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.

Marco Andretti confident that fewer tests won’t hurt Andretti Autosport

Photo: IndyCar
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A small point of debate around the 2018 aero kit has been the manufacturer test days that took place through the Fall of 2017 and into the beginning of 2018. Chiefly, the debate has centered around teams who hadn’t participated in those manufacturer test days and if they’re starting the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season at a disadvantage as a result.

Team Penske, Ed Carpenter Racing, and A.J. Foyt Racing completed test days for Chevrolet, with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports and Chip Ganassi Racing doing so for Honda.

That left teams like Andretti Autosport out of the mix, with some voicing concerns as a result.

However, in a press conference during testing at ISM Raceway last weekend, Marco Andretti explained that he thinks Andretti Autosport should be able to catch up on development, citing the team’s resources – they’re the only IndyCar team with four full-time cars in their stable – and the fact that everyone is still adapting to the new kit.

“I feel like it’s early enough days that, yes, we can catch up,” Andretti said at ISM Raceway. “When there is anything new, a new car, new aero kit, at-track days are huge. We can sim all these things we want. To really get out there and confirm what we’re learning back at the shop is another thing.”

Ryan Hunter-Reay during testing at ISM Raceway. Photo: IndyCar

Andretti continued, “Yeah, I don’t think we should look at it like we’re behind the eight ball. With a four-car team, that’s where we can use it to our benefit. So far so good.”

Teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay, echoed Andretti’s sentiments, adding that while the situation is not perfect, they will need to adapt to it in order to remain competitive.

“Any time you have a new car, to put it into perspective, we’re on track three days on a road course before we get to (the season open in St. Petersburg). That’s a very short amount of time. It’s obviously not ideal, but we’re just going to lace up our boots and get on with it. That’s all you can do.”

Andretti Autosport will have one more team test, at Sebring International Raceway later on in February, before the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

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