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Pirelli insists it did nothing wrong at Mercedes test

ESPN Staff
May 31, 2013 « Perez defends his aggressive approach | Pirelli explains Mercedes choice »

Pirelli has defended its private test with Mercedes at the Circuit de Catalunya earlier this month, claiming it did not show favouritism towards Mercedes and that the test was focused on 2014 tyre compounds only.

The test caused uproar at the Monaco Grand Prix as rival teams found out about it through a drivers' meeting following practice. The test took part using a 2013 Mercedes after the Spanish Grand Prix, leading to protests from Red Bull and Ferrari has they believe testing a contemporary Formula One car is in breach of the FIA's Sporting Regulations.

The issue may be put in front of the FIA's International Tribunal and Pirelli has answered a series of questions from the FIA about the test. In a statement issued on Friday, however, it stressed that it had acted "with transparency and in absolute good faith" and was only testing tyre solutions for future championships.

"Pirelli, in development testing with teams carried out in 2013, has not favoured any teams and, as always, acted professionally, with transparency and in absolute good faith," the statement said. "The tyres used were not from the current championship but belonged to a range of products still being developed in view of an eventual renewal of the supply contract. Further, none of the tests were carried for the purpose of enhancing specific cars, but only to test tyre solutions for future championships. The use of the car utilized by Mercedes, in particular, was the result of direct communication between FIA and the team itself. Pirelli did not ask in any way that a 2013 car be used: not of Mercedes nor FIA nor the teams which, during the year, were offered the opportunity of participating in tests for the development of tyres for 2014.

Pirelli says it only requested a "representative car" and the decision to use the 2013 car was between Mercedes and the FIA.

"The Barcelona test was conducted in cooperation with Mercedes between May 15 and May 17, 2013. The teams made available one car and two first tier drivers, who alternated at the wheel on different days.

"The trials were done with a base compound, not in use this year, and 12 different structures which had never been used in 2013, only one of which with Kevlar.

"The team did not obtain any advantage with regard to knowledge of the behaviour of the tyres in use in the current championship.

"The type of car used during the tests was the subject of direct discussions between Mercedes and FIA, as shown in the exchange of emails between the team and Pirelli. In particular, Mercedes informed Pirelli that its 2011 car could not be used and that it had already contacted FIA regarding the use of the 2013 car. There is no doubt that the questions relating to the vehicle were the exclusive domain of the team and that Pirelli was excluded from these questions (notwithstanding Pirelli's need, from a technical point of view, to have a representative car in terms of impact on the performance of the tyres).

"To confirm that this was an ordinary development test and not aimed at specific interventions, Pirelli made no specific requests about the drivers or about the tyre of Mercedes staff that would be present during the tests and had fielded its normal team for development testing."

Pirelli intends to change its race tyres at the British Grand Prix to incorporate a Kevlar rather than steel belt to address the issues it has had with delaminations. However, Pirelli said it did not test 2013 compounds and constructions at any point during the Mercedes test.

"The tyres that will be tested by the teams in the free practice at the Montreal Grand Prix have never been used by the teams before," the statement said. "With regard to the new tyres, the problem of delamination has been solved by Pirelli's technicians exclusively through laboratory testing. Delamination, which only occurred on four occasions and always because of on-track detritus, has never put the drivers' safety at risk, but does risk harming Pirelli's image. This is why the company decided to intervene."

The statement added: "This test, as always, carried out with a single compound never used in a championship, regarded structures not in use in the current season and not destined to be used later during the 2013 season. The tyre tests were conducted "in the dark", which means that the teams had no information on which specifications were being tested or about the goal of the testing; nor did they receive any type of information afterwards.

"Further, the tests did not regard delamination in any way, as that problem was dealt with and resolved by Pirelli's technicians through laboratory tests, with the support of data gathered during the first races of the season.

"Pirelli always asked for representative cars, that is, with performances comparable to those of the cars being used in the championship underway, without ever referring to those effectively used in the 2013 races."

Pirelli said it has always respected the rules of its contract and the sport.

"With regard to the rules which govern its conduct, the company has always respected the contractual limits which bind it to the FIA, teams and championship's organizers, and has always respected the principles of sporting loyalty.

"Pirelli, however, feels the need to reaffirm the indisputable need to carry out tests for the development of tyres which are adequate and regulated by rules which are clear and shared by all the interested parties. The company confirms its availability, as communicated to the teams many times in the past, to organize tests for the development of tyres for 2014 with all the teams in the championship."

Pirelli said it would have been neither possible nor useful to carry out the test with all the teams and reiterated that the ability to complete a 1000km test was within its contract with the FIA.

"The tests were conducted in observance of the contract between Pirelli and FIA, which gives the supplier the possibility of carrying out tests for the development of tyres with each team of up to 1,000 kilometres, without specifying the type of car to be used, nor sanctioning the simultaneous presence of all the teams for the running of the tests. In this regard, Pirelli has since 2010 made it clear that it is neither possible nor useful to carry out this type of test with all the teams simultaneously. In fact, this type of testing aimed at technological development and researching new solutions, involves many tyres of different types which must be tested with a single car at a time. Testing for championship specifications is different, as occurs in winter testing which require the participation of all the teams, so as to find the most satisfying solutions for all the cars in the competition. For this reason, Pirelli insists on the need for winter testing under conditions which are truly representative of the situations which will be met during the championship.

"Already in March 2012, Pirelli sent an email to all the teams, FIA and FOM, inviting the teams to indicate their availability for testing for the development of tyres for 2013. Further, the company explained that it was necessary to conduct the tests with the teams' cars because it did not have a suitable one of its own (Pirelli has the use of an adapted 2010 Renault and, before that, a 2009 Toyota).

"The invitation was subsequently repeated in various official contexts and repeated to some teams last March for the development of tyres for 2014."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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