After a controversial 2013, Pirelli has moved to allay fears about its tyres for next year's world championship. Before the Tweet was deleted, German driver Nico Rosberg on Thursday told his more than 400,000 followers about a 320kph "toilet paper" moment during Pirelli's private 2014 tyre testing in Bahrain.
The DPA news agency said Mercedes - testing its 2013 car in the island Kingdom alongside Red Bull, Ferrari and Toro Rosso - wrapped up its activities in Bahrain in the wake of the failure. According to France's autohebdo.fr, Pirelli did not immediately want to divulge any details, insisting the testing is "private" and the information "confidential". The Italian marque did confirm, however, that "incidents can occur" during testing.
Later, as the news about the latest exploded Pirelli spread throughout the F1 world, Pirelli said the offending tyre had been a "prototype". Pirelli added that the tyre on Rosberg's car had only previously been tested "in the laboratory", and "will not be proposed again". "Thus, the safety of the tyres which will be supplied for the next championship is not in question," F1's official supplier added in a media statement.
In fairness to Pirelli, its tyres are having to be vastly different to those supplied to teams in 2013, due to the high-torque demands of the new turbo engines. Jenson Button, now the most experienced driver on the F1 grid, thinks all the changes are going to make official winter testing next month "hilarious". "It will be cold, the tyres aren't going to work, the cars probably won't work either," he is quoted by the Independent newspaper.
Some teams, however, are relishing the F1 revolution, after Red Bull utterly dominated the now-concluded era where V8 engines were frozen and aerodynamic development was key. "Being able to build the engine and chassis together is definitely a nice advantage," Ferrari's new technical director James Allison said on Thursday, as the Italian team's new V6 'power unit" was launched at Maranello. "Other teams cannot do the same and this year, like never before, installing the new power unit in the car's chassis will be a complex operation," he added.
Allison is referring to the contrast between teams like Ferrari and Mercedes, who are both chassis and engine manufacturers, and 'customer' outfits like his former employer Lotus, who simply buy an engine from Renault. "I've got direct experience of that from my time at Lotus: it's true the engine supplier tries to meet your demands, but it's never the same thing as happens here, where there is a historical culture relating to a common task of defining and developing the design of the new car," he said. (GMM)