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GP Week : Issue 181
session. Were the proposal accepted it would kill two birds with one stone, increasing the running in FP1 while giving young racers a chance to become acclimatised to driving a Formula One car. “We were approached by Bernie and a number of the teams that were looking to run reserve drivers and rookie drivers and they said that if they had an extra set of tyres they would be willing to run in the first 30 minutes of FP1,” Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery explained. “As you all know, with the session at one hour and half we only get running in the last hour. Of course we said that sounds like a good idea and it would be better for the television viewers, better for the fans, and better for some young drivers. It would be the same structure tyre that we use today but with a very conservative compound that allows you to do laps.” It appears to be an ideal solution, and is one that has received some support from the drivers, but it is not an initiative that has received widespread support from senior team personnel. “I don’t think you’ll see many of the big teams having a third driver drive the car on Friday,” McLaren driver Jenson Button said, “but I think it’s a good idea to have extra sets for your drivers, yes. I think it’s very difficult for young drivers to have mileage in a Formula One car. They need to bring a lot of money, it seems, to have the opportunity, but now that they have extra tyres, it could actually be useful for the middle of the grid teams and lower to have a third driver for more mileage, more information. “There are quite a few test drivers who will sit around and watch Friday, Saturday, Sunday every other weekend,” the Briton concluded. “They don’t get to drive the car, so I think it’s good for them and for the future of the sport it’s important that youngsters are actually getting the chance to drive an F1 car and to experience a grand prix weekend properly, rather than just watching what happens.” Williams driver Pastor Maldonado was also in favour of the concept, which he said would be beneficial to those teams whose cars were less competitive. In addition to giving young drivers the chance to learn the ropes of Formula One without the pressure that comes from a race seat, the Venezuelan racer pointed out that the additional development time could help teams become more competitive. “It’s always difficult with this tyre story, because we don’t have enough tyres to do many tests,” Maldonado said. “The test plan is very restricted, especially during P1, in which all the teams normally run only one set of prime tyres. An extra set of tyres would surely help the teams like us at this time, where we are having some problems with the car.” But the team principals were less supportive of the concept as a rule – they wanted to see an increase in tyre supply for Fridays, but were loath to have the extra set reserved for use by young drivers. “It was originally discussed that there should be an extra set of tyres for rookie drivers but I think that’s quite difficult,” said McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh. “At the end of the day, if the people who we’re thinking about in the grandstands, I think they come to see [Fernando] Alonso, [Lewis] Hamilton, [Kimi] Räikkönen, Button – that’s who they want to see. I think if we all put out rookie drivers they’ve not heard of, they’d feel cheated in some way.” Both Stefano Domenicali and Eric Boullier concurred, with the Ferrari team principal saying “yes, [to an] extra set on Friday to be used in the morning. Not only for rookies, but for everyone. It would be difficult to explain to the people that are on the grandstand that Mr X has an extra set of tyres to run and Alonso, Hamilton – whoever – is not running because that extra set of tyres is just for the rookie. If we have to do something then I believe it is a good idea, to be honest, that we should do it for everyone in order to increase the running on Friday morning.” The lone voice of dissent came from Kaltenborn, boss of a team with a long reputation for nurturing young racing talent. “I think it’s a good idea because it gives you first of all a good reason to really get in these [young test, reserve, and development] drivers,” she said. “I think it also should be done in such a way that it should be not just an option – maybe as a regulatory thing, that really you have to this, other wise not many teams would really make use of this kind of an option. “We see it with ourselves: if you have already a rookie driver who is one of your regular race drivers, do you really want to take away time from them to get another one in? I think if it just comes in as an option we really would have to think about it: do we make use of it or not? But on the other hand it’s extremely important as we can see with such drivers that, if they have more opportunities they’re simply better prepared. ... It could have overall a very good impact and also for the tyre supply I guess it would have a lot of positive effect: always getting someone new in, something exciting, new information, new faces coming in.” With the major sticking point being consensus from the team principals, it looks as though this will be yet another good idea that winds up on the rubbish pile. As Whitmarsh conceded on Friday afternoon in Bahrain, F1 teams are only able to work together in times of crisis. When it comes to preventative measures designed to safeguard the future of the sport, such as cost-cutting, or simply ways of bringing on young drivers and spicing up the show, the teams fight each other even more fiercely than they do on Sunday afternoons. Bellow: Paul Hembery, Pirelli Motorsport Director Right: Gutierrez breaks his front wing 12 GPWEEK.com // 12 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: F1 >>> FEATURE