The days where grands prix are spiced-up by deliberately heavily-degrading tyres could be over. Since the tyre-exploding crisis earlier this season, and the mid-year shift from steel to kevlar-belted tyres, Pirelli has also been taking more conservative compound choices to the races.
Very recently, it has culminated in less exiting grands prix, and runaway championship leader Sebastian Vettel's now tight grip on the second half of the season. And for 2014, despite the radical engine rules shift, little will change on the tyre front. "We will take a very conservative strategy," Pirelli boss Paul Hembery told Germany's Auto Motor und Sport. "We will take the worst-case simulation as the basis for the development of the tyre structure."
Hembery argues Pirelli has been pushed in that direction by the teams, who are not overly willing to help with tyre development for 2014. Indeed, even the attempt to test with a representative car - Mercedes' current W04 - ended spectacularly badly for both the German team and F1's tyre supplier.
Now, Pirelli is having to conduct 1000 kilometre tests with two-year old cars, such as the one with Red Bull in Barcelona recently. "It went well, as far as we can tell," said Hembery. "The car is three seconds faster than our Lotus test car. But we are still expecting a journey into the unknown with the new 2014 cars."
Even a post-race test in Brazil after the 2013 season finale has now been cancelled. "It (the tyre development situation) is because of the paranoia of the teams," said Hembery. "What we need in order to do our job, unfortunately doesn't fit with what the teams want. And nobody is coming up with a solution."
There is also uncertainty about Pirelli's longer-term future in F1. The FIA has finally rubber-stamped the marque's presence on the grid beyond 2013, but a statement said that is just a "transition period" because Bernie Ecclestone and the teams had already agreed deals with Pirelli. "Pirelli has five year agreements signed with Ecclestone and the teams and expects that these are respected," said La Gazzetta dello Sport's Andrea Cremonesi. (GMM)