The two-day test is the latest step in Pirelli’s programme of no-blanket slick running, although it is set to be compromised by rain.
Pirelli had intended to introduce the new tires in 2024, but during the recent F1 Commission meeting, it was decided to delay the elimination of blankets. Instead, they will reassess the situation for 2025.
The decision came too late for Pirelli to change its run plan for Spa, and thus the focus of the test will remain on the no-blanket tyres, with a view to gathering more data for possible introduction in 2025.
Pirelli is uncertain about retaining its status as the official F1 tire provider for the upcoming season. This uncertainty arises due to a contract challenge from Bridgestone, who is vying for the rights to supply tires from 2025 to 2028.
The outcome of the tender will be determined over the summer break. If Bridgestone is chosen, Pirelli’s program without tire covers will immediately become outdated since the company will not be involved in F1 in 2025.
The Spa test will in effect be rendered worthless, at least in terms of any slick running.
Pirelli will have the opportunity to concentrate its efforts on any remaining tests this season, such as a session at Monza following the Italian GP, with the aim of developing the optimal standard tire for 2024.
Pirelli has focused its testing efforts this year on running without blankets, resulting in less emphasis on developing tires with blankets for 2024. Additionally, they have allocated fewer resources to address the yearly increase in downforce levels and overall performance that teams achieve.
It has now to produce a tyre that will be able to cope with the load levels predicted for the final race of the 2024 season.
“When asked about the test programme, Pirelli F1 boss Mario Isola stated that since the no-blanket tyres have been delayed until 2025, we must also assess whether any adjustments need to be made to the current product for the upcoming year.”
Mario Isola, Racing Manager, Pirelli Motorsport
Photo by: Alexander Trienitz / Motorsport Images
“We need to thoroughly examine the entire plan and also take into account the inclusion of tires for 2024. Since we are already discussing this matter, if there are any adjustments required for the upcoming year to enhance the compounds or refine the difference in lap times, we should address them.”
“If our confirmation for 2025 is granted, we will need to additionally work on the no-blankets aspect and determine the necessary actions for the wet weather tires.”
Asked if Pirelli still has time to turn next month’s Monza session into a test of standard tyres for 2024 he said: “That’s a good question. I have to check. I don’t know yet! But we are not in summer shutdown, so we can make some prototypes.”
If there is consistent rainfall during the two days of Spa testing this week, Pirelli will have an opportunity to test their newest wet and intermediate tires.
Isola expressed her hope for rain on Tuesday and Wednesday, as it would provide the opportunity to compare the current intermediate with the one intended for homologation next year. This presents a favorable chance for assessment.
Having only two cars in operation has a disadvantage of not being able to remove the water effectively. However, it has the advantage of reducing the amount of spray, particularly if the cars are intentionally spaced out on the track.
Theoretically, this implies that the drivers have the opportunity to engage in more extensive track running on full wet tires compared to the previous weekend. The visibility issue caused by a crowded track was a significant limitation then.
Isola mentioned that on days like Tuesday and Wednesday when we have two cars available, we can send both cars out at a specific distance.
“I cannot reword”
“Next, take into account that you possess two distinct cars and drivers, thereby introducing another variable that necessitates consideration when analyzing the outcome.”
Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images
It remains to be seen how relevant this week’s running is for the two teams involved.
Usually any track mileage gained in-season is useful, and Aston Martin is taking the opportunity to give Wednesday to test and reserve driver Stoffel Vandoorne, which will help the Belgian with sim correlation as well as making him better prepared to step in if required.
However, the testing is run by Pirelli and there are strict rules on what car configuration can be used.
McLaren was unable to gather data with a lower drag specification during the test due to being stuck with an unfavorable high downforce level for the Belgian GP race weekend.
When asked about the significance of the test, McLaren’s Andreas Stella stated that the drag level is not particularly relevant since there is no alternative configuration available for comparison.
“If not, we will need to conduct the test here in Spa during the race weekend. Nevertheless, it is necessary to use configurations that have been previously used in race events during a tyre test.”
“In terms of the relevance of the test, I was actually discussing [on Sunday] morning with our director of engineering like we were hoping to have some good weather so that we can do some work that can be useful for Pirelli in the future. We will be I think a bit at the mercy of the weather again.”
Tom McCullough, the performance director at Aston, expressed that the test could have value, particularly if Pirelli secures the contract and their specialized tires without a blanket are necessary by 2025.
“We are constantly seeking to assist and enhance the tire production and innovation in collaboration with Pirelli,” he expressed. “We maintain a keen interest in the offerings brought forth by Pirelli, as they consistently introduce new tire models.”
“The final decision was scheduled for Friday regarding the [blanket]. However, it is possible that in the future, we may reconsider attending such events.”
“It is beneficial for Pirelli to continue learning and enhancing their knowledge by experiencing various duty cycle tracks and testing different types of tires.”