Should Pirelli Be Upset If There Is Another Supplier of Formula 1 Tyres?

Fraser MasefieldContributor ISeptember 4, 2013

Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery thinks Pirelli have answered their critics
Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery thinks Pirelli have answered their criticsKer Robertson/Getty Images

A little earlier this season I wrote an article on whether or not a tyre war would be a good thing for Formula One.

My argument, for one of many reasons, was that it would be a bad thing as it would lead to a big discrepancy of performance should one manufacturer gain a big upper hand. One supplier at least keeps a constant and more level playing field with every team in the same boat.

A massive 82 per cent of you, however, responded that a tyre war would be a good thing on the grounds of promoting healthy competition within the sport. And with the recent news broken by BBC Sport that Michelin are in the frame to replace Pirelli in 2014, do the current suppliers have a just argument to be upset?

On Pirelli’s side is the fact that they appear to have been messed about this season through no fault of their own and are trying to fix a problem they were tasked with creating. Against the backdrop of a perceived lack of pitstops and overtaking in the preceding seasons, the FOA tasked Pirelli with making faster wearing tyres to boost the spectacle of the sport in 2013.

So is Pirelli really to blame for the alarming tyre blow outs at Silverstone and the aggressive tyre wear that has seen a multitude of pit stops and teams simply not opting to compete in Q3 for the benefit of choosing harder tyres for race strategy?

Now Pirelli have had to issue a quick fix under intolerable pressure and a barrage of criticism, rushing in tougher Kevlar belted walled rears and last year’s front specification rubber. It appears to have worked post-Silverstone and may go some way to explaining the Mercedes team’s resurgence in race conditions.

The races in Germany and Hungary in the wake of the tyre scandal produced some exciting on-track action due to the different approached to team strategy, leading Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery to praise his manufacturer’s work on ESPNF1.

It's a different type of race between [Hungary] and the Nurburgring, but we've seen some good racing. If you've been watching it as a fan on telly I'm sure you've enjoyed it. That's what we're here to do; to deliver what we've been asked to do and I think the last two races are a good testimony to the approach that we've been asked to deliver with the current cars. It's been good racing.

Yet it appears that the FIA aren’t as easily impressed and is already in discussions with Michelin with Bernie Ecclestone set to meet director of motorspory Pascal Couasnon imminently. The brief would obviously to produce longer wearing tyres with Michelin reportedly keen on a shift to 18-inch wheels instead of the current 13-inch which have little relevance to road cars.

Michelin are also thought to be open to either being the sole tyre supplier or to go into direct battle against Pirelli in order to get back into the sport.

Yet, it seems extremely late to put the tyre supplier for 2014 to tender at this extremely late stage, especially as teams are already planning next year’s chassis designs around the tyre specifications.

Another spanner in the works would be that Ecclestone has agreed with Pirelli to extend the sponsorship signage deal to 2018 which would lead to the bizarre situation of Michelin supplying tyres to teams at circuits littered with Pirelli sponsorship.

So if you ask me if Pirelli have a right to be upset at the FIA opening talks with Michelin about a contract for 2014, I would say yes, absolutely they do.