Formula 1 drivers’ championship leader Lewis Hamilton and team-mate Valtteri Bottas will test Pirelli’s tyres at Circuit Paul Ricard in France on Thursday.
Having taken victory in the Italian Grand Prix, the first back-to-back winner of the season will focus his attention on testing Pirelli tyres in dry conditions.It’s something Mercedes didn’t do enough of with their race drivers last season compared to Ferrari and it cost them at the start of this season.
Mercedes will not be able to test any new parts or upgrades as the FIA specifies that “no test parts will be permitted and any modification or change to a test car will be shared with all the teams.”
Last year, Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel personally conducted 2228km of tyre testing to gain a foothold in the 2017 championship while Pascal Wehlein did the donkey work for Mercedes; Hamilton ran only 50km on the new-for-2017 tyres in a ‘mule’ prototype car.
Hamilton told Autosport at the beginning of the season that testing a 2016 mule car on 2017 tyres “would have been a waste of my time.”
“I’m glad I didn’t do it. It made no difference.
“The fact is the [mule] car had so much less downforce and it was lighter than the car we have today, so it wouldn’t have put the tyres in the same window.
“The stuff I would have learned then, I would have to undo it and learn again.”
This season, however, Hamilton limped to fourth in the Russian GP, seventh in Monaco and fourth in Hungary. Tyre problems at the Hungaroring were a particular concern for the Briton and this upcoming test could provide solutions for Mercedes’ intermittent tyre woes going forward.
“I’ve got the test later on this week which is very rare for me, I’m not a tester,” said Hamilton.
“I’m looking forward to it. I offered to do it. So looking forward to that. Kind of.”
Mercedes heads to the Singapore GP soon (September 15-17) and the team is expected to find the race more difficult than the low-downforce, power-intensive British and Italian GPs where it took one-twos through Hamilton and Bottas; Ferrari is set to gain on the twisty street circuit.
All 10 teams will have taken part in tyre tests this season with two more tests remaining, unlike in 2016 when only Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull participated.
Sauber will participate in two days of the Mexico City test on October 31 to November 1, while Force India will also run one day of that test.
The final test of the season takes place at Interlagos, Brazil, with McLaren conducting two days of testing on November 14-15.
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