Pirelli wants new F1 contract soon

Pirelli is pushing hard for an early decision about whether it will remain F1’s official tyre supplier beyond 2013.

Now towards the end of its existing three-season deal, the Italian marque has made clear it wants to stay.

But “Time is pressing on,” motor sport director Paul Hembery is quoted by Britain’s Sky.

And according to Italiaracing, the fluent Italian speaker added: “The negotiations are ongoing and there is progress, but nothing conclusive.

“For sure we should not be here in June or July, talking about how things are going,” said Briton Hembery.

Source:GMM

Pirelli plays down ‘extreme’ wear of 2013 tyres

The alarm in the paddock about Pirelli’s 2013 tyres is growing louder with every day.

The latest shock is the performance of the new ‘supersoft’ tyre, which – to the circus’ collective surprise – will be supplied to teams in Melbourne next month. Williams’ Pastor Maldonado tried the compound in Barcelona on Thursday, and – according to Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport – it proved not only unpredictable and heavily-degrading, but also slower than the harder ‘soft’ variant. But in truth, now is not the time for the sport to panic about the prospect of ten-stop pit strategies in 2013.

Sergio Perez had put voice to the alarm this week by flagging the “extreme” degradation of the new Pirellis, but he now notes: “We were also very worried about the tyres last year.

“Then in Melbourne in warmer weather everything was much more normal,” said the Mexican.

Indeed, F1 drivers tested the 2013 tyres during practice in Brazil late last year, and there was no subsequent panicking.

“So,” said Mark Webber, “we are optimistic that in Melbourne, on a much warmer track, the cars will slide less and we will not have the dramatic graining that we’ve seen here.”

Lotus’ Romain Grosjean did a four-stop race simulation in Barcelona on Thursday, while Australian Webber had to stop for tyres five times when he conducted a race simulation. But Paul Hembery, Pirelli’s motor racing director, thinks that while Melbourne will be much warmer, the teams will also be smarter once the 2013 season actually begins.

“We believe we will see two to three stops in Melbourne,” he is quoted by Brazil’s O Estado de S.Paulo.

Pirelli’s racing manager Mario Isola, speaking to Spanish newspaper El Pais in Barcelona, agrees: “Perez is more scared than he should be.

“All we’ve done is try to slightly increase the spectacle of the racing, but we haven’t done anything dramatic.”

Perez’s teammate, the veteran and former world champion Jenson Button, added in Barcelona: “The tyre problems we are all having here are completely normal for these conditions.

“Barcelona has a rough surface, there are high speed corners, and it’s cold. What do you expect? Pirelli can’t make tyres tailored for winter testing,” he insisted.

Source:GMM

Extreme tyre wear ‘an unpleasant surprise’ – Perez

‘Pirelli’ is the buzzword in the Barcelona paddock, as the F1 world gets to grips with the extreme degradation of the Italian supplier’s 2013 tyres.

McLaren’s Sergio Perez was quickest in his McLaren on Wednesday, but he admitted to being surprised by how quickly the Pirellis were wearing out.

“I don’t know what to say,” the Mexican is quoted by Spain’s AS newspaper. “It is worrying and I hope it changes for the first race. It doesn’t matter what you do, what talent you have,” said Perez.

“It is an unpleasant surprise,” he is quoted by Speed Week. “The cool temperatures are making it worse; in Melbourne it will probably be better, otherwise we will be doing seven or ten pitstops.”

Up and down the pitlane, the comments were similar. Toro Rosso’s Daniel Ricciardo spoke of being shot with “rubber bullets” – the chunks of discarded ‘marbles’ as the tyres wear – as he drove around the Circuit de Catalunya.

“I’m not sure if what the tyres are doing is what they (Pirelli) had expected,” said the Australian.

According to Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport, Mercedes boss Ross Brawn commented: “The wear is twice as high as last year.”

Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg added: “The tyres have overshadowed everything. After a lap the grip is going away.”

No matter the tyre situation, it’s the same for everyone. Teams, then, are more guarded than ever about their setups and technical solutions with just one more test after this week’s running to prepare for Australia.

Red Bull is being highly secretive, with mechanics rushing to fit covers as the RB9 is wheeled backwards into the garage.

Bild newspaper suspects a “hacker” or a “virus” may have contributed to the world champions’ glitches in the McLaren-supplied software so far this week.

