Pirelli's planned midseason Formula 1 tire tweaks are set to be much smaller than originally anticipated after the FIA ruled that changes will only be allowed on safety grounds.
Sources have revealed that the governing body has told Pirelli that it is happy to accept – and is indeed wants – alterations aimed at preventing a repeat of the rear tire delaminations that have struck at the last few events. But, in a blow to teams like Red Bull hoping further tweaks would help them overcome tire difficulties they have faced, the FIA has made it clear it will not tolerate further changes aimed at reducing the number of pit stops or decreasing degradation.
Sorting out the issue must also not lead to a change of specification back to the 2012 tires, as some had suggested could happen. Instead, Pirelli has been instructed to solve the matter by modifying the current specification of tires. It is now close to finalizing tweaks in this direction.
The FIA is basing its stance on Article 12.6.3 of the technical regulations, which has also been cited by teams to Pirelli amid questions about the legality of a bid to change the specification.
The rule states: "Tire specifications will be determined by the FIA no later than Sept. 1 of the previous season. Once determined in this way, the specification of the tires will not be changed during the championship season without the agreement of all competing teams."
Although another clause in the regulations says that changes can be introduced if the tires are deemed by the tire supplier and technical delegate as 'technically unsuitable', the FIA does not believe that the current high-degrading nature of the tires that sometimes requires four stop races falls under that banner.
An FIA source said: "Discussions between the FIA and Pirelli are ongoing regarding the tire failures and making changes to prevent them happening again. These talks do not involve the subject of degradation or the number of pit stops."
CHANGES NOW SET TO BE MINOR
Pirelli has not yet settled on what changes it is making to the tires, but its motorsport director Paul Hembery (LEFT) suggested on Friday that revisions were likely to be small.
"Let's wait and see exactly what changes we will be making, but we are doing everything we can to minimize what will be different," he told AUTOSPORT.
The stance from the FIA, allied to Hembery's suggestion, looks likely to be good news for teams like Lotus, Ferrari and Force India that had been concerned a wholesale change of tires could hurt the advantage they currently have.
Lotus boss Eric Boullier aired his frustration earlier this week at Pirelli planning midseason changes, but expressed his hope that any tweaks would be minor.
"That there are changes to come can be seen as somewhat frustrating, and I hope they are not too extreme," he said. "It's clear that Pirelli have found themselves in a difficult situation and under pressure from different quarters."