Pirelli, the 11 Formula One teams and the FIA have agreed the schedule of the new dedicated tyre testing days (one per team) that each team will undertake within the existing 2014 in-season test calendar. Caterham, Mercedes and Williams will test in Bahrain; Sauber, Toro Rosso, McLaren and Force India in Barcelona; and Ferrari, Lotus, Red Bull and Marussia at Silverstone.
It is possible that F1 driver Nick Heidfeld may develop a swagger after hearing his tyre testing role at Pirelli has been filled by not one, but two drivers. In mid-September Pirelli announced the hiring of former Renault F1 driver Romain Grosjean to carry out evaluation work on Pirelli’s Formula One tyres ahead of its 2011 debut as sole tyre supplier, and the Italian tyre maker has followed this up by adding Pedro de la Rosa – the driver whose berth Heidfeld has taken at Sauber Motorsport – to its testing programme.
Sauber Motorsport has confirmed the signing of Pirelli F1 test driver Nick Heidfeld. The 33-year old German driver’s contract with the racing team comes into effect on September 17 and, thanking Peter Sauber for putting faith in him, Heidfeld said he was “looking forward like crazy” to racing in Formula One again from the Singapore Grand Prix onwards.
Nick Heidfeld has rejoined the ranks of racing Formula One drivers, replacing veteran Pedro De la Rosa at Sauber. Heidfeld has completed two full tests with Pirelli on the manufacturer’s new Formula One tyres after leaving the Mercedes GP team and had been thought to be continuing the testing process with the 2011 tyre supplier, but according to reports on the BBC’s website, he has “extricated himself from those commitments”. Sauber’s principal Peter Sauber has not commented on why De la Rosa left, or the signing of Heidfeld.
Motorsport.com reports that tests at Jerez revealed some concern for the reported lack of longevity in wet and intermediate tyres. Finland's Turun Sanomat told Motorsport.com that between two and three seconds were being lost very soon after fitting the wet-weather tyres.
While it seems odd to be talking about a company with such a rich racing heritage in these terms, Team Lotus is to become the fourth new Formula One team in 2010, according to recent reports by the BBC.
Ferrari’s Felipe Massa took the European Grand Prix on the streets of Valencia over the weekend, holding off the challenge of Championship leader Lewis Hamilton’s McLaren. The placing of the drivers, coupled with the retirement of Kimi Raikkonen, thanks to engine failure, means that Hamilton increases his lead on second place to six points, while Massa moves up to second.
BMW Sauber’s Robert Kubica took the final spot on the podium, while Hamilton’s McLaren colleague Heikki Kovalainen took fourth to follow his debut victory in Hungary. McLaren’s performance means that it has closed the team’s Constructors’ Championship deficit to eight, with Ferrari continuing to lead the way.
BMW Sauber driver Nick Heidfeld has told motorsport reporters that overtaking will be more difficult when F1 runs solely on Bridgestone tyres next season. “Overtaking always used to be difficult in Formula One and I think its going to remain difficult,” he said, adding: “When you’ve got different tyres, it’s more probable that the cars will take different turns at different speeds. In consideration of this fact, I expect the overtaking to become slightly more difficult.” The new F1 season is set to get underway in Australia in March, with the competitive difference of the tyres being eradicated by the fact that all 22 drivers will be running on the same rubber.
As supplier to both champion and more run-of-the-mill teams, Bridgestone is in an unusual position. The Bridgestone shod Ferraris of Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello may be perpetually on the podium, but Jordan and Minardi ‘s drivers are a long way off. Michelin, on the other hand, seems to supply everybody in between including race contenders.
Bridgestone’s, technical director, Hisao Suganuma, admitted to F1racing.net that only having Ferrari and Jordan and Minardi is disadvantage. “With the new regulations, we have to do a lot of testing. Next year we cannot change tyres in the race anymore, so we have to make a different type of tyre. We need to do a lot of long distance runs and that is difficult. Sauber went to our competitor Michelin, but we have to live with that.”
Meanwhile, Ferrari has a new test driver in Marc Gené who previously worked for Williams and therefore with Michelin tyres. Mr Suganuma is keen to hear about some of Michelin’s secrets. “We really are looking forward to our chat. I am not sure if [Marc Gené] will tell us everything he knows about Michelin, but of course I am hoping he will,” Mr Suganuma told the website.
Yesterday the Swiss Sauber team tested tyres from its new supplier, Michelin. Driver, Felipe Massa used last season’s C23 and obviously succeeded in finding a good balance between the tyres and wheel suspension, at the first attempt. Bridgestone tyres had previously been fitted to the model.
Renault is lining up former world champion Jacques Villeneuve to replace Jarno Trulli. Italian driver Trulli left Renault three races earlier than originally planned amid accusations that the team was undermining him and supplying inferior equipment.