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Teams at odds over extra Friday tyres

ESPN Staff
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Extra sets of tyres could be supplied to the teams for Friday practice © Sutton Images

Formula One teams are at odds about how to introduce an extra set of tyres to Friday morning practice sessions.

Pirelli has been approached with a proposal to supply one set of a different, harder compound tyre to teams willing to run a rookie driver on Friday mornings. The Italian tyre company has agreed to the idea and will have the tyres ready in Barcelona, but some of the bigger outfits have said they will not be willing to sacrifice a practice session for their race drivers in order to run a fresh face.

"An extra set of tyres in the morning? Yes, but not only available to just rookies but available to everyone," Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali said. "It will be difficult to explain to the people in the grandstands that a rookie has an extra set of tyres to run but Fernando Alonso or Lewis Hamilton are not running because they don't have the tyres. I think it is a good idea to do it for everyone in order to increase the running on Friday morning."

McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh agreed: "It was originally discussed that there should be an extra set of tyres just for the rookies but I think that is quite difficult. At the end of the day, when we're thinking about the people in the grandstands they come to see Alonso, Hamilton and Jenson Button - that's who they want to see. If we all put out rookie drivers they have not heard of they will feel cheated in some way."

However, Sauber team principal Monisha Kaltenborn thinks a better solution would be to make it obligatory to run a young driver.

"I think it should be done in such a way that it is not an option but a regulatory thing. Otherwise I don't think many teams will make use of such an option. We see it with ourselves because if you have a rookie driver who is one of our regular race drivers, do you really want to take away time from them? I think if it just comes in as an option we would really have to think about it as to whether we bring it in or not."

Pirelli boss Paul Hembery explained that some of the smaller teams and Bernie Ecclestone had initially proposed the idea.

"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. 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.

"At the moment we've proposed it and we intend to provide it but we are waiting from the feedback from the teams' meeting because they are trying to decide who should use that tyre. That's the current sticking point and we've said we don't want to get involved in that, that's between them to reach a consensus.

"We've expressed our willingness to assist the two issues of a lack of running in FP1 and the one of the younger drivers. We're going ahead assuming we are going to do it - we had no choice really but to get on and do that. It'll be shame if we don't come up with something that will work for everybody because quite clearly you may as well have a one hour session rather than 90 minutes at the moment."

Hembery also said that only one team - Red Bull - had approached Pirelli about changing the compounds for future race tyres.

"We've had eight come to us expressively and say don't change anything," he said. "We have the final say and the teams don't really lobby that much. As long as they get the same treatment, they know it's down to them to them to really maximise the performance. The most vociferous lobbying now is for us not to change anything."