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Pirelli keen to stay in F1 beyond 2013

ESPN Staff
August 7, 2012 « Pirelli won't alter 2012 tyres in interest of fairness | Force India switches focus to 2013 »
Pirelli's F1 contract is set to run out at the end of 2013 © Sutton Images

Pirelli is hoping to find out this year whether Formula One wants it to continue as its tyre supplier beyond 2013.

Pirelli returned to the sport in 2011 under a three-year contract to replace Bridgestone as the sport's sole tyre supplier. The Italian company has enjoyed the support of the paddock in its first two years by supplying faster degrading tyres that have encouraged overtaking and more pit stops.

Pirelli's motorsport director Paul Hembery says his company is keen to stay in the sport beyond 2013 under the right conditions, but would ideally like to know where it stands before the end of this year.

"We need to have a decision from the sport by June of next year, that's the closing date, although that's very late and in reality I think we need an indication before the end of this year," he told ESPNF1. "If the sport would like us to continue and if the overall conditions remain competitive and the sport has the vision that we think it has going forwards then it remains an attractive proposition for Pirelli. We see great benefit in a sport that is genuinely global - in fact you struggle to think of any that are genuinely global every year.

"F1 is a unique proposition from that point of view and that appeals to us as we're growing in regions like Asia and in countries like Russia and the USA. There seems to be a considerable effort from the organisers and the promoters to finally get the USA sorted and back on the map. These are all areas where we want to be seen to be present as a business, so it has a good fit with our business plan.

"The board at the moment are very happy, but of course things could change, the rules could change, costs might change substantially and those are all question marks that you always have to review. So when and if the sport wants us to continue and says it is happy with what we are doing, then we'll look at how we come to an agreement and if it makes sense and the return is still in line with the investment then we will be happy to go on."

One suggestion for Formula One moving forward is multiple tyre manufacturers competing in a so-called 'tyre war'. The last time the sport had more than one tyre supplier was in 2006 when Michelin and Bridgestone went head-to-head by supplying a share of the grid each.

Hembery says Pirelli is not completely opposed to a tyre war from a technical point of view, but does not believe the sport as a whole would be receptive to the idea.

"Are we for or against it? There are different points of view in the company. If I put my engineering hat on then yes, let's do it, it's good fun. But if you look at it from a cost/benefit analysis and how you convey winning against another competitor then it's almost impossible."

He added: "As for the teams themselves, they recognise the cost increases when there is a tyre competition. If people today say it's difficult mastering the tyres and that it is a big question mark then if you have a tyre competition they will spend a huge amount of money trying to maximise the performance advantage of an individual tyre. Things go in waves and maybe there will be a point in time when there is that stimulation that the teams would like, but there is no appetite for that at the moment. Of course, tyres are out of their control and that is something that I'm sure they don't like, because if you're a competing team you at least want the same material with something as critical as the tyre as the next team. If you haven't got that then you are really out of control of what you are doing as a team."

To read Paul Hembery's interview in full click here