MONZA, Italy, Sept 4 (Reuters) - Pirelli say their bid to continue as Formula One’s sole tyre supplier beyond next season is dependent on being allowed to do more testing.
“More testing has to be a condition of staying in Formula One,” the Italy-based company’s motorsport director Paul Hembery told reporters at the Italian Grand Prix.
He was speaking after high-speed blowouts at the Belgian Grand Prix two weeks ago put Pirelli in the spotlight and led to questions being asked about their product.
Pirelli blamed track debris and high usage on one of the season’s most demanding tracks for the problems and found no structural problems.
Both the governing International Automobile Federation (FIA) and commercial rights holder Bernie Ecclestone issued strongly supportive statements, with the latter reminding teams that they ignored Pirelli’s advice at their own risk.
The warning was seen as aimed at Ferrari, whose German driver Sebastian Vettel suffered a sudden tyre failure on the penultimate lap in Spa while in third place.
The four times champion had done 28 laps on the medium tyres, and was on a one-stop strategy compared to two by most others, with Pirelli suggesting 22 would have been the recommended limit.
Ecclestone met some drivers and team principals, including Vettel and Mercedes’ reigning champion Lewis Hamilton, at Monza on Friday and expressed further support for Pirelli with a clear indication that they would win the tender against Michelin.
“Sure. We’re not going to let them go, they’re doing a good job,” he told motorsport.com.
“I said to them a long time ago I don’t want a tyre that’s going to last the whole race. They do the very best they can with what they’ve been asked to do.”
Michelin have said they are only interested in supplying long-lasting and larger tyres than the current ones.
The rules are set to change in 2017 anyway, with larger rear tyres envisaged.
Hembery said that made it crucial that Pirelli be allowed to do far more testing: “You can’t make such a dramatic change without testing,” he said. (Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Justin Palmer)