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Sunday August 25, 2013 MYT 3:27:56 AM
Sunday August 25, 2013 MYT 3:28:21 AM
by alan baldwin
McLaren Formula One and Pirelli technicians check tyres ahead of the weekend's Belgian F1 Grand Prix in Spa-Francorchamps August 22, 2013. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir
SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS, Belgium (Reuters) - Putting Formula One's 2014 tyre supply contract out to tender would be a farcical step so late in the season, Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery said on Saturday.
The Italian company is proceeding on the basis that it will remain the sole supplier next season but has yet to sign a contract with the sport's governing, International Automobile Federation (FIA).
Hembery told reporters at the Belgian Grand Prix that 10 of the 11 teams had signed contracts with Pirelli as had the commercial rights holder, who also has a deal for trackside advertising.
However, French rivals Michelin have been reported in the media as saying they were interested in returning to Formula One next year.
"Ask Michelin," Hembery said when asked about the reports. "We have contracts in place, and we would hope people would respect them.
"We have lots of contracts signed."
Hembery said an agreement with the FIA, led by Frenchman Jean Todt, would have to wait until the governing body's world council meeting in Croatia next month.
Formula One's tyre specifications for 2014, which teams need to know to design their cars, have to be lodged within a matter of weeks and Hembery said Pirelli were on course to meet the deadline.
The company hoped to do some wet testing at the Le Castellet circuit in the south of France next month and in Brazil after the final race of the season.
With a new V6 power unit and energy recovery systems being introduced next season in the biggest shake-up in the sport for decades, Hembery said they also wanted a test in Abu Dhabi or Bahrain in December.
Regular pre-season testing with teams will then start in January, with details still to be finalised but one test set for Dubai, Abu Dhabi or Bahrain.
"Quite frankly a tender in September when you are running in January would be farcical," he said. "You should have done that in September last year.
"Everybody would look ridiculous in that scenario."
Pirelli have suffered negative coverage and taken considerable flak this season after producing tyres designed to wear quickly to shake up the race strategy and encourage overtaking.
A spate of blowouts at Silverstone in June triggered safety fears and threw the sport into crisis, forcing Pirelli to make the tyres more durable and revert to last year's structure with 2013 compounds.
Hembery said next year's tyres would be more conservative.
"It will be the year of the powertrain, a year where you talk of other things and strategy will be about how to manage the energy recovery and when to use it, the fuel management," he said.
"It's the year for us not to give them a tyre challenge."
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