Pirelli's Paul Hembery says idea that 2014 tyre contract may go out to tender 'farcical'
Reports suggest that Michelin is considering comeback
By Mike Wise. Last Updated: 25/08/13 11:12am
Pirelli: Has come in for criticism this season
Pirelli's motorsport chief Paul Hembery has described as "farcical" the notion that the FIA might decide to put the 2014 tyre contract out to tender now, amid suggestions Michelin are lining up an F1 return.
Ahead of Sunday's Belgian Grand Prix, it has been reported that the French company might return to the sport for the first time since 2006. Furthermore, Michelin has apparently said that the short turnaround time - testing of next year's cars is supposed to commence in January - would not be a problem.
However, Hembery has reacted with incredulity to the suggestion. "If Michelin wanted to return why didn't they come out and say so last September?" he told the Daily Telegraph.
"Quite frankly a tender in September when you are running in January would be farcical. You should have done that in September last year. We have contracts in place, and we would hope people would respect them."
Although the Italian company has contracts in place with most of the teams and the commercial rights holder, it has yet to agree fresh terms with the FIA.
Pirelli has also been working on a 2014 tyre for some time: part of the purpose for its controversial test with Mercedes in May was to that end.
"We're obviously working with 2014, even spending a lot of money for 2014," Hembery added.
The news comes on a weekend which has seen Pirelli on the back foot once again, this time after the cars of both Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso picked up punctures during Friday practice at Spa.
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The sight of Vettel's car returning to the pits with a shredded right-rear tyre brought back memories of June's British Grand Prix, during which a number of cars suffered high-speed blowouts.
After that race, FIA President Jean Todt asked Pirelli to meet with teams to address the issue, with a new tyre construction introduced at the last race in Hungary.
Pirelli has insisted that track debris was to blame for Friday's incidents.
The company has come in for particular criticism this season, both as a result of safety issues and because of the extreme levels of tyre wear seen in certain races - even though it has been specifically asked to engineer degradation in order to produce better racing.
However, Michelin has apparently insisted that it is not interested in producing similar tyres were it to return.
Teams were apparently told that that wouldn't be the case in Monaco earlier this season, although subsequent events might have prompted a re-think
Any decision on a tender will be taken at the meeting of the FIA's World Motor Sport Council next month.