Yesterday at the Paul Ricard circuit, Pirelli’s 2017 tyre testing got underway with Ferrari and Mercedes helping to develop its prototype tyres at two different circuits.
Mercedes will be testing the new wider tyres at the Paul Ricard circuit in the south of France over a three-day test, while Ferrari is testing for two days at the Circuit de Catalunya outside Barcelona. The tests are designed to help Pirelli develop its constructions and compounds for 2017 and are conducted “blind” so as not to give an advantage to the teams participating. Data from the test will be analysed by Pirelli and circulated to all 11 teams in the interest of fairness.
With Manor driver Pascal Wehrlein was at the wheel of the modified Mercedes W06 at Paul Ricard while Ferrari’s regular race driver Kimi Raikkonen took to the wheel of the SF15-T mule car at the Circuit de Catalunya. They are the third and fourth tests of Pirelli’s ten-test schedule for 2016 and are both focused on developing the slick tyres rather than the wets.
The wider tyres will be twinned with a significant step in downforce levels next year in the hope of reducing lap times by as much as five seconds. Pirelli is in regular communication with the teams about the development of the 2017 cars in an attempt to understand the forces its tyres are going to be subject to and develop accordingly.
Pirelli is hoping to minimise the performance degradation of the 2017 tyres, which has been a major factor in races since 2011. The hope is to develop a tyre that allows drivers to push throughout a grand prix distance while still having multiple pit stops during a race. Pirelli is also optimistic the wider contact patch will allow it to reduce the high tyre pressure prescriptions it has needed to introduce in the last two years as downforce levels have increased.