FIA announces test changes in wake of tire problems

6 Comments

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.

Hamilton leads damp first USGP practice at COTA, Hartley debuts

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Lewis Hamilton continued his impressive Formula 1 record at the Circuit of The Americas by topping opening practice for the United States Grand Prix on Friday for Mercedes.

A four-time winner of the USGP at COTA, Hamilton set the pace in damp conditions in first practice after rain hit the Austin area in the lead-up to the start of the session.

After initially venturing out on intermediate tires, Hamilton made the switch to super-softs at the halfway point in FP1, ultimately posting a fastest time of 1:36.335.

Hamilton’s time saw him finish over half a second clear of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, who he could beat to the F1 drivers’ championship at COTA this weekend should results go his way.

Mercedes got two cars into the top three as Valtteri Bottas wound up third in the second W08 car, six-tenths back from Hamilton, while Max Verstappen ended FP1 fourth for Red Bull.

Felipe Massa led Williams into the top 10 with an impressive lap en route to fifth, finishing ahead of Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen and McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne.

Vandoorne was left to lead McLaren’s charge after a hydraulic leak sidelined Fernando Alonso for much of the session, limiting the Spaniard to just four laps in total.

Force India managed to get both its drivers up into the top 10 as Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez finished eighth and ninth respectively, edging out Renault’s Carlos Sainz Jr. who was P10 in his first appearance for the team.

Brendon Hartley enjoyed his first run-out in Toro Rosso’s STR12 car ahead of his grand prix debut on Sunday, taking P14 overall.

The New Zealander had not driven an F1 car since a test with Mercedes in 2012, but put in a solid first display in practice, even though his race hopes are set to be hindered by a grid penalty.

Second practice for the United States Grand Prix is live on the NBC Sports app from 3pm ET today.