FIA announces test changes in wake of tire problems

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In a statement, the FIA has confirmed that race drivers will be allowed to take part in what was originally to be the Young Driver’s Test at Silverstone “provided it is clear that they are testing tires for Pirelli.” The session, scheduled for July 17-19, may also be extended by a day.

“Our priority is to ensure safety for all in Formula One and we believe the incidents at Silverstone represent a genuine safety concern for the drivers,” FIA President Jean Todt said in the statement. “We have thus taken the decision to alter the young driver test to allow teams to use drivers they deem fit to carry out tire development work in a bid to solve the problems we saw at the British Grand Prix.

“I believe it is fitting to carry out this work at the circuit upon which the issues were manifested.”

Per the recent decision from the FIA’s International Tribunal, Mercedes will not take part in the Silverstone test.

The FIA will seek approval from the World Motorsport Council to change sporting regulations regarding the current in-season testing ban, which would make the aforementioned test legal. In addition, the FIA will also ask for an additional change to technical regulations that would allow modifications to tire specifications to be made without the unanimous approval of all teams.

These decisions come after Lewis Hamilton, Felipe Massa, Jean-Eric Vergne and Sergio Perez all suffered left-rear tire blowouts during Sunday’s British Grand Prix. Pirelli is still investigating the matter, but has declared that the new bonding process on the tires were not the cause of the failures.

As MotorSportsTalk’s Keith Collantine reported this morning, all opposition to Pirelli’s initial plan to switch from tires with steel belts to those with Kevlar belts has backed down in the wake of Sunday’s incidents.

Audi bids farewell to Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich upon retirement

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Audi bid farewell to its iconic head of motorsport, Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich, at its end-of-season ‘Race Night’ event in Germany on Friday upon his retirement.

Ullrich took over the reins as Audi’s head of motorsport in 1993 and stayed in the role for 23 years, overseeing its arrival in the prototype class of sports car racing and domination of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Ullrich stepped down from the position at the end of 2016, handing the reins over to ex-Audi DTM chief Dieter Gass, and attended his final racing event with the German marque at its first works Formula E outing in Hong Kong earlier this month.

Ullrich was honored at the Race Night event on Friday and thanked for his efforts in developing Audi into a force within global motorsport.

“In 566 factory-backed commitments during this period he celebrated 209 victories, 13 of them in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, eleven in the 12-hour race at Sebring and nine in the ‘Petit Le Mans’ at Road Atlanta,” a piece on Ullrich’s tenure for Audi’s website reads.

“31 driver titles in super touring car racing, in the DTM and in the sports prototype category are credited to him. 57 campaigners were Audi factory drivers during Wolfgang Ullrich’s era and he was responsible for 18 new developments of racing cars – an impressive tally.”