Mercedes lobbying for relaxation of test ban

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Mercedes has approached the FIA to ask for a relaxation of the ban from participating in the Young Drivers’ Test which was handed down by the International Tribunal last month.

The team were banned from participating in next week’s test at Silverstone for illegally conducting a three-day test with Pirelli using their current car ahead of the Monaco Grand Prix.

After the ban was announced the FIA changed the rules governing the Young Drivers’ Test in response to the spate of punctures seen during the British Grand Prix. Race drivers are now being allowed to attend to test the new tires which Pirelli will introduce at the Hungarian Grand Prix.

Now Autosport reports Mercedes is urging the FIA to let it attend at least part of the test so it can also evaluate the new tires.

Toto Wolff said it was important Mercedes should get a chance to test the new tires on safety grounds: “When it is about safety it would be good if all teams are clear whether they work on their cars.”

“But it is up to the FIA to decide. Safety is the priority for the FIA and I am sure they would safeguard that it is the same for everybody.”

Mercedes proposed the test ban as a suitable punishment during the tribunal hearing. Several of their rivals subsequently complained the penalty was too lenient.

Fernando Alonso completes first test with United Autosports

Photo: United Autosports
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Two-time Formula 1 World Champion Fernando Alonso enjoyed his first outing with United Autosports, with whom he will contest the 2018 Rolex 24 at Daytona, in their Ligier JS P217 LMP2 chassis.

The McLaren Formula 1 driver completed the test at Motorland Aragon in Spain alongside co-driver Phil Hanson, who will be a teammate with Alonso at next year’s 24-hour Daytona enduro. Filipe Albuquerque, a former GT class winner at the Rolex 24, was also on hand to help Alonso and the team ahead of Alonso’s first run in an LMP2 car, which comes only a couple days after he made his LMP1 testing debut with Toyota. Albuquerque races with Mustang Sampling Racing in IMSA, but will return to United’s European Le Mans Series program for all but one race in 2018.

“I had a great first test with United Autosports. Obviously, we are on a really tight schedule between now and Daytona, but it was nice to jump in the car for the first time,” said Alonso, who will rejoin the team at the official Roar Before the 24 test on January 5-7.

Alonso added, “There’s quite a few switches and things to study so it was important to do this initial shakedown before Daytona, so I could fully learn about the car. I’m happy with everything – the car felt great and the team were fantastic. The atmosphere here is wonderful, like a big family, so today has been amazing. I cannot wait for Daytona.”

Team owner Zak Brown, who also serves as executive director of McLaren Technology Group and helps lead the McLaren Formula 1 effort, shared Alonso’s enthusiasm and was not surprised he was able to acclimate himself relatively quickly.

“Fernando’s first test with United Autosports went awesome as expected. He is a world champion and it is a pleasure to have him in our car,” he said of Alonso’s debut with the team.

Alonso is currently schedule to contest the Rolex 24 with the aforementioned Hanson and McLaren test driver Lando Norris.