Two weeks can be a long time in Formula One. It's long enough to go from being lapped in the Spanish Grand Prix to winning the Monaco Grand Prix and also testing Pirelli tyres for 1,000km. The life of Mercedes AMG Petronas has been a case study in peak and valley performance and it also has many teams outraged at the quick turnaround.
Following the Spanish Grand Prix Mercedes was engaged by Pirelli to complete 1,000km of tire testing with a current 2013 chassis and the teams current drivers--Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg. The team took the Italian tire maker up on the offer and the rest was history... until the paddock found out about it in Monaco last weekend.
It seems that Pirelli and Mercedes both offered statements to the public marginalizing the test and suggesting that the FIA approved the whole deal. The FIA were not too keen about these statements prompting the regulatory body of F1 to offer its own dim view of the test.
Pirelli were within their rights to conduct a 1,000km test but many suggest that this cannot happen in-season and that all the teams have to be offered the same opportunity. The rhetoric is only getting worse as Red Bull team boss Christian Horner weighed in saying:
"What's disappointing is it's been done in not a transparent manner. A three-day test has taken place with a current car running on tyres that are going to be used in the next grand prix and irrelevant of what you call it, that's testing."
Mercedes says there was no secrecy involved as the other teams packed up after Spain and they didn't--assuming this should tip someone off that a 1,000km test is about to take place? Not likely.
The FIA will now launch the International Tribunal to determine if any regulations have been thwarted and who might be to blame... if anyone. The organization is nonplussed by the way the test was handled and publicly made everyone aware of their displeasure.
During the private test, Mercedes were to have tested new compounds that Pirelli said they would bring to the Canadian Grand Prix. These new tires were a different construction from the 2013 specification tires currently on offer. As before, the FIA were not too keen on Pirelli making announcements and changes without their approval and they weighed into the argument publicly suggesting that the only way Pirelli can change tires mid-season is if there is a safety issue--which the Italian company said, previously in the press, that there was no safety issue concerning a few cases in which the tires have delaminated.
Today it was officially announced by Pirelli that they will not be bringing all new tires for the Canadian race rather a new test tire for Friday practice only. Pirelli said:
"The Formula One teams will have an opportunity to test the new range of Pirelli P Zero tyres during free practice at the Canadian Grand Prix, while the tyres used for the actual race will remain in their original 2013 specification.
In order to provide some testing time before any new range of tyres is introduced, the P Zero White medium and P Zero Red supersoft for Canada will be in exactly the same specification as that which the teams started the season, with no adjustments.
This new tyre will be brought to Canada as an experimental tyre for free practice, as allowed by the current regulations. Each driver will receive two sets of this new medium compound for use during Friday's two sessions only.
Following feedback from the teams and drivers, the new specification of tyre is then set to be introduced from the British Grand Prix at the end of June, and will remain in place until the end of the year.
The aim of introducing the new tyre is to prevent any instances of the tread detaching itself from the structure. However, the performance and wear characteristics of the new tyre will not be significantly different, with the aim of keeping up the spectacle and retaining a strategic element to all the races."
As each day passes, Pirelli seem to be implicated even further and their crime was providing a tire that the Formula One series asked for--a high degradation tire that wouldn't last half of the race. What Pirelli may haven fallen victim to is trying to out-think the teams and become seriously close to being too cute with their tire characteristics. Perhaps a bridge too far in a game of stump the chump?