Ecclestone: Pirelli to have two three-day tyre tests

By Michael Casey, AP, 1 July 2013
© Sutton Images/Corbis/AP Images

Facing a revolt from teams over exploding tyres at the British Grand Prix, Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone on Monday gave tyre supplier Pirelli the green light to run tests to resolve the problem.

Ecclestone said he spoke to International Automobile Federation (FIA) president Jean Todt, who agreed for the tyre manufacturer to undertake unrestricted tests on a date yet to be arranged. One possibility would be replacing next month's young drivers' test at Silverstone for the tyre tests.

"(Pirelli) said they'd like to sort it out, but they don't have a chance to do any testing because of these bloody silly restrictions we have," Ecclestone said of the FIA ban on in-season testing.

"But I spoke to Jean Todt over the weekend and he has said, 'Let them test.' So he has allowed them to run two three-day tests between now and, well, when they want, to try and do something for next year, as well as this year."

The move to allow testing comes a day after drivers, including race leader Lewis Hamilton and Felipe Massa, nearly crashed after their tyres blew while racing at speeds upward of 180 mph (290 kph). The sight of large chunks of debris showering cars and, in one case, a huge strip of rubber flying across the track, almost led to the race being called off and prompted concerns F1 was sacrificing safety for excitement.

"Our greatest concern revolves around safety," Massa, who was nearly killed when hit by a piece of debris at the Hungary GP in 2009, said on Sunday. "It's unacceptable having to drive knowing you are not safe. Even if, luckily, nothing serious happened, what we saw is very dangerous."

Pirelli was investigating the problems, but ruled out a new bonding process for the tires that was introduced ahead of the British GP. The company has been called to a meeting on Wednesday in Germany of team sporting directors and the FIA. It said it had no information on the testing.

The tyre trouble at Silverstone is the latest controversy to hit F1's sole tyre provider, which has come under fire over concerns its tyres are wearing down too quickly and leading to races being decided by pit stops rather than action on the track. It also was reprimanded along with Mercedes for holding unsanctioned testing in May in a bid to improve the safety of its tyres.

With the German GP this weekend, several teams on Sunday called for Pirelli to quickly sort out the problem.

 

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