F1's uneasy relationship with its tyre supplier Pirelli became even more strained in India. At the tail end of the Italian marque's highly controversial 2013 campaign, the tyre situation was stark in India as the soft or 'option' tyre failed to last more than a few mere laps. "Teams say the blistering here is worse than it has ever been in the Pirelli era," the BBC's Andrew Benson said on Sunday.
The situation was so alarming that Pirelli, having only a tentative green-light by the FIA to stay in the sport beyond 2013, issued a recommendation to the teams that the soft tyre not be used for more than 15 laps on Sunday. The FIA refused to enforce it, on the grounds that some teams have the advantage of being better able to manage Pirelli's heavily-degrading tyres.
Germany's Auto Motor und Sport said Force India driver Adrian Sutil, for example, made the soft tyre work for almost 20 laps on Sunday for his one-stop strategy. The report said sporting director Otmar Szafnauer, who admitted stretching the tyre's life to 19 laps was "remarkable", also 'shook his head' at Pirelli's recommendation.
Pirelli boss Paul Hembery said afterwards in an official statement: "We are disappointed to see that some teams went against our recommendations and used the compounds for longer than we advised them to do."
In India, Pirelli renewed its threat to quit F1 if teams do not agree to more pre-season running prior to 2014, but the BBC reports that the tyre supplier is refusing to pay for that testing. "It's fair to say that Pirelli is not exactly winning many friends in F1 at the moment," Benson added. (GMM)