Contemplating Red Bull’s rivals, Dr Helmut Marko admitted: “The McLaren and Lotus look the best.”

As ever in testing, reliability is a big factor, and on Wednesday Ferrari continued to raise suspicions about an exhaust design flaw, when Fernando Alonso suffered a failure.

Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen also had problems. When asked what he did during his downtime, the laconic Lotus driver admitted: “I had a sleep.”

Source:GMM

2011 HRT car bought by Pirelli

Pirelli, F1’s official tyre supplier, has reportedly bought an old HRT car.

This week, we reported that assets of the newly-defunct Spanish formula one team had been snapped up by Teo Martin, a well-known automotive component recycler. According to AS newspaper, Martin apparently bought 2011 and 2012 single seaters as well as other assets.

But Reuters reports that another HRT buyer was Pirelli.

“The other 2011 (HRT) car has gone to Pirelli,” Martin is quoted as saying. Pirelli has not confirmed the report.

Currently, Pirelli’s F1 test car is a 2010 Renault. Previously, the Italian marque used a 2009 Toyota.

Meanwhile, McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh fears other teams are in danger of following HRT out of formula one, claiming that “of the 11 teams, seven of them are in survival strategy”.

“It’s tough,” Whitmarsh, referring to the economic situation, is quoted by the BBC. “We have taken some measures but I think it’s going to be tough for some of the teams to have a viable business model for a few years; there’s no doubt about that.”

Source:GMM

Pirelli surprises F1 with Melbourne ‘supersofts’

Pirelli has surprised the F1 world by revealing an aggressive selection of tyre compounds for the start of the 2013 season. The big surprise is the choice for the Melbourne opener, as Pirelli opts to supply to teams the ‘supersoft’ and ‘medium’ compounds.

“These (supersoft) tyres offer great grip, but have a short life,” noted O Estado de S.Paulo correspondent Livio Oricchio.

Indeed, this is the “first time that Pirelli has nominated the softest compound” for Australia, the Italian marque announced.

Last year, Pirelli supplied the soft and the medium compounds to teams in Australia.

“The full step in the compound choice should ensure a performance gap between the cars that allows strategy to come into play,” added Pirelli in a media statement.

There is also an all-new selection for April’s Bahrain grand prix; the ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ compounds, compared to the 2012 selection of soft and medium.

Paul Hembery said the idea is to shake up the team’s growing knowledge of Pirelli’s tyres.

“We found that by about the middle of last season, the teams had adjusted almost a little too well to our compounds,” said Pirelli’s motor sport director. “So, in close consultation with the FIA, we have made the task more difficult,” he is quoted by Speed Week.

Source:GMM

Pirelli wants 2014 tests in Middle East

F1 could be heading to the Middle East for pre-season testing next year. Pirelli’s Paul Hembery said the Jerez circuit, the scene of last week’s opening test of the 2013 pre-season, is no longer suitable for winter running.

“It is not a good reference,” he told Brazil’s O Estado de S.Paulo newspaper, “because of the condition of the asphalt.”

He is referring to the extreme abrasiveness of the Spanish circuit’s surface, which has apparently become even worse than before in more recent times.

“I think next year maybe we should go to Bahrain or Abu Dhabi,” added Hembery.

The good news, however, is that Pirelli is basically satisfied with the outcome of the Jerez test, where the Italian marque’s 2013 tyres were put through their paces.

“The drivers and engineers gave us positive feedback,” said Hembery. “It seems we have achieved our goals of having faster tyres that reach optimum grip more quickly, and have a wider window of peak performance. Our intention was to offer greater mechanical grip, thus reducing the importance of aerodynamics.

“This leads us to predict that there will be less difference between the performance of the big and the middle-sized teams,” he added.

F1 heads to Spain’s Circuit de Catalunya for the second test next week.

Source:GMM

Kovalainen could join Pirelli in testing role

Heikki Kovalainen could be heading to Pirelli as a test driver. However Pirelli’s boxx Paul Hembery has said that the Finn’s future will depend on whether Pirelli’s contract to supply F1 tyres is extended or not.

“This question is still open,” Hembery told Finland’s Turun Sanomat.

The highly-rated former Renault, McLaren and Caterham driver Kovalainen, 31, is the latest victim of the rise of ‘pay drivers’ in F1.

