Paul Hembery has described the rumours linking Michelin to a shock return as the sport’s tyre supplier as “farcical”, amid continued speculation surrounding the rubber which will eventually by supplied to the teams next season. With Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso both suffering tyre failures in practice on Friday, the speculation resurfaced almost instantly.
Although Pirelli were able to confirm the cause of Vettel and Alonso’s tyre issues as a result of a strip of metal on the track, rumblings within the paddock indicated that the teams and drivers were still dubious with regards to the Italian tyre supplier. As preparations for the Belgian Grand Prix continued during the next day, reports from the circuit began to emerge linking French tyre supplier Michelin to a return to Formula 1. This would see them supply tyres for the first time since 2006, when they were engrossed in a tyre war with Bridgestone. Such a return could see them introduce new technologies such as treadless wet tyres, however certain demands have to be met.
With F1 Supremo Bernie Ecclestone scheduled to meet with Michelin director of motorsport Pascal Couasnon, Pirelli’s motorsport director Paul Hembery has spoken out against such speculation. He believes such a switch so close to the start of winter testing in preparation for the new season would be farcical for the sport, with Pirelli currently contracted for next season and already spending out on development for 2014.
“If Michelin wanted to return why didn’t they come out and say so last September?” Explained Paul Hembery, in an interview with 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. We’re obviously working with 2014, even spending a lot of money for 2014.”
The controversy surrounding Pirelli reached breaking point during the British Grand Prix weekend last month, when several tyre failures in quick succession created havoc and dismay throughout the paddock. Pirelli subsequently made alterations to the construction of the tyres, combining the 2012 and 2013 designs. Although the revised tyres have ended the widespread criticism that had begun early in the season, it seems the debate over 2014’s eventual tyre supplier is far from over as Michelin seem intent on making a return to the sport.
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