Pirelli to decide on F1 future next June

Pirelli will decide next June whether or not to stay in Formula One. The Italian marque’s three-year contract to be the sport’s sole tyre supplier expires at the end of next season. Motor sport boss Paul Hembery has said it is likely Pirelli will seek to stay.

He is quoted by Brazi’s O Estado de S.Paulo: “The decision to renew the contract will be taken in June (2013).

“In principle we will proceed with the project, because we have achieved the goals we set technically and in terms of marketing, and I think for the public too. “But we do need to understand better the formula one (regulations) of 2014,” Hembery admitted.

Asked if Pirelli would still be interested in F1 if the FIA opens up the rules to another tyre maker, he answered: “Why not, as it may be good for Formula One.

“But first we would need to know the details of the regulations.”

F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone indicated he is happy if Pirelli stays on.

“It (the tyres) is a very important variable. And they are doing a good job — don’t you think the races are exciting?” he said.


Mercedes engines wearing out Pirelli tyres

McLaren, Mercedes and Force India are all struggling with excessive tyre wear this year. And according to Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport, the likely culprit is the trio’s common engine supplier.

“Lotus, Red Bull and Ferrari can make a set of tyres last longer than we can,” said McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton.

Auto Motor und Sport said one theory doing the rounds is that the superior mid-range power of Mercedes’ V8 engine is wearing the rear Pirelli tyres too much.

“On the way out of corners, we are able to keep up,” said Sauber’s Sergio Perez. “But then there comes a phase when the Force India can pull away, so long as their tyres are fresh.”

Mercedes’ team boss Ross Brawn acknowledged that the “characteristic of the engine has a large influence on the degradation of the tyres”.

Auto Motor und Sport said Mercedes has “recognised the problem” and is working at full speed to improve its engine torque maps.


Hembery: F1 is more entertaining than ever before

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.”

Tyre war would mean ‘decent tyres’ in F1 – Schumacher

With a single neat soundbite, Michael Schumacher on Wednesday renewed his criticism of Pirelli and called for a new tyre war in F1.

The German publication Auto Bild this week mentioned the rumour that FIA president and Frenchman Jean Todt would like to see Michelin return to the sport. But the French tyre marque has stated categorically that it would only come back if the rules are changed to allow tyre makers to compete against one another again.

During the FOTA fan’s forum in Stuttgart on Wednesday, seven time world champion Schumacher admitted he too would like to see a tyre war once again.


“Because then we would have decent tyres,” the 43-year-old German is quoted as saying.

Earlier this season, Schumacher likened Pirelli’s 2012 product to driving “on raw eggs”. The Mercedes driver also admitted he would be open to contesting more than 20 grands prix per season.

“I think there are 34 match days that are watched on television in the (German football) Bundesliga,” said Schumacher, “so I think there is still room (in F1).”


Fewer tyre pitstops in 2012

Pirelli remains at the centre of the F1 ‘show’, but a new analysis proves that the marque’s tyres in 2012 are less fragile than last year.

Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport said that following the pitstop frenzy of the Italian supplier’s first season back on the grid, there has been “much less” tyre degradation so far in 2012. In 2010, for Bridgestone’s last year in F1, the analysis said there were between one and two pitstops per driver — 304 in total over the first nine races. That number blew out to 560 stops in the first nine races of 2011, but so far this season there have been only 466 tyre pitstops.

An illustration of the changed situation is that, in 2011, there were 65 tyre pitstops at Valencia. This year, there were 49. And at Silverstone last year, there were 54 stops, compared to 43 earlier this month.

The situation could change yet again, with Pirelli already testing a new experimental harder compound that Paul Hembery says the supplier “may use in the future”.

Journalist Michael Schmidt said: “The reason for the decline in pitstops is obvious — the teams and Pirelli have learned.”


Hembery hits back at Pirelli quality comments

Paul Hembery has hit back at claims F1’s championship ‘lottery’ in 2012 could be because Pirelli is supplying tyres with inconsistent quality.

The rumour has been rumbling around the paddock, and Red Bull’s Dr Helmut Marko last week admitted he suspects there are in fact “serious differences” between what should be identical sets of tyre compounds.

First, Pirelli’s F1 chief Hembery ruled out the theory the Italian marque might be deliberately mixing up tyre quality in order to shake up the results.

“We don’t decide how they’re distributed (to the teams), it’s an process that is done randomly,” he insisted to Spain’s El Confidencial.

But what about the more realistic suggestion that an odd tyre here and there is not the same quality as the others?

“The possibility is very low due to our quality controls,” said the Briton. “Each tyre can be traced to the day it was manufactured, the process, the ingredients. In terms of consistency, we have the most advanced quality control systems in the world.”

Not only that, he said no one in pitlane has actually complained formally.

“I have not received any comments from any team, or anything indicating a problem with the consistency of the tyres. In fact, we’ve had compliments. That is all I can say, unless someone shows us something we can look into,” said Hembery.

