Pirelli has postponed its 2021 Formula 1 prototype FP2 running until later in the season in order to take more time to hone the tyres.
At the moment Pirelli is expected to retain the current tyres for a third season, but the Italian company wants to refine them if it can do so in order to meet the challenge of rising downforce levels.
With no opportunity for dedicated tyre testing outside races, the 2020 FIA Sporting Regulations have been changed to allow prototype running in the first 30 minutes of Friday FP2 sessions, with all drivers obliged to participate.
The first such session was scheduled for the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix weekend at Silverstone and the Spanish GP last weekend.
However, the Silverstone running was cancelled after the British GP failures in order to give the teams more track time with their race tyres, which had to be run with higher minimum pressures.
The Barcelona session was initially still set to go ahead, but it was later dropped.
Pirelli F1 boss Mario Isola says the extra European races now on the schedule in October have eased logistical issues, giving the company an opportunity to take time out and conduct further work before committing to track testing.
“The plan was at the beginning to have some tests on prototypes in Silverstone 2 [70th Anniversary GP] and in Barcelona, but we decided to postpone that for two reasons,” he said.
“First, so we can evaluate a further step with the new prototypes.
“And second, it was possible because we have an extended European season, so it is also possible to consider other races after the middle of September to test prototypes.
“This is the plan from our side.”
The drawback is that the testing is now set to take place at tracks that Pirelli has limited familiarity with, namely the Nurburgring, Algarve and Imola. However, Isola says that can be overcome.
“We haven’t discussed yet with our R&D department which are the circuits that are more representative,” said Isola when asked by Autosport.
“I’m not very worried about the fact that we go to new tracks, because in any case, we have a baseline, that is the normal tyre they use for the weekend.
“So even if we don’t have data before going on these tracks, for sure we will collect data during the weekend, and we can make a comparison with the prototypes.
“You are right to say that going on tracks that are like Barcelona, that we know very well, we have a lot of data, is better.
“But for me it’s better that we take a bit of time to rethink the prototypes, and do something that is a slightly bigger step in the right direction.”