JUNE 8, 2013
Will Pirelli quit F1?
Rumours that Pirelli will leave formula one at the end of the season are growing by the day.
Heavily criticised for its 2013 tyres, and now embroiled in 'testgate', the Italian supplier is also unhappy with F1's tight testing limits and the obstacles to tyre specification tweaks being erected by the teams.
Facing the wrath of the FIA's new international tribunal for accepting Pirelli's invitation of a private test at Barcelona recently, Mercedes' team boss Ross Brawn on Friday sounded uncertain Pirelli will still be in F1 in 2014.
"Discussions about testing for next year will certainly be beneficial for whoever the tyre supplier is in the future," he said.
Italy's La Repubblica said Paul Hembery repeated Pirelli's recent quit threat on Friday, "if we are unable to do some tests with the new tyres before the start of the season".
"We cannot continue to work in the dark," he added. "By September first we need to provide the specifications for next year, but we don't even know what the cars are going to be like.
"We believe that the (2014) tyre should be wider, but we don't know by how much.
"This year, because of the lack of tests ... we ended up with these cases of delamination, and then because we couldn't go onto a track we had to remedy it in the laboratory."
And, still, the teams refuse to agree to the new tyres debuting at Silverstone late this month.
"We have heard that Lotus will not accept any changes," Hembery is quoted by Finland's MTV3.
"If that's right, we will use the same tyres for the rest of the season. There may be some more four-stop races, but what can we do?"
Indeed, Hembery said Pirelli may have to revert to using glue during the construction of the unchanged 2013 tyres to stop the tread separating from the carcass.
"Either we get the agreement of all the teams, which I think is unlikely," he said, "or we will have to have some other ideas."
He is quoted by Italy's La Repubblica: "We don't want to have another season like this one.
"Our (F1) contract is expiring. Will formula one be without tyres? I don't know, but that's not our business.
"Who knows, maybe they'll find another supplier willing to work in the dark."
Even Pirelli president Marco Tronchetti Provera is being asked about the 'tyre-gate' scandal, telling Tuttosport: "It doesn't concern us.
"We have followed the rules and we will continue to do so."
Hembery, on the other hand, sees the situation as the moment to set out Pirelli's conditions for staying beyond 2013.
"We will wait for the tribunal, but then there will be several elements that need to be discussed. We are talking about issues that have a clear impact on our business.
"This is not just a matter of waiting for the truth to come out," he is quoted by Canada's La Presse, "but also a question of doing things differently in the future."
Germany's Auto Motor und Sport, meanwhile, took the opportunity to float a conspiracy theory.
"Does Jean Todt have a secret agenda, and wants Pirelli to get so angry that they leave voluntarily, opening the door to Michelin?" correspondent Michael Schmidt wonders.