When it was put to Hembery that some drivers – including some world champions – have indeed complained to the media, he hit back: “We get reports from each driver and each team after each race. No one has made any comments. We cannot solve problems that no one has raised.

“Human error can occur, of course, but we have very elaborative systems of control, not only x-ray but others that I can’t even talk about because they’re top secret. All I can say is that the quality is exemplary. In fact, we have had no tyre failures at all, which we are told is something new in Formula One.”

Marko: Serious differences in 2012 tyre quality

Dr Helmut Marko suspects there are “serious differences” in the quality of the sets of tyres being supplied this year by Pirelli.

Red Bull’s motor racing consultant also said the sole tyre supplier’s 2012 product works only within a ludicrously small performance ‘window’, and favours cars with simple designs. According to the German language motorline.cc, Marko said Italian marque Pirelli “received an order to make formula one more exciting”.

In 2011, for Pirelli’s first season on the grid, the tyres spiced up the show due to their heavily-degrading nature. And this year, experts have explained that the tyres are ‘mysterious’ in terms of how the engineers and drivers can make them work.

“Normally a tyre degrades steadily, but with the current Pirelli compounds they are working one lap and the next they’re gone,” said the outspoken Austrian.

And Marko said the Pirellis are also difficult to get working in the first place.

“I think it was in Malaysia with Mark Webber, we were on the hard compound and we put in two clicks more of front wing — a marginal different but ‘Bang!’ we were 1.2 seconds faster. We thought ‘Boom! Our car is now great’ but we put on the soft compound and were eight tenths slower,” he said.

Marko said he suspects there are “serious differences” in the quality of the sets of tyres being supplied by Pirelli this year.

“The result is that cars that are simple in design are easier to get to the windows in which the tyres work best.”

At Valencia recently, however, Red Bull’s latest developments appeared to be a breakthrough for the RB8, as Sebastian Vettel dominated qualifying and the race until his technical breakdown.

“It hurts (rivals) terribly when you’re so superior,” explained Marko. “In the race we had to tell Vettel ‘Go slower! Even slower! And now even slower!’ We know too well — if you are too far ahead you definitely lose more friends than you make.”


F1 considering tyre blanket ban – report

According to Motorsport Magazin, F1 is considering a ban on tyre-warming blankets.

Journalist Kerstin Hasenbichler reported from Valencia that the potential 2013 ban is being discussed as part of the sport’s cost-cutting efforts. The teams and the FIA are “currently in consultation to restructure regulations aimed at keeping costs as low as possible”, the writer said.

This isn’t the first time that the tyre blanket ban idea has surfaced – it was considered several years ago however the idea was not taken forward on safety grounds. However, with F1 currently looking at ways to cut costs, banning tyre blankets would save money by saving on equipment expenditure and freight costs.

Pirelli’s Paul Hembery confirmed he would “welcome” the ban but warned it “would require a complete change of the composition” of the tyres. He said the ban should therefore be introduced over two years.

For 2013, Hembery said, warmers for wet tyres could be banned, preceding a full ban for slicks the following season.


‘No mystery’ as Sauber enjoys Pirelli season

If the top teams are to be believed, engineers up and down pitlane are groping in the dark to solve the mysteries of Pirelli’s 2012 tyre. But the sport’s Italian supplier has hinted that is just an excuse, as midfield teams like Sauber have become regular podium contenders so far this year.

Red Bull’s Dr Helmut Marko admits: “Sauber seems to understand them (the tyres) almost all of the time.”

Peter Sauber, the modest Swiss team’s founder and boss, insists it has not been a case of unravelling a Pirelli mystery.

“Put is this way,” he told Blick newspaper. “We understand the car. Basically, we know how to use the tyres. Except in Bahrain, where it was very hot, we’ve had no big problems.”

The sun is also out in Valencia, but Sauber insists it is presumptuous in any conditions to say his team is in a position to push for wins.

But Mexican Sergio Perez, who has been on the podium twice so far in 2012, has another plan.

“I want more,” he answered when asked about his second taste of 2012 champagne in Canada recently. “If you can finish second and third, the next goal must be victory.”

Pirelli to test harder tyre at Silverstone

Pirelli is preparing to test a harder-compound tyre, as criticism of the 2012 ‘lottery’ fires up.

The dilemma for F1’s tyre supplier is that it was specifically asked to spice up the show with heavily degrading tyres, and the six different winners so far this season proves the Italian marque met the brief. On the other hand, the purists are moaning that the unpredictability could now drive away the real Formula One fans.

“We think it’s absolutely great when people are talking about us,” motor sport director Paul Hembery is quoted by Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport. “But we don’t want to be the focus of the conversation, just a part of it,” said the Briton.

Hembery said he is confident that, as the season presses on, the engineers and drivers will become better at understanding the way the tyres interact with the cars. But Pirelli is nonetheless planning to test a harder compound tyre, featuring less degradation, during Friday practice for next month’s British grand prix.

Still, Hembery warns that more durability will attack the spectacle.

Referring to the processional Monaco race, he said: “You can see what happens when the tyres last forever.”