Pirelli set for last 2020 tyre test amid push for more time
Mercedes' Esteban Ocon will give Pirelli its final chance to test its 2020 prototype F1 tyres at Paul Ricard on Thursday – unless teams agree to allow an extra test to fitted into the schedule in early October.
Pirelli has a two-day "blind" test on Thursday and Friday at the French GP venue, which represents the last of the 2020 tyre test days that have been shared out between all the teams since the start of the season.
Ocon will share the track with Sergey Sirotkin, who will test Pirelli's 2021 prototype 18-inch tyres on a Renault mule car.
Pirelli is under pressure to achieve the requirements of the 2020/2021 target letter that was circulated last month, and it has requested an extra test to allow it more time.
It has to provide the definitive 2020 tyres for all teams to run at the Abu Dhabi test in December.
However, at Monza last weekend the teams failed to come an an unanimous agreement on extra testing, and the matter will be discussed again – along with the contents of the target letter – in a meeting in Geneva on Thursday which otherwise will focus mainly on 2021 matters.
If Pirelli is unable to schedule an extra October test there is still an option to run prototype tyres on Fridays of race weekends.
However, if extra running is not agreed by the teams the likelihood is that Pirelli's 2020 tyres will end up being much closer to the current versions than had been anticipated, for example without the low degradation that the target letter currently requests.
"We are going to discuss in Geneva on Thursday a number of topics related to tyres," Pirelli F1 boss Mario Isola told Motorsport.com.
"I'll be part of the discussion so we'll explain exactly what we are doing, and what we can achieve, and what we can do.
"At least we have the opportunity to explain what is going on on our side. This week's test in Paul Ricard is fixed, and we going to continue the development to finalise the 2020 tyres.
"The meeting is September 12th, our test is September 12-13th, so after the meeting I hope we have an agreement for 2020 tyres, and we will select the best prototypes in the direction of these expectations."
He added: "We started the discussion on targets quite late in the year, and we had already started our development. So if we want to achieve something that is different compared to what we have now, we have also to consider an extra test."
Most teams are unable to bid to do an extra October tyre test due to the flyaway race schedule, and they want to ensure that if it does takes place, it's conducted in a fair way.
"We know that Pirelli needs more test time," Renault's Cyril Abiteboul told Motorsport.com. "I think it's important that we need to find a way to do it, to support them, but also in a way that's fair to all competitors.
"It's a bit of a frustrating situation, but right now we need to be able to come together to support Pirelli so that we have a product that is spectacular, safe and appropriate for F1. I think we need to have certainty that we're embarking on something that will improve the situation and will be better."
"We have to be supportive with them," Alfa's Fred Vasseur told Motorsport.com. "But we have to consider on the other hand that we have to do it in a fair way, not to help too much one team.
"If we want to test the tyres, it will be around October perhaps, and the majority of the teams don't have the resources to do a session in Europe. It's sure that we're not able to do it."
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