Amid growing rumours Michelin could return to the grid, Paul Hembery on Tuesday announced that Pirelli is in fact set to remain F1's official supplier. While at the same time expressing frustration with the situation in F1, and in the days after the 'test-gate' scandal and a FIA reprimand, Pirelli's three-year contract is coming to an end. That has triggered rumours Michelin - apparently supported by FIA president Jean Todt - could find its way back into the paddock.
But Pirelli's motor sport director Hembery said on Tuesday: "We have signed agreements with the vast majority of the teams. Within two weeks we should complete all the contracts. So we're staying in formula one," he told Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport.
Even so, Pirelli's controversial 2013 campaign continues. The latest charge has come from Lotus, who have accused the Italian supplier of making overly conservative compound choices for the next races. "Let's not forget," Hembery responded, "that the cars are faster than what we expected early in the season. And our compounds are more aggressive than in 2012."
He denied the move is bowing to pressure from Red Bull and Mercedes, who have complained often bitterly about the heavily-degrading 2013 tyres. "No," said Hembery when asked if the more conservative choices are to help those teams. "Those cars are still aggressive with the tyres. It is true that Lotus is better in the heat, and we are expecting typical Silverstone weather with clouds, cold and a bit of rain. Our goal is to have no more than 2 or 3 pitstops, so we're going in that direction."
Nevertheless, with teams like Lotus having refused to allow Pirelli to tweak its compounds mid-season, Hembery acknowledged that a confusing four stops per driver is a possibility at Silverstone. "Last year we saw two stops, so with softer compounds there is sure to be three, maybe four," he said.
He did admit that the planned tweaked tyres, fitted with kevlar rather than a steel belt, have been shelved. "Unless there are surprises (they won't be seen again)," said the Briton. "Instead we're using a new glue that binds the tread, which should have solved the problem of delamination. We're also going to try a prototype hard compound at Silverstone that has a longer lifespan," added Hembery. (GMM)
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