Mercedes have headed to Paul Ricard for a two-day test of Pirelli’s 2023 tyre compounds, with both George Russell and Lewis Hamilton in action.
Paul Ricard plays host to the first meaningful track action of the 2023 Formula 1 season, as Pirelli are carrying out the first of three planned tyre tests ahead of the start of official pre-season testing.
As revealed in November 2022, Pirelli have worked with the FIA to put together some additional tyre testing for their 2023 compounds, having been unable to fit in enough sessions during the frantic second half of the 2022 schedule.
All 10 F1 teams are offered the opportunity to carry out tests on behalf of Pirelli over the course of the season, with Mercedes carrying out a two-day test at Paul Ricard on February 1st and 2nd.
George Russell will take the wheel of the Mercedes W13 for Wednesday’s track time, with seven-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton getting the opportunity to blow off the winter cobwebs on Thursday.
Pirelli’s plan for the two days is to further evaluate and learn about their dry-weather compounds, while AlphaTauri head to Paul Ricard for two days of wet-weather running on February 3rd and 4th.
The third and final test will take place at Jerez in southern Spain on February 7th and 8th, with Mercedes and Aston Martin testing the dry compounds.
Meanwhile, in Barcelona, McLaren have also kicked off their 2023 track action, albeit with the 2020 car – Lando Norris is carrying out a pre-season warm-up with the MCL35M at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.
— Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team (@MercedesAMGF1) February 1, 2023
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Why are Pirelli holding extra tyre testing?
Speaking to media, including PlanetF1.com, in Abu Dhabi at the end of November, Pirelli’s head of motorsport Mario Isola explained why the extra test sessions are required.
“We realised it was impossible with the 2022 calendar, and also with next year’s calendar, to organise all the test sessions we needed,” he said.
“In the regulations, we can use the current cars until December 15 and from February 1 to the first race of next year’s championship, using the 2022 cars. They cannot use the tests in February to develop the 2023 car.”
Isola confirmed that, as the rules decree, the FIA are sending an observer to each test to ensure the configuration and parts used on the cars have been used in a grand prix during 2022 – teams are not permitted to carry out any setup experimentation or introduce new parts.