The final day of testing at Silverstone saw Pirelli test a concept 18-inch tyre aimed at the 2017 Formula One season, while Jules Bianchi headed the timesheet for Ferrari.
Lotus test driver Charles Pic ran with the experimental tyre for 14 laps in the morning and following the test Pirelli Motorsport Director Paul Hembery said the manufacturer could introduce the tyre as early as 2016 should it be required.
“We weren’t looking for performance,” Hembery said. “The priority was to show people what a Formula One car would look like with a change of rim.
“These tyres are absolutely [a genuine starting point] – they would pass our normal safety tests and you could go running with them now if you wanted to,” he added.
He qualified that statement, however, by adding that tyre presented a number of technical challenges.
“We asked [Lotus] essentially to do a running promo, so the changes on the car were kept to a minimum,” he said. “I believe quite big changes would be needed to adapt to a product that is so substantially different.
“We confirmed what we knew: you have more rigid sidewalls, so you do have an integrity challenge; the car’s sensitivity to camber will be very high; the front tyre will create a very aggressive turn in; there will be big variations in pressure. We need more detailed studies on that,” he said.
“We will supply the people in the strategy group and F1 commission with images, so people can make a decision on the future regulations based on fact rather than computer-generated images: that was the real objective.
“For now, we were just confirming the things we know, and the areas you would need to start working on if indeed this is where the sport will go – and that is really now in the hands of the decision makers.”
With Kimi Raikkonen rested following his high-speed crash at last weekend’s British Grand Prix, Ferrari drafted in development programme driver and regular Marussia racer Jules Bianchi to deputise and the Frenchman impressed by setting the day’s fastest time – a lap of 1:35.262.
Bianchi’s lap came with around an hour left in the session and bumped Toro Rosso driver Daniil Kvyat to second place. The Russian ended the day just under three tenths of a seconds adrift of Bianchi.
McLaren’s Kevin Magnussen was third fastest, ahead of Sauber reserve driver Giedo van der Garde. The Dutch driver brought the session to an early end, crashing out with 20 minutes to go. The session was red-flagged because of the need to repair barriers.
Force India third driver Daniel Juncadella was eighth fastest ahead of Sebastian Vettel. The Red Bull driver spent the day testing 2015 tyres for Pirelli but spent a large chunk of the day in the garage as a mid-session issue forced his team into a change of power unit.
After testing the experimental Pirelli tyres, Pic returned to normal test duties with Lotus and finished the day in 10th position. Last on the timesheet was GP2 racer Julian Leal, who was at the wheel of Caterham’s CT05. It was a troubled day for the team and a substantial delay in the morning meant that while Leal was able to run in the afternoon, fellow GP2 driver Rio Haryanto was not able to take to the wheel of the Caterham as had been planned. (FIA)