In contrast to recent speculation suggesting they were going to exit stage left, Pirelli has confirmed that it is all but set to remain as Formula 1’s sole tyre supplier in 2014, despite the furore it found itself embroiled in over its recent ‘secret’ test session with the Mercedes team.
Pirelli’s motorsport director Paul Hembery has confirmed that the tyremaker has signed contracts with the majority of the Formula 1 teams, and added that the final few signatures will be inked in the coming fortnight.
Pirelli has come under enormous criticism this year over the increased degradation levels and failures witnessed with its more-aggressive tyre construction, as well as its staging of a not-so-secret test session with Mercedes following its disastrous performance at the the Spanish Grand Prix.
Pirelli received a reprimand from the FIA International Tribunal, while Mercedes was banned from participating at next week’s ‘Young Drivers’ test session.
The Italian company – which returned to the sport as its exclusive tyre supplier in 2011 following Bridgestone’s departure – had threatened not to renew beyond its initial three-year deal, but it looks on track to remain, for next year at least.
“We have signed an agreement with the vast majority of the teams,” Hembery told La Gazzetta dello Sport in the lead-up to this weekend’s British Grand Prix.
“Within two weeks we should complete the contracts, so we’ll stay still in Formula 1.”
One of Pirelli consistent demands has been for the opportunity to test and develop its tyres in-season, using current-spec Formula 1 cars, and its wish has partially been granted with confirmation that four in-season test sessions will be given the go-ahead.
For this weekend’s race, Pirelli is bringing its two hardest dry-weather tyre compounds to cope with the track’s high average speeds and cornering loads around the flowing Northamptonshire circuit. Despite bringing its most durable compounds, the tyre maker is still predicting a three- or four-stop race on Sunday.
“It’s a circuit that takes a lot out of the tyres,” Hembery said in Pirelli’s preview media release.
“We’ve brought the two hardest compounds to the British Grand Prix because of that, with a new bonding process connecting the tread to the steel belt, which is designed to eliminate the isolated delamination issues seen earlier this season.
“The construction of the tyre won’t change, as the teams weren’t able to reach a unanimous agreement about this: however we do still have that possibility on stand-by should it be required in future.”
In addition to this, the tyre maker is also bringing along the same ‘prototype’ Hard compound tyres that were given to the teams to test in Friday practice at the Spanish Grand Prix. That running was ultimately affected by wet weather, and with clear skies forecast for the opening two practice sessions this weekend, Pirelli will hopefully be able to conduct more valuable analysis.
“During practice at Silverstone we will have the same prototype Hard tyre available that we tried out on Friday in Spain, aimed at even greater durability than our current Hard. This is in order to give the teams the chance to test this new compound on a different track to collect more data,” Hembery added.