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Vettel to drive in pre-Suzuka Pirelli test

Mat Coch

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Thursday 3rd October, 2019 - 9:45am

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Sebastian Vettel

Sebastian Vettel is set to take part in a Pirelli tyre test in Barcelona in the days leading up to next weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix.

The German will drive one of three cars slated for the test, with Ferrari, Mercedes, and Red Bull all providing cars.

Vettel will assist in developing the tyre compound for 2020, despite that program officially having come to an end in September following a test at Paul Ricard.

However, additional requests made of Pirelli by teams have prompted the necessity for a further test.

“We had some addition requests in June and July, so it was difficult to change our development at that time, and we made a proposal to have an extra test to test a new compound with a wider working range, especially on the hard levels,” explained Pirelli’s Mario Isola.

“That is not possible in Paul Ricard and, luckily, three guys were available to run the test, so we will have one day each, Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull.

“That is a very good opportunity for us to finalise the product for next year.”

Renault-bound Esteban Ocon will perform the duties for Mercedes, while Red Bull will employ Jake Dennis.

As the only race driver scheduled to take part, it creates a busy schedule for Vettel.

“We have been asking so many times things to Pirelli, I think it was only our duty to be able to do this test when they actually ask us to go and test this latest evolution,” said Laurent Mekies, Ferrari’s sporting director.

“Logistically it is complicated but Sebastian will drive there and at the very end of the test he will just fly straight to Japan.

“We felt it was, again, a duty towards everything we are asking to Pirelli to support the fact that we all want better tyres and that was the best way to achieve that.”

Mercedes’ James Allison added that it’s not only the drivers who have been asked to step up, with a number of the team’s staff also set to face a busy schedule.

“We’re just leaning heavily on people who are knackered but they’ll step up and do it,” he said.

Red Bull’s chief engineer Paul Monaghan added: “We’re heading to Suzuka and clearly with Honda we want to be in the best shape we can be and now we are being pulled to Barcelona as well, so it’s mighty challenging. But we will do it. We’ve said we will do it; we’ll run a car.

“Jake Dennis, I believe, is going to drive it. He’s driven our car plenty of times before and he’ll be fine, he’ll do a good job for us and we’ll go and do a tyre test.”

The test begins early next week after which Vettel will head to Suzuka for the Japanese Grand Prix, for which pre-race commitments get underway on October 10.

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