Ferrari to field Vettel in extra Pirelli test

Vettel gets nod for special tire test
Vettel gets nod for special tire test

Sebastian Vettel’s 2019 schedule has got a whole lot busier as the Ferrari driver is set to take part in a 2020 Pirelli tire test in Spain just days before he competes in the Japanese Grand Prix…

Mercedes and Red Bull will join Ferrari at the Circuit de Catalunya – the venue for the Spanish Grand Prix, and where the surface is much more abrasive than Paul Ricard where Pirelli last tested – and then head straight to Suzuka for round 17 of the championship.

Mercedes will run reserve driver and soon-to-be Renault driver Esteban Ocon in the test, while Red Bull will run their simulator driver Jake Dennis.

Pirelli’s F1 tire boss Mario Isola explained why the test, which was squeezed in after being approved by the FIA World Motor Sport Council, was imperative for the tire manufacturer, allowing them to get some more track time in to help finalize their 2020 rubber.

“The target of the test is to finalize the development for 2020," he said. “We made a proposal to have an extra test to test a new compound with a wider working range, especially on the hard [tire] levels.

“That is not possible in Paul Ricard – that was the last test in September – and, luckily, three guys were available to run the test, so we will have one day each, [for] Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull. That is a very good opportunity for us to finalize the product for next year.

“Testing is very important for us. We need to validate our tires on track. We cannot change the product during the year. We have to do the best we can do during the season in order to homologate a good product for the following season and the only opportunity is to have a proper test calendar."

While it may be a tight squeeze for Vettel, as well as the mechanics of each of the three teams, Ferrari’s Sporting Director Laurent Mekies says it’s a “complicated" but necessary operation.

“I think it was only our duty to be able to do this test when they actually ask us to go and test this latest evolution," he said.

“So, yes, logistically it is complicated but Sebastian will drive there and at the very end of the test he will just fly straight to Japan. But we felt it was, again, a duty towards everything we are asking to Pirelli to support the fact that we all want better tires and that was the best way to achieve that."

Mercedes’ Technical Director James Allison added: “It’s tough, but it’s doable. The aim of getting better tires is a noble one. We’re just leaning heavily on people who are knackered but they’ll step up…"

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