Hembery continued: “When everything has been resolved, we will see what the situation is with our test drivers.” He confirmed that Pirelli’s 2012 test duo Jaime Alguersuari and Lucas di Grassi are still very much in the frame.

“But Heikki would be an excellent candidate,” added Hembery. “He is a highly experienced driver. I really believe that he is one of the strongest candidates to be with us.”

Finnish rally legend Juha Kankkunen, however, thinks Kovalainen should give a career in rallying a chance.

“I think it would be a perfectly reasonable alternative for Heikki, but so too is DTM or Le Mans,” he told the Finnish newspaper Iltalehti. “But I have seen Heikki in a rally car on the frozen lake in Kuusamo (Finland) and he is an excellent driver, with real talent.”

Source:GMM

Pirelli wants new five-year F1 deal

Paul Hembery, Pirelli’s F1 boss, has revealed the Italian tyre supplier is pushing for a longer-term contract beyond 2013.

Recently, the FIA has been tendering is contracts with F1’s sole tyre suppliers on a three-year basis, and Pirelli is now approaching the end of its first run.

Hembery said Pirelli wants to stay on the grid beyond 2013, but is pushing for an even longer contract than three years.

“We will know soon if we get a new contract as the sole supplier in formula one,” he is quoted by the German-language Speed Week.

“We would prefer a long term contract, say five years,” he added, referring to the world of Nascar racing, where Goodyear’s latest contract is for five years.

Asked when Pirelli needs an answer from F1 about the future, Hembery smiled: “Yesterday, ideally.

“Seriously, we have 600 professionals at work, and so if we’re no longer in F1, then we have to see how we can use them elsewhere.

“Unlike last time, we don’t want the decision in June or July — it’s just too late,” said the Briton.

Complicating the matter further, added Hembery, is the switch to turbo V6 power for 2014.

“It is expected that the turbos will develop more torque, which influences the traction of the corners,” he said.

“More traction means more temperature, and we also need to know what to expect in terms of top speed so that we don’t have problems with the integrity.”

After a sneak peak of Pirelli’s 2013 tyres in Brazil late last season, the F1 field got their first real taste of this year’s rubber at Jerez on Tuesday, as the official pre-season test period began.

Red Bull’s Mark Webber – and many other drivers – complained about high wear, according to Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport.

“You could see it with the naked eye, so sudden was the loss of grip,” said the Australian.

“The difference between a new and an old tyre was very big. After a few laps, the times were falling off dramatically.”

Webber added: “But Jerez is a bit different. You can have problems here that you don’t have somewhere else.”

Romain Grosjean agreed: “The asphalt here is very rough and the layout is hard on the tyres, and the temperatures are also low.”

Source:GMM

Pirelli wants 2014 deal by April

Pirelli wants a new F1 deal to be signed and sealed within three months.

That is the claim of Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport, referring to the Italian marque’s expiring three-year contract as the sport’s official supplier.

When launching the new F1 tyre range for 2013 this week, Pirelli chief Marco Tronchetti Provera confirmed that the marque wants to continue the “adventure” beyond this year.

Auto Motor und Sport said he wants the answer by April.

“We need to know what’s going to happen,” motor sport director Paul Hembery confirmed.

“It’s also important for the teams because so much is changing in 2014,” he added.

Indeed, with the switch to turbo V6 engines, the downforce and weight of the cars is changing significantly, as is the torque that will be put through the rear tyres.

Source:GMM

Hembery: 2013 Pirelli tyres could shake up pecking order

Pirelli’s new tyres for the 2013 season could shake up the pecking order in F1: that is the view of the Italian marque’s British head of motor racing, Paul Hembery, who this week was in Sao Paulo to announce Pirelli’s new foray in the Brazilian stock car series.

It has been said that, because the technical regulations are not significantly changing over the winter, next year’s pecking order could be a continuation of the 2012 season. But Hembery is quoted by O Estado de S.Paulo: “The tyres next year will be different from those used this year.

“The walls flex a little more, which will have a significant influence on the aerodynamic performance,” he said. “I don’t think the next championship will necessarily be anything like how it finished this year,” added Hembery.

“I think there will be teams who will look deeply into this feature of our new tyres,” he said. “I am sure they are racking their brains as to how it affects, for example, the suspension. We saw in testing how the tyres changed the behaviour of the cars. The designers will be looking at that,” said Hembery.

Source:GMM