t imagine why the teams wouldn’t be allowed to run or two little 2014 bits if possible.


McLaren and Force India were reported to have accepted as well, what happened to them?


I suspect the 2013 McLaren cars have been crushed and buried in a very deep pit.


What happened?

Mmm..yeah..hhmmm…lemme answer that for you.


1. Sam Michaels….mmmm ok, mmm yeah

2. Lewis hamilton..Hmm…yes lemme inform you on that mmm ..yeah.

3. Ended with fasted car 2012 and after investing Millions car was much slower in 2013.. hmm??? What?? Who needs to…??

4. Vodaphone Ok, mmm, yeah…we should call…mmm yeah.Tooned McLaren Mercedes Maybe?

5. Perez….hmmm, let’s sack this driver before he gets acclimatized….uuhmm, yeah…mmm.

6.mmm yeah, that’s it..I think 🙂

Force India

1. Vijay anybody?? mmmm….no

2. Perez assumes the force India starts with a ignition key and is looking for it…umm.ok

3. Hulkenberg is in the arms of a Bavarian princess and tells her he will do a team hop again at the end of 2014

So much troubles so little time………such a long winterstop..snik snik


What would a team realistically expect to gain from doing this test with a 2013 car, where the run plans are determined by Pirelli?

What kind of checks are in place to ensure all the parts were used in 2013 and are not development parts for 2014?

why would a team such as McLaren not run?


They’d not run if it they thought it would be a big expense with nothing learned (for themselves). And on top of the thinking that the 2013 cars will be fairly different from the 2014 cars, given the performance this year, the 2013 McLaren is a car they maybe feel isn’t much good for evaluating anything.


I think Newey has said there will be some minor carry over to next year for the red bull. However I imagine the mclaren will be as far from this years as possible!


My guesses, for each of your questions, are:

1. Nothing.

2. The cars are too different and the development of the ’14 cars too far down the line for it to matter.

3. So they wouldn’t get distracted, given that they have nothing to gain (see 1).

The test is Pirelli’s, pure and simple. Who knows, maybe they will instruct drivers to spin up the tyres on purpose, on corner exits, to simulate some 2014-style torque? Whatever they do, though, ought to be better than the alternative, which is to keep trying to get something out of that 2010 Renault (nee Lotus).


Any media out there covering it or are they not allowed?


And James, another question I’ve been meaning to ask you for a long time (hope you answer!):

Does FOM have Timo Glock’s last lap of Brazil 2008 on board in the archive? Or was it simply not recorded?

It’s my greatest F1 memory and probably always will be. But I would love to see it from Glock’s perspective and hush the conspiracy theorists who believe he slowed down intentionally (or “threw in the towel” quote Rob Smedley!)


The theory is that on that last lap, within a fraction of a second after the heavy rain began to fall, Toyota decided to alter the outcome of the championship by ‘letting Hamilton through’. To do this (while appearing not to be doing it) they cleverly got both their drivers to radically slow down and synchronies their sector times to near perfection so that they could blame their deliberate slowness on slick tyres and rain! (What a silly and unbelievable story) Naturally speaking it was in Toyota’s interests to do all this because of their strong and historical ties to McLaren, known to all throughout the world…


The conspiracy theory is ridiculous simply because if Toyota had wanted to benefit McLaren they would have boxed for inters or wets when everyone else did and would then have been far behind the action anyway.

By taking a chance and staying out on slicks they were actually putting themselves in a position to upset McLaren’s result (if not by keeping position if it had stayed dry, then by sliding about in front of the other cars as they tried to get around them – as was the case on the day as it just got wetter).


There is limited footage of it on the 2008 official review DVD; he was going at a snails pace yet the thing had no grip at all, which is understandable given he was on slicks.

Clips here:

I don’t see it brought up much anymore though, I think mainly because most of the bitter jealousy that started it among fans is now mainly directed at Vettel rather than at Hamilton.


I don’t know, is the simple answer

But I do remember commentating on the last few laps and both Glock and Trulli were struggling like hell on slicks as the track got wetter – everyone forgets they were the only ones on the wrong tyre for the conditions at that one, losing multiple seconds per sector in final laps having gambled on staying on slicks when it started raising at the end.

Hamilton couldn’t get past Vettel in the Toro Rosso, but as the rain came down more heavily Glock and Trulli lost tyre temp and grip.

I don’t think Glock had much of a say in it


James I also remember you and Brundle commentating and those last few laps all Brundle was shouting was that Glock’s sector times are “fine” and it was “fine” right until the last corner, a bit dubious. I think Massa was robbed and we all know Glock has earned a handsome amount of money in his time in F1 and its not due to his performances, maybe we’ll never know.


I don’t recall that at all, we had been tracking the Toyotas for several laps and they were losing like five, six seconds per sector.

One day I’ll get hold of all the sector times from those last laps and do an analysis on it.


It´s remarkable how most people highly estimate a Championship that is decided in the last minute (I do too), but those whose favorite pilot lossses make incredible efforts to diminish the merits of a champion who won by only few points.


That’s what I recall James. I couldn’t believe how lucky Hamilton was that day. What a race! Although I was pleased that Hamilton won the WDC, I did have a lot of sympathy with Massa.


Thanks James! Arhh how I love remembering that race. I watch it in full at least once a year!

“You will never see a more dramatic conclusion to any motor race, let alone a grand prix, and the result of it all is that, in the most harum scarum way possible – he doesn’t make it easy for himself, does he? – Lewis Hamilton is the world champion.”


James, I don’t think that everybody forgets, only (conveniently) the conspiracy theorists! 🙂


May wish to edit this, James.


That’s exactly as I remember it.

It was as cut & dry as they get: Glock, on slicks, was coming out of the last corner, before the looooong start-finish straight at Interlagos. On slicks, on a track that was verging on inters Vs full-wets, he just couldn’t put the power down. To say that Hamilton (on inters) out-dragged him is a bit like saying that Hussein Bolt out-dragged… well, me.


Wonder what we would learn. Old cars running prototype rubber. Meaningless.


You have a season (2013) worth of data that you can use to measure the difference the new tyres make against the 2013 spec (ie chassis is the same so that any difference is attributable to the tyres – other factors being equal).



Lucky your dad doesn’t let you help with the car design.

Look, I’m sure they will get hints about what the tires will be like for next year. But reality is that power delivery and cars are so different next year, you can at best make a calculated guess about how the new non existent car will use the new tires for 2014. This is nothing else but tire wear verification of the harder rubber we’re likely to see in 2014. I hope in the very least they adjust car weight to 2014 spec somehow. Also good for Daniel to get some miles.


Seems like a lot of money is being spent if it’s all meaningless!


Unless you had access to the actual tires being used and the telemetry, it would be meaningless. So for TV viewers it’s just the 2013 cars driving around a track.

However, if Pirelli brought cameras in to show the evaluation process of these tires and explained this for viewers, then it would be very interesting indeed. This seems very unlikely, even though it would give fans a better understanding of the technicalities regarding racing tires.

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