Formula One

Pirelli has doubts over its Formula One future

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The Canadian Press
5/23/2013 2:24:57 PM
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MONACO -- Tire manufacturer Pirelli fears for its future in Formula One as time runs out to agree a new contract with teams for next season.

Pirelli is currently the sole supplier to F1 but faces a mammoth task in designing and preparing new tires for 2014 -- which sees significant changes to F1 regulations and car design -- if a new deal is not struck soon.

"Apparently on the first of September we need to tell them (the teams) everything they need to know about the tires for next season," Hembery said after Thursday's second practice session at the Monaco Grand Prix. "But we're now mid-May, so you can imagine how ludicrous that is when we haven't even got a contract in place."

Hembery would not disclose the deadline set internally for an agreement.

"Maybe we won't be here (next year) anyway," he said. "At a certain point somebody's got to make a decision. We've been trying to say that something needs to happen and quick."

The Italian company's three-year contract with F1 expires at the end of 2013 and Hembery had hoped a new deal would already have been sealed. But the situation continues to drag on and motor sport's governing body, the FIA, has yet to say if or when other manufacturers will be allowed to bid.

"Things are getting, as far as we can see, extremely serious," Hembery said. "The changes next year are so substantial that the sport has to make a rapid decision, because aside from having the fixed resources in the business involved in F1, there's also the technical job."

He added that "there comes a time where we will not have time to do the job any more" such is the complexity of next year's switch from 2.4-litre V8 engines to turbo-charged 1.6-litre V6s.

"It's not a case of maybe putting a harder compound onto thiIs year's tires. The changes are so dramatic that we probably need to do a thorough re-engineering of the tire," Hembery said. "That takes time and the longer this goes on it makes our job impossible, and there comes a point where probably you say 'well, we don't have time to do the job'."

It has been a very difficult few weeks for Pirelli, which has faced severe criticism because its tires have been shredding too easily. Three-time defending champion Sebastian Vettel has been one of the most outspoken, complaining after the Spanish Grand Prix two weeks ago that tires were influencing races more than the pace of the cars.

Vettel, who finished fourth in Barcelona, pointed up the recent problems when he spoke to reporters on Thursday.

"When the majority of the drivers are struggling it means that you cannot drive as you are used to -- and probably this should be given a thought or two. If your only focus is the tires, then that is not racing any longer in the way that we knew. "

The Spanish Grand Prix saw nearly 80 pit stops, with most drivers shelving plans for three stops and taking four because the tires were shredding too easily.

Pirelli responded with a pledge to start making changes to their rear tires as from next month's Canadian GP. While it remains to be seen what alterations will be made for Montreal, Hembery is optimistic an agreement can be reached with the 11 teams on that front at least.

"We're very close to having an agreement with all the teams, which is really important," he said. "We want to get rid of the delamination that we found has been caused by cuts in the tire, debris-induced which creates a weak spot and overheating. We've been able to replicate that now in our laboratories, and our internal testing, and we believe the solution we have will completely resolve that."

Pirelli Tires (Photo: Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
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