F1: Pirelli Out in 2014?
I understand that Pirelli currently has an agreement in principle with many (but not all) of the F1 teams as well as with Formula One itself. It does not however, have any agreement with the FIA as of yet. In order for Pirelli to participate in F1 in F1 in 2014, it requires contracts with all three groups. I also understand from my brief discussions with both Paul Hembery and Mario Isola that a long-term agreement would be ideal.
It’s getting a little late in the game for Pirelli to be in the dark about its future commitments to the sport. Should the Italian tyre supplier assume that the contracts will be signed and therefore start investing time and money in R&D into the 2014 spec. tyre?
All indications have been, (up until now) that Pirelli would welcome a contract extension. Although one might argue (or perhaps wonder) whether Pirelli would even want to continue in the sport after recent events.
The official tyre supplier has been subject to abusive comments by fans and drivers over its high degradation rate. One complaint is that drivers are unable to push to the limit and are forced to manage their tyres. Although these complaints should really be taken up with the FIA. It was they who requested this “higher attrition” type tyre when Pirelli entered the sport. Pirelli have been providing exactly what has been asked of them.
Recently, the FIA dragged Pirelli into the International Tribunal and then reprimanded them, charging them with a third of the cost of Tribunal (the other two thirds to be covered by Mercedes AMG Petronas and the FIA). It seems a bit steep to some considering Pirelli aren’t governed by the same rules as an F1 competitor and therefore should probably not have been “invited” to participate in the Tribunal to begin with (arguably).
There are those who believe that Mercedes should have been aware of the rules and regulations that them may have been in danger of breaching. I digress; we shouldn’t get into the whole “TestGate” saga again.
In fairness to the FIA, the post “Tyre War” era of Formula One was a bit bland. Bridgestone had produced a tyre in which teams could push to the limit and last long enough to make a single stop in a race. The processional nature of the races was turning off fans. Hence the request to spice up the show. In 2011, Pirelli’s first year, they did the job but it wasn’t until 2012 that the real fun began. This season however, some believe the compounds and choices for each race started off a bit too aggressively.
While there doesn’t seem to be much substance here, there really isn’t much proof of anything right now except that Pirelli still does not have confirmation that they will indeed participate next season.
Now the second question is if Pirelli decide not to return, or if the FIA decides that for them, who takes over? Is Michelin waiting in the wings?
More on that shortly. Watch this space…