Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery has insisted that the continuing criticism of the tyre supplier’s contribution to F1 is not justified.
Michael Schumacher reinvigorated the debate about the Italian marque’s product last week, admitting that he would like to see another supplier enter F1 “because then we would have decent tyres”.
“This is apparently the theme of the week,” Hembery told newspaper Kleine Zeitung. “The rule is that there is only one manufacturer. If it was to change, we would have to evaluate our efforts anew.
“In the end I think it’s about safety, which is a very, very important factor for us. It has to be said that the safety of the tyres in Formula One is no longer a problem.”
Hembery is undoubtedly referring to 2005, when during the last ‘tyre war’ Michelin had to controversially pull out of the US grand prix. He insists Pirelli is happy with how its F1 campaign is going.
“Of course,” said the Briton. “We’ve seen an exciting first half of the season, with lots of winners and we’ve certainly contributed to that. Formula One is more entertaining than ever before. So why shouldn’t we be satisfied?”
Hembery insists it is not right to say Pirelli has been roundly criticised.
“There is a difference between what we read in the media and what we hear in the technical meetings with the teams,” he said. “Yes, it has become a challenge for everyone – for the engineers and for the drivers – to get the most out of it (the tyres). But it’s the same task for everyone.
“We built the tyres that Formula One wanted, and in this sense we did a good job. As a fan I would be very enthusiastic about F1 in 2012,” he said.
But, given that tyre makers presumably enter F1 to promote their brand, isn’t Pirelli worried that potential customers could come to associate the name with heavily-degrading tyres that make car handling difficult?
“No, I don’t agree,” said Hembery. “Our job, like the rest of Formula One, is to entertain the fans. But that was not always so — there have been many boring races (in the past). Now it’s more exciting than ever. We are in competition with football, with the Olympics, with every other sport, and only with an exciting Formula One can we entertain the fans.”