Ferrari downplays its Pirelli test
Ferrari has downplayed the relevance of a tire test it conducted on Pirelli’s behalf at Barcelona between the Bahrain and Spanish GPs.
Ferrari has justified its involvement in the tire test in the same way as Mercedes has, in that it was simply responding to a request made by Pirelli by letter in March last year.
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Pirelli’s Paul Hembery told SPEED.com in Monaco, “some replied, some didn’t.”
The key point is that Ferrari only ran a 2011 car on behalf of Pirelli, in stark contrast to the later Mercedes test at the same venue with a 2013 machine. Thus there is no question of Ferrari having contravened the FIA sporting regulations by running a current car.
The car was conducted at Barcelona not by the race team but by the Corse Clienti division, which runs F1 cars owned by wealthy customers, as well as street demonstrations and any other running involving non-current cars such as young driver tests.
In Monaco, Stefano Domenicali made it clear that Ferrari’s protest against Mercedes was focused solely its use of the W04 — on the basis that the Italian team would be happy to test with its own F138, if that is ultimately deemed legal.
“For a bit more of a year there has been a possibility of performing these so-called 1,000 kms tests that Pirelli does for its own tire development,” a team spokesman told SPEED.com. “For Ferrari it has always been very clear that these tests could not make use of a 2013 car. In terms of running an old car, the matter is quite irrelevant, because it is totally within the rules.
“This is something that we have never denied; this was very transparent. All the teams have this possibility. The tires, the specification of the test, is something that Pirelli knows; not us.”
While Ferrari clearly has not broken any FIA rules, rival teams were not aware of the test at the time, and have been somewhat surprised as details have gradually emerged.
Thus the issue is more one of a lack of transparency from Pirelli, and as with the Mercedes test, its contractual commitment to the FIA to ensure sporting equity.
Until the Ferrari test, Pirelli had conducted its development with a 2010 Renault run by the Lotus show car team, but with other teams kept fully in the loop about what was going on. They were given clear guarantees that Lotus would not gain any advantage, and sent reports of the test results. This was not the case with either the Ferrari or Mercedes